Homeschooling: An Apologetic Discourse

7:30 AM

Or the Ignorant Ramblings of an Unsocialized, Sheltered Homeschooler

I can’t stand classrooms. Everyone else has mastered this glazed-over look of perfect stillness—or the one where you slouch over on the table with your head buried in your arms—or the innocent note-taking façade which suspiciously resembles texting. I’m the only one fidgeting, suppressing sighs and connecting the pencil marks on the table.

I just don’t learn that way. Classrooms turn my brain off. For one thing, I need to be able to underline and highlight and go back and rewind because I want to commit that immortal phrase to mind. I have to ask myself questions out loud and puzzle through ridiculous statements. I want to holler to my mama and ask her what she thinks or start a flat-out oration to rival Marc Antony.

Sitting still in a hard chair, being lectured at, stopping discussion due to time shortage—that’s not for me.

I figured this out because my grandmamma said she liked listening to one teacher at a time and I preferred a round-table discussion. The Q&A session, the comments of a blog post, the aftermath of a sermon where I can ask Pastor the question he didn’t address—that’s when I learn the most. It’s partly because I like piecing together the various reactions and quirks of human beings: that’s far more interesting than dry facts. It’s mostly because in a classroom, I am a passive receiver with no control of what’s hitting me. During personal study and debate, I get to direct my learning—I’m completely in charge—and I learn so much more effectively and quickly because of it.

That, I’m beginning to learn, is one of my favorite blessings of homeschool. And I think it’s one of the first starting places for many homeschoolers: homeschooling provides the ideal situation for different learners—and we’re all different learners. Me especially. And it works. We’ve all heard the statistics about homeschoolers scoring higher than public schoolers. That’s a great pride. That’s a very visible badge to wear on one’s lapel when morale is low.

But the biggest blessing—the greatest pride—is not academic. The real deal for me is the spiritual and intellectual and emotional freedom. I don't - generally - have to worry about sifting through worldly philosophies; I don't have to deal with apostates before I've fully formed any opinion; I don't have to tremble before things I don't believe in; I don't have to immerse myself in the culture and hope I survive.

I love that my education is totally, unapologetically Christian. To those who cry, "Narrow-minded!", frankly, I don't care to let the world define what narrow-mindedness is. They have - or claim to have - weighed religion and found it wanting. I find humanism empty, and I pursue my own education according to my own beliefs. I am - to put it awkwardly - a very intellectually sensitive person, very desirous of the truth, and I run myself ragged trying to be fair to every argument, no matter how antithetical it is to my own beliefs. I would come home emotionally distraught (i.e., crying, wailing and philosophizing) every day from public school, either discouraged in my own beliefs or confused with the stark disinterest in truth from teachers and peers. That might be different if I grew up in the public school. (My issue with public school is not primarily what they're teaching but what they're not teaching.) No education is religiously neutral and I refuse to be ashamed of my beliefs. Thus I get to revel in truth without worrying about this stifling thing called tolerance.

I love that I can think what I want and speak it. I don't pretend to always be right (that's what my mother is for) but when I believe I am, I don't have to worry about being sent to the principal's office for hate crimes. I have been able to develop my own beliefs during my studies and to practice logically, lovingly, sensitively sharing them to nonbelievers...mainly through the internet. Homeschooling has not sucked me into a stereotype; it has given me leave to stand as a unique person with personal beliefs and fresh ideas. I am given leave to think as I want, and I have chosen to conform that thinking to Christ.

I love that I don't have to deal with a peer group constantly. Don't get me wrong - I can be as social as the next girl. I am fully socialized, despite our family's shy tendencies: we're friends with all ages and different sorts of personalities and beliefs. The thing is, traditional school runs on the peer thing - who's dating who, who's best friends with who, who's in and who's out. You're either With It or you're Not. I'm Not. I hate the thought of being tempted to dress a certain way, act a certain way, be a certain way to fit in with a crowd - or else be left by myself. I am largely ignorant of the whole guy-girl thing, of the cliques and the snobbery toward those outside it. Because I homeschool, I'm free to find out who I am before the Peer Group shapes me, and then to be that person. Do I fail? Sure. I'm very much influenced - I get pressure to keep my mouth shut, check my brain at the door and fit in. Yet I feel that - with all their talk about "being yourself" - traditional school falls short in producing that. Indeed, homeschoolers have cornered the market on individualism.

There are no caveats for me when I say I love homeschooling. It's who I am. Take away homeschooling and you take away the very foundation of learning I have stood upon all these years. It's no exaggeration to say I would be a completely different person were I in public or even private school.

I wouldn't give it up for anything.

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13 impressions

  1. (ack, sitting on a hard steel chair all day?? I prefer my mound of pillows in the rocking chair with my laptop by my side. ;)

    Since I'm homeschooled (and your 'sis) I can't make any defense about public school, and since I agree with you hearitly I have nothing to argue about. For the moment. Actually - I think you should spend your time better then reading that "what-do-you-call-it-forever-strange-speech-you-love-to-torture-me-with" speech by Marc Atony. Or however you spell his name.;)

    ~Bethany

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  2. What do you mean by "traditional school"?

    Is that a public school supported only by the local community consisting of only the children of the local families who want their children educated without truancy laws or anything other than parents forcing their children to attend school?

    Or do you mean federally mandated sitting facilities for children of parents who have no time to deal with their own flesh and blood?

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  3. Bethany, someday I shall teach you to play devil's advocate, and then you can find something with which to disagree.

    Amen to mounds of pillows and laptops.

    Whoa - loaded question, Tragedy101! :o) To me, traditional school is just your typical institutionalized campus - public, private, Christian private, etc. Anywhere with a large peer group, classrooms and an 18:1 student-teacher ratio.

    That includes the old fashioned community schools...and the tax funded daycares for elementary students.

    The first is awesome, the second not so much, but I still think homeschooling beats them to pieces. ;o)

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  4. I'm really glad you thorougly enjoy homeschooling, because it gives proof to the homeschool critics. These critics argue that they haven't met one homeschooler who loves it! It's good when you love and it and are not just doing it because you are forced. A lot of those things are true about the public school peer system... it's really sad how the human race can be so critical of other human beings who aren't exactly like them.
    I also was glad to know that I'm not the only person who struggles slightly with the classroom setting. I'm getting used to it, but it is sometimes hard when I feel so pressured to get things down quickly without truly learning it, and I feel so left behind when I don't know what's going on. I learn more, when I go on my time table and I'm not afraid to experiment or afraid of teacher criticism for not catching on.
    Bailey, your such a good writer. It would be nice if you could secretly write my articles for the paper ( but I'm not sure if that would be honest... I don't want to get fired!) It's funny because I'll write a story and my boss will have to edit it, instead of turning it in and it's perfect. But she says I'm doing well though, so that makes me feel a little better. Love ya, Stacy

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  5. I love your comments, Stacy. :o)

    I've heard so many stereotypical things about homeschooling lately...the kids are sheltered, they hate being so far advanced and doing school with college students, they can't get along with other people.

    Aw, I know...it's really frustrating to me that you have to go through that classroom shock with Spanish and all that. Sometimes I honestly wonder how people can learn things if they've missed classes or start late.

    I'm sure you are doing well with the newspaper. *HUG* I can always help with editing, but even I got my articles rearranged a bit when I wrote for the newspaper. (Wordiness, you know. :P)

    I'll get to see you tomorrow...and then we can work out all those academic woes. I got a B on math...the lesson I worked really hard one.

    *CRINGE*

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  6. Bailey--

    This might be a long comment. I'm not very good with brevity.

    I became a follower of your blog after reading "Why I Hate Sewing (and Other Excuses Homemakers-in-Training Make)" on the Raising Homemakers site. I was immediately drawn in by your sparkling sense of humor and of course, your subject matter. Since then, I've thoroughly enjoyed reading your various posts.

    I am a 27-year-old mother of four children. This is my second year of homeschooling the oldest two. I began homeschooling with much fear and trepidation, but have warmed up to it the further we go. My kids love learning, which makes everything easier. But not being constrained by public school methods has been incredibly freeing as well.

    All of my schooling was at a public school, and even though there were many things about it that I liked, I'm thrilled that my children don't have to ever experience all-day kindergarten, incomplete American history, or Algebra taught by a grumpy old man who hates high school students, teaching, and math. (My goodness, that was a long sentence! My English teacher mother taught me that part of good writing is knowing when it's okay to break the rules, so I'll persevere...)

    Your writing has filled me with a hope that I had hardly dared to hold onto before. Your full thoughts, excellent sense of humor, utter appreciation for homeschooling...all of these and more have given me the fuel I needed to bolster my fragile belief that homeschooling really *is* best for my kids.

    Thank your mother for me, will you? And your dad too, if that seems appropriate. Their work and its results have encouraged my heart.

    And keep up the smashing good writing.

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  7. Thank you for bolstering my fragile hope that homeschooling really *is* the best option for my kids.

    As a public school gal, I have been hoping that I'll be able teach my kids everything they need to know. I liked a lot of public school, but I'm glad my little ones will never have to experience all-day kindergarten, incomplete American history, or being taught Algebra by a grumpy old man who dislikes high school kids, teaching, and math.

    Reading your blog and witnessing firsthand what a full-thinking young lady you've already become is very encouraging.

    Keep up the smashing good writing.

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  8. *blushing painfully*

    The reason you have two comments from me that are suspiciously similar is because after writing the first--and much longer one--the computer told me that it was too long and gave me no options for fixing it. I was left feeling frustrated, because it appeared that my entire comment had been eaten.

    So I took a deep breath and tried to re-gather my thoughts and express myself with that most admirable of qualities--brevity. Feeling proud for not losing my cool and giving up on the whole comment thing, I flittered off to take care of children. Checking in just now to see if it had posted, I was mortified to see that not only had I not been brief, I had followed up my original comment with what appeared to be a brief synopsis of the first.

    And as I started in now to explain to you what happened, my dear, cheeky husband said, "Ah yes, the best way to fix one too many comments? Add a third."

    It's just been that kind of day. Thank you for understanding.

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  9. I don't know what to say. Thank you so much - and praise God! I've never quite received such a compliment before...and I'm so glad you are encouraged.

    To be painfully honest, I've often doubted whether homeschooling was best or not. I spent most of my homeschooling years in ignorance of the incredible gift I received and the rest struggling with discontent ("Aw, why do I have to be the convicted Christian? I'll miss the prom!"). I think every homeschooler has to go through this...just to regain that vision, refocus on what truly matters and press on toward the goal. It's so different from the world...it's a little scary...it takes a lot of faith. Especially in the beginning years.

    Be assured that I showed very little signs of intelligence early in my homeschooling career. ;o)

    LOL Don't feel bad at all. I love long comments, I can't fit anything into brevity and I cheer on anybody who can creatively break the rules of writing. Thank you so much for taking the time to comment - it just made my weekend. :D *HUG*

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  10. Dear Maiden for Jesus,

    I just caught up on reading all your recent posts. I have known for years that homeschooling is the highest and best form of education. God in His word gives us the scriptural mandate for educating our children at home.Deuteronomy 6:6-8 has made my calling to homeschooling sure and steadfast. Thanks for reminding all those young ladies that greener pastures reside right there in the heart of their home. Much Love, Mrs. Reinke

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  11. My dear Bailey,

    *STANDING OVATION*



    And Chris (if you're still around),

    I *really* like you. I'm a 39 year old homeschooling mother of four. I also attended public school. You seem to me a kindred spirit.

    Brevity--shmevity. With a vocabulary like yours, I could read your posts all day. Well, in reality I *couldn't*, because of the children and all...but you know what I mean. = )

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  12. Thank you, Mrs. Reinke. You're so right.

    Mrs. Green --

    *BOW*

    I wish I could get all the wonderful ladies who shower such sweet and wise comments on me: The Big House in the Little Woods Titus 2 Conference. We could have so much fun!

    It's funny you mentioned vocabulary, for Mom and I were just talking about that last night. I made a slightly snarky remark about how somebody didn't know what "efficacious" meant...and I repented when I saw my mother's puzzled face.

    Now I'm not sure that's even a word.

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  13. I found you via raising homemakers and can't stop reading all of your brilliant posts...brilliant for 16 or 70 , still, the homeschooler thing ...I think it must be a divine gift to have stumbled here to this message ..so thorough, honest, just what I needed insight on. Big kiss to you, you amazing girl. This is my first year ever homeschooling my five year old, so all these questions addressed here? Really needed to hear all this...can't begin to tell you, thank you...ps said five yr old named Bailey too. And I have a 17 yr old daughter, britton...wish you lived nearby, she could use a lovely, level headed friend like you!! PSS...socialization might have to hit you hard soon when your writing makes you famous, I can t imagine that it possibly won't .

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Hit me with your best thought! I'm very interested in your unique perspective. If you'd like to discuss things in private, feel free to email me! :)