Tuesday, May 24, 2005

A Confession

I've been enjoying reading people's reasons for homeschooling. I could agree with them all, too: to take responsibility for our own children, especially in spiritual things. To develop a good relationship with them. To protect them from exposure to the wrong things. To give them an excellent education.

But those aren't the real reason. Or at least, not the one at the forefront of my mind.

The truth is, my real reason is a very selfish one. I love to teach. I really, really, really, love to teach. I love designing curriculum. I love reviewing curriculum. I love researching and preparing. I love explaining things. I love learning things and I love watching other people learn things. I love watching the lights go on as a six-year-old reads a whole book all by himself, or as a sixteen-year-old comes up with a whole thought all by himself.

When other little girls, I understand, were wont to plan the colors and bridesmaids for their as-yet unscheduled weddings, I was pondering which education philosophy would be best for my as-yet nonexistent children. (I never really did enjoy wedding planning, even when I was engaged. I still love reading about education philosophy.)

When my mother went to curriculum fairs, I went along and helped select most of the books for myself and my younger siblings. I taught my youngest brother to read, using probably the most labor-intensive reading program out there, The Writing Road to Reading. (I wouldn't do anything nearly that complex nowadays. Sorry to put you through all that, Joe.) I tutored math. I taught Sunday School.

In later years, I wrote a civics curriculum, became a guest speaker for schools and homeschooling groups, had my own booth at those enticing curriculum fairs and school conventions, and even taught a class at a private high school for a year. And whatever the age or setting or topic, I loved teaching.

For some reason, despite all this, I never gave very long or serious thought to studying education formally and becoming a licensed teacher. Partly it was my inherent dislike for systemization--I knew I'd never get along well if I had to follow orders. Partly it was intellectual snobbery--education courses are for people who can't handle actual substance.

Mostly, though, it was that what I wanted wasn't just to process thousands of children through the same grade. I knew how little time one teacher has in the whole course of someone's education. It frustrated me. Why just have one year's worth of impact on lots of children, while who-knows-whom was teaching my own children who-knows-what, when I could provide my own children with the best of everything from birth to adulthood?

And how could I bear to miss out on watching my own children through the adventure of learning?

So, there you have it. There are nobler people out there who don't care much for teaching and do it anyway because they know it's what their children need. If I felt that way (and no doubt there are days when I will), I would of course teach my children anyway, just like I write down checks I write even though I loathe the task (well, at least I try). Some things you just have to do for yourself.

But mostly, I don't think I'll be that noble. Mostly, this is going to be a whole lot of fun.

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