Where's My Homeschooler's Ed?
I was home-educated until college except for fourth grade. That one-year experience with group-based schooling had me begging to come home so I could read J.R.R. Tolkien and Shakespeare in peace.
Yes, I was a nerd. Why do you ask?
Anyway, I teach my children now, and I have found myself frustrated with every curriculum. They seem so inadequate to the standard of my childhood education. Last week we went to a homeschool convention in hopes of finding a curriculum that met my expectations, and I realized something:
You may wonder why that wasn’t obvious to me long ago. There’s a very good reason for that.
The last time I went to visit my parents, I drove down a very familiar back road that connects my childhood home and my grandparent’s old home. I have traveled that road thousands of times, but when I drove it this time, I blew through a stop sign. You know why?
Because I was always the passenger and not the driver.
There’s such a huge difference between riding in the back seat and driving that big ‘ol van yourself. It’s a familiar path, but holy guacamole, when did they put a stop sign there?!? And the speed limit is what? Okay, hold on, we need to stop for gas and probably a potty break.
And that, my friends, is why I had no idea just how much work my mother put into my education. I was the kid in the back seat just enjoying the drive.
Or complaining that my sister was breathing my air. Probably that.
Anyway, my busy weekend at the homeschooling convention revealed to me that an expensive curriculum with all the bells and whistles is no substitute for a mom who wants to make school memorable. When we studied Beowulf, Mom built a fire in the fireplace, piled fuzzy blankets and pillows on the floor for makeshift animal skins, and made us hot chocolate so we could pretend we were drinking mead. Then she turned all the lights off and read Beowulf after the fashion of the best epic bards by the light of the fire. You can’t put that experience in a boxed set.
The truth is when you’re driving the van you have to think about where you’re going in an entirely different way. Even a simple trip requires a lot of thought and planning. Buying a big box of books, videos, and craft supplies is like taking your driver’s permit exam, but putting it to use in your home? That’s driving.
I suspect I’ll never quite live up to my own expectations, but that’s because the bar was set so high.