What is the Point of School

I can’t decide if I’m falling out of love with homeschooling or if I have spring fever— or if I just despise our education system (including my own teachings) altogether. 
I know I would do wonderfully on a deserted island with my family—with no system to report to with regards to what my kids are learning. I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll say it again: Our kids are not learning what they need to be studying in school—even when we take them out of it, the material they must learn isn’t cutting it. I believe they are absorbing the monotony of adulthood, and it’s killing—not building, their brain cells. Simply put: School is boring and I’m loosing my footing as a home-based teacher.
so called mom
The reason I feel this way is because kids should be heavily immersed in things like: Money management, insurance policies, emergency preparedness, civic engagement, abusive relationships, fair wages, diet and fitness, finding your passion, inner peace. And at an early age. This is the stuff that determines survival—not Oregon history—which always seems to be mis-told no matter which edition your textbook is. Somebody needs to take a crack at writing an age appropriate account of what really happened so that we can quit brushing it under the carpet or denying it altogether.
Am I teaching Pascal these savvy survival-based things, even with our free-wheeling homeschool curriculum? Nope, Not as a part of anything guided. There aren’t enough hours in the day with all of this other nonsense clouding our time together. And, quite frankly, it pisses me off. Imagine preparing kids for real life! Imagine a system that raised kids to be good people!
Earlier today I was reading material about how Oregon was settled, shaking my head and cutting myself off, saying: Pascal, this is bullshit. Do you have any idea what these So-Called Colonists did to the Native Americans? Our only real lesson in that entire book can be learned in one grim, hopeless statement: People can be terrible, and greedy and what’s worse—things haven’t changed much.
so called mom
So now what? Well, with six weeks left in the school year, I’m not sure I have much choice but to ride it out. And, I’m not sure I can actually do anything but complain about it. If she was my only child, I would take on the system with her on my arm, but the fact of the matter is, I still have 6 other kids that need me—for homework help, projects, extra curriculars, doctors appointments, friend making and dinner. There isn’t enough time in the day to take on the world unfortunately. So we stumble through it.
But it doesn’t remove my disappointment from our American culture and it’s frequent missed opportunities for youth impact. Pascal shouldn’t have to wait for college to kick in for some of these life-shaping lessons. They should be happening now as an intelligent strategy to build better citizens, learners, parents, employees, etc etc. I can’t and shouldn’t have to teach that on my own. For now I’m stumped about what to do. Humanitarianism should be the core of her learning and I’m disappointed that it isn’t. Everything else is just a distraction to what’s really important: human awareness and participation. Not the perpetuation of indifference and selfishness. 
Rethinking it all,
So-Called Mom

To Homeschool … Or Not.

Jake, Phoenix, Earth, Milla, MJ, Pascal, Leopold Sauvie Island Farm Homeschool

 

Having my kids in a traditional school was ruining my family. homeschool

Those days, my kids would get home and have to begin homework right away or they would be doomed. And by they, I really mean me. There were days they did homework straight through dinner, straight through the weekend, in the car, and in their beds. I once watched MJ fall asleep with a pencil in her hand, mid-sentence. I have even kept them home from school before, just so they could finish projects for school. homeschool

HomeschoolWhat kind of example was this teaching them? To work day and night and never take time to explore who they were? Their school left no room for them to follow their passion or explore being an individual in a big family. I saw them growing up too fast. I saw them overworked and really, really unhappy.

So I pulled the plug on the whole thing. I bit the bullet and took their learning into my own hands.

When I made the decision to homeschool, I imagined my kids becoming instant geniuses in knitted hats (made with their own talented hands of course). Their little creations would become so bloggable that we would become a global inspiration to other families. My imagination ran wild with this.

So called mom Homeschool

Because of this decision, I also could see us going off grid— as though the house would become an experiment in and of itself—we’d learn everything there is to know about solar panels, passive heating and compost toilets. My lesson books were going to be impressive.

 

I would become an expert at recycling, gardening and keeping chickens.

All of this would happen in my heels and tutus, because let’s not forget about the importance of style. The kids would learn instruments and how to sing together and meditate. Dinners would be wholesome and I’d finally have the endless hours of togetherness I wanted. We would be a solid family. The kids would be confident and different, by choice.

Instead, they turned into people-phobes with social anxiety. Homeschool

They became the weirdos that didn’t go to school. No matter how awkward it was, I kept going and for a couple of years it worked. Like kind of how a compost toilet would’ve worked I guess: Some days were better than others, but most of the time I was still troubleshooting, knee deep in my own shit.

Homeschool So Called Mom

Then my oldest, Jake unraveled the whole thing.

So Called Mom HomeschoolHe got the urge to become “normal” and insisted on going back to school. I think he actually just wanted to gawk at teenage girls like any other 16 year old. MJ applied and got into an arts-based middle school over the summer while Pascal formed a posse of girls from the neighborhood and wanted to give elementary school a shot. Earth was the last one remaining—though it was mostly our call to keep her in another year. Milla and Phoenix have yet to experience homeschooling. Milla thinks she wants to learn from me for high school, but I know this will change over summer. Phoenix, I have no say. I’m only the other mom. And of course that baby, Leopold, will always be homeschooled. Even though he isn’t a kindergartener yet, doesn’t mean I haven’t already started with him. Homeschool

Homeschool

Not long after returning to our standard “six kids at five different schools” model, only one of them has returned to homeschooling: Pascal. Mostly because that kid has so much extra curricular life, it has taken over what would normally be considered important: school. I just feel like when you’re a kid with talent and a lot of heart, you should be allowed to lean into your passion and develop it. It’s only habit that we moms put school first. What about French and Swedish lessons? What about Accordion? What about Skateboarding? Are those things not worth their full attention?

MJ-Davinci-Letter-edit why we Homeschool

Last week MJ wrote me a letter asking to be homeschooled again. It was really sweet and made me cry a tiny bit. I can’t decide if it’s because all of Pascal’s new learning materials just arrived or if she truly misses it. Or misses me. I know I miss her. I miss all of them—I even miss the kids I haven’t taught at home—yet.

With Love,

So Called Mom

Up Next: Why So Many Kids