Adventures of the Accidental Homeschoolers


Remember our son who claimed that school was boring? He still does. Home schooling has not changed that. But after all these years of working closely with him, at least now we have a better sense of what causes his complaint. 'School' is where (or when) he lacks freedom. School is where (or when) he does not get to choose what how he spends his time. He does not choose the subjects and the subjects are not always innately interesting. He cannot get engrossed in one subject, spending hours learning about it. He has to wait his turn or wait on others to catch up. He cannot take a break whenever he wants or do something different from the rest of the students. There are lots of rules and expectations. Always questioning, he cannot see why the material he learns today is relevant to his future. We may never be able to convince him that 'school' is an interesting, worthwhile endeavor but we are confident that he is learning. Without the burden of tests and test preparation that have overtaken instruction in public schools, we have the freedom to engage his interests and abilities in ways and at times that meet his particular needs. Like other Black home educators, we facilitate his success by allowing him to pursue subjects based on his interests and abilities. And because we work just with him, we can adjust our coverage and pacing based on what he needs or we need, whenever we need. We can also be sneaky. While we are not un-schoolers, we do recognize how much he has learned just by being on the computer at his leisure for play and we try to deepen that knowledge and those skills, without him being aware. Only time will tell how much or how well he has learned. Until then, I rest assured we are building his self-confidence. Like many Black parents, one of our goals is to empower our son to succeed by cultivating his positive cultural self-identity. Our continual involvement in his education is central to that vision. He has two Black teachers who are deeply invested in his education. We just happen to be his parents. This is far different from what he would likely experience in the real-world. Federal data indicates that overall, most teachers are White females, and in majority Black schools most teachers are White. Therefore, the odds are unlikely that in a mainstream classroom he would have had a role model and authority figure who looked like him. Yet research suggests having just one Black teacher contributes to the future success Black children.