The Thing With Keeping An Open Mind…

… Is, that it’s not for everyone apparently. Homeschooling is a big part of our lives and so far we never regretted the decision to teach our kids ourselves. As I’ve mentioned before there are the occasional conversations that push your limits and just recently I had another one. It took me by surprise, especially the intensity that lady had.

Most of the time, when other people get a bit out of line the conversation will still stay calm and it’s only a matter of explaining your reasons to a certain point and after that it’s kind of a “I accept your way and you accept my way” end to it.

This time it was different. She is a friend of a friend of ours and we all were invited to our mutual friends house. We have never met and our kids have never met before. I’m used to the points most people bring up re homeschooling by now and I sort of have my standard answers ready. This time it was just so different!

As I’ve mentioned before, it was her intensity, if not to say almost aggression that through me off. And she kept riding that one point. Although she claimed it was a question, she stated that she thinks homeschooling can no longer work when the kids become adolescents, as they just don’t listen to you as a parent then anyway and as home-schooled kids will therefor also not take the education serious anymore. As they stop listening and taking things serious they will not learn any longer.

Definitely something to consider or talk about. And I would have not minded it, if she would have had a different approach. And if she would have tried to listen and maybe understand or at least accept my point of view. And here we are back to the one thing: Respecting someone else’s opinion!

I tried to explain. But after a while I felt it would be more productive to explain it to the wall than her, as she just didn’t want to hear my side, our side. Now here is the dilemma: You are at your friends house and you would like this to be a pleasant evening. Luckily there were other people too and so there was the chance to focus on someone else.

I don’t feel the need to defend a decision to someone I don’t know. Someone that doesn’t know our kids. Frankly, she can think whatever she wants to. I find it interesting though, how certain people tend to critizise something they are not familiar with. It’s interesting, that some people tend to critizise a decision of someone they don’t know just because it’s not the way they would choose to go.

I find interesting, that people like this never critizise their friends or just other parents for the school they’ve chosen. They don’t question the decision of parents who choose public school over private school, although you could start listing things to critizise there too for sure. Just for the sake of critizising. So the problem is not that we choose something the majority might not choose, but something that’s simply not done “in a normal manner”.

So I brush this little attack of with the thought, that she would have probably reacted in a similar way if I would have been either married to a black person or married to another woman… It seems, that she’s the kind of person that struggles with everything that’s out of the ordinary. Or maybe she just had a very shitty day.

Maybe I should have pointed out this interesting article to her. But, I guess, she would probably only have picked up on the negative and not the positive in it. As much as I don’t want to think like that, but some people are just not open for other opinions and actually, that’s kind of okay. As long as they don’t try to force theirs on anybody else either…

45 thoughts on “The Thing With Keeping An Open Mind…

  1. If I had a child, and and one of us could be home all day, I would definitely home school. But here where I live, we have a really good public online schooling program. I would supplement that, and add clarification or challenge the inaccuracies and propaganda that abound in public education, but I think it is a great foundation and a good resource for those parents who can be home.
    Homeschooling can be great, if the parent cares about educating their child(ren).

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  2. I’m not sure if enough information is in to decide whether home-schooling is bad or not. regardless, I can see a number of advantages for doing it but I can see some disadvantages as well. we had a neighbor who home schooled his boys and they were extremely bright young men. unfortunately they were also a bit socially awkward. I see no harm for home schooling if it is balanced with some sort of social interaction with kids their own age as well.

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    • I totally agree with you. The moment you decide to home-school you also need to make sure that they do some kind of activities with others. It’s something we always made sure and still do. It’s not only about the interaction with others or in a group, it’s also about a new influence given by the instructor of this activity.

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  3. I could not agree more that open minds are needed for many things. I am always suspect of people who think they have the ultimate answers. I find it confusing because the older I get the more I understand how many layers of grey there are in the world. What works wonderfully for one family doesn’t always work for another, it just seems painfully obvious to me. Most likely nothing you could have said would have changed that unfortunate woman’s vibe. It’s really too bad for her if you think about it.

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    • And that’s exactly it! I would never tell anybody to home-school their kids or that the school they send them to is not the right choice. Everyone has to decide what works for them. Thank you for this!

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  4. I see nothing wrong with homeschooling, my friend has home schooled all 7 of their kids, and I can certainly tell you they are just as well educated if not better than the average school kid! the only thing I have an issue is, they are creationists, so things like dinosaurs never existed, etc. but I keep my opinion to myself and say nothing, I value my friendship more than my opinion , other than that, hey if homeschool works for you and anyone else, go for it, I think it is a great thing, and the kids generally get to go on better outings/field trips than the school kids do.
    My wife and I had seriously entertained the idea of homeschool, but it just didn’t work out for us, we needed the dual income.

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    • How can you claim that the dinosaurs never existed??? Oh anyway… Thanks for this. I think in the end you need to figure out what works for you and if you feel up for the challenge. And if you can afford to have one as a full time parent. You would have been great and you are great parents. There is a lot you can still teach your child as a parent on top of what they learn at school and that is awesome too.

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      • I don’t know how they can claim dinosaurs never existed, but that goes with their religious beliefs, as I see it, to each their own, I certainly wish one of us could have been home, I would have happily stayed home and home schooled him if we could have afforded it, I love spending time with him and watching him discover new things, and yes for sure I am always teaching Hammy new things, and he teaches me as well , it’s mutually beneficial lol .

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      • How is his blogging going? I admit, I’m a follower but not sure when I was the last time I saw a post of his? Is he still doing it? I should head over…

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  5. I skimmed…honestly I got to the point where the kids would stop learning, and…well…couldn’t read no more!!! just couldn’t…so, I might’ve missed the point…once a kid realizes her position with the adults and is able to find consistent support from adults she will rely on them for her needs (including knowledge)…and that’s why it’s important to start early and be consistent…as she grows and her concerns continue to be addressed/resolved she will keep relying on these adults…throughout her life, ideally…so this person is way off base saying you needed to give up on homeschooling…I assume you’ve been homeschooling since her pamper days so don’t stop now!!! you got this under control…

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    • With both of them we started in the very beginning and they do great. Oh, don’t worry! We will for sure not stop just because someone thinks it’s wrong. I would start thinking about the concept if a close friend, someone who knows the kids well, would point out major issues in their education. Then I would look into it and decide what has to be done. Not for a stranger. I guess that lady is the “my way or the highway” type. I just needed to rant a little 🙂

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      • in the early days of public education things wer on track…now it’s politics and greed, kids ain’t supposed to express themselves, etc…kids are supposed to be little zombies and pass the TASP (or whatever it’s called now)…hs kids tend to be more grounded and compassionate…the only “flaw” I see is that hs kids don’t learn the “way of the ghetto”…and if one or both parents have a “redneck fixer” blood they will hopefully learn some common sense skills…

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      • It was interesting to see the one point in the newspaper article that’s saying that kids might might not be as open, as they only get one side from the parents. Now, how is that different to the school? Especially if you grow up in a little town?

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  6. I agree, the lady seemed more for going on a rant than actually carrying on a conversation though. If she had been willing to hear, I would have responded thus: If these adolescents are unwilling to listen to their own parents, why would I expect them to listen to any other adult? (This is ridiculous!) The issue then isn’t who my children will and won’t listen to, but that my children have rebellious hearts. We then would need to work on their attitudes towards authority in general and then the relationships we personally have in our own family. Once they are willing to accept instruction from those in authority, whom they receive instruction from is no longer an issue.

    As for the gentleman who brought up the issue of socialization, I think we would all agree people in general need socialization. Hopefully no parent would advocate having children sit in the house all day, every day with never a moment to interact with others. As to why these particular children are socially ‘awkward’, there could be many factors which contribute. Have we never met a socially awkward public school student? I know I have!! It might just be possible these children are shy by nature and this has nothing to do with homeschooling.

    Frankly, I was surprised by butchcountry67’s comment. Being a creationist myself, I have never come across another Christian who didn’t believe in dinosaurs. We study them, geology, fossils, and more all the time! How unusual that this particular family holds this viewpoint. I would love to converse with them and find out why. Hmmm… (All in good faith, of course.)

    That being said… Sometimes, when confronted with anti-homeschooling viewpoints, all we CAN do is remain silent. There is no argument which is going to win these people over and they are not willing to hear our viewpoints. They are really just looking to rant. So, let them rant and run out of steam. Then, calmly proceed to live your own life.

    Great convo! Thanks for sharing.

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  7. I’m sorry you had to go through that, Sandra. You are doing what you feel is best for your kids, and that’s that. I’m glad you’re letting this lady’s words wash off your back (with a bit of writing about it!)

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  8. Ugh, how frustrating. I don’t homeschool, but have considered it. A mutual friend went out with my friends and me one night and the subject came up, and she proceeded to talk about how stupid it is, how the kids never learn proper behavior, etc. All because the homeschooling mom she was around asked her to tell her child to stop throwing leaves and dirt in her child’s face. Ah, logic.

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  9. I think a lot depends on what the home-schooling is and who’s doing it. A lot of people who have strong opinions about home schooling don’t really know what a range of educational possibilities that term encompasses. I didn’t. I was fundamentally opposed to it, and I had good reasons for my negative bias. Experiences with friends/colleagues who home schooled their kids gave me the sense that only a certain kind of arrogant and social misfit parent would home school their kids. Many of the students who came into my classes with poor social skills and a lack of tolerance for others told me their first experience in public school had been college.

    Then, one semester (college English) I had a couple of girls in my class who were more literate, more confident and better prepared than the VAST majority of college kids I taught. Time went by and I learned they’d been “home schooled” in a “Christian curriculum” (something I was also opposed to). I asked them some questions and did some research and learned that their home-schooling wasn’t 100% at home so they had important changes of scenery, environment and classmates other than their siblings, not 100% done by their parents so they had a network of adults from whom they learned, and it involved a Great Books curriculum and language training that had long fallen by the way in California school districts but which I was SURE was a good way to educate kids. It also required that parents learn how to teach. I learned more about the program and I’m 100% behind it.

    BUT the other point in your post, that people foist their views on others uninvited, yeah. That’s supremely annoying. It seems to me that many discussions aren’t about learning what others think but about winning.

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  10. I can say with all certainty that I could not home school my child, and the problem is entirely me. Having said that, if I were capable of that level of discipline, I would choose to do it because It gives a freedom and relaxed environment that few schools provide. My views on standardized education have put me in a difficult position. I believe that our public schools are grossly under serving our children (and teachers). I elected to send my son to a Montessori school, which I believe is the best method. I have had interesting conversations with people about my choice, as well. When I realize that I’m being bullied by another’s opinion, I excuse myself honestly and politely. There comes a point where, as you said, you realize they are intractable and myopic. At that point, any further discussion is just time you’ll never get back.

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    • Oh I love your comment! Montessori would have been the school of our choice. I had a beautiful chat with a mom that chose Montessori just recently and it seems like she gets comments similar to the ones I deal with too, as they are “odd ones out” too… For what reason though, I have no clue…

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      • Thanks! Yes, for some reason, some people think there is no order in a Montessori classroom because the physical arrangement seems lax. I can tell you that in four years, I’ve never witnessed disorder in any of the classes. They teach leadership and respect for the classroom and for the other students. I actually had someone say, “Oh, that’s that school where the kids are allowed to do whatever they want,” which is patently not true. The thing that I love most about it is because of the learning design, it is well suited for boys, who need to move a lot, and especially for gifted children and those who learn outside the lines.

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      • Yes! I’ve heard that too! So very narrow minded (me and my open or narrow minded people…)! I love the philosophy of Montessori! They feed the talents instead of pushing all kinds in the same corner…

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  11. Aren’t people’s reactions and opinions and the way they present them so interesting. Sounds like she could do with schooling whether it be home or public or private on how to present one’s opinions and at least listen to others! As you say you don’t have to agree. At times agreeing to disagree is a perfectly acceptable option. You could have had a similar discussion / debate with someone else and both come away feeling you had a pleasant evening with interesting conversation and debate.
    As a teacher in the public system and now private, my hat is off to you. You are obviously passionate and have your kids best interests at heart and are not taking your decision lightly. Any type of schooling can be good or bad. My worry for that poor lady is her adamant belief that teenagers won’t listen to her as a parent and aren’t interested in education! That suggests to me a parenting issue and as a teacher I suspect I would be having problems with her kids behaviour at school as well! Even if a a child is at school, education must continue at home, not necessarily academic but in terms of boundaries, good manners and how to relate to and treat people. I suspect her kids behaviour and her aggression are closely linked. I have a problem with parents who tell teachers, ” I sent my child to your school to be disciplined, they won’t listen to me, that’s your job” Yes they are out there!!! While I am happy to deal with discipline at school, I would hope for the parents support and follow through at home if it comes to the point where home needs to be contacted!
    I had the privilege of teaching an awesome young man once who was home schooled till 15. His parents then made the decision to send him for the last two years of senior school to our very diverse public school. He was extremely well rounded and academically able. He related well to others, made friends, got involved and yet was very focused on his studies. He played in a top sports team, made honours and was badged as a school leader in his final year.
    Every place of education whether it be a school or home as its pros and cons. Parents just need to weigh these up and look for the best fit for their child who hopefully they know, care for and love well.

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  12. I totally hear you. This reminds me so clearly to my sister in law. She only “asks questions” but actually she states how wrong I am with what I am doing. I used to explain the issue and in the end myself because it got more and more personal. I stopped telling her anything and when she starts again with anything I simply don’t hang in and say: “Oh, yes, that’s an interesting point of view.” I don’t put any energy anymore in her motivation to teach me!

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  13. You just can’t win with some people! It is a shame that person isn’t open to new experiences. From what I understand your kids are doing really well academically and socially, which I am sure they will continue to do. If they were that way inclined, anyone who didn’t want to learn anymore wouldn’t listen regardless as to whether they were in a school or being taught at home!

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  14. What a stupid attitude! I would definitely do it the other way round if I don’t understand someone’s motivation. Try to understand the reasons and the approach. There is always something inspiring to take back from such discussions. Plus, the way she did it was so rude. You’ve been really patient, my Latino side would have turned my back to her far earlier . But you are a Swiss, definitely more polite 😉 At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is how your kids are, and you re the best person to know ! Cheers to loving and caring Mamas!

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    • Oh, you know, my husband always says that there is a side in me that could go and work for the UN. But then there is this other side and he would be worried if I would actually work for the UN as I would be the one to start World War III… My husband is the one who is patient. And he is the one, who usually keeps talking with people like this and in a very calm way shuts them down. But that day he had a really rough day and I just couldn’t stay out of it. I knew that if she would go on, this time he would eventually explode and that would have made the evening unpleasant, especially for my friend as well, who was hosting. So I decided to take his place and continue with her. I thought I might get her to open up her mind… ah… she’s just a lost case and in a way I feel sorry for her. If you have such an approach to everything in life, you miss out on a lot of valuable “lessons”…

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