Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Teacher's Dirty Looks

This summer is a summer I'd like to see gone. It's been hot, humid (which it's NOT supposed to be here!), and buggy. The yard work has been constant, and I've learned with this hilly lot of ours that I abhor yard work and gardening. I had suspicions that such was the case, but this summer has confirmed it. I love to look at other people's gardens, and I think wildflowers are marvelous. But the toil and sweat and bug bites that have to be endured to tend to such cultivation...I find absolutely not worth it.

And I'm not sorry.

All that is not to say that I'm ready for fall. I've had several homeschooling friends write blog posts full of hopes and dreams and curricula. I can almost see their eyes widening in excitement as they describe the year's course load.

And my eyes start drooping.

And all THAT is not to say that I want to have imbeciles for children. I want them to learn. I want them to engage in society on an intelligent level. I want them to get lost in a book (fiction or nonfiction) so that I have to say their name twice before they hear me.

I want all that...sort of.

But really? I'm not ready for the headache that is homeschooling. I am no longer new to this. The excitement of training little minds in the way that we would have them go and turning on quarter-sized light bulbs has considerably waned. The training is constant, and the light bulbs self-extinguish over matters so trite as who answered the last question or whether thumb-sucking is allowed.

And, too, I'm probably suffering my usual malady of over-reaction to excitement around me. 'Round about this time, homeschooling mothers everywhere gather to excitedly share what wondrous new methods and books will be gracing their homes this year. And that something inside of me that has always bristled at too much emotion, too much excitement, too much smiling...rises up to say, "Bah, humbug!"

I do feel that my homeschooling philosophy has somewhat evolved. I now feel that there probably is no "best" as far as curriculum is concerned. I've known smart classical homeschoolers, smart textbook homeschoolers, smart Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, smart eclectic homeschoolers, and even smart unschoolers. I've also known bratty, intolerable classical homeschoolers, textbook homeschoolers, Charlotte Mason homeschoolers, eclectic homeschoolers and unschoolers. And, might I add, their mothers.

Here's the thing: we (personally) don't homeschool because we feel our children will be socially or academically superior. That is an anticipated bonus for which we eagerly hope. But we homeschool because we truly believe that there is no such thing as a "neutral" education. You can only serve one master, and public schools have made it clear that their master is not Christ. I won't speak for Christian schools, except to say that I attended and taught at one, and my conviction is that that education would not bring you to a clear knowledge of the gospel. It taught legalism and social activism exceptionally well, and I remember tolerance of very bad biblical interpretations. In other words, it left a young, impressionable Christian girl (and woman, even) very confused.

So we homeschool because we can pick the material and methods that we feel best adhere to the Word of God, and we have a Standard that does not waver and a Master Whose throne we can boldly approach.

That does not mean that I look forward to homeschooling. I dread it. It's another thing to be borne with the gritting of the teeth and a grain of salt, as far as I'm concerned. There are those treasured days when light bulbs do come on and thumbs stay out, but there are far more when there is no point in measuring the days' worth by the lesson plan.

Unlike gardening, this cultivation cannot be left to the wild. I must, and do, and will bear down and buck up. We will crack open the books, occasionally even enjoying them. I will endure the sweat and toil, knowing that, for the time being, this is best.

And then I will count the hours until next summer.


  1. I'd offer wise words of encouragement, but I have none. All I've learned this past year (and seem to be continuing to learn this year - sigh) is to keep on keeping on. I can rearrange my schedule (and have) but ultimately, it involves climbing out of bed and cracking open the books. I'll cheer you on though. :)

  2. This makes me wonder how my mom felt (feels) at the beginning of each school year. She only has one still schooling at home now (my brother is at a regular high school), so it's not so many, and there were only ever three of us...not eight. I can see how it would be overwhelming with so many kids.

    All I can say is, you are doing SUCH a good, beneficial, God-honoring thing for your children by teaching them at home, and I KNOW God will bless you for it. He can also give you renewed energy and enthusiasm--after all, he loves your children even more than you do! :)

  3. Jaimie...maybe your mother is one of those who is energized by teaching, although I'd wager she is drained by all the work of it much as I am. She probably does a lot better at holding her tongue and not complaining, though!

    Andrea...I'll cheer right back at you. And here's to a strong cup of coffee in the morning and a stiff glass of...something night!


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