Posted: Saturday, October 1, 2011 12:13:44 AM
You will hear a thousand white lies about home schooling. Granted, there are just as many I wish were fibs. A handful of people are optimistic about an alternative to the public school system. Then there’s that chunk that categorizes my kind as sheltered, prayer cap wearers that can’t take a joke. You are victim to catching whatever rumor rolls ‘round. Sometimes their genuine pitch about you is unashamedly cruel.
Regardless of opinions, all I knew was home schooling. It would prove to be an experience that initiated a collapse that was essential to my education. A collapse only my mother could have achieved.
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Second grade. The school year was in full swing, and my mom heaped the school books on my siblings and I. The concept of school seemed immeasurably aimless and exceedingly dull. Frequently, I complained how I could not foresee any benefits to pouring hours into all the tedious homework. The reply would be, “Oh, you will be thankful you learned what you’re learning when you are older.” At the time, it sounded like a pettish excuse. To put the pay-offs of things in adulthood. As if, we’d forget to glance back and re-instate our previous questions and arguments. A strategic and unhelpful reply.
My biggest enemy was math. Wasn’t it a waste to meddle with the drawn out division problems? I developed an icy patch of feelings for all things arithmetic. So large a distaste, it turned me sour within a couple weeks. My mother would come to me shoving unfinished papers into my clenched fists. It made me bust a vein.
I yelled, kicked, and screamed. There was not a single dimension to stubbornness I hadn’t tried and become a master at.
Upon my refusals to do my multiplication, Mom would shoot me a glare that had me in and out of her bedroom with only a sore behind to spare. Injecting a sensitive, “I’m doing this because I love you” before the ‘rod of discipline’ came down hard. In defiance, my outbursts became frequent ordeals. I suffered sweat, blood, and tears to put up a fight that could prohibit an easy lesson. A futile battle that would be answered with a consequence of discipline, day after day. I held no intention to succumb to a correct approach. My way or the highway. The ‘good kid’ act wasn’t in my best interests, and following after my childish inclinations became more and more idle.
In bed one morning, I thought over how arithmetic was going to be. How it’d always been. How my teacher was remarkable. She tried to hand me opportunities to terminate my obstinacy once and for all, and I laid this gigantic wall up at the idea. Lying there, something internally shifted and I let my resolve crumble. I felt weak and pathetic, but lighter.
I ate a homemade stack of chocolate chip pancakes, steamed in the shower, and sat down to face the pile of school on my place mat. The first subject I fingered was my math paper. Setting it in front of me, I gazed at the little blue-boxed equations with, painfully, open eyes. I went through the steps to solve and arranged my number columns evenly.
I swallowed a lump in my throat that I’d been letting grow for months now. Before me was a neatly written answer to Math Exercise number One.
And if it wasn’t right.
My forehead ker-plopped onto my paper and my tears of relief spilled over. I no longer begrudged my mom for leading me to this. Maybe it’s commonplace to scribble out a straight-A homework assignment, but the reality of it for me was a miracle. Pure magic. Using spank-ins to get it might seem unorthodox nowadays, but it is a tried and true method.
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Here I am, seven years later. I’m not in the ruts anymore. You could use the words ‘talented’ and ‘diligent’ to describe my work ethic. There isn’t agitation in studying. Rather, an excitement and enthusiasm toward being a receptive pupil. I can be doing my lessons, and peek up to see my teacher grinning at my concentration. As soon as I see it, I jerk my head back, biting back a smile of my own. We both are familiar with the major change from years gone by. We know the doubts people have toward home schooling. Although it may not be the most polished method, I couldn’t have emerged out of my learning blockade in any other way, with any other person than my teacher, my mother.