I am about to rant, so if you aren't up for that, feel free to exit and go visit elsewhere.
I was at work today, all my places of work, actually, but now I refer to the college. I was in seeking information from the secretary. (Off the topic, I am not sure how it happens but two of the most helpful people I know are both English dept secretaries. I wonder if there is a personality profile that goes with the job?)
Another teacher came in. She asked if I taught at public school during the week, since I only teach at the college on Saturdays. I replied that I homeschool. I saw her face go blank. It wasn't as bad as if I had said I spend my weeks in jail, but there was something there.
It reminded me of a friend who left her public school teaching job to become a full-time mother. When she was in a car wreck (the other driver's fault), she was asked what she did. She said she was a mom. The officer wrote down “unemployed.”
To her, that was a slap in the face to her degree and her decision. I have no idea how the officer meant it. But she felt that it negated what she did. “Unemployed” is not the same as “lazy, shiftless,” but to many of us it seems that way. I think he could have written “mom.” Maybe even “not employed presently.”
What is employed? For my main job, I don't get paid. But I'm not a drain on society. I am adding value to two future members of society. I am teaching them.
When people ask me what I do, when I don't know them, I tell them I teach college. (I do. I've done it full-time for four years and part-time for five years now.) I've also taught public school, private school, and homeschoolers.
I should, I am sure, take every opportunity to educate the public on homeschooling. But I still haven't convinced my parents it's a good deal. I don't want to take on the rest of the world.
I've thought through homeschooling. Believe me, I've thought it through. Sometimes I think it through four or five times a day. It goes something like this, “They're whining. If they were in public school, they wouldn't do that because of the peer pressure. So, if I sent them to public school they would get an education and not whine. I could go back to work full-time and still work around their hours. I could bring in enough money that we could get our debts paid off and hubby might be able to scale back at work or look for another job.” But mostly, it's just because I get so frustrated trying to be Mom and Teacher both.
I know that some parents have their kids call them “Mr. or Mrs. Whatever” when they are in school and Mom and Dad otherwise. I know some parents have a special room that is only used for education and they never leave that room as Teacher. They're never in that room as Mom and Dad. (I'm not quite sure how I would manage that. I think we use every room in our house for school, except the bathrooms and the boys' bedrooms.)
Suzi, as a stay-at-home mom who is currently considering homeschooling (this year is a trial for my five-year-old, who would be eligible for K next schoolyear) I could totally relate to your post, especially the part about not always broadcasting to the general public about homeschooling. There is definitely a stigma attached; perhaps because many people choose to homeschool out of concerns about negative aspects of peer socialization and problems in trusting schools to do a good job, also a number of folks who do so in order to present a more religiously based curricula. Being a homeschooling parent is often taken as a negative comment about those parents who *don't* have those concerns, raising the defensive hackles of many a parent. Or perhaps this woman's reaction may have been a “gee, she doesn't seem the 'type'” kind of reaction, maybe she has some preconceived notions about homeschoolers (like that we're crazy granola-types . . . oh wait, that's what I wannabe ;o). I know it was tough on me when I informed my son's preschool last year that I'd try homeschooling this year. They tried to talk me out of it for weeks and pretty much held the same attitude as if I'd said “I'm going to chain my child in the basement and deprive him of all childhood joys and privledges.” Actually, with the money I save from not enrolling him I was able to enroll him in Spanish, Dance, and Art classes (though were only doing art right now) in addition to taking advantage of free programs offered by our museums and conservation depts that I'd had to pull him out of class to utilize before, all of which expanded his experience beyond the standard preschool one, so that was one benefit right off the top. Sorry for such a long comment. Really just wanted to let you know I read your post with interest.