Sunday, August 05, 2012

Every Day I Write the Book

Caron asks:

Why did you decide to write this book?

People who knows things tell writers to write the book they wish they could read. When researching homeschooling, I had libraries full of books about education and homeschooling. I could actually wear a highlighter out, though, before I found a book about homeschooling where the writer -- usually a parent who homeschooled -- was anything but serenely confident that homeschooling was best for her family. Actually, the general sense was that homeschooling was best for everyone's family. I understood the confidence; people who are iffy on something don't tend to write books about that subject, and when everyone in your life keeps telling you what a bad idea homeschooling is, eventually you're going to get your back up and decide that no, homeschooling is the very best choice of all. Even so, that confidence -- across all the subsets of homeschooling -- was unwavering. It gave me the same creeping sense of inadequacy I've felt around certain La Leche League members.

And yet I love people who are certain, if for no other reason than they provide such a nice contrast to me. "Perhaps," I would think as I closed the most recent tome on homeschooling, "I'll start homeschooling and I'll become confident, just like them! And then I'll stop chewing my cuticles into tartare!"  

Um, well.  

I had a panic attack my second day of homeschooling, the day I realized my daughter had no compunction about using the same trick she'd used to great success on all her previous teachers: the "I couldn't possibly do that terribly complicated math I already did last year!" trick. Only then did it occur to me I knew how to deal with parent/child peskiness, but not teacher/child peskiness. I raced through all my books. No one, it seemed, had ever experienced a panic attack. No one was ever afraid of their kid's capacity to outsmart them. The doubts they alluded to all sounded annoying but small and manageable, like jet lag or pillow hair. According to these books, no other homeschooling mother encountered the Ebola of paralyzing self-doubt.

I wrote the book so people outside of homeschooling could see what it looks like in the corners. But mostly I wrote it because I suspect there's a parent somewhere who has thought, "You know, homeschooling might actually make sense for us, might make our lives easier and happier, but you have to be supremely confident and know exactly what you're doing before you set out."  

I'm here to say you don't.

***

 LOVING your questions; keep them coming! Remember, they don't have to be about homeschooling exclusively. I also have cats, an elderly dog and insomnia. All are fair topics.

5 Comments:

Blogger Julie Tornquist said...

Loving your blog. I am a veteran home school mom with 5 kids, the last just graduated from high school. I am still not sure it was the right choice, and may never be, but they all seem to be doing well and nobody is in jail or the asylum.

We home schooled at the beach, in the treehouse, on the porch roof, in a tent, knee deep in mud, and neck deep in snow. Home schooling is more a life style choice than anything. Our biggest guiding principle was,"If the kids are all alive at the end of the day I have done my job." Given kids naturally curious natures they can't help but to learn. If they are breathing they are learning. I always saw my job as keeper of the gate. Your blog on making the yes and no choices was spot on.

I won't tell to stop doubting yourself; you aren't a mother if you don't doubt your choices. Just make sure to doubt everyone else too.

10:18 AM  
Blogger Rebecca said...

Quinn, have you heard of togather.com? It's a crowd sourced author tour kind of thingy. Authors go to places where there is already proven demand for them - reserved books, RSVPs and such. You should check it out. I know you must have enough fans to be able to hit at least several spots around the country. And you don't even have to worry about Daugter missing school! The big thing that's drawing me to homeschooling for my granddaughter is its portability for traveling. Anyway, I just read about this and immediately thought of you.

12:00 PM  
Blogger Sandra said...

I don't so much doubt homeschooling - after 15 years I know it isn't perfect but neither is the alternative, and I'm pretty sure (not 100% mind you) we'll stick with the homeschooling until the two youngest move on to whatever their next thing might be. I more doubt the way I homeschool - should we spend more time on x, is y worth our time, am I pushing child A too hard...or not hard enough, is B a late bloomer....or just lazing around etc etc etc. What we've done so far has worked pretty well so far so I guess I'll continue to muddle along, trying my best and doubting most every move I make!

1:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just read a sample of your book on my iPad. And yelled out to my husband I need this book! Yes I homeschool ( second year) yes I have a almost 11 year old and yes our daily struggle with math it the reason I want to pull my hair out!!! Plus we tried other schools and pulled her out for your exact reasons. Thanks for sharing such a vulnerable experience! Now time to read,

5:19 AM  
Anonymous Joanne Rendell said...

Hi, I just read your piece on homeschooling on WSJ. Loved it! I'm a homeschooling mom to a 9 y/o and I particularly loved your vision of roam-schooling and how education should/is evolving in that direction. Roam-schooling is certainly what we do these days. A few years ago I wrote a piece for Babble.com about HS, which then got picked up by the NYTimes in an article entitled Antischoolers. I never liked the title. Roam-schoolers would have been much better. Thanks again for the piece. I'm looking forward to reading your book. Joanne

8:18 AM  

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