At a party last fall, a good friend said (a little bit in jest, maybe?) that my blog makes her feel like a bad parent. My sister (lovingly!) calls my blog "self-congratulatory." Someone I don't know pinned my 2nd-grade read-aloud list on Pinterest with the comment "This blog has some great lists of read-aloud books - perhaps a little intimidating, but very inspiring" (italics mine). I was chagrined by a fluff piece in the New York Times Sunday Styles section that describes how much everyone hates parents who brag online (even worse: "humblebragging").
I want to say: I'm not trying to make you feel like (and I certainly
don't think you are!) a bad parent. I don't intend to intimidate you
when I list what we read. But am I bragging when I blog about our new
piano, our trips to New York, London, and elsewhere, the concerts we
attend, our garden, the sophisticated books Tim reads to N., etc.?
Well, of course. That is to say, I'm proud of our homeschool, and I
write this blog to celebrate it. In my posts I try not only to list
what we do but to examine how learning happens through our activities,
especially in seemingly nonacademic experiences such as travel. As an
educator (and home-educator), I'm interested in a broader definition of
education than conventional schooling accounts for; I write about what
we do both to explore and to demonstrate that broader vision of
I don't write much about our inevitable
difficulties as we homeschool, even though they are common. Such difficulties are more
personal and I don't often experience them directly as the
non-stay-at-home parent so they don't seem to be my stories to tell. The
picture painted by my blog would be more complete if Tim wrote about
his occasional feelings of under-utilization as a stay-at-home parent or
if I wrote about our challenges working with our son's very intense temperament. I'm willing to write here about N.'s interests, but not his personality, even though temperament looms large in learning. Inevitably, these omissions augment the boastful tone of my blog, but for privacy's sake, you'll just have to take my word for it: we have bad days along with the good.
I know that we homeschool from a position of social and economic privilege that makes a lot of what we do possible. We're not solving the larger problems plaguing American education; in fact we may well be contributing to them by not participating in the public school system. While I hope I'm not as blind as Sheryl Sandberg, implying that the differences between the more and less advantaged are insignificant and suggesting we all simply "lean in" rather than demand systemic change, I also hope that in writing about our homeschooling we add to the many examples of alternative approaches to learning that may someday change the experience of school for other children beyond our own. Wishful self-justification? Probably. Thanks for reading here despite all the self-congratulation!
Bonus reading: My previous soul-searching on the strange enterprise of blogging is here.