Homeschooling is not a Swiss Army Knife

It is, of course, treated as such by conservatives.  No matter what the family situation, homeschooling is presented as the cure to lack of money, lack of community, multicultural conflict, bad marriage, no marriage, the list goes on and on.

Homeschooling is increasingly used as another way to retreat into a private but not domestic sphere.  I used to be very “you do you” about homeschooling, but now when I hear about yet another friend or family member opting to homeschool, I just see another couple who won’t be bringing anyone meals, who won’t be volunteering, who won’t be sitting up with the sick old lady at church, who won’t be participating in local civic life.

It is understandable to protect what is nearest to you, but it’s not a movement.  Or an all-purpose fix-it solution for the loss of posterity and social life.

Capstone Follies, no fiction writing for mamma edition.

I came up short on my own writing goals, including a big fat zero on fiction wordcount because I spent the week helping one of my kids with a massive capstone project.  And yes, I didn’t think it would take all week and that I’d have some time to write.  But it didn’t work out that way.

There’s always next week though!

Home Alone with the kids: A Coronarant

One of the hardest parts of dealing with the global phenomenon known as Wuhan virus, corona-chan, and more scientific names like Sars-COV-2, is the unbearable smugness of antisocial right-wing homeschooling types on twitter. Due to mass quarantines, twitter is putting the pitiable scraps of social into social media, with thousands more people using it daily now. Anyway the upshot is that you have a handful of right-wing types who are smugging it up about all the parents whose kids are now home all day and who have to teach those same kids for several hours a pop when they previously didn’t have to. Much of the snottiness revolves around saying that those nasty, terrible (public school implied) parents just don’t lovelovelove their kids because it turns out to be really challenging to both teach and have them at home all day with nowhere to go and those parents beef some about the situation. But the smug crew just snidely grins and says “I don’t get it, it’s just such a joy to always be near my precious children, teaching and REARING THEM MYSELF ALONE AND NOT LETTING OTHER PEOPLE RAISE MUH KIDZ. It’s just nonstop joy over here. Only a coldhearted person wouldn’t want to spend all day every single day with their own children!”

The question of whether they’re lying or not is irrelevant, what matters is that they are being cruel and of the nastier sort of whited sepulchres. They’re sneering, not sympathizing. It’s not a good look, much less a good witness. And yet calling it out just gets you yelled at and told you must also hatehatehate your precious children. Whatever. The reality is that my kids, being relatively emotionally and socially healthy, need and desire to be around other kids and adults. We’ve also raised our children to respect and honor adult authority that is valid and properly ordered because we can’t and shouldn’t be the only adult authority they acknowledge. Because we’re sane, our kids had social outlets and *gasp* left the house frequently and *doublegasp* even went to school part-time.

It’s never been normal to be locked in a cabin with your kids and a tiny patch of yard and not even see or talk to other people except on a screen of magic aether. It’s a super bad ultra dumb idea for homeschooling, Christian and Christian homeschooling types to present it as not just fine, but superior and properly ordered. It is in fact deranged to present quarantine-schoolin’ as a-ok and better for your kids.

This isn’t to handwave public schools’ numerous problems at all. It’s just to say that it’s idiotic to crow about how unable you are to function around other people and how super keen it is that you’ve raised kids who can’t manage it either. It’s like parents who brag that nobody can babysit their kids, not even people they know well and who they have strong personal trust with. It reflects on you, and not necessarily for the better.

It’s rocky. They miss their friends, they miss their enrichment classes, they miss seeing other adults who love God like Mamma and Daddy do. This isn’t basically great and easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. They miss libraries (wait, I thought libraries were approved of by the Karens of Homeschooling?), they miss playgrounds without caution tape (wait, I remember something about how Good Homeschool Moms always take their kids to parks a bunch? Guess I was dreaming it!), they miss many small things we have to keep explaining aren’t allowed or available due to “the virus”. All of this is ACTUALLY FOR REAL HARD. It absolutely isn’t like this if you’re “really” “full-time” homeschooling. If it is so barren and cloistered for you and your kids, well, you can search yourself and ask why you think such sparseness of exposure to life and other people is acceptable or reasonable in home education of children.

Or you know, continue snotting it up on twitter and other social media until the lockdowns end. As for me and mine, I’m done venting about and feel much less crabby about the gaslighting now.

Scutwork Diary, Day 2

Progress was mixed on clearing out the clutter so we could round up all the homeschool stuff. But we have help on the weekends, and the Chinese virus isn’t getting in the way of that. We will thus be able to do more work for day 3 and still finish up Homeschool Consolidation on time. There is something to be said for maintaining social connections with rural folks, something good.

In any case, it’s been really challenging to sit down and be methodical about decluttering and general tidying. You think it’s just a matter of bulling through throwing a lot of stuff out, or just making yourself sit there for hours asking the question “Where is the home for this?” for ten, twenty, a hundred items. But it’s not. It’s really about whole-life thinking and accepting how you really “do” life before you throw out this or that.

My kids can cook very well, but they are atrocious at cleanup, and like the excellent nine year old cook in L.M. Montgomery’s Story Girl duology, my own kids will be extravagant with eggs and butter beyond what an adult would prefer them to if left to full autonomous process. I don’t have to do a lot of supervising as a result, but I do have to make a lot more rules and restrictions around the cooking process than I previously thought were necessary. And it’s hard, it’s like writing software. So.many.instructions.that.have.to.be.very.precise.and.specific.

But in a way it will be practice for my return to coding and programming. For reasons beyond the scope of this entry anyhow it’s become obvious I have to get back into that realm. Interestingly, and I have some anecdotal evidence in this direction, higher maths have proved to unlock bits of comprehension that used to be confusing. Many women seem to do better going from math to coding, rather than just trying to tinker their way through as noncollege male programmers do. It’s an interesting possibility, if it’s broadly applicable. Perhaps I’ll code a tool that can clarify those matters one of these days.

As is perhaps expected, I thought this entry would take quite a different form. I forgot to put gas in the car before running an errand, and then had a fiasco trying to get gas at a branded station that wouldn’t recognize my brand key fob, so I had to get gas closer to home on fumes. I listened to an 80s playlist the whole time. The kids are very 80s tolerant, which remains very amusing, but also challenging, as you learn the hard way how many times you have to slam that skip button when some song lyrics start up for 80s songs that were blasting from radios in your youth and you had no idea that the singer was talking about *this* or *that*.

We finally got a Census form with the online code. But I’m going to wait for the paper form and fill it out in colorful pen ink.

Project 1: Homeschool Consolidation, 2 days of estimated 3 complete.

Scutwork Diary, Day 1

This is a diary about boring scutwork. Why boring scutwork? Because the main obstacle to an ordered life in my specific and personal case is social. I can do boring scutwork, but being too ashamed to say that it has to be done has meant that as soon as there’s a crisis or emergency or just a sick day, work and life pile up like crazy. This is because those are the times that the boring scutwork’s boringness rushes to the fore and it gets put aside. Then a lot of interlinking pieces of daily life start coming undone and we end up in survival mode as a household for weeks or months. And then it’s another action plan or buying a piece of organizing furniture and the cycle repeats, but with incrementally more disarray as the kids get bigger and, well, messier if unchecked. All because I don’t talk about it except to my husband. Until now.

I’ve decided to diarize my journey from scutwork to gruntwork, and ideally beyond that. But first I want to succeed at the initial scheme and it is possible to overshoot by yapping about plans that are years away. In the short term, though, that hasn’t been the reason there’s piles of unfiled papers, stacks of books with annotations and notes and endless waves of unsorted kid schoolwork lying around along with unfolded laundry and dish towels in the strangest places. All that stuff has happened because not talking about the daily niggling details except with my husband has meant that I feel like all the scutwork is pointless since nobody knows it’s happening except the two people doing it. So I’m going to open this process to the world.

It’s pretty simple, I will write 500-1000 words 6 days a week about what scutwork I plan to do or have already done. The scutwork itself will be broken down into 2-3 day projects and goal-assessed every 13 weeks or 90 days, whichever is needed to round out a quarter. The initial scutwork project is Homeschool Consolidation. I have two bookshelves I was using to collect all the books I planned to read and discuss before this summer, along with some old children’s books I wanted the kids to read. They did read a fair amount of them, but the location of the bookshelves was not optimal for treating them as bookshelves and instead they’ve collected clutter and only had about half books in them anyway.

So the goal is to clear the books out and just use them as a homeschool shelving and storage system. Currently schoolwork is scattered across the house and the upshot is that it can be hard to find books or papers or manipulatives during school days. Consolidating everything in one place even though it’s not the place I wanted and which I just fought using because “bookshelves are ONLY FOR BOOKS NOTHING ELSE” will allow for the possibility of shaving time off teaching by not having to scramble for missing elements.

This is going to be a three day project. For the first day, T.W.O. and I removed some clutter and put most of the books in the library. We made enough progress that we will aim to finish removing clutter and the rest of the books tomorrow. Then after that we’ll put all the homeschool stuff on those two bookshelves. It’s boring scutwork, but once it’s done, quality of life will improve.

Project 1: Homeschool Consolidation, 1 day of estimated 3 complete.