Saturday, May 19, 2007

Finding my calling

The excerpt which I quoted from W W Sawyer's book, Mathematicians Delight has reminded me of why I decided I decided to homeschool my children in the first place. The lightbulb clicked on for me before I even had children. I was in the last year of my studies, doing my post-graduate education diploma. We were required to do two stints as "interns", teaching at schools under the guidance of experienced teachers. I chose to do my second practical at my old high school.

One of my chosen majors was english and I was placed with an english teacher who had not been one of my own teachers at school, but whom I knew quite well. The literature text was The Great Gatsby and I naively thought that my job was to encourage the pupils I would be teaching (10th graders) to share their views on the text and to explain their reasoning. It was soon quite clear to me that the teacher I was with was teaching imitation english and that reasoning was the last thing that was encouraged in this classroom. Her method was to give the pupils questions from the study guide on the book and they would look at the back of the study guide and copy the answers down verbatim.

My other subject was German and the teacher I was assigned to in this regard had become so unmotivated that she was also teaching the imitation instead of the real thing. I had started my studies afire with the desire to imbue the children I would be teaching with a love of language. I looked at these two teachers and saw myself, twenty years down the line, beaten down by the system and dishing up fare to my pupils that bore almost no resemblance to the original. Even if I did manage to stay on track, I would be faced with classes full of children who had already had the interest in learning sucked out of them. I decided that this wasn't how I wanted to fulfill my calling. I took a typing course and started working as a secretary.

I did actually get a teaching job a few years later, but that only confirmed my feelings about the school system. Then, when my first child was barely a toddler, I read an article about homeschooling. The final piece of the puzzle fell into place and I knew I had found my real calling.

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