Welcome to Inquiring Minds Homeschool!
My name is Lisa, and I’m a homeschooling mom. I’m not the stereotype that many might think of when they hear the word “homeschooling”. Chances are, I’m just like you.
What you’ll get from this website:
honest perspectives from a teacher turned homeschooler, who’s spent many years in the trenches
clear thinking about school, what it can do and what it can’t
what learning really is, and what it isn’t
how to decide what to do with your child’s education – first knowing that you indeed have a choice, and then making that choice in a confident way
what to do if you decide that you do want to pursue homeschooling
reassurance that you are not alone!
About Me: Teacher Turned Homeschooler
Growing up, I attended public schools. Just like almost everyone else I knew. No one was homeschooling. I didn’t even know there WAS such a thing. Kids went to school, and that was that. Getting kicked out, or dropping out, was the worst thing that could ever happen to you. Barring that, if you didn’t listen to your teachers or get good grades, you might not get into a Good College, which in my kid worldview was almost just as bad.
As the resident goody two shoes growing up in a suburban town, I never, ever questioned my educational path from kindergarten to college. Despite the problems with my schooling (and, oh, there were problems) I performed academically, taking great pride in getting the best grades and getting “leadership positions” in student council, marching band, theater, chorus, and any other organization that I joined. I was passionate about my “extracurriculars” way more than my actual classes.
In my academic subjects, I knew how to memorize. I knew how to give teachers back the answers they were looking for, and make it sound pretty in five paragraph essay format. Understanding wasn’t the point. Pleasing authority figures and sculpting my resume for college – that’s what it was all about.
Once in college – I attended Brown University – I had to work harder, and I had to actually make substantive choices about what I was going to learn. I was still in school, though, and the rules felt pretty comfortable and familiar. Show up, study, get the grades, and you’d be guaranteed success. I could do all that.
Yet during my college years, I often felt isolated and confused. I was surrounded by other kids my age, all of whom were preoccupied with their own concerns and trying on different identities, and the academic life began to feel hollow and pointless. In fact, the entire exercise began to feel pointless.
My entire life, I had studied and worked hard (or at least, hard enough) because it was what I needed to do to get into college. And here I was, with total freedom to choose what I wanted to study and where I wanted to go with my education, and I had no idea what to do next.
That was the beginning of my disillusionment with the entire system.
How, after 15,000 hours of schooling plus college, did I have no idea what I wanted to do with my life? Why did the “real world” seem so mysterious and impenetrable?
And not just to me, but to most of the other young adults I knew? Apart from my friends who had entered college as pre-meds and actually stuck with it, everyone else was just as bewildered as I was.
But instead of breaking out and going my own way, I doubled down. I decided to stay in school even longer, until I figured it all out. I considered many different paths, finally settling on child psychology. While I studied for the GRE and researched PhD programs, I decided to work in a program for children with autism, to get “real world experience”. And that’s how my long teaching career began.
I was so invested in the school system that I used it as a crutch. Being a student, and then being a teacher, felt safe to me. As long as I was in school, I didn’t have to worry about the “real world”. The rules were clear. The path to success was simple and straightforward. The endeavor was noble – what could be more important than learning and helping others to learn?
That’s what I thought.
The Turning Point
Here’s what made me realize that there has to be another way.
I saw the limitations of what a “good school” could do. I’ve taught in schools for over 15 years. I’ve seen problems come and go. When times got tough, people reacted under stress. I saw increasing behavior issues among students, and disunity amongst staff. I saw people getting promotions to “keep them happy”, while other people got pushed out or encouraged not to stay because they were “complainers” (read: bringing up issues that were too complex to deal with while maintaining appearances.)
I became a mom, and I missed my baby. I was leaving early in the morning before he was even awake. I was gone all day, Then I’d get home and have a very limited time with him before it was time to put him down for the night. I hated it.
Life challenges showed me that life is too short to spend time on things that aren’t fulfilling. My dad, who was healthy and active, suddenly developed a mysterious and ultimately terminal illness. It was a sobering reminder that we never know how much time we have.
The United States’ attitude towards teaching and teachers. I started teaching under the Bush administration and its No Child Left Behind policies, but the garbage really got going when a President I supported, Barack Obama, really ramped up the high stakes testing and unfair evaluations of teachers. It felt like a betrayal.
I sat on the decision to leave my school for over a year. And then, I was so nervous about taking the plunge away from teaching entirely that I accepted another position! This one was part time, at a newer and more idealistic school, but the fit still wasn’t right. Meanwhile, my own child was getting closer to being school age, and I knew the right choice was for us to be at home together.
So, here we are!
Today, I’m an educator. I work in voluntary environments – museums, after school programs, camps. My child is currently not in school, and I have no plans to place him in school. We will be conducting his education at home.
This site is all about explaining my choices and illuminating what an education can be like. I want to share my vision of what education looks like in my family, and encourage everyone to make the choices that are right for them.
How did you make the decision to homeschool? Leave a message in the comments!