I’ve been reflecting on this one today. It has me thinking about the real cost of school. What roughly sixteen years+ of “free” schooling would cost my family. It’s astonishing. The price my children would pay for gross misalignment of priorities, arbitrary rules and bells, standardized testing, homework and inflexible scheduling. Not to mention the lack of free play, time outdoors, physical activity, individualized attention, financial education and overall preparedness for the real world. And that’s if they’re lucky enough not to be impacted by bullying, discrimination or harassment — and/or have the bulk of their learning time hijacked by other issues in the classroom that interfere with their teacher’s ability to conduct an actual lesson. I could go on, but you get the idea.
But you know, what’s more interesting? The more time I spend connecting with other homeschooling and unschooling moms, the more former-teacher moms I find. The more moms who know what the education system looks like on the inside and don’t want their kids anywhere near it. I understand that it’s a privilege to have the opportunity to homeschool my kids. It’s also a lifestyle choice that we have not taken lightly. My new career is creating, facilitating and managing the kind of childhood and education I want for my kids — and I have to figure it out while I’m doing it. Notice I didn’t say teaching. I don’t plan to be doing “school” at home with my kids. Certainly not in the traditional sense. I plan to seek out or create learning opportunities for them that look nothing like school as we know it. Opportunities for them to enjoy learning about things that really matter, connecting with others in a meaningful and authentic way, and discovering what they love and how to build a life around it. Daunting? Yes. But, there is a global community of parents who have done and continue to do this with great success, and I hope to learn alongside these amazing mentors.
I also want to share that my decision has nothing to do with a lack of respect for teachers or the incredibly difficult job they do under often ridiculous circumstances. In fact, it is in support of educators everywhere. I know what it’s like to be part of a system that doesn’t work. I was fortunate to be able to remove myself, but I know it’s not an easy decision for many. I do this work now in solidarity with teachers.
I believe that if all parents who could educate their kids outside the traditional school system did exactly that, teachers might stand a fighting chance at supporting those who have no choice but to take part in their broken system. You don’t have to have a teaching background to homeschool. In fact, some might argue that it’s better if you don’t. You know your kids. You love your kids. No one can prepare them for life better than you can.
I also strongly believe that if every teacher who doesn’t support our current education system sought work outside the system — within new and innovative educational environments and platforms — we would all have a chance at creating a better world for future generations. For those who wonder what opportunities are out there — start looking! You have skills and experiences that are valuable, versatile and marketable.
Thinking about homeschooling? Unschooling? Leaving your teaching job? Come! Leave a comment below. Learn with me and every other parent (and former teacher) who is trying to figure it out. Let’s do this together. There is no better time in the history of the world than right freaking now.