Homeschooling and the Profound Changes It Can Create In Our Life
Karen M. Gibson
It’s spring and once again I find myself making what is fast becoming an annual trek to upstate New York. In May 2001 we (the children and I) traveled “back home” to help with the dispersal of my late mother-in-law’s belongings. This May (2002) it is to help my own mother finish preparing for her auction, as she and my step-father have decided to sell lock, stock, and barrel and move to Green Valley Arizona for their retirement. My mother and I have talked about how much of a change this move will mean to their lives. They will be going from employed to retired, from living in a two-story log cabin in the woods to living in a small house on a postage stamp lot in a retirement community, from living in the lush green area of the Finger Lakes to the desert of Arizona. Literally nothing will be the same for them. Luckily, she has always been one to take major changes like that in stride, always looking at the positive side of the situation and rarely ruminating on what might have been or could have been.
You are probably familiar with the adage that nothing is certain in life but death and taxes? Well, I think it should also include change. Nothing is certain in life but change. Change is not a bad thing, nor necessarily a good thing. It is the way we react to the change that matters.
Home educators, as a rule, have had the opportunity to undergo some of the most profound changes of thought of any segment of our population. I say opportunity because I find that there are some home educators whose way of thinking has not changed any since they began to home educate. Yes, they may know that it is their right to home educate their child, but they have yet to realize that it is also their right to do so in any manner they choose. They still toe the line, following the public school way of education, not realizing that we are not bound to re-create the public school in our homes.
Learning about such things as learning styles, right-brained/left-brained thinking, parental rights, etc. does no good unless we in some way act upon our newly found knowledge. Taking the time and effort to discover the learning styles of your children will be of no benefit to you or to them if you fail to implement changes in the resources you choose, changes in the methods you use to present material, and perhaps even changes in your daily routine. Recognizing the differences in the way members of your family approach a problem or new challenge is not useful if you fail to use this knowledge to promote understanding or sooth ruffled feathers. And knowing about your own right-brained or left-brained abilities should spur you in the desire to further develop those areas where you not as dominant, not as capable. Knowledge can lead to change, which in turn results in immense personal growth.
In the same manner, realizing that you have the right and responsibility to educate your children in the manner you choose offers no benefit unless you put that right and responsibility into actual practice. That means educating your children the way you believe is best, in the manner you desire, regardless of what the public schools require or what grandma thinks or what the neighbor down the road says. It also means making no apologies, no excuses, for the way you choose to educate your children.
When someone asks you why you homeschool, what response do you give? Do you give real, concrete answers, or do you hem and haw, giving some watered down, palatable reason? Quite likely the question comes from a friend and their children probably attend public school. If you tell them bluntly that you home educate because it is your right and responsibility to educate your child, are you worried that it will seem as though you are insulting them with your response? Or that you might make them feel guilty? Consider this, though. Your honest answer just might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Their knowledge of your truthful, in-your-face reasons for home educating might be just what they needed and wanted to hear. Your reasons might be just the knowledge they needed to implement change in their lives.
This past Saturday I spoke at a home-school seminar in Alabama and also had the pleasure of listening to Donna De Poalo speak on Parental Rights and Responsibilities. While I’ve heard the message before, it was good to listen in again. And it was even more gratifying to see the effects her speaking had on the audience, listen to their comments and concerns, and know that knowledge was spreading and change would be the result. Today we received an e-mail from one of the attendees, Shanon Willis. She related how much she enjoyed hearing Donna speak.
Donna P. … let me tell you, you have put a fire in me that I don't think I would have ever found if I hadn't listen to you in person.
Then she related a situation posted on an e-mail list where a woman had a relative that was terminally ill. This woman had told her children how ill their relative was. The reason she was writing to the e-mail list was that the school her children were enrolled in was giving the woman major grief for having informed her children of their relative’s illness and she was wondering how to deal with the school. Here is a portion of what Shanon wrote:
I e-mailed her and gave her the same spiel that Donna P. gave this weekend about government control. (see Donna, you did get one more, and that one more is getting another one more, etc.) Before this weekend I think I would have just answered with a “how awful! They shouldn't be doing that.” Just like everyone else did. No, I got the confidence to tell her what she really needed to hear and I feel good about it.
One person speaking on her convictions empowers another to do the same. Isn’t it grand?! Knowledge brings conviction. Conviction brings change.
Nothing in life is certain except death and taxes. And change.
Until our next issue — unfurl your sails and ride the wind!
Copyright May 2002
Originally published in the May/June 2002 issue of HELM (Home Education Learning Magazine).