I’ve been reading some various homeschooling and unschooling books recently to help me refocus myself on what I really believe about education. One of my most recent finds is David Guterson’s Family Matters. (I believe that it’s out of print, but I am not certain.)
I’m still in the middle of the introduction, but he just put a finger on something that has been a source of wavering for me. He talks about how school is so entrenched in the American life that people feel, culturally that it’s one of the certain things that must happen. You know. Death, taxes, school, etc.
When you pull a child out of school or just choose not to send them, you are doing something countercultural, something that is so outside the normal way of doing things that this very action makes you radical.
Then, he really puts his finger on the thing that I’ve been pondering. I just have to quote him.
A homeschooler is not really a homeschooler at all but is rather a young person who does not go to school, a person best defined by what he does not do as opposed to by what he does.
That is my problem. I’ve been trying to define myself as a homeschooling by what I do. Homeschoolers know what I’m talking about. The curriculum debates. Classical, Charlotte Mason, unit study, eclectic, delight-directed, unschooling, etc.
Instead, I should focus on what I do not do. School. There is no school going on at my house. No kids sitting in desks. No school room. No daily or weekly assignments. No lesson plans. No curriculum. No bathroom breaks. No individual subjects.
Instead, I make some notes. Some ideas of what we might do. I say, “I think I know what we’re going to do today. Would you like to do it? Do you have an idea for what we should do? I think we should read our Bibles together and pray first.” I buy supplies, some generic and some tailored for a specific kid. I strew interesting things across their path.
Everyone still learns their basics, even if they might blossom at a slower pace. Fun is had. Life is lived. Learning occurs even when they least suspect it. It occurs even when I least expect it. We hear laughter and are joyous.
This is our definition of homeschooling. It’s a life of joy and learning, but mostly, it’s just a life without school.