All day yesterday, when I had the time to read, I read The Unschooling Handbook. The day before it was Affluenza (see yesterday’s post for a links.)
Yesterday evening, however, found me upstairs while Whinnie took a bath. And those two books were downstairs. But upstairs with me was John Holt’s What Do I Do Monday?
What an interesting alchemy this created for me: the warm, fuzzy feelings from reading Unschoolers Handbook (a sense of solidarity with other un/homeschooling parents); the unsettled feelings from Affluenza (a sense that I’d somehow turned my back on my community by homeschooling); and then, for good balance…the outrage at what children are expected to tolerate in school environments, via What Do I Do Monday?
My college degree is in sociology. I love the study of people, the study of people in groups. I know that homeschooling (un or not) is a social movement. This excites me. When I read most books about homeschooling, it is for that sense of solidarity…that sense that while my path is not the mainstream, it is not weird, or pathological.
But when I read Holt, I am back in the land of sociological theory. And that thrills me. Theory was my area of greatest interest.
And it amuses me to remember that my departmental honors thesis was written on the topic of the Sociology of Education. And now I am the mama with a sociology degree who is involved, daily, in an educational experiment.
Sometimes, if I allow myself, I wonder if I’ve become a cautionary tale for talented, intelligent young women in college: “Be careful of your choices. If you’re not, you might just get married, have children and waste your degree and your potential…”
But most of the time, thankfully, I am able to see that I haven’t wasted anything at all. No, I am not employed for a salary. No, I am not adding publications, lectures, teaching assignments to my professional vitae. But, I have to say, as worthwhile as all of those things are…I am doing something far more important. I am doing the ‘job’ for which I alone am qualified. I am a mama.
It is true, and sad, that our culture gives mostly lip-service to the idea that mothering/parenting is the most important job there is. But it truly is an important job…crucially important, and critically endangered.
I am an educator (although quite different from what I thought an educator was back there in my college days.) I do publish, on a regular (sometimes daily) basis, via this blog and several other portals. I do lecture, though I am trying not to. 😉
And I do have this idea buzzing around in my head: The Sociology of Home Education. I know that much has been written about education and about the homeschooling movement. But I think there is still a niche for me, the mama-sociologist to write about the movement from the inside, and from the unschoolers’ perspective.
And I have several childrens’ picture books in me too.
So I am like mamas the world over. Full of potential and willing to put all else aside to make sure that these children, my attachlings, are given the best start possible. And it has nothing to do with an ability to get into the best school, or acquire a high salary. It involves knowing themselves. It involves having a sense of their own spirituality. It involves being able to think, to reason, to decide. It involves self-respect.
And you know what? Although none of those things were part of my own childhood, all of them were part of my wonderful college experience.
So, Greenville College (Greenville, Illinois), thank you. The faculty, staff, students, townspeople…all of you helped me to become the woman, the mama I am today. To you my most blessed holiday wishes.