Posts Tagged ‘teacher’

Something that is near and dear to my heart is education. I did consider (very briefly) going into education as a career. I think I was 12. As I said, it was a very brief infatuation with the idea. I lasted longer with my desire to become a veterinarian (hopes to pursue that career were dashed when I flunked high school biology my freshman year. I mean, what tendon connects to what bone? Say, again??).

The thing is: I love to learn. I love to read. I’m fascinated with geography, anthropology, history, literature, English, culture, art, physics. I’m even pretty fair at mathematics and some of the other sciences as well.

The one thing I did not particularly plan for when I was still in school was parenthood. I babysat a lot through high school and I was pretty convinced I would never want children of my own. Of course, I hadn’t reached that point in life where my maternal drive kicked in. When I reached that point, I decided I wanted a house full of boys. Four boys. That sounded so perfect. No daughters, frilly dresses, hormones. Just four rambunctious testosterone driven daredevils.

Thankfully, God intervened. In both counts. Well, He didn’t allow me to become a veterinarian which is just as well. I’ve played vet to enough pets and I cry every time I bury one.

God shot down my four-boy-household dream when my first-born was a girl. Now, I love that girl with all of my heart, and she went on to (nearly) fulfill my dream when she brought four wonderful grandchildren into my life: three boys and one girl. The last one is the girl. But I knew as soon as she was born that I wasn’t going to be mom of four boys (I’m astute like that).

My son weighed 10 pounds 3 ounces at birth. That scratched any idea I had of having more children. Two pregnancies (well, three – the first ended in a miscarriage) was enough for me. I’d settle for two.

Again, God intervened, and I ended up with three children, but the third one came to me when she was 10 and I didn’t have to give birth to her. That’s almost the best kind of childbirth: let your sister do the pushing. (Note: I don’t recommend this. I mourn my sister every day of my life. It’s just I can’t sit around and not acknowledge the fact that humor is a healer.)

I kept putting my dreams on hold for this or that in the formative years of our marriage. Finally, our children were off to public school and I was a stay-at-home mom, involved in PTA and shuttling kids to and from activities.

Enter the 1990’s version of “Common Core.” I love Barbara Bush’s spunk, but I despise her stance on education. Oregon’s version of Goals2000 was written by our current governor (who was governor then) and several other politicians. I brushed up with “Behavior Modification” when I was in college and my first roommate was studying to become a teacher. She loved the concept; it scared me that teachers could think they had the right to modify behavior at will.

Now we had some set of vague “goals” that were supposed to raise the standard of education for our children. MY children. Goals that started with removing parental involvement. Goals that were so vague as to leave out large portions of history, social sciences, geography, and government. Funding for public schools in the State of Oregon was at an all-time low (recommended: Mr. Holland’s Opus. This was filmed in Portland and reflects the low priority the Arts were receiving during that time period).

It is a fact that music is a pre-math skill and children who are exposed to music early in life do better at mathematics than children who are not exposed.

But let me back up to the mom thing. I had (at that time) the two kids. My oldest was a surprising prodigy to all who taught her. She spent one school year in a Christian school where the administrators continued to test her reading skills because they were amazed at how well she read, how fast she read, and how much she comprehended from her reading. She was in First Grade. By the time she was in the 3rd Grade, she had achieved a Johns Hopkins Scholar Award and she was spending half of her time in the fourth/fifth grade classroom doing advanced work. She was labeled “gifted”.

My son was also gifted. Anyone who knew him, knew that. His teachers saw through him. He screwed around in class with his two best friends while the rest of the class struggled to catch up to them. He hated math and he couldn’t read, but he was light years ahead of his classmates in comprehension.

I wasn’t worried about his reading. I’d read the studies. I knew what sort of learner he was. I knew he was bright. Math, now, I worried about that. It turned out that he just needed permission to count on his fingers. Why schools don’t allow kids to add on their fingers befuddles me. I struggled with math for the same reason and I developed strategies to work around that handicap.

Did I mention that I am a fair hand at basic math? There’s no law against counting on your fingers after you leave public school.

I did not intend to homeschool. I did not even know it was a legal option. Or an option at all.

They closed our school. Our PTA fought the school district, Goals2000, and the laws in the State of Oregon to keep “our” little school open. We lost. They won. And many of us withdrew our children (and our designated tax support) from the school district. We were one of those families.

I stumbled into homeschooling because I felt I had no other option given the circumstances. Once again, I set my goals aside (not complaining, just a fact of the matter) and brought my children home full time.

Yes, there was a fight. Yes, there was criticism. No, there was not a lot of support – at first. There was even inner turmoil as I realized that I was giving up my Alone Time (that essential for all introverts) to be a full-time mom and educator. It was overwhelming. We made a lot of mistakes.

We tried the traditional school-at-home approach first. You know, everyone gets up at 8AM, eats breakfast, and then sits down with a workbook and does real school work. I think a lot of would-be homeschoolers quit at this point. My kids didn’t make it easy. They resented school at home. The oldest resented homeschooling. They really rebelled at Bible study. I could do an entire parody of trying to teach my children the Bible at home.

Lesson: Pick your favorite verse from the Bible and memorize it.

Daughter: “Jesus Wept.” John 11:35. The shortest verse in the Bible.

Son: “I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall defend your flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.” (or some such similar verse out of Leviticus or Deuteronomy – does it matter?)

We scrapped Bible lessons early on.

Early on, I discovered the Internet. This was in late 1997. Our first computer arrived in a box from my older brother. My son (age 11) set it up in minutes. I’m pretty sure he was already IMing some pretty girl he’d met at church by the next Sunday.

I fell into an online support group called Christ-Centered Unschoolers (which still exists, by the way, on Yahoo! Groups). They introduced me into a radical new way of thinking about homeschooling called “unschooling”.

More on that tomorrow. Suffice it to say that all three kids have since graduated from some form of homeschooling now and I am a veteran. I loved being a teacher.


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