This morning I had a few errands that needed doing, one of which was a visit to my local pathology office to organise some tests. The receptionist knows me, from years of visits, and she asks, "Are you still homeschooling, Trish?" I answer in the affirmative.
"Gee you're good." she responds " You must have to be so organised. I guess you have to do the same thing at a set time. It must be so difficult."
In my mind I see the image she imagines. Perhaps a room dedicated to schooling, a white board, me standing in front of the boys presenting a lesson, engaged and eager students, a tidy and well organised home.
For a moment I wonder if I should attempt to shatter her illusions, and tell her that it's not as difficult as she might imagine. Another image flashes before my eyes. As this moment one of my sons is no doubt lying on his bed doing "nothing". He will probably doing doing "nothing" for quite some weeks, until boredom takes over, and he finds some motivation, or when takes an interest in my strewing and suggestions . I picture earlier days of high stress, much shouting and defiance which went hand in hand with any maths questions, and most of the other "lessons" I attempted to force my son to complete.
I judge it best to keep my mouth shut on both counts, and allow the lady before me to keep her equilibrium! I imagine her reaction if she knew the truth. Even to tell her of how my eldest son spends his days, would be pointless. She would have no frame of reference in which to place the activities which makes up his days. A few maths questions, lots of read-alouds, reading for pleasure, a little science and copywork. How can outsider accurately imagine the flow of a home in which school is absent?
On my way home I once again think that home educators really are like goats. We refuse to go with the crowd like sheep, but stubbornly do our own thing in the face of a society which would like everyone to believe that there is only one way to educate a child. We question the norms, and cut a new path. I believe that home educators do this better than any other group I can think of. Let everyone else follow the school model. We'll take the path less travelled by!
Last night I was struck by how different my educational paradigm is from schooling parents. Bilby attends a Catholic youth group called Life Teen, and last night parents were encouraged to come along to hear about an upcoming retreat. Several times I heard how parents were not happy with the date chosen which happened to be the week end before exams begin. Not the HSC, but exams for years 8, 9 and 10. In my mind insignificant exams which no one will care about the week after they are finished! Yet the fun and spiritual growth to be had on the retreat will probably be remembered fondly, and drawn on for years to come! One parent shared with me that they originally were not going to allow their child to attend because of these exams, until her tears changed their minds. I looked at my son, and was so grateful that he has no concept of what an exam is. He has never had to worry where he will be ranked in relation to 150 other children his age, and judge his worthiness based on his results.
Parents who hadn't met me before questioned me about how I would manage high school, and the HSC. Hopefully I opened a door for one mum to see the final year of school in a different light. As is often the case, she seemed a little surprised when I said that there are many avenues into university. She agreed with me that too much pressure is placed on kids, and that she remembered asking people what mark they got in the HSC for some time after, and pigeon holing them based on their response.
So I am happy to associate myself with the noble goat! Funnily enough I even live on Nanny Goat Hill, a local nickname given to the hill on which I live, and where my own father played in freedom as a child, and where goats of the fury, and two legged kind still live and play today!