Tuesday, November 08, 2011

The Myth of Homeschooling

The other day, I was half-jokingly trying to talk my friends into doing a reality show about homeschooling moms. Unfortunately, they weren't buying the idea. As one put it, "I'd much rather have people believe the myth."

The Sept/Oct 2011 issue of the HSLDA Home School Court Report features an article by Michael O. Farris on "Ten Lessons I've Learned from Thirty Years of Homeschooling," and offers this synopsis of the myth:

You have heard the stories - you know . . . the family with 12 children, all under age 9, whose 6-year-old has learned to solve three-variable algebra problems by studying the number of Hebrew syllables in the Pentateuch. Their 9-year-old has fully funded his college education by selling organic muffins door-to-door, using the ingredients his 7-year-old sister grew in the 40-acre herb farm she operates. There was enough money left over for Mom to run down to the fabric store (being sure to take all the kids with her so that she could teach a math lesson while buying material). She then bought enough material to make all of the girls matching dresses, all of the boys matching vests, and matching curtains to hang over the kitchen sink.

Ummmm. . . maybe not! But that is what homeschooling books and websites can often lead you to believe - that every moment is wonderful, every circumstance a learning opportunity, and that homeschooled children are always happy and eager to learn.

The reality on any given day can be far different. As homeschoolers, we are still on the fringe of "normal," even though there are far more of us than they used to be. We are often called upon to defend our choice and to prove our children are doing well in order to silence the naysayers. Therefore, we may be prone to paint a overly rosy picture to the outside world.

The truth is, homeschooling does have its perfect moments - moments full of the magic and wonder of learning when everything falls into place and it is all incredibly worth it. But, those moments are the exception. The reality is most of the time, we just muddle through and hope for the best. The grace of God keeps us going through the frustration, the worry, and the whining (both ours and the kids').

Those of us who choose to leave the well-trod path of traditional schooling and jump off a cliff into the world of homeschooling were called to this task. We each have our own stories, our own reasons, our own circumstances. We are all different, but we share a common lifestyle. Even amidst the messiness and the imperfection, it is a good way to live. Perhaps someday, we'll be able to be a bit more honest about what our lives look like and we'll be able to put the homeschooling myth to bed once and for all. Until then, I guess that reality show will just have to wait!


Denise said...

Well said! Particularly the reasons why homeschoolers might paint a rosier reality; I always figured it was just human nature that we don't like to show our "real reality" to strangers - or even friends. I certainly don't invite anyone to my house until we've had a good pick-up/clean-up!

I had to give myself a shakedown a couple of years ago. I had used the "perfect homeschooling" blogs to give myself a real complex, and it took a few doses of "reality" posts by considerate homeschoolers to realize that their reality wasn't all that different than my reality. And even the reality posts aren't always completely truthful, I think! The darkest parts of our lives are not for sharing, after all, except in the general, or in protected situations.

And at the end of the day, we still seem to be called to homeschooling. It's up to us to make the most of whatever gifts and challenges God has given us. Thanks for posting about it!

Patrice Fagnant-MacArthur said...

Thanks, Denise! You offer much wisdom here.

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