OK, so I don’t like all homeschoolers
About every 3rd Friday, we go to the library. I pay $40/year for a card in a neighboring city, because my own city’s library
sucks isn’t so great. (Yes, I reserve strong language for disappointing libraries where the librarians ignore you and every book on the shelves is out of place or missing, and all the kids’ stuff is beat-up and outdated.)
I have often delighted in the fact that when we see other families with schoolage children, in the daytime, at the library, that they’re frequently homeschooling families. I’ve met a number of homeschooling families this way, and they’re typically wonderful; there’s just something about library families. Not trying to imply anything about my own family, mind you. I guess it’s just that we usually meet like minds there.
Yesterday, though, I saw a lady eating in the library at a back table in the kids’ section. I considered quietly reporting her surreptitious actions, but then it wasn’t necessary, because she left. I sat down at the table she vacated, and did puzzles with Audrey while the three boys were on the computers. She came back and sat in the chair right next to mine. She proceeded to open another fruit cup, slurping the juice before taking out chopsticks (!) with which to eat the chunks. She asked me if I homeschooled. I said yes. She then started to tell me her history of how she started homeschooling, which, normally, I very much enjoy hearing, but it was quite a lengthy monologue, and I felt very trapped. I’d excuse myself and chase down Audrey, then return to vaguely the same area, and she’d resume, mid-sentence. I started chatting with another mom, and then when I finished, she continued where she’d left off.
Long story short, she started homeschooling because she has a problem with authority, and doesn’t want anyone to tell her or her kids what to do. Now, I’m all for the authority of parents in the lives of kids, and some of the things she told me that had been told to her by school officials were pretty startling, like telling her that while her child is on campus, instructions from herself or her husband are void when they counter instructions from school officials, that, basically, they had no authority while their child is in school.
However, I don’t think that homeschooling simply to maintain authority is, perhaps, the best choice. It might be a good starting place, and events like that can be a good catalyst for making the leap over to the pro-homeschooling side.
However, her attitude, her actions, how she interacted with me (and others), and how she described her son’s homeschooling day raised all sorts of red flags for me. She said that she will never enroll her son into any organized activity or group, because she doesn’t want to submit to anyone’s ideas or schedules or authority.
Her son is 9, and she doesn’t teach him anything. When I responded something like, “Yes, well, unschooling can be effective with a really motivated child,” since it sounded like unschooling to me, she vehemently denied that she was unschooling him. She told me that the she’s a “stickler” for math and geography, both found online, which he does by himself. She also made sure her son read books, and plays educational computer games. She also travels with him 3 or 4 days a week, visiting various public libraries in the area, spending the whole day in them — packing a lunch, even, to eat in the library.
I did meet her son, and to the credit of both of them, he was a kind, polite and quite precocious child. So, maybe his schooling, up to this point, has been adequate.
Still, though, with her hyper-independent outlook, unkempt appearance, and rather lackadasical approach to schooling, I just kept thinking, “This is the sort of homeschooling mother that my husband was afraid I’d become.” (Before we started homeschooling, my husband’s only concern was that I not become like… well, exactly what was sitting before me.)
She gave me her phone number, but I think she’ll be the first homeschooling mother I’ve met who’s given me her number, who I will not call. (Whom I will not call?)
Have you, as a homeschooler, ever met another homeschooling family and thought, “Um… No”? I’m a bit torn, because — especially as a homeschooler — I’m hyper-aware that it really does take all kinds; there are LOTS of ways by which to successfully homeschool. And the prepackaged, ready-made, homogenized, unthinking, questionable-content students that the U.S. public school system is churning out is most certainly not the goal. So, I’m not suggesting that every homeschooler needs to be just like me, or even that they need to all be the same, or highly-acceptable, socially. But… there are those, who, IMO, take it a bit too far.