Friday, November 21, 2008

I Could Be One of Them

The other night I attended a free lecture by Peg Tyre, author of “The Trouble with Boys: A Surprising Report Card on Our Sons, Their Problems at School, and What Parents and Educators Must Do” at the Fairfield Country Day School in Fairfield, Connecticut.

My neighbor and friend’s son, who is the same age as my older son, attended that private school for one year, so I’d heard some stories about the school. I didn’t even know where the school was located, so I had to use my car’s navigation system to find the place. As I drove there I thought, “This could be my morning commute, to drop my kids off, this is how I’d go.”

As I pulled through the gates and parked, I saw the spots reserved for certain families. These are close to the door, for use during drop-off and pick-up time. I recall my friend buying one of those for a LOT of money one year, at a silent auction fundraiser. I won’t tell you for how much. More than you’d probably believe…

Anyhow as I walked through the parking lot and opened the gigantic door, I was thinking, I could be one of the parents whose kids goes here. I could give up homeschooling and send my boys to this all-boy prep school. I stepped into the room. The floors were hardwood, and a gigantic fireplace was there, with a lovely mantle. There was crown molding; the place was lovely, impressive, and grand. I walked through the halls as if I knew where I was going, chin up, confidently striding to the auditorium. I imagined that in the eyes of the teachers and people from the local community that I was passing for a parent of a boy enrolled at Fairfield Country Day.

I could do this; I could just stop homeschooling and send my kids to school. I could switch, to let go of full responsibility for my boys’ education. I could transform it to worry about their education, to what was happening to them in school (or not happening). I could sit and complain to my new friends about what was going on in the classroom. I could put some hours to volunteer work to raise money for the school. Maybe our name would be on the brass plaque on the auditorium seat. Or the parking space, no, scratch that last idea, I’m a practical person and would not spend my money that way, not that much money.

I could spend my free daytime hours reading a book about how schools are failing boys. I could listen to a lecture like this one. I could be one of the moms in the room whose boys were ‘in that boat’ and who were wringing their hands over how to save their sons, how despite forking over $28K per year for tuition, there was the worry of my son becoming turned off to learning, becoming apathetic, and “not applying himself to his fullest’.

As the lecture unfolded and the cracks where boys fall through the system that lead them to fail or to not reach their potential were outlined, I was making a mental checklist.

Check, I knew of that issue. Years ago. Years before my kids were even the age that thing happens to them. I knew of it from reading and being an autodidact.

Check, I knew of that problem and chose to not put my sons into that situation, so they were saved from it.

Check, my boys went past that age or stage with success.

It was a little hard sitting through the lecture as I felt that Ms. Tyre was preaching to the choir with regard to me. She has great information, but it was nothing new to me.

I also felt that of all the issues Ms. Tyre laid out in her lecture (she didn’t disclose all the issues she covers in her book), that every single one of them can be avoided if the child is homeschooled, especially if the parent believes in educational philosophies which are in alignment with what ‘is best’ for boys (like the path I chose for my boys).

In the question and answer period I was not tempted to bring up homeschooling. Why bother? I didn’t think anyone would want to hear that homeschooling can solve all the issues. Certainly not everyone in the room would even consider or want to homeschool their child. And my past experience with another book author in this same situation, a situation where he outlined all that was wrong in families and how schools and excessive homework was further dividing families, when homeschooling would surely be an answer, one option to select from that would solve all the things he was stressing over, well, his response was negative. It was of the variety that not everyone can homeschool or would ever want to, so he chose to not even recommend it, or even mention or suggest it.

Then the woman next to me (of all places in the auditorium, she had to be right next to me?) asked the question. Did Ms. Tyre feel that homeschooling was the answer? Come to find out that woman is an ex-public school teacher who has left her career to be home to raise her child who is now a toddler. She is considering homeschooling she told me, but had not looked much into it yet. She knows ‘we’re out there’ but she has not reached out to make connections yet. She was at the lecture with her friends who are public school teachers. If you’re wondering what Ms. Tyre said about it, she said she was having trouble finding reliable sources of information to conduct research in order to form an opinion. I was satisfied with that answer, at least it wasn’t some other answer that may irk me, or worse, anger me.

It is true that we homeschoolers are living an alternative lifestyle. It is true that to step outside the mainstream is sometimes not always easy. It is true that being the ‘homeschool teacher’ is not always easy, or fun. It is true that even when I’m feeling elated about our homeschooling on this day, that I have to hear some ridiculous comment from the media such as Joy Behar on The View saying that homeschooled kids are demented. Dealing with garbage like that, insulting comments from people who are completely ignorant on the topic is insulting and it can hurt. But you know what? After hearing what a mess the boys in this nation are turning out to be, and hearing how the problems start in preschool and continue in school, and are all school-based issues, I’ll buck it up and take the insults from the ignorant media. I’ll step up to handle the hard parts and not fun parts of home educating my children. It allows me to present and glad to enjoy all the good things that come with the homeschooling journey.

I reject the option of sending my kids to a private school. I reject the option of sending my kids to a public school. I choose to home educate my children.

I’m a homeschool mom. I’m proud to be one. I’m grateful to have the opportunity to do this job. I’m happy with our lifestyle, no matter what anyone else thinks of what we’re doing.

For Further Reading

About problems with preschool

About how school fails all children

About parents advocating for education reform

A good book about raising boys

I heard a parent say some parents demand more homework for their children. I will suggest they look into ‘after schooling’ which is addressed in ‘The Well-Trained Mind’ instead.

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Summer Fae said...

Thank you for the book recommendations. I am currently reading How Boys & Girls Learn Differently. I got it at the library's book sale.

christinemm said...

received by email from A.K.


Thank you so much for this post. I just checked out her book and started it this afternoon, and it is already resonating (deeply). I'm having a major - MAJOR - "aha" moment. Thank you thank you thank you.
And I think my sons would thank you too. Thank you."

christinemm said...

received by email from A.K.


Thank you so much for this post. I just checked out her book and started it this afternoon, and it is already resonating (deeply). I'm having a major - MAJOR - "aha" moment. Thank you thank you thank you.
And I think my sons would thank you too. Thank you."