Thursday, July 14, 2011

School? What the Heck to Do?

Usually when I write here, I've been kicking ideas around for a while, but I haven't been on this issue so if it sounds disorientated, you'll know why.

Urgh, school? I suppose that we have to decide whether or not our kids are going to school.

I have always been opposed to the idea, but thanks to the midlife crisis, I have realized two things: 1) I need some space. 2) I need a little financial autonomy. It seems like the reasonable way to get either of these things is to put the kids in school and get a job. However, doing that does not mitigate any of the issues that I have with school. (And it's not like anyone is just handing out jobs).

I think school is relatively pointless and the only interest I have in it is using it as free daycare. I don't think most people learn much there. I think it's socially damaging to a lot of people. I think it's a waste of time. I think it's oppressive to boys in particular. I think it would disrupt our family life.

This laundry list of complaints really does nothing to describe my real issues with the thing. I could talk for hours about the subject.  I've read a huge range of homeschooling books from the one by the crazy Christian who thinks that you should buy art books and black out the naughty bits to teach your kids about classic art to the free-wheeling unschooling tracts, but the one that I admired the most was Family Matters by David Gutterson. He doesn't take a side on the school at home versus the unschooling debate, and he explains that through human history, people have learned both on their own and been tutored on topics. Although he feels that education is important, one of his primary objectives in keeping his children at home is strengthening the family bond, and that is what actually seems the most important to me too.

I love how the boys play together and help each other out. Sure, they could do that if they went to school, but then it would have to just be school. If they, for instance, took school and soccer, they would be gone from early morning til seven at night two days a week. That leaves no time for dinner or helping each other out or whatever it is that boy 2 does when he gathers together a strobe light, a few burnt out bulbs, some rubber gloves, an old plank, and various hardware.

It seems like we've just warmed up to summer. Yesterday, we biked to the river, and they frolicked on the flooded banks. In the middle of our blueberry and fried chicken snack, we found the crown jewel of the day, a dead baby muskrat. That led to a decapitation on the dining room table and quite a bit of internet research. Today, we went swimming and hiking and swimming. Last year, we spent most of the summer in the natural areas. We would walk and bike miles and spend up to eight hours on a single day's Odyssey. When the neighborhood kids went to school was when summer seemed the ripest: The cicadas sang the loudest, the fireflies were dense, and the heat was oppressive. School starts in about four weeks, and I don't know if I can in good conscious send my kids to sit inside all day when the cicadas are making that much noise.

All I can do now is think about it. And I can also try very very hard not to corner my husband into a position. (I'm prone to doing that).

Ideally, I would get a night/evening job so that I would accomplish the two things noted above. It would have to pay well enough to hire a babysitter because The Man works at night too. If the stars aligned and that happened, they wouldn't have to go to school, and it would all be relatively perfect.        


  1. What a tough choice... I had always thought I'd send my kids to school, and I taught in public school for three years and know what a pile of boogers it is. But I loved it too, when I was a student, on some levels, so much so that I went to school a year early (pre-school) and am just finishing my third degree. I wish it could be like faith, where it's easier to let the kid just decide when s/he is old enough, but those choices have to be made earlier, and I know I'd never be able to fill in math knowledge. Or spelling. She'd spell like a four-year-old. She'd have to learn despite me.

    Also, re: your comment on my blog about dooce? I haven't been there in a while and stopped by today and it felt a little messy to me! I like the way you do it, mama--simple, clean, just the funny words without the extra mess. I appreciated her humor in her book, though it was far from perfect and most certainly not literary. Just good to fill myself up with someone who barfed her way through and survived. She, however, had one of the easiest births ever, which only made me want to crawl into the book and kick her. And then her baby screamed through babyhood and Maya just sings like an earthworm, so I think I won.

  2. That is a tough one. I can sympathize with the needing space problem. If you were in the neighborhood, I'd offer to homeschool/unschool your little rascals with my own two. Maybe there's some school in your area that has a less stringent structure and mirrors a more unschooling style. Have you looked into any schools yet? Are you networked with any area homeschoolers (not the crazy Christian ones)? They may possibly know of some good schools.

  3. kate(merlicia's cousin)July 20, 2011 at 7:33 PM

    I am totally with you on the schooling debate...never satisfied...not yet anyway.

  4. I would be fighting against my very being to send Kat off, that we would try everything else first, before ending up there. The peanut gallery can tell you lots of things, but they still aren't your gut, and the gut doesn't shut up until it gets what it matter how long it takes. At least, that is my experience...You are their momma and know the right choice, for them.
    Besides, what could be more fun than dead things and cicadas?