Several blog readers have asked if I think homeschooling had any positive effects on me. That’s a great question. I’ve written a lot about my academics (that was censored) and socialization (that was almost non-existent outside our conservative circle). Did I grow up and find that somethings I learned as a kid enriched me as an adult? Of course. Here’s some of them.
1. The entrepreneur spirit. There are many entrepreneurs in the homeschool world. Its one way for mothers to bring in a second income from home, a way for stay at home adult daughters to still make some money, and a way for fathers to employ the children in the family business. For whatever reasons, you will meet a lot of entrepreneur home school families, and my mother owns a business today. For me, this was a very positive experience. In middle school and high school, I had a business teaching art lessons and art camps, I made custom made calendars and sold them, did typing work for the neighbors, and regularly babysit. Even through college, I quickly realized my entrepreneur jobs paid more than the student worker jobs, so I continued with a side business and have until this present day. Without these, I would have never traveled 22 countries and supported myself overseas for 2 years. Could I have learned these skills in a school setting? Definitely. But the fact that I didn’t have a bunch of activities or go to school in high school meant I had more time to brainstorm and put into my projects.
2. Servant Initiative. As a kid I had a long chore list both indoors and outdoors. In the summer months I had to wake up early and work in the garden, and peel, freeze and help can into the afternoon. I washed the dishes every meal pretty much from the time I could reach the sink. The chores were constant and exhausting. Not for a minute in my adult life have I regretted this. I go to people’s houses today and “accidentally” start washing their dishes because its so engrained in me. One of my friends called me the “asset” of the outreaches we do because I’m always working while other people lounge around. I’m thankful to my mother for this.
3. Academic Motivation. I have a motivation to learn and study. I always loved to learn. The first topic I heavily research was eschatology – the study of the end times – when I was in 8th grade. I read books on postmillennialism, amillennialism, and the different end times perspectives. Its a funny thing for an 8th grader to study, but I am very grateful that my parents never said, “sorry, but state history is what other kids study your age.” I am so grateful for the freedom I had to research so many topics in high school. In my later years of high school, I studied theology four hours a day. There was no bell that rang and said I had to put the books down. Yes, there is so gaps in my education, particularly science, from those days, but because I maintained my love for research and learning, I’m slowly making up for those gaps.
On my graduate school application, one of my undergraduate professors commented that I was a voracious reader who constantly read the books from her office. In my English classes I would read literary journals and literary critics of each text I studied just for fun, and in philosophy I would try to read more than one work by the philosopher rather than study one small portion of a text covered in class/on the tests. I did not like general education classes, or the inevitable time where classes ended, and I had to switch gears to a new subject of little interest. I just wanted to study what I wanted, and learn it well. I missed being homeschooled because that’s what I did in my afternoons. I studied whatever I wanted, in far as depth as I wanted, and never had to feel guilty about it.
Would I still have this love for research if I’d gone to public school? I’m sure, but when I’m perked up on a side of a waterfall in Asia reading Hegel and motivating myself to keep up with my personal philosophy reading goals (which I have to make myself read when patheos blogs are at my fingertips), I always grin that the homeschooling days of not relying on a teacher paid off.
4. Independent Streak. I was trained to stand alone. It was just life. And while I have hated not fitting in with my peers, its helped me transition to other culture. I landed in an airport all by myself, got a taxi all by myself, struggled, didn’t belong, learned to ride a motorcycle and drove it across the city all in the same day, and people would comment, “how do you not get lonely? how can you stand to go alone?” Of course, I got lonely, but what they didn’t realize was that I also got lonely in the US. I was always the odd duck out in the US, so I did not have that much to miss. And so I was not more lonely in Asia, and over time, I found that in many ways, I fit more in with the Asian culture than the American one. I consider much of this to be a down side to my homeschooling experience, but when its come to surviving long backpacking trips alone, living overseas, and taking care of teenagers, my survival mentality has come in extra handy.
5. Missions Passion. My homeschool curriculum was obsessed with missionary stories. Its a little excessive because these stories took the place of normal kid books. But on the bright note, they planted in me this desire to go far, meet these children hiding in places like Burma, and live a life of adventure. I’m thankful.
6. Free Spirit. I grew up without a TV and video games. We did not have internet until I was 17, and I didn’t get a cell phone until college. Instead I grew up playing in the woods and creeks for hours in the afternoon, writing stories, playing dolls, and doing crafts. Even today, even though my lack of TV knowledge has distanced me from the culture, I can say I’m so thankful I did not grow up with a TV. While I do social media and blogging like the rest of the world, deep inside I’m partial to the past. Life was good that way. And maybe that’s the reason I still love to sleep in a tent and love the outdoors. Its the one place away from technology. And maybe that’s why I love Asia. Asians still eat outdoors, and most can’t afford luxury like iphones.
So in summary, Christian patriarchy and women’s roles hurt me. Legalism hurt me. The fundamental church burned me out. My mis-socialization bothered me, and still bothers me. My mis-education meant I had to relearn a lot of history and science. But I feel as if homeschooling still implanted in me a lot of valuable life desires and goals. Whether or not I could have learned these same skills in public school is irrelevant to the fact that for me, homeschooling is how I learned it. I’m grateful that while other kids were sitting at a desk, I was sitting on my bed with a pile full of books learning to think. It was that foundation that eventually led me out of fundamentalism and Christian Patriachalism altogether.
Later I’ll do a follow up post on academics. Hopefully this will bring some balance and some encouragement to homeschool moms.