Thursday, April 19, 2012
My kids delight in telling people that they are 'hometeached'.
As if we haven't fielded enough questions through the years about our grand social experiment called homeschooling.
When we started schooling at home seventeen years ago when 1 of 8 was in kindergarten, homeschooling was not the known and discussed phenom that it is today. Back in 1 of 8's day, it was still an exotic and controversial sub-culture experience, a land of myth and urban legend, a place where everyone knew one odd, freakish homeschool family who secluded their children from the world and forced them to write in Latin and speak in Klingon.
That's not the case any more. Thankfully.
But back then, as much as I felt like homeschooling could 'work', I found myself defending and defining homeschooling, soothing the fears and questions and doubts of family and friends.
This past weekend, seventeen years later, I felt like I had 'proof' that it worked. 1 of 8 was awarded double honors for her work in her French and Neuro-Biology degrees. She is scheduled to graduate with both degrees in the next year and a half and will be pursuing a combined MD/PhD in neurology. Yes, we are very, very proud of her. Proud of her tenacity, proud of her drive.
But then I had to check myself again.
Because I was falling into that trap. Again. Of feeling like I had to 'prove' our homeschool decision. That academic success at a major university somehow validates the choices we made when she was little.
But you know what?
This past weekend wasn't a tribute to homeschooling. At all. It was an evidence of 1 of 8's character and heart, manifested in an academic program.
Maybe some of her siblings will follow her academic path. Maybe not. And if they don't, it won't invalidate our homeschool experience. 2 of 8 is planning to follow a very different path. She's running full-out into the arms of dance, preparing for final student recitals and then moving into the work of choreographer, director and performer. Her academic experience will be a blend of in-class and online. 3 of 8 is making noise about going into engineering...or film...or graphic design. And maybe transferring into our local public high school. And 4 of 8 wants to sing.
None of it 'proves' homeschooling works. And none of it disproves it. It simply makes evident what we prayed for and hoped for from the start, that we would create an environment in which our kids could dabble and explore and have time to play in a variety of areas to allow them to find their destiny. That could happen in public, private or homeschool. In our case, it was at home. And it has so much more to do with what opportunities the kids have been willing to grab on to than in our academic vision.
I suppose that's my message here. Whatever scholastic decisions you've made for your kids, bless you. May your children embrace what resources you have extended to them. May they dream big dreams and may they learn to work hard. And may we all remember that success in life is far more than grades and accolades. It's heart and character, tenacity and humility. Because that is where true honor resides.
And 1 of 8? With your double orange tassels?
I am so proud of you, of your GPA, of your accomplishments. Because they are a little taste of all you are, drive and heart, joy in discovery, delight in research which is simply the tangible expression of the fascination you bear for the ingenious creation we call this world and our human forms. I love you.