Posts Tagged ‘Homeschooling’


Now that’s some question!

September 22, 2007

I got a question on my Ask Away page several weeks ago – a question that was far more intense than I would have imagined!  Normally I would get questions like, “How did you wash your dreadlocks?” (answer: same as you wash your hair.)  Or maybe, “What can I make for dinner with a can of peas, a bottle of ketchup, and some bourbon?”  (Answer: you can make yourself a bourbon and forget all about dinner.)  Or even, “Is Mr. Ritchie awesome in bed or what?”  (Answer: shut your dirty mouth.  He’s my skanky love slave, not yours!  Now, go back to Canada you Baywatch Whore.)  But this question was much different.

“9/11 and post-9/11 events have changed the way Americans see their neighbors (literal and figurative).  Do you feel that your homeschooling has helped or harmed your children in such a culturally diverse country?”


Took me some time to come up with my answer.  I’ll be stepping away from my typical Mamakohl response here for just a few minutes and answer sincerely.  The question was asked sincerely by someone who’s views are often different from my own, but after years of knowing one another, we have always found a way to bridge that difference with respect.  He asked, I’m gonna answer.

The events of 9/11 have shaken everyone to the core.  We have long been a country with an ego bigger than it’s name, feeling invincible and more powerful than the universe.  When those planes went down, we realized what we really are – humans and incredibly mortal.  It’s changed us all.

Has my homeschooling harmed or helped my children?  I don’t know.  I can only hope that it has helped.  In a large school setting, there often is not time or space or man power enough to take the time to assure each child that they are safe, to answer each and every question they might have, to really discuss the different views of different cultures and lead to a better understanding of why some people might feel as they do.  Homeschooling my children has given them the ample opportunity for each and every one of those things to happen.  It’s very true that I have extremely strong opinions about the way this country is run and what has happened since 9/11.  It’s also true that I have extremely strong opinions on what happened before that day and what will happen long after that day takes on the history book quality of Pearl Harbor, Hiroshima, Kent State, and other tragic events.  While I wear my politics on my sleeve, I have always made sure to expose my children to both sides of the story.  I have friends who are very conservative Republicans (I know I know, hard to believe, but it’s true,) and I give my children the opportunity to hear us discuss these hot topics.  Duck can read the paper and magazines and he does, to an extent.  I make sure they both get exposed to all the differing views.  I don’t want them to think like me.  I want them to think for themselves.

As far as being introduced to all the different cultures, I have to say homeschooling wins that hands down.  While it’s true that many schools have a culturally diverse population, the fact is that the school systems are designed to create cookie cutter children – all who act alike, think alike, learn alike.  This is not because they don’t care or whatever, it’s simply because they don’t have the resources to do anything differently.  You cannot have one teacher in a classroom of 30 children and allow for each cultural difference, each learning difference, each personal difference to come shining through – it would be classroom pandemonium.  Cultures get a month at BEST (Black History Month in February comes to mind,) more often a day (Chinese New Year,) but most frequently NO mention at all.  As homeschoolers, we can, and do, study each culture as interest comes up.  We can meet people of these cultures, we can do group studies with other homeschoolers and we can do field trips, art projects, order in cultural films, have a cultural pot luck.  We have the opportunity to go in depth, not just skim the surface.

As far as safety is concerned, I’d be lying through my teeth if I said that I don’t thank my lucky stars that my kids are with me 90% of the time.  I think that’s a mothering trait, though.  And my fears for their safety have just as much to do with Columbine, Jonesboro, Thurston High, and Virginia Tech as it does 9/11.  It’s true that there has to be a day when we send our young ones out to venture the big bad world on their own, but being with them on a daily basis, I can teach them through example, through roll play, through question and answer, what to do in certain circumstances.  I can teach them to take care of themselves rather than just follow the herd.  We’re teaching our children to think and to act rather than to duck and follow.

Do I always feel confident that I’m doing the right thing?  No, of course not.  No mother ever does – if she says she does, she’s lying.  Parenting is full of doubt and worry and concern – anyone who loves a child cannot help but feel those things now and then.  I’m doing the best that I can, I’m doing what feels right and what works for us.  That’s always open to change.  Someday we might make a different decision than we are making now and that’s great.  We have to be open to that because, after all, we are human.

Whew.  That was something, eh?  I’m not sure I answered his question fully – if not, please, oh question writer, tell me how I can be more clear and I’ll do my best.   Perhaps he was looking for the Mamakohl answer –

“Um, I believe the problem is that lots of Americans cannot grasp numbers past 10, so this 911 thing really is unjust to the citizens of Zimbabwe and Jamaica and we, as Americans, should give maps to the Russians so that they, too, can appreciate Mary-Kate and Ashley cosmetics.”

HA!  Miss South Carolina’s got NOTHING on me!