Friday, June 15, 2012

There's something you should know.

So since we have established this whole virtual relationship thing, I've decided I need to come clean about something ...

I'm crazy.



However you say it, I'm out of my mind.

At least, that's the only conclusion I can come to because I recently decided I am not going to send my children to public school.


Yes. I am a single mom, working a minimum of 42 hours a week, and I have chosen to school my children at home.

Wait - before your jaw totally hits the floor; there's more:

I am not going to use a homeschooling program, either. I am going to unschool them.

I know, I know! It's so much to take in! And while you recover from the shock of all this craziness, I want to explain my rationale and you tell me if it seems, er, rational.

So here it is; the ugly truth - the reason I have made this choice is ...

As a first grader, my teacher made me cry. In front of the whole class.

That's it. That's why my children will not attend public school.

Okay, okay so I suppose there is a bit more to it than that. Truth is, in that moment, I began to hate learning. I associated learning from that point on with people who only tolerated me because they had to. I thought learning meant being confined in a stuffy room with peers who didn't like me for one reason or another. I based my view of my own intelligence on the number of red check marks on the graded papers. I was sure from a very early age that I was stupid and worthless as far as school was concerned.

By second grade, I was consistently failing. I did fine on tests and in-class assignments, but I never turned in my homework. I remember the math assignments in second grade. They were double sided with five problems on each side of the paper. We were allowed to do the "A" side in class, but the "B" side was for homework only. I can remember my teacher humiliating me in front of the other students for repeatedly doing both sides in class. I thought by doing both sides she would be impressed and maybe I'd get a compliment or a gold star or something! But no, she shattered my little seven year old spirit into thinking I could never please anyone.

So I stopped trying.

I never failed a grade, but I never made the honor roll, the Principal's list, or got any outstanding awards. I failed several classes in high school and had to retake them. I didn't care. After a while you become numb to the humiliation and shame that comes with failing and being reprimanded for it. I was unable to go on school trips or attend special activities because of my grades. I couldn't play any sports or be involved in extra curricular activities. I went to school because it was required until I was 18. Then I could be done with it.

For 13 years of my life, I was miserable. In high school, I resorted to dumping last night's left overs into the toilet and telling my mom I'd puked so I didn't have to go to school. I hated it so much I often told my parents I just wanted to go to sleep and never wake up. I felt I was being kept in a box and my interests and aspirations were not important; I needed to put them aside so I could fit into the school system's mold.

I never want my child to feel that way.

It wasn't until several years after graduation that I realized I am intelligent. I am valuable. I can finally have my own hopes and dreams and I will let no one squash them. Once I realized my life is mine to do with what I want, I felt so free!

And confused.

And lost.

What was I to do with myself with no one dictating my life five days a week?

So I did some things with my life that I regret. In searching for myself, I nearly lost myself (make sense?). I made some choices that will forever affect me and now, my children. I didn't know what to do with my life because there was no one there to tell me. I lost a full ride music scholarship (something I actually excelled at in school). I drank (a lot!). I smoked. I squandered my money. I didn't pay my bills. I had no respect for myself or any one around me. And in one poor choice, I was suddenly and severely grounded.

I was pregnant. I had some very real choices to make.

It has been a long and tough road to where I am, but today, I have one of the most unrecognized but important jobs in the country. Every time I log in, the safety of an entire county depends upon the competence of myself and my partners. I recently had my first yearly evaluation and the results absolutely stunned me. I never thought I could accomplish so much. I never thought I was smart enough to make anything of myself but it would seem that I am and I have!

Did I learn from my mistakes? Yes. Does everyone have to learn from their own mistakes? Absolutely. But I don't want my children to be so lost when they're turned loose on the world that they have to fall as far down as I did to realize their worth. In my opinion, children should be learning about themselves while in the care of their parents so they may be guided in a constructive direction and hopefully avoid a destructive one. Their aspirations and interests and desires should be given special focus so they may become someone that they think is worthwhile; not someone the world thinks is worthwhile.

So, we will school at home. The curriculum will be life and the world will be the classroom. It's not going to be easy, and their SD will most likely have a problem with it, but I believe this is the best choice for my family. (Not to mention, if they went to public school, I would only see them for one full day a week and that is NOT okay with me.)

I hope to share with you my discoveries on this new journey as I research and better understand others' success with this new way of learing the ways of the world!

 As always, take what you can use and leave the rest!

<3 ~SMF~

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