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January 30, 2007

Homeschoolers Are Funny

Today I had to kill some time away from the house, with my two younger children. So we did what most of America does when they need to kill time with young children: We went to McDonald's.

Today there were two other women in the play area. Woman #3 (by entry into the area) began the conversation by asking me and Woman #2 if our children were not in preschool. W2 replied that her child was only four, and no, no preschool. I mumbled something along the same lines, not wanting to bring up homeschooling.

W3 asked a few more questions, and it finally came out that W2 was also killing time, until her children got out of a class at the same time that my children were getting out of a class. It turned out we were both homeschoolers, and had kids in the same co-op classes.

W3 was sore amazed, and began to pepper us with questions about homeschooling, mainly "WHY do you do it? Don't you think the schools are good?" So W2 and I began, hesitantly, gingerly, to explain about negative socialization issues, large class sizes, etc.

W3 asked me what I used to teach them, and I ducked. I gave her vague answers about how I pull from different sources, and there's all kinds of things you can do ... W2 said the same things.

All in all, W3 was friendly and interested, and I think we gave her some food for thought. But what struck me as funny about the whole incident is how cagey W2 and I were about the details.

Have you ever witnessed a first-time meeting of homeschoolers? Neither of us really wants to admit, at first, without knowing where the other stands, how we handle our children's education. Neither of us wants to come out and say what sides we fall into on the various homeschooling camps. Certainly I've had the experience of saying that we do a form of classical education, and seeing eyes roll at me in return. Or sometimes, I get a lecture on the benefits of unschooling, with the thinly veiled accusation that I must be stifling my kids and robbing of their childhoods and natural desire to learn. Gosh, I love that. I've learned to only utter the dreaded "classical" after I'm on a fairly good social footing. I imagine unschoolers get the same kinds of responses. I also imagine most people are somewhere in the middle.

And there we were, with so much potentially in common, but too wary to admit it. Funny, and sad. Who's to say we weren't being cagey about the exact same things?

And all the while, this Emo Philips routine kept running through my head.

Posted by lynx at January 30, 2007 10:51 PM

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Comments

I know exactly what you are talking about. The question I get most is "Are you using Abeka or Bob Jones?" and I just answer like you....pulling from different areas. I don't even bring up the "classical" word except around those that we do our co-op with or close friends who don't judge me.

Posted by: Pensguys at January 31, 2007 8:04 AM

Once I got into a conversation with a mom whose child was attending a library program with mine. Her child is really really bright and interesting. It turns out that we all homeschool but nobody knew it (the library program was after school hours). So the mom was friendly and we were gabbing. Then talk turned to how difficult it is for her to find books for her daughter to read. Her daughter is seven but reads like a 12 year old. She talked about how she buzzed through all the usual series books for children that age and now the child was reading Mary Kate and Ashley books. The problem for this mom was that it was introducing some boycrazy stuff early. Obviously not a BIG problem, as she continued to let her read the series. The child liked the Narnia series so I mentioned Harry Potter. I may as well have suggested that she send her child on a boat to the antichrist. This woman said "She will not read Harry Potter in MY house. If she would like to read it when she is moved out, she is welcome to do so." I was flabbergasted. I mean, yes, I know that many people who HS around here do it in Jesus' name, and that's fine (for them). And I should have seen it coming. But here I'd found an interesting famiy who completely shut out Harry Potter in favor of Mary Kate and Ashley. ? I think my jaw dropped and I asked what her issue was with HP. Witchcraft, of course. I asked if she'd read the books herself (yes I gently pushed, I figured we were not going to be buddying up for anything anytime soon anyway. Once she figured out that I go to the church that is welcoming for gays and has a pagan group, I was going to be in the same league as HP.) So of course she'd not read the books herself. I made some comment about how rich the books are and how it's good vs. evil, not a handbook to witchcraft. I know my words fell on deaf ears but I had to defend harry! And then we just kind of sat there and waited for the children to exit the program. We are friendly with each other, but avoid conversation. Oh well.

Posted by: mommio at January 31, 2007 8:29 AM

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