photo by Sheri Dixon

Sunday, December 22, 2013

You're Really NOT the Boss of Them

We home school. Alec has been home schooled his whole life and is doing just fine, thanks.

Is it time-consuming? Yes.

Is it expensive? Fairly.

Is it worth it? Absolutely.

We started for many reasons- we wanted to keep the freedom we were accustomed to to travel when we wanted to and not be hemmed in by the school year calendar, our local school district has a student/teacher ratio of 25/1 in KINDERGARTEN, and frankly the big "NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND" banner in the lobby totally freaked me the hell out- I know it was supposed to be comforting but it hit me as really threatening, but the final decision came when we had to spend a lot of time at MD Anderson and I would've had to choose between leaving Alec here with friends to go to school or Ward in Houston in the hospital and neither one of those options was acceptable to me.

The one reason we are NOT home schooling is to 'ensure our child has a Godly upbringing'.

Which is very very rare in this area of the country. This is the shiny buckle of the bible belt and 99.9% of the home schoolers here are doing so to 'keep their children away from the evils of the secular world'.

That would be MY family.

We also live in Texas, one of the most lax states in the country as far as home school regulations.

When we decided to home school Alec before he entered kindergarten, I contacted the school and asked what I needed to do. They said, "Easy- just don't sign him up for school."

And it's as easy as that. Don't sign them up. There doesn't have to be a record anywhere of where children are being taught, or even, after they are issued a birth certificate, that they even exist at all.

Well, surely there is some standard that must be tested against to be sure they are learning...fucking anything.


Wanna teach art class because it's fun but avoid math because it's...math? Knock yourself out.
Wanna teach that Jesus rode dinosaurs back when the earth was first created...less than 5,000 years ago? God bless you.

Honestly, we drive 3 hours one-way every week to be in a home school co-op that believes in freaking evolution. Oh, there's a home school co-op here. A honking huge one that has its own sports league (not just teams), orchestra, everything. But you must sign a statement of Faith to get in. Fuck that shit.

There are Christian home schoolers who are doing a very good job teaching their kids and preparing them for the real future in a real world. They take their self-imposed job as 'teacher' very seriously and work tirelessly to provide their students with the very best educational experiences.

And there are secular home schoolers who are doing so just because they don't wanna get up early enough to take their kids to school and let 'em play video games all day. So this is not merely a rant on the Christians.

This is about possession.

Because it chills me to the very core to read fellow home schoolers' frothing at the mouth at the thought of having to show even the most basic and simple proof of learning on the part of their students.

The argument goes something like this-

"There is NO WAY anyone is going to tell me what to teach MY CHILDREN! Forcing me to adhere to some government-mandated agenda of learning sketchy science and obscene secular literature is a violation of my Rights as a FREE citizen! These are MY CHILDREN and I will raise them and teach them they way *I* want to!"

...and variations of the above.

Except here's the thing.

Your kids are not your property.

Sure you created 'em and grew 'em and you're feeding and housing them and all, but they are NOT your possessions. As anyone who is adamantly 'pro-life' will be quick to tell you, those children are actually 'people'; autonomous beings that have their own little souls and thoughts and rights all their own.

Why the Sam Hell is it wrong for a woman who is carrying 12 cells of tissue to make an informed and usually difficult decision to abort it because "That's a PERSON and not a THING!" but once born into THEIR OWN families, children are possessions to do with whatever floats their holy boat? Deny them access to a full range of education, indoctrinate them into your own belief system, even get out the belt if they (being autonomous beings and all) dare to question your authority?

How can you even deign to limit their options by choosing what YOU think is 'all they'll need to know' about life, or anything? To 'train' boys to grow up to be the 'kings of their homes' and to teach girls only enough to keep a house and family because 'that's what women are made for'- those are both heinously dauntingly passively aggressively abusive.


Our children are not ours.

Our children belong to themselves.

Not some God, not the government, and for damn sure not to you.

It's our JOB as parents, whether or not we home school, to do our level best to insure that our children are exposed to the best the world has to offer, and that's more than a bible as 'the only text book you'll ever need' (on one end of the Bad Parent spectrum) and a stack of video games (on the other end).

Because they will have to live in the world. And the world is a big, scary, dangerous, sinful,glorious place filled with all different kinds of evil-doers and terrorists artists, musicians, thinkers, belief systems, foods, literature, science, nature, history, good gravy...EVERYTHING!

The biggest bonus of home schooling, for our family and the families we know and call friends- is the opportunity to show our children MORE of the world, meet MORE varieties of people- and not just 'more people who are basically just like we are because that's safe and correct' but MORE true diversity.

To learn and figure out for themselves how to be comfortable in their own skins and around people they don't know and in situations that are different from Home, to be eager and willing to learn from and accept without judgment others who are not duplicates of their own families will ensure that our children will be able to travel through life with grace and wonder, respect and compassion.

And to do that with any competence, they MUST have a working knowledge of basic human education- how to speak and write fluently and correctly in their native language, how basic math concepts work and how to use them in every day life as well as abstractly, a foundation of honest history of their own country and the world in general, and SCIENCE. Real science, not 'science as seen through the bible'. Because that's not science, and to teach your children that it is, is willfully setting them up for a life of disadvantage in the real world.

Love those precious angels your god blessed you with? Of course you do.

But they're not yours to keep forever, they're not your possessions.

You're the one who's been tasked to minister to THEM. It's your job to equip them for a life that's better, fuller, MORE than yours.

Put down the damn belt and the bible, and pick up the science book. Go out into the world.

It's pretty awesome out here.

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