Thursday, June 7, 2007

The Tao of Homeschooling

Before we married, my then-girlfriend and I discussed our expectations, including what we wanted from family life. We agreed that the formerly traditional stay-at-home mom model best fit our vision for our children-to-be, and later we structured our lives to make that vision a reality.

Years later we were married university students. She pursued a degree in elementary education and I pursued degrees in mathematics. In the evenings, we compared notes. She, a military veteran then eight-months pregnant with our daughter, complained about her younger peers crying to their instructor about the hardships of student-teaching, early classes, completing projects, and so forth. I complained about the students who began as would-be mathematicians who, when they realized they could not handle the material, changed their majors to math education. We realized that, on an unaltered path, these people or people like them would be our daughter's teachers. Neither of us wanted that for her.

Our somewhat complicated life of stay-at-home-mom evolved to the much more complex life of the homeschooling family.

Today there is an absolutely vibrant homeschooling community in our area. The personal interaction enabled by proximity combined with the free exchange of information that the Internet enables creates a very interesting dynamic worthy of a sociological dissertation.

In such a community, each parent and each child potentially has something to share, not only with his own family, but with the entire community. Having previously abandoned the notions
  • that knowledge can only be transmitted effectively by professionally trained teachers;
  • that deep subject matter expertise is required before basic knowledge or skills can be transmitted; and,
  • that some external authority must certify one's knowledge for that knowledge to be real;
every homeschooler is now empowered to be a teacher as well as a student. Thus, where one family has a deficit in some knowledge, skill, or experience, there is likely a member within the community who can and will fill that deficit.

Without pretense, we share what we know. Such is our tradition.

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