Firstly, let me start by saying that anything negative, weird, odd or non-conformist about my family stems from me. My husband is the nicest, most normal,wholesome kind of person one can imagine. He’s the one that balances my more unusual tendencies.
We stumbled on homeschooling because I hated school and I didn’t want my children to have to suffer what I did. Bern is most likely dyslexic and Katelin, gifted. Both are not ideal candidates for a one-size-fits-all kind of education systems. Cian, the youngest, is also known as Master Disaster. Can you imagine him in a class of 50 kids? I also admit to feeling a small degree of sympathy for the teachers, were I to unleash my offspring on them.
I don’t know if my reasons for homeschool are necessarily right, but I confess my hatred for school started early and has never wavered. University and college were totally different and not to be confused with the mind numbing, soul crushing, individual repressive environment of school. I hated the subjects, i hated the teachers, I hated the situation and I hated the corporal discipline dished out at the the whims and fancies of a 5 foot despot.
ONLY ONE TEACHER has made a good impression on me and her name is Mrs. Ramani. I found her by some stroke of luck and persuaded her to teach me a two year SPM literature syllabus in four months. I scored an A1 and tormented her twice a week at UDA Ocean for 16 weeks. She really disliked me at first. She thought I was insane, impulsive and ill prepared. She was at least partially right. But I put up with her abuse because she knew how to teach. She showed me the paths but let me explore them alone. She criticised objectively and acknowledge progress fairly. That’s all a student can ask for.
I really sucked at my first year of University, reading a BSc Psychology at Birmingham. I really had no idea what to do. I did my best to memorise and regurgitate everything my lecturers spewed out during those lectures but I kept failing. I barely made it through my first year….and I was miserable and convinced of my innate stupidity. Then in the middle of second a year, some random student said to me, “You know all the facts, yet I score better than you. I bet it’s because I don’t just accept everything they tell me.” And slowly, those innocent words wormed their way into my consciousness and began to work a change. Was I really supposed to question the powers that be? I had been told to shut up and beaten into compliance too many times to count. Now, suddenly, it’s ok to question and critique?
By the time, I fully reversed my method of sitting exams and writing assignments, it was too late to save myself from the ignoble 2:2. I was only 0.25% away from a 2:1 and I could have pleaded with the Dean for special consideration etc. But I proudly retained that grade forever as a reminder to me that I will never again do things that way I was taught to by the Malaysian education system.
(I think many people escape unscathed and do well in tertiary education in spite of our education system. However, I stuck out like a sore thumb from an early age and every attempt was made to insist I conform as much as possible. I was tall, loud spoken, and an avid reader who corrected my teacher’s spelling mistakes, and puberty came early. This combination of factors ensured every teacher to cross my path made assumptions about me before I even opened my mouth. Not pleasant.)
Now that I am a parent, I have decided I don’t want my children’s personalities to be lost to peer pressure, teacher disapproval, endless hours in school and all the other drawbacks of mainstream education. I don’t want them to be forever chasing someone else’s idea of ‘good’ or ‘A’ or acceptable and interesting. If Bern thinks that watering the plants is riveting, then so be it. Katelin loves to sing and make up songs. In school, she’d simply be told to sing-a-long. These are really very simple things to sacrifice for the greater good, I’ve been told. Well, until you can verbalise what this greater good is and who exactly it’s good for, please spare me. I like my plant watering, silly song singing, quirky kids.
Homeschooling is also attractive to us because
- we’ll use less petrol going to and fro and waiting around for kids to emerge
- we get to spend lots and lots and lots of time with our kids
- we’ll go on holiday when we please instead of when the airlines feel like bankrupting us.
- we the parents will learn new things
- the kids can learn what interests and engages them
- the kids will have more time for other activities like horse riding, fencing or dancing
- less wasted time
- they’ll eat properly with me, rather than the rubbish that is offered in school canteens
- they’re less likely to continually be down with a cold or whatever some child in class is harbouring
- they actually get to have and enjoy their pets
Sounds like a win win situation to me.