03 October 2009

fine? really?

I've been meaning to write a post on our Education Plan for Miss Bee (and the other urchins) for a while now, but it is an endeavor. I've blogged a bit about education before - here.
That was last May. Since then, I've had a slew of conversations with people close to us - and strangers - about our decision to homeschool our daughter, for now.

These have been like many conversations about parenting - mostly awesome, on occasion fairly frustrating.

If i tried to outline all of the issues these conversations have covered, I'd be exhausted.

But the main thing I've encountered is the idea of "fine-ness" As in - "oh, she'd be fine if you did x" or "x would be just fine for your children." or "I know it's not idea, but its fine, don't you think?"

And the vast majority of the time, I agree. X, whatever x is, would be fine for my children. They'd be fine.

Fine? Really? Seriously?

Are many of us women - educated, capable women - who could go on and do many 'successful' things - are we really opting out (a term coined by Lisa Belkin a few years ago in this article for the nytimes magazine) - leaving the rat race - choosing to be at home, either part or full time - are we really opting out so that our children can experience what is FINE?

I'm not. If I were doing what is fine for my children, I'd be not at home full time - I promise. I'd be in law school, or finished with law school, or in school to be a counselor, or maybe teaching school, or in a PhD program somewhere. If i wanted what was fine for them, dear heavens, I'd pick something more along the lines of what is exciting for me -

It's not that being at home isn't stimulating. Or fun. Or what I'm convinced that I should be doing right now.

It's that if my standard for my children was 'fine' - then I could be spending some more time outside the home doing what I loved to do before the babies came along.

If all I wanted was "fine" nutrition and "fine" moral development and, of special import to this post, "fine" education, then you'd better believe I'd have more time to read, write, think, make money.

Of course Miss Bee would be fine picking among the many private and public school options in the Jackson Metropolitan Area.

But, if you've not gathered it so far, fine is not the goal at our house. Perhaps it should be (she says in a patronizing, pretending to entertain the other side of the argument for two seconds), but its not. Fine is not the goal. Not the penultimate.

Later today or early tomorrow, we'll have the second installment in an as yet undetermined number of parts series about what we do want for our children. And why that's led us down this crazy path of homeschooling.


  1. This makes me realize that we didn't finish our conversation last night... (did we get interrupted by tiny hands in the cheese dip?).

    If you don't mind -- I'll have it here with you now.

    Homeschooling with great resources, is wonderful. It is better than fine. My issues with homeschooling (near and dear to me) are when parents use homeschooling as an excuse to not challenge their kids or themselves (oh wait, it's the other way around - they lose motivation themselves, so can't find a way to motivate their kids). When you have a caring church family, a large and diverse group of friends and neighbors, a network of educated & excited people to keep you motivated -- homeschooling might perhaps be the most ideal method of education.

    The keys here are: get out there. Experience everything. Field trips end up being a weekly occurrence; music lessons, language lessons are swapped with other homeschool "friendly" friends & family; charity & volunteer work are an essential part of the curriculum.

    I have to admit that I don't know what we're going to do when our son reaches school age. I want the very best for him. I've seen homeschooling go badly, desperately badly. I've seen public & private school also not turn out well. I want to do what is best for him, and I pray that God will lead me to know what to do. I do not want to shrug my shoulders and settle for fine, but I realize that my responses to date might indicate that's what I'm doing. (But, I'm finding as I'm finally getting back to normal, that I can start to think about these important things more and more, so bear with me!)

    My own experience with homeschooling was so-so. I don't know if I'd call it fine. I ended up having to do a lot for myself (which can be good), but I missed out on a lot too. If my mom wasn't good at it, I just didn't get it (science, for example). The proper thing to do is when you note a weakness, you search out somewhere/somehow to supplement your weakness. This is where homeschool cooperatives would be a huge blessing. My experience was thwarted by a mother who tried to protect her children from anything and everything, and was a tad-bit lazy to boot. Right now I am self conscious about some of my lack-of-knowledge. Please don't quiz me on sentence structure or chemistry, or ask me if I remember Shakespeare (I missed out on a lot of the classics).

    So, all this to say (and I know there is more to say), that when it's time, I will be a part of your homeschool cooperative. I'm pretty good at math, pretty good at art, and rock the town with my home ec skills.


  2. i'll wait and respond after parts 2 through x, if i may. they are all such complicated issues. I certainly don't come close to believing that homeschooling/private tutoring is the best for each child - in fact, i'd say the ideal is for a child to be in school - but, to preview the next few posts, if the ideal cannot be met, we cannot settle for fine, just because it's easier.