Sunday, January 28, 2007

And do you have a teaching degree?

I'm asked this question sometimes because our nine year old is homeschooled. He's been learning at home since the beginning. Home education is really a misnomer because while learning happens in the home, it's only partly at home. Homeschoolers do leave the house. But I didn't really need to clarify that point, did I?

At the potluck last night I met a lady who is finishing up her master's in education and when we were introduced she said, "You have the son who's homeschooled," and I said, "Yes, I do." And when she and her husband inquired as to whether I have a teaching credential I said no. I could have added that I do have a bachelor's degree, but I didn't say so. I didn't say so because it's not the most important ingredient to the learning experience. I know a mum with a twelfth grade education and her children are healthy, bright, and inquisitive. Smart? Yes, but I have an aversion to that word. I really don't like it. You can be smart and be a complete bonehead, so I don't put much stock in smart. I know another mum with a master's degree and she tried homeschooling just one of her children for a year and gave up. It's about being a facilitator for your child. If you're a parent with a strong desire to educate at home, you can do it, degree or no degree. You just need the ability to find the knowledge, and know-how to seek out the experts. You don't have to know everything. Most mothers I know who educate their children feel convicted to do so. That doesn't mean that faith is a prerequisite, but it does mean you feel driven to take this path.

In public school the measure of the student is determined by semester grades and number of extracurricular activities. In home education the measure of the person is determined by whether he or she is thriving intellectually, physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I think success is like the "American Dream" in that, at first glance, you think it means the same thing for everybody but upon closer inspection, you realize it's different for different people. I had a psych professor once. She refused to issue grades because she said students were addicted to grades. They are addictive! Of course, she finally gave us a grade at the end of the class. Haha! Think I got a C. I liked political science much better. Bottom line, either route you take, no matter where you obtain your education or how much of it you get, level of education alone ain't taking you where you want to go. A person needs to be a go-getter, a do-er, a problem solver, a thinker, a people person, in order to get somewhere in this world.

Back to the potluck I was talking about. The lady I spoke with was real nice. I liked her quite a bit. As I began to explain how homeschooling laws vary state by state I was interrupted by someone in the background who said, "Have you talked to her son? He's really smart!" I don't know who it was, but suddenly my explanation of homeschooling laws seemed pretty dry and dull, and with another distraction or two our conversation was drowned out and we soon parted ways. Who cares about the laws! Homeschooling is neat! And even though I hate the word smart, I admit my heart was glowing and I was inwardly thanking whomever it was who said it. It kind of took me off the hook. I looked back down at my plate and started munching on my delicious potluck foods, and I began to wonder what exactly they meant by smart and what did they perceive as smart? I would really like to know.

But I suppose I should just relax and be satisfied in the moment, and not look a gift horse in the mouth so much.