Education Conundrum

I am ruminating about home schooling my child who is light years ahead in most subjects from her “grade level” and is tapping out the resources available at least in her immediate school environment.  She values her friendships and would only agree to do this if we can find a way to allow her to continue group school activities such as music and sports.  I am only at the beginning stages of researching the whole idea of balancing state requirements and home/public school interface.

I believe:

1) This will be impossible to do while I continue to work 60 hours/week, so I need to wait until next year and I can cut back to 40.

2)  Maybe higher education is not for everyone.  My whole inability to obtain a high enough paying job has me wonder whether my higher education was worth the price of 20 years of loans.  The past 20 years I have done work that does not require a college degree, while my degree has made me “overqualified” when I try to get in the door at other jobs.  The biggest benefit I can see is that it opened my mind in certain ways, and I met some inspirational teachers.  Could I have been influenced by similarly admirable people outside the college environment and be better off financially with my great work ethic?  I believe so.

3)  Home schooling could dramatically free my own mind and hers in a mutual learning process of her setting the goals, and me and her dad coming up with the infrastructure to help her meet them.  Just imagining it makes me see a window into a type of freedom for creativity and imagination I have not felt in years.  For the past year her stated answer to “What do you want to be when you grow up?” has been a Wildlife Photographer.  I can just imagine all the possibilities of trips, resources, and experiments we can work with on this topic alone.

While searching for an adequate definition of EDUCATION, this man’s web site jumped out at me for some ideas I can resonate with, though I have just scratched the surface of his verbose writings:  Don Berg’s Definition of Education

I have questioned a lot about my own education like why I had such a difficult time with higher education when I was someone who taught myself to read by age 4, and apparently was practically born proofreading/decoding.  According to my mom, at age 2 I was circling symbols in fine print magazines, asking her what were all the “balls” (O’s) and “hammers” (T’s).

I did okay in public schools, and am grateful for the humbling social education I received by being an ethnic minority (10% white students in my schools).  I am not sure why I did so well in a special free public high school program where I was able to take and ace Epidemiology, Microbiology, Botany, Genetics, and earn a 2-year internship as an assistant in an immunology lab, yet I could not survive basic biology courses at a 4-year university.  I have a theory it is my tendency to test poorly on standardized tests – IQ, multiple choice – and those tests can determine so much about our course through all of standard education.

At any rate, another freak thing about my education is I believe I am the only English major who did not read a lot of important books (the Iliad, Catcher in the Rye, War and Peace, most of Shakespeare’s plays, To Kill a Mockingbird, to name a few).  Instead, I focused on many African American writers and completed a thesis on the poetry of Gwendolyn Brooks.  Me, a middle class white chick who grew up not even close to a single African American person, going to a mostly white liberal arts school, heard the call of the Civil Rights Movement and somehow submerged myself in it.  Ralph Ellison, Langston Hughes, Ernest Gaines, Angela Davis, Nikki Giovanni, Alice Walker. . . I read and read.  And sung “We Shall Overcome” in the shower.  And occasionally the South African national anthem, since my college years intersected the student anti-apartheid movement and my roommates were from Africa.

With my daughter, I would hope the freedom to explore what innately calls her would be a benefit of home schooling.  I hope I can make this work over time.


About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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2 Responses to Education Conundrum

  1. Sharon Rose says:

    You can do this, Erin! You will find a way! I’m so excited for you! I strongly encourage you to visit and read through the Washington Homeschool Organization’s website – every bit of it. Here’s the link:
    I feel strongly that parents should *fully* understand the laws governing home education/ home-base instruction in WA before they decide upon the appropriate mix for their child or submit a declaration of intent to the school district. I ultimately opted NOT to be “Supervised by a person certificated in Washington State” for both my girls (the flip side of which means not being granted access to the free curricula at Whidbey Island Academy). You might ultimately decide differently after weighing all the options, but I still believe every parent should feel confident in their knowledge and make fully conscious choices. More info here:

    I also recommend the magazine Home Education. I subscribed for many years – it’s full of inspiring stories, links and resources.

    • Erin W says:

      Thanks for the encouragement Sharon 🙂 I did look at the site you mentioned about the law, and I never realized how doable it really is! I completed half of a graduate teaching degree but just haven’t used that part of my brain in a while. I am confident I can and would love home schooling (when not working 60 hr/week), but my main hesitation is around working out a mutual schedule with her dad given the complexity of 2 households, 2 cities, and a legal parenting plan which would likely go out the window to accommodate her activities. He and I actually have complementary strengths for the 11 required subjects, and she’s already had more hands on aviation training than any kid her age. The Flight Museum holds summer camps for kids – well, she’s already had about 10 years of that exposure with her dad. Anyway, it’s a lot to think about, and I definitely want her to lead this, not me. Right now, she’s extremely bored but socially learning a lot this year, so I don’t know about pulling her out of the social network. How do you compensate for the social aspect of it?

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