Choosing home education is not necessarily easy for a goody-two-shoes like me. I want to do the right thing. I want to be right. I want approval, from everyone. At the mere prospect of telling my mother about it, I made and gorged on a batch of chocolate chip cookies and lost a whole day of work to healthy and unhealthy ways of preparing for the conversation.
I have been telling people as I run into them. I have to admit that the drama queen in me is rather pleased to have a piece of news that generates a strong reaction. (Clearly I have more work to do on my inner drama queen.) The first response is invariably surprise. After the surprise, the reactions range from clearly expressed disapproval, to a carefully controlled neutrality, to delight. Good friends who know us well have been uncharacteristically direct in telling me what a bad idea they think home education is. I deeply appreciate their honesty. I get the impression that many people are dubious. Everyone wants to know why. I haven’t yet come up with the pat answer that conversations in the grocery aisle require. Sometimes I reveal rather more about us than might be ‘normal’ or wise. Every reaction gives me food for thought. This is how our social milieu affects our thinking. Technically, I am grateful for every response, because they all give me an opportunity to clarify my thinking and to feel into the amount of information I want to share with different people. I’m aware that I need to be very careful in how I respond to what I hear: I drink in the compassionate support, I try to take on board all opinions, and ultimately I have to keep checking in with myself to see whether I want to adjust my views based on what’s been said. It’s time-consuming work.
Choosing to home-educate is a big statement of my values. I’ve put us out of the ordinary. This makes me uncomfortable. I spent several decades working very hard to be ‘normal’ (though I never achieved it). It’s a very big step to begin accepting that I am just not normal.
My daughter is lucky that her need to be home educated is emerging while I am a ‘woman of a certain age.’ It is at this time of life that women stop being as concerned with what other people think and need, and start being more concerned with living their own truths (Christiane Northrup, The Wisdom of Menopause). Before now, I would not have had the courage to home educate, even though my heart and soul would have recognised her need. That could have been a tragedy for her. So I celebrate my willingness to live what I believe – and my willingness to be seen to be doing it, even when it’s unpopular.
To those of you reading this who have been so supportive: you have my eternal gratitude.
What do you think about home education? What reactions do you get when you talk about it?