The educator shakes her head mournfully and says "The homeschooling situation is so sad. They are going to be so behind." And I am struck dumb because I am a homeschooler and it isn't sad at all. Nor are we behind. But she doesn't ask me what I think. She doesn't ask what I love, what I pursue, what I dream about, what my family loves about this life. She speaks at me, not with me. I am a problem child and she must figure out to do with me and I am not invited to the parental discussion. She's consumed with her own thoughts of sadness. And that is sad... and extremely difficult to engage fruitfully.
Part of me wants to stand up and fight the ignorance. I don't care which hill I die on. But the Chief is wiser and counsels silence... for now. And that silence does bring me peace. Because I know this homeschooling life is good and beautiful. Still, the division weighs on my heart.
I started reading a book yesterday by Father George Rutler called Cloud of Witnesses: Dead People I Knew When They Were Alive. It's an engaging book but I wasn't expecting a specific homeschooling consolation from a book thus titled; and yet there it was, right in the forward. I don't suppose I'll ever be in a position to use the phrase "flotsam of their own infecundity" with any angst-filled educator, but it is awfully satisfying to hear Father use it.
Any homeschoolers need an arm to lean on today? A word from someone who knows why you do what you do? Fr. Rutler offers you his....
"While I have spent a lot of time in schools, the lives of people themselves are the best schools. When a friend asked me to coax his daughter, who had announced after her first day of kindergarten that she did not want to go back, I replied that the girls seemed to have sensed something quite right. With some rhetorical excess I said she should abandon kindergarten altogether, for it was my experience that school interrupted my education. It locks you in with your peers. That is a mistake. One's social circle should avoid one's equals. As a child I found children unexceptional and preferred the company of adults. I got to know lots of people who are dead now whom I never would have known had I waited a few years. So I have a collective memory, and oral tradition, that goes back to the eighteenth century, having spoken with people who knew people who knew people who knew people who lived then. The only real university is the universe and that is why an expression like New York University missed the point that the city is the university.
I exercised the child's father by suggesting that, instead of school, children should spend time in restaurant kitchens and shops and garages of all kinds, learning from people who actually make the world work. One day spent roaming through a real classical church building would be the equivalent of one academic term in any of our schools, and a little time spent inconspicuously in a police station would be more informative than many hours spent on social science. Formal lessons would only be required for accuracy in spelling and proficiency in public speaking, for which most public speakers in our culture are not models; and in exchange for performing some menial services, a child could learn the violin, harp, and piano from musicians in one of the better hotels or from performers in the public subways. I urged my friend to keep his child out of kindergarten because kindergarten will only lead to first grade and then the grim sequence of grade after grade begins and takes its inexorable toll on the mind born fertile but gradually numbed by the pedants who impose on the captive child the flotsam of their own infecundity."