I am occasionally asked to explain my reasons for homeschooling my son. I am sometimes asked to explain how it works. I am often accosted by well meaning individuals who want to know why I am warping my child socially by not sending him to school. And every now and then, I meet people who are amazed by my patience and commitment to something “they could never do”. Somehow, I never seem to get asked the question which is most important to me, which is “What have you learned by homeschooling your son?”
My son is at the time of this writing, nine years old. He has never been to school. When he was a baby, we thought that perhaps we would send him to a private school, something with an “alternative” pedagogy, such as Waldorf or Montessori. Then he turned five, and we still couldn’t afford it. Honestly, that’s what it was. And I was most adamantly opposed to sending him to public school.
In addressing my reasoning for refusing public schooling for my son, I can also address the most common concern I hear from people regarding that decision: what about socialization?
Today, I took my son on a homeschooling field trip to the local news station. It’s not a big place, and I can’t say I have watched their reporting more than once or twice in all the years I have lived here. We don’t have t.v. programming at home, but we have watched enough while travelling that I thought he would find it interesting. If nothing else, seeing the miraculous transformation of a man and a greenscreen in front of you to a man in front of a weather map on the t.v. screen is always fascinating, right?
We saw the receptionist, the array of satellite dishes, the computer banks, and the tapes where they store the commercials. We traipsed through rooms coated in t.v. screens where the incessant babble of ten canned voices talking at once threatened my sanity. We saw a live newsfeed from NASA, where an astronaut was rearranging the luggage in the bay of the space shuttle, and saw a producer typing in the afternoon’s newscript. And then…the big finale…we were let in to (very quietly) watch the afternoon news being filmed.
We sat on the floor, the children sternly admonished to keep silent, sniffles and giggles met with quelling stares. The two anchors (one wearing his slippers underneath his suit) took their seats and listened intently to the countdown. What I had failed to factor in was that this was the news, rather than the edited version I give my son off of the dozens of stories I read each day.
We started out with a local tale of a fourteen year old boy who was shot trying to protect his twelve year old brother when two men broke into their house and threatened them with guns. Then we moved on to suicide bombings in Iraq, missile strikes in Israel, an adult “novelty” shop which was robbed…but not the cash register. Only a life-size Marilyn Monroe doll and some “other items” were taken. About this point, I am gazing saucer-eyed at the other Moms in the room, torn between covering my son’s ears and bursting out laughing.
But we’re not done. Continue reading