Thursday, May 28, 2009

Blog Mission Statement

One of the challenges faced by homeschool parents is that the things we or our children do sometimes become referenda on homeschooling as a practice. I am sure you can think of many examples of this both in the news and in your lives. The other day, my husband and I were discussing the way that a conversation he and N. were having at a park get-together may have different ramifications in public than it does in private. In this case, N. asked Tim what 5 and 7 make because he was counting the people on each side of the picnic table and Tim told him 12 and then he asked N. what 7 and 5 make. N. thought for a little while and then said, “12!” This kind of conversation is typical for them at home and has no stakes. It is not a quiz and if a few seconds of silence go by, Tim will tell N. the answer, or he might not even pose it as a question, but simply state it as additional interesting information. Because as a general rule we don’t quiz N. (and I really hate when people do this as a way of interacting with kids – quizzing them on “their colors” or “their shapes” or “their letters”), I am quite sure that when these kinds of conversations take place at home, N. experiences them as pressure-free, as part of the general give-and-take of information and questions that constitutes our days.

But out in public, at a picnic table with other kids and parents, this conversation might have a different resonance. Maybe N. feels pressure to perform, to come up with the right answer when all those people are listening. It might well look to the other parents like we are showing off, trotting out our trained monkey, trying to prove how successful our homeschooling is.

Tim pointed out that in blogging about our homeschooling experiences, we are vulnerable to the same problem of distortion. So far, the tone of my writing for this blog has been just about equal parts boasting about my child’s awesomeness and self-righteous statements about the awesomeness of our parenting choices. I don’t really mean it to sound that way, but it does, in part because of some choices I’ve made about what to write about and what not to write about, and in part because I am taking private moments public, where they lose some of their context.

So, if I am concerned about privacy, performance anxiety, and boasting, why am I blogging? I started this blog for the following reasons:
  • To document (some of) what we do as we homeschool/unschool
  • To articulate our philosophy of education, for ourselves, our friends and family, and whoever else might be interested
  • To ponder our child’s progress through various stages of learning
  • To connect with other families who homeschool/unschool, from whose blogs I have learned so much
My topic choices are guided by the knowledge that someday my son may read this blog and I don’t want to write something about him that he is someday mortified to discover is out in the public sphere. That may well happen anyway, but I am trying to avoid it.

Despite its pitfalls, I am enjoying blogging so far. I like writing about the many, many things regarding children’s lives and education that I have strong opinions about, even if this makes me sound like a self-righteous braggart. As the non-stay-at-home parent in our family, I feel connected to our homeschooling adventure by blogging. As a scholar who labors for months and years writing things that few people read, I find the feedback on my posts addictively gratifying!


Mom and Kiddo said...

I enjoy reading your posts and perspectives on your unschooling journey. Blogs are an interesting outlet as the bits and pieces are so tightly controlled by the author. I always remember this when I am reading the blogs of others... so much of one's life is left out, most of the time purposefully, sometimes accidentally. I can't imagine judging who someone is or how they raise their children just by a blog post, especially when I too, am concerned about privacy.

Fanny Harville said...

Thanks for your comment, Mom and Kiddo!

Sherry said...

I feel like you pulled this post directly from my mind. ;)

sgaissert said...

Thank you for this post. I think you do a wonderful job of carrying out your mission statement, and I always enjoy your posts.

Holly said...

I'm sometimes concerned that I'm too positive on my blog, that I make our unschooling life sound too perfect instead of giving an entirely accurate representation of what it means to unschool. I do try to write about the challenges too, especially those associated with being a "stay-at-home" mom in a society in which an individual's value is too often measured in terms of her income. But ultimately, my blog is for my own enjoyment, for documenting our journey, for connecting with others - pretty much all the same reasons you stated. But in addition, when I do find myself questioning my choices, feeling frustrated or anxious, I find the blog is important in helping to remind me of all the wonderful reasons for doing what we're doing! So, most of the time I do tend to write about the things that make me happy!

Anonymous said...

My "children" are 23 and 20, and I still learn so much from you. I have been a fan of this blog for a long time. Your encouraging, positive tone is particularly appreciated. Kind thanks!

Anonymous said...

My "children" are 23 and 20, and I still learn from you. Thank you for your positive and encouraging tone in your blog.

Fanny Harville said...

Anon, Thanks so much for leaving this nice comment!

Holly said...

Very cool! I am excited to have discovered your blog (through listography) and look forward to reading through your posts (: I am a new mom and thinking about homeschooling/unschooling my child.. Education seems to make more sense that way, as children begin learning from parents before 'day 1.' I'm new to the philosophies and hope your blog will help me get my feet wet! Any additional advice or suggestions on where to start would be MUCH appreciated. Hope you & yours are doing well! <3