I have been thinking a lot about schooling my daughter lately. Several things in the news has prompted me to really consider how education happens in this country, and what the right answer is for our family. We have a few dynamics that make it an unclear choice. My daughter’s anaphylactic allergy to peanuts is one thing. The state of the schools in our state is another.
We have a few private schools and alternative schools here. You get in via lottery. They are really very good, and their methods of discipline line up with what we do in our home. South Carolina does corporal punishment in their schools, and is another reason I don’t want to send my child there. It’s not just her being swatted, but watching her classmates get swats as a means to scare her into acting right. Yeah, no. I am raising her to choose the right thing to do because of the principle – not because she’s scared of the consequence of messing up… I don’t need to teach her to lie to me better so she avoids trouble. The art schools use different methods – positive discipline with natural consequences and boundaries to teach.
The other day, I ran into a neighbor, 15 year old black girl, who came to me crying because she got a note in her locker (public schools) calling her a “blackie” and told her to go back to Africa. I was SO upset for this girl. She’s such a sweet girl and super smart. She told me of other instances she has gone through and it saddens me to a very deep level that this girl has to experience this. I could rant about that in another post.
But my family has a relatively diverse background, including having black and Hispanic people, in addition to American Indian and European roots. I am not for a second going to send my kid to these schools where they can’t get that under control. When I was coming up in school, I was not aware of the students of color experiencing things like this… not to say they didn’t, but it was made perfectly clear how despicable that behavior is and wouldn’t be tolerated for a hot second. We were also taught empathy. These lessons are apparently not being taught now?
I have a family background filled with teachers, and I myself became a private tutor when I lived in NYC. I taught English as a Second Language and all my students were immigrants. I loved it. I love helping someone figure something out and be able to help themselves. My first student ever was from India and he felt like he was being passed over for promotions because people could’t understand him. This made him feel self consious and so he never tried to make friends, never spoke up at work, and had many miscommunications with his own bosses. He wanted a promotion very badly. I worked with him for a couple years. Taught him how to increase his vocabulary, taught him pronunciations, idioms and slang. By the time our time ended together, he did get his promotion, he had made friends at work, his relationship with his boss got better, and he even joined Toast Masters to help him get over his fear of speaking.
This is to say nothing about my teaching gun classes and many, many people who swore they couldn’t not shoot the broad side of a barn, but hit bullseye after bullseye after taking my class.
I love teaching.
It stands to reason that I will be a very good teacher for my daughter. And I think I can do a good job. There are things I am sad about the possibility of her never experiencing that I did. But I went to a great school. Not a good one – it was really great. So things like the spelling bee, school plays, of which I had a part in every one, if not the major role… class parties, school trips. But the things that she will miss out on that she doesn’t need, somehow seems greater. She won’t get bullied like I was. She won’t see her friends experience that either. Crazy and bad teachers. Perverted teachers and faculty. Boys. And let me just say – not the boys of 1986… These boys now, growing up without fathers, who have no idea what real men look like. I feel for them, I really do. But I don’t want them around my daughter, and then my daughter goes thinking that this is how boys treat girls. The drugs and violence in schools now – just wasn’t what it was when I came up. Not that we were angels. But still – the school shootings?
Somehow I feel like I can organize a spelling bee and theater class for the local homeschoolers.
Because I feel that homeschooling is the right decision for us, I have already been actively teaching my daughter stuff. And isn’t that what it would be, anyway? She learns by watching and imitating me. She says “thank-you” not because I have instructed her on it, but because I say it. I keep to the pleases and thank-yous, thank you very much, and since I model that, she’s picked it up. She knows her whole alphabet, numbers one through nine, two colors, one shape, over 100 words, a handful of two-word phrases- all these things that they want kids to know between two and three, she knows before two.
I think I get hung up on it and feel guilty. I don’t want to prevent her from learning experiences, but I want to protect her. I also want her to be educated as much as I can get her until she can educate herself. So like, college. And I think I may be mourning the experiences she will never have that I did. So I stew on this subject in my mind. I mull it over and go back and forth and have conversations in my head about why I want to go in this direction. Like I need to justify it to myself.
Meanwhile, my sweet angel hands me a marker and says “paper, paper, paper, paper” because she wants to color. And then she repeats all the letters on words appearing around the house. And she smiles, proud of herself, when I tell her the right answer.
All I can say is wow. Mom guilt is no joke. Because even when you choose the right answer for you and your family – there’s still that little bit there sometimes that feels guilty for there not being an option to not feel guilty over. Like a snake eating it’s tail.