Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Living Intentionally

Somewhere long ago, I came across the Quaker concept of living intentionally, which (for me) means that we should actually think about what we do and how we live, rather than just blindly accepting our culture's dictates.

Thinking about the way that our families live, of course, can sometimes lead to radical life choices.

Like homeschooling.

Long ago, when my husband and I started considering the education of our then three-year-old daughter and her baby sister and their possible siblings, we decided that the schools that were available to us were less than ideal, and that possibly no schools would really match our hopes for the girls' childhoods. Six hours a day of being locked in a building with few choices to make, and even fewer rights as a person, didn't seem like a great way to raise a citizen of a free country. Two more hours of deskwork at home that cut into family and personal time seemed to be training them for a life devoid of connections outside of a work environment.

The environment in our local schools at the time was very crowded, but not nearly as lockstep as it is today. The US Federal Government hadn't intruded nearly as much in local affairs, test results weren't the cause of major anxiety and unhappiness that they now are, and 'zero tolerance' stupidity (as in, "Hugging a friend who has lost a parent is cause for suspension." or " Seven-year-olds who have temper tantrums should be charged with felonies." stupidity) hadn't reached it's full flower. Recess was still considered normal, and caffeinated pop wasn't sold in the halls, so that children who were forced by the schools to take psychoactive medication could counterbalance their Ritalin with Mountain Dew.
(I wonder how teachers can handle all this! I doubt that much of it was in their childhood visions of what teaching would be like...)

I also hated the thought of giving away the most precious hours in our kids' lives to the school. Many of my friends say that it seems that they see their children mostly at their worst, when they are tired after a long day and yet still must be made to finish the evening's homework. With homeschooling, I get to help them with their 'homework' for a few hours, but their whole schoolday is about as long as schoolkids' evening bookwork.

The more we actually thought about it, the more the educational system that has grown up in America in the last century or so seemed to be a bad choice for our family. That brought about one of our more dramatic choices to live intentionally: our long-term commitment to homeschool our children.
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