I was in the New York Times, recently, talking about homeschooling and sports. Which is not a topic I know much about.
I didn’t play sports as a kid. I didn’t want to play them. I didn’t care about them.
My brothers both played baseball, though, and they were very serious about it for a while. So when the Times editor contacted me and asked if I could have a little statement about whether or not homeschoolers should be permitted to participate in public school sports (after all, we do pay taxes), I called my brothers.
“It’s stupid,” said the older one, Jake, now 22. “If you’re good, and you want to go farther, you can’t, because rec ends at fourteen or fifteen.” He added, “It’s a good thing Tim Tebow got to play at his high school even though he was homeschooled, right? But they had to go to court for that. We shouldn’t have to go to court. That’s ridiculous.”
The younger one, Gabe, who went to high school before he went to college, didn’t care as much. “Whatever. It’s not like I was gonna go pro…” He had been the star pitcher on his team at some point– I still remember his scowl of concentration, and how the moms went crazy when he threw the ball.
I dashed off the piece– the New York Times needed it in two hours. They needed a pic and a bio. Shit, I thought. I don’t have ANY good headshots! . . . → Read More: breaking into the public school to play sports
Sometimes I really can’t tell what makes me different and what makes me similar. I can’t tell what part is the homeschooling and what part isn’t.
I was talking to Peter Gray, over at Psychology Today, about being unschooled. He was asking me some questions, and I was trying to answer. For a while, when people asked me about my education, I would try to point out the ways in which I am special. In case they thought that I might be a dud.
I am pretty special. I’m smart. I’m confident. Once my face was on AOL’s front page and all of Bear’s relatives saw it when they opened their browsers and then we were like, “You guys still use AOL? Seriously?” But that’s neither here nor there. What I’m saying is– I could brag.
Everyone can brag. There’s always something to brag about.
But the more I think about it, the really interesting thing about me is how little there is to brag about. How normal I am. How much my skills, at the end of the day, are skills that people have whether or not they spent their childhood in the woods or at a desk.
“I’m kinda normal,” I told Peter. “It’s pretty lame.” I changed my mind. “It’s pretty cool.”
I write essays about homeschooling and people always say, “Whatever! That’s not because of homeschooling! That totally happened to me!”
I’m sure it did. And in my case, it’s probably also because of homeschooling. But . . . → Read More: what part of me is the homeschooling?
This is a guest post from an awesome young woman who didn’t go to school in the UK. You can check out her blog here.
Hello! My name’s Kayleigh, and I live in the United Kingdom; in the north of England, in a county called Yorkshire where it rains most of the time and has a lot of pretty countryside. I was home educated all my life up until the age of 16, and the awesome Kate has asked me to contribute to her blog to share my experience of what it’s like not going to school here in the UK.
The law in the United Kingdom states that children must be given a full-time education suited to their age and ability, whether that be at school ‘or otherwise’. So long as parents can prove their children are receiving a suitable full-time education at home, it is perfectly legal. Mostly, here in the UK we refer to what Kate calls unschooling, as home education. I’m not entirely sure why the term unschooling hasn’t caught on here too as it’s much less of a mouthful!
The education authorities for the local area are obliged to keep track of any home educating families they are aware of, and carry out regular home visits to ensure the children are learning. Here is where it sometimes becomes a little sticky. The officers that carry out these visits are generally the same people that carry out inspections on schools, so they frequently have . . . → Read More: Home Education in the UK: a report from a girl who lived it
Bear took me to see his middle school and high school. This is out in California, in the Bay Area, where we spent Christmas with his family. The schools were composed of lots of long, low buildings– a series of ranch houses, bumping into each other at interesting angles. We started at the high school. Through a window, I saw a skeleton.
“That’s the supply closet,” explained Bear.
“Just like I imagined,” I said. Which wasn’t exactly true, because the skeleton was wearing a hat. I couldn’t have predicted that.
He pointed at various doors and windows. “That’s where I had calc.” “That’s where I had bio…no….that’s the art room. Stools mean either science or art.”
He showed me where he used to hang out, on this low, concrete wall, in a little courtyard. And here, on the steps. And here was the library, and the enormous sports’ fields and the enormous pool. It was like a compound, where people might live for decades without leaving. They might play football and baseball and volleyball and water polo (wait…unless that means horses), and stay forever.
“It has everything!” I said, impressed.
It was the most time I’d ever spent at a high school.
. . . → Read More: going to school with Bear
Sometimes I forget how magical my childhood was.
Sometimes I’m reminded.
Over Thanksgiving, which Bear and I spent at my parents’ house, I was going through some old stuff. A wooden trunk, brimming with watercolor paintings, cloth-bound journals, felt boots I’d made, and the slender, bleached deer jawbones I’d found in the woods.
I used to imagine, as a child, that a portal might open up in the forest, and I could step through, into another world. In that other world, I might meet wandering mages and disgraced royals, passing through the great forest in belted tunics and doe-skin breeches, carrying staffs and swords and hidden daggers. Wearing talismans with strange symbols.
The trunk in my childhood bedroom is a little like a portal. Opening it, I was overwhelmed. I stepped back into another world. I remembered, all at once.
. . . → Read More: magical childhood
This is a guest post. I met Twyla a couple months ago, when she came to NYC. And then, last month, we both happened to be in London at the same time, so we hung out there, too. I would hang out with this girl anywhere in the world. And I might have to, if I want to see her, because she is always somewhere new. When I think of everything right about unschooling, I think about Twyla.
I asked her for a bio and here is what she wrote: I am a 19-year-old nomad. I left my home town three months ago, where I used to teach partner dance with my dad, study what interested me and live life. After Istanbul I plan to go to Beirut to continue learning Arabic. As I travel I like to focus on language, dance and food. My blog is http://twyladill.blogspot.com/.
I asked her to tell us a little bit about her life, as a traveler and an unschooler. This is her guest post:
My first night in Istanbul was a little overwhelming. I had committed to renting a room there for the next two months. But of course I explored the rest of the house.
The living room – converted into an art studio for my land lady – smelled of old cigarettes. The warped white walls were laden with paintings in all stages of completion. The floor was splattered with paint, and tubes of acrylic rested peacefully on . . . → Read More: notes from an unschooled world wanderer
I just got a really funny rejection letter.
An editor from a little homeschooling magazine had asked me for article pitches. The circulation was small. She wanted something basic and general. Something about what I’ve learned from homeschooling. Some challenges. Some triumphs. Something encouraging for parents who are doing this now.
I sent her a pitch. I proposed an article called “How homeschooling made me different.” It’d mostly be about how homeschooling taught me to be comfortable being myself. And it would also discuss some challenges, like how some of my relentless ambition stems from wanting to prove myself, as a homeschooler. I was not, for the record, looking forward to writing the article. But I try not to turn down homeschooling publications. I reminded myself that this is the stuff I write because it’s the right thing to do, not because it’s going to advance my career.
And then she sent me a rejection letter. The piece was not a good fit for her publication.
I was so surprised that I laughed aloud. Wait. What?
Here I was, pretty sure she would take whatever I proposed. Wondering if I should just say no, since the magazine wasn’t going to be able to help me out.
I wrote her back. I never do that. A rejection is a rejection. That’s the business. Believe me, I’ve gotten plenty of them. You don’t talk back. You move on.
I asked her what was going on.
And then she explained why she’d rejected . . . → Read More: I am too negative about homeschooling
My cousin just sent me this article, and it was so beautiful I had to share it here. Emily Rapp writes about her relationship with her terminally ill son. She asks and answers the question “When your child doesn’t have a future, how do you parent?”
OK, I don’t want to be totally morbid, but the article reminded me of unschooling. And I realize that I shouldn’t even be writing about this, because it’s way too easy to be like, “Oh, so, unschooling is like parenting a kid who’s going to die? Because you don’t care about your kid’s future at all?”
No. Not like that. But I thought of those kids in the Race To Nowhere documentary, who were saying stuff like, “I know I’m supposed to be good at all of this, but I don’t know why…I know I have to get into a good college and then get a good job. But I don’t think it really matters if I’m happy.”
Parents are always saying, “The only thing I want is for my child to be happy.” And that might be true. I don’t know– I’m not a parent. I’ll probably look back at this when I’m a parent and think, “You did not know anything about anything.” But it seems to me that even if parents only want their kids to be happy, they are often talking about future happiness. As in, their kid will be happy because of all of the hard work that led . . . → Read More: people are confused about happiness
Do you guys know Penelope Trunk? She’s really famous. And I’m guest posting on her blog. About homeschooling. Check it out! I don’t mean to write so much about homeschooling, but people are really interested in it.
They’re interested in it enough to leave hundred of comments under my recent Salon.com piece about how awful I am. I haven’t read any of them, but people keep writing to me to talk about how angry the comments make them. Or how sad. And a lot of these people are homeschooling or unschooling parents. Sometimes, when I get a piece about homeschooling published, it feels like everyone is out to get homeschoolers. Which is weird, because I never ever feel that way otherwise.
“Don’t read the comments!” I begged my parents. But they did anyway. I’m glad they’re tough people.
Anyway, everyone wants to read about homeschooling, even if it makes them furious. Even if they hate me.
Maybe that’s OK. At least they’re reading? At least they’re reading.