Ever since Radio National ran a talk back show on homeschooling a few weeks ago, I've been feeling defensive. Thinking of words like enmeshed, hot-housing, extreme. I was thrown by the number of people who were prepared to criticise our choice in such a public forum, especially when I make it a mantra not to criticise the choice of others to send their children to school. My radical ideas on the school system ( that it is designed to raise cogs for the capitalist system, that it lends itself to desensitising children to fascism ) I keep to myself, even amongst other home educators. The only family I'm qualified to make decisions for is my own and that's fraught with practical and ethical issues all of its own.
So I felt soothed this week when Lucy told me that she'd decided to have a go at writing a picture book, and she could take all the time and space she needs for it. It felt good to hand Arwen a copy of Seamus Heaney's translation of Beowulf, taking seriously her stated aim of becoming a Tolkien scholar, being able to promise that we will find her an Old English tutor if that is what she wants. It's not called hot-housing, it's called having the time and the support to follow your passions. And I'm glad that Snowy can have snuggles on demand!! Extreme affection rules!!
I was shaken by the ignorance and ready judgements of that program, both from the general public and the expert educators and psychologists speaking out against home education. This lifestyle has its costs - I'm no fanatic - but it also has a multitude of gifts.