Homeschooling: An Apologetic Discourse7:30 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.