I am planning on homeschooling Lydia, Elisheva and Guinevere next school year. This is not the kind of statement that goes lightly in today's world: there always seems to be an elephant accompanying the phrase into a room. Here's my elephant - I am excited, but also terrified. I am doing it, but mostly not for educational reasons. Sometimes I think I will sit on the fence between homeschool and public school for so long that my proverbial feet will fall asleep and sting me sharply when I finally decide (or fall from lack of balance over to a side). I suppose this post is an attempt to get off the fence, to formally say, move over large vans full of unruly children with frumpy moms of stereotype, Thora's coming to join you. (Except...could we just lose the stereotype? I mean, I do have a lot of kids who act crazy, and I do drive a van, and I am probably frumpy, but I have never worn a denim jumper in my life, so there is that.)
Additionally, we do not like this emphasis on testing, especially with schools who already do well getting more funding, while schools that struggle get less. Often the struggling schools, like the ones my daughters have attended, have lower income families that are working a lot, often have many immigrant children and families who are not familiar with English or the American school system, and who need more help than ever, not less, when their scores are low. There is nothing wrong with tests per se - it is this test that measures the worth of a teacher by how well her or his students do on a test, thus leading to teaching to the test, and thus encouraging focusing on a test. And yet the teachers continue anyway - I have been happy with every single teacher my girls have had, all seven of them. They weren't perfect, but then neither am I. And they all cared a lot about teaching. But within a system of pedagogy that I increasingly feel dissatisfaction with, I feel they are hampered.
I have always planned to do that, with going back to school for a master's and possibly a doctorate after Avram graduated and obtained a tenure track job. My long term plan has been to go to the school he would work at, where I would get free tuition. If Avram would have gotten a tenure track this next year, I would have planned to start grad school the year after that. However, that did not happen, and until he gets an academic job that is tenure track, we would not have the stability for me to start a program and knowing I would be there to finish it. So my long term plan is quickly ranging out of reach, potentially for forever. With these limitations, I have thought a lot about, "Now, what?" Now what can I do, because I feel like without something extra, I am home all day mostly with kids who cannot carry on an actual conversation. I feel like an unpaid maid, because it seems some days as if my highest calling is to make sure that the family's laundry keeps on its eternal round. I definitely feel that I was made for more than laundry rotation, however necessary and good that is as well.