Thursday, June 15, 2006

Another Fallen Comrade

One of my online homeschooling friends has enrolled her kids in public school for the fall. She's decided, for a variety of very sound reasons, that school is what's best for her kids at this time, and she's found a very cool little school, and that's it. She's a smart girl, and she's thought about it endlessly. Of course, the point here isn't "Is she right or not?" it's how I as a homeschooling parent respond to a comrade going over to the other side, turning the coat, surrendering, whatever. What's with all the war metaphors? When something like this happens, I admit, I have those "us and them" feelings. Like she was one of us, and now she's one of them, and the only thing left is to hope she doesn't publish our secret handsigns, or that she'll still talk to us in the grocery store, instead of socializing exclusively with her new PTA friends. Kind of dumb, for me to think that way. But it's there.


elementaryschool
The School Team

When a homeschooler decides that school is better, we all say, "You made the right decision. We support you." Even if, last week, we were all talking about how school is fundamentally flawed, essentially wrong for learning, how homeschooling is wonderful, blissful, how happy we are about our kids. This isn't about being a homeschooler or not, it's about being a good friend, who isn't going to demand that you explain yourself, and isn't going to crabbily judge you or whatever.

It's easy to let other people's decisions threaten yours. Especially when that person is an active advocate of homeschooling -- not a fence-sitter at all. I would almost have said, to continue the inappropriate war metaphor, that she was a lieutenant, if not a general. It's like having a PETA activist pick up a hamburger and say, "It's delicious." You can't just brush it off and say, well, she was never committed, or she hasn't really thought about this. She was and she has, and she chose to put her kids in school. So now what? I recognize that I feel defensive of my choice in the face of her choice. Does that mean I'm uncertain? Does that mean I'm a little envious? If I say, "You did the right thing," does that mean I'm not as committed as I thought I was?

homeschoolers
The Homeschool Team

The reasonable answer is, of course, that everyone's kids are different, and even at different times in their lives they need different things, and what works for X might not work for Y, etc. We can all respect each other, blah blah blah. But I wonder if some of my unconditional support for my "schooling" friends comes from a place of doubt. Maybe I'm saying "Good job, you did the right thing" to her, because if I choose to put my own kids in school next year, completely violating everything I've been blithely firing off about school and homeschool, I wouldn't want to be judged either. If I ever get my "Homeskool 4-Evah!" tattoo removed from my arm, and join the ranks of the droppers off and pickers up, I don't want anyone bringing up my rants about the poor little children that live by the bell and play in fifteen minute intervals and learn about trees from pictures of trees.

When a group of people doing something that's marginalized in our culture, like homeschooling or breastfeeding or vegetarianism or... whatever... and they lose one of their number to the mainstream, I guess it would be weird if there were cheering. We do what we do because we believe in it, and it's okay to not feel total unflinching joy when someone changes her mind. But I'd be the last person to stand up and argue with someone who's making different choices. It's impossible to know what will happen, and I know that it could be me "turning coat" in a few years, for equally solid reasons all my own.

12 comments:

  1. That is so wonderfully honest and true. Wow!

    I also really chuckled at the pictures of the school team and then the homeschool team.

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  2. Love this! Totally spoke my mind and now I must blog about it!!!!

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  3. Ooh ... it was *so* hard to not be disappointed when a IRL friend who was considering homeschooling decided to put her oldest into a school last year. All things considered, she is an intelligent, loving, wonderful mother who wants to do the best for her children, and I have to respect that. But it was still hard to lose that connection.

    Thanks for the great post.

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  4. A few years ago, I found myself in a similar situation. My reaction was grief. Having this friend exit our homeschooling community was a very real loss to me, and a shock as well, since I knew nothing of it until seeing one of the children in front of my house waiting for the bus. But, I guess that is what makes the situation different; these people are our Real Life Friends.

    Thanks for the thoughtful post.

    BTW, my name's Rebecca, and I homeschool 2 high school girls. Got here from the carnival. Nice to meet you!

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  5. I got the same tramadol attack... well, not the same, because it was only about 20 comments instead of 90, and i t have any filtering set up, and I just deleted them one at a time... hmm.. the only thing really in common was that it was about tramadol... what filter do you have set up that caught them all?

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  6. Bonjour! What a super websight! Very refreshing to peruse from where we live in Paris (France). I eat frogs and drink wine. Woold like more informatons on this. Best regards! Mikael.

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  7. Bonjour! What a super websight! Very refreshing to peruse from where we live in Paris (France). I eat frogs and drink wine. Woold like more informatons on this. Best regards! Mikael.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Bonjour! What a super websight! Very refreshing to peruse from where we live in Paris (France). I eat frogs and drink wine. Woold like more informatons on this. Best regards! Mikael.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Anonymous9:51 AM

    First off, I really like your blog and your site. Nice work:>Now re: your blog on 'Fallen Comrade'...

    How true -- especially your comment about 'other peoples' decisions.' I have been on the other side of that wall -- my decision to home school my sons resulted in someone I thought of as a friend getting very angry and defensive. When I asked what the problem was I was told 'I feel like you are judging me for not homeschooling, for sending my son to school.' I said 'Look, we each make the decision that is right for our family. You have thought about yours and come to your conclusion. For your family, this is the right choice. You didn't just slap him in any ole school, you looked long and hard to find the right one. I am homeschooling my boys because, for our family, that is the right decision.' Don't think she ever accepted the fact that I really didn't judge her on that. She had always been the one (before we both had kids) who was very pro-homeschool. Her cousin is a biggie in the HS world... so it is interesting to see it on the other side.

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  10. kimmhunt5:55 PM

    I struggle with how to respond to HSing friends that put their kids in school.

    I tend to think that people who end up putting their children in school are generally trying to reproduce public school at home anyway. You know: boxed curriculum, school desks and chalkboard, hours of worksheets and endless review, etc. I don't know if this is always true, but casual observence tells me that this is true at least some of the time.

    But no one does public school like the public schools. So why not take advantage of them?

    I also wonder if we homeschoolers don't set the expectations too high about how "wonderful" it all is... is homeschooling life really so fun and fabulous all the time?

    I've been homeschooling for about 4years, and I don't think so. I have had plenty of trying days, negative thoughts, unfounded worries, and experienced my share of friction with my children. I am not blissful. Ever.

    Don't get me wrong... I love homeschooling. But I don't think it is a panacea for all of modern childhood's ills.

    My kids have just as many problems in my HS as they probably would in public school. Their problems are a little different, but they're still difficult.

    There are so many wonderful things about homeschooling that I enjoy. But HSing is NOT all fun, peaceful, harmonious, and well-executed in my home.

    But I'm still at it. And I have hope and conviction about what I am doing.

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  11. Wow. I just stumbled by this today. I wasn't searching homeschooling or anything. I was searching prezuki and Norfolk, Virginia (in case you were wondering) but wow! This is one well-written piece. It is so honest, yet incredibly respectful. I see you wrote it way back in '06. How did your friend react to reading this? Or did she read it at all? In any event, I had to comment. You'll probably get a laugh since it is so far in the past, but I was really moved. I immediately shared it with my playgroup that has lots of homeschooling moms. I'm not one, but it I hope I can be as elegant in my words as you were if the occasion to give my feelings over things like this ever presents itself. THanks for the uplifting Sunday morning read.


    Megan
    www.declutterdaily.com

    ReplyDelete
  12. Wow. I just stumbled by this today. I wasn't searching homeschooling or anything. I was searching prezuki and Norfolk, Virginia (in case you were wondering) but wow! This is one well-written piece. It is so honest, yet incredibly respectful. I see you wrote it way back in '06. How did your friend react to reading this? Or did she read it at all? In any event, I had to comment. You'll probably get a laugh since it is so far in the past, but I was really moved. I immediately shared it with my playgroup that has lots of homeschooling moms. I'm not one, but it I hope I can be as elegant in my words as you were if the occasion to give my feelings over things like this ever presents itself. THanks for the uplifting Sunday morning read.


    Megan
    www.declutterdaily.com

    ReplyDelete