Thursday, February 19, 2015

Black Families, Fear and Homeschooling

The Atlantic article 'The Rise of Homeschooling Among Black Families' took a cursory look into what I've experienced over the last 4 years.  What I'd like to see even more, is a look into why so many of us are not comfortable questioning the entire structure and wind up bringing a strict school at home philosophy into homeschool.  I did it too, so I'm not just finger pointing.
Following the Freedom to Grow Unschool for a while along with some African American unschoolers inspired me to feel more confident doing what I already knew in my gut was right.  What's interesting is the crazy imbalance of how many Black people are complaining about the state of schools, but refusing to try something different.
Too often we're running FROM something instead of TOWARDS our vision.  I din't leave the school system simply because of racism.  That's something we're not free from just because education doesn't happen in a brick & mortar school.  Have you looked at homeschool groups?  They can be just as segregated as the rest of our country.  We are able to insulate a tiny bit more, but it's still that dark cloud hanging over every time someone asks 'what do you/your husband do or where you live in that 'how can you afford it?' tone.
Instead I recognized that my son's unique gifts don't fit neatly into a box at most schools.  I thought about what I want him to know and feel as an adult.  The answer was confident, competent and curious.  (weird that really did just come into my head without thinking.  I've clearly had an addiction to alliteration for some time =) )
We're caught up in shoving as much knowledge down our children's throats as early as possible, then testing the hell out of it to make us feel good.  It's all coming from a place of fear rather than hope or presence in the now.  No one ever says I want little Johnny to be able to sit at his cubicle like a good employee and stifle every inspiration he has as long as he can recite some random facts.  That is precisely what we're training them to be though.  Tiny, stressed out little cubicle dwellers in training.
Success for me will be my kid being able to support himself, not feeling he has to recover from his childhood.  Learning doesn't stop once school ends.  If we teach children how to explore, think and analyze without tearing down their self-esteem I believe we would get much farther.
I want to raise a man who doesn't feel he is inferior to anyone.  How can I do that if the only thing he learns about our culture is slavery and civil rights struggle?  How can he know the world is his oyster if he only sees us pursuing a narrow set of interests based on what's acceptable for 'us' to like?
The next 'rise' I want to see among Black families is one of awareness and joy in being. Childhood isn't just a constant state of preparation and fear.  I'll do everything I can to prevent my son being the next one shot in the street, but in the meantime I'll let him just enjoy being a kid.

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