When she was hardly more than a girl, Miss Minnie had gone away to a teacher’s college and prepared herself to teach by learning many cunning methods that she never afterward used. For Miss Minnie loved children and she loved books, and she taught merely by introducing the one to the other. (A Consent, from That Distant Land, by Wendell Berry)
Miss Minnie – the above two sentences – epitomizes my teaching life and my view on education.
Since I can remember I wanted to be a teacher. The education that happened to me in school and in teacher training was based on stuffing ideas into an empty mind, imposing a fixed content of ideas and doctrines to be learned by rote, setting tests and giving marks for correct facts. I was a well-trained parrot and a good one. My heart told me that this was neither teaching nor education. After several years of teaching I awoke one day to see my two children in a small private school: one parrot to be, and one labelled attention deficit. I did not want parrots and I did not believe in labels. My heart told me to teach them at home. I did no research, I did not know that this is known as homeschooling, I had no political or religious reasons for this step – my heart merely ached seeing what was happening to my six year old girl and my seven year old son. I took them out of school and started teaching them at home. I was challenged from day one. I realised that homeschooling was going to be aimed at me, and that my children were merely coming along for the ride.
For Miss Minnie loved children and she loved books, and she taught merely by introducing the one to the other.
Hours and hours of searching, reading, researching, and tests and trials brought me at the doorstep of Miss Minnie’s teaching method. One evening, 12 years ago – unintentionally – I asked my husband if I can use the internet to search for “something”. I remember my fingers typing “school at home and christian” as key words in the search engine, and my astonishment at the wealth of information. Three, no four homeschool support groups – their philosophies and beliefs – invited me, offered what I was searching for, and after 12 years have stood the test of time: Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn, Susan Wise-Bauer, Christine Miller , and the ladies from Ambleside Online (mentioned in no particular order).
Mortimer Adler, in some book somewhere, said – the good student uses his teacher just as a child uses his parents – as a means of attaining maturity and independence. I had the benefit of both wor(l)ds: as parent and teacher I could show my children how to learn and think for themselves. Or as Harvey Bluedorn stated it: homeschooling is for the parents, we need to teach our children for our sake, and our children need to be taught by us – for their sake.
I enjoyed each and every precious moment – sweet and sour.