Thursday, November 7, 2013

What about Math?


equation on board

This morning I had a conversation with a woman in passing.  It came up that the kids are homeschooled and then it turned into one of “those” conversations about homeschooling.  If you are already a homeschooler, you know what I’m talking about.  But for those who don’t, it was a conversation where essentially my ability to teach was called into question.  It went like this:

Woman: So you’re the teacher?

Me: Yes, ma’am! 

Woman: So what was your degree in?

Me: English and Bible, (Missions specifically, but I’m not always so detailed.)

Woman: So what about when you need to teach Calculus and Chemistry?

Me: Well, anything I’m rusty on, I’m happy to relearn along with my kids.  My husband usually knows about the stuff I don’t and if there is anything we really need help with, there are always co-ops and internet courses, so we’re really not worried about it.

Though we are still new to homeschooling, this is not the first time I’ve been asked the “What about math?” question.  I’ve read some really interesting stories about questions homeschoolers are asked, and this may be one of the most common. 

I don’t think the people who ask this question are meaning to insult my intelligence or question my teaching ability.  I think they are honestly curious about homeschooling.  I think it’s also possible that their own fear of math may make them ask this.  Maybe they are really thinking, “I could never homeschool because math is hard”.  Don’t think I haven’t had that conversation with myself! 

I heard someone say that we have been taught that we can’t teach our own kids.  Is that true?  Is that keeping parents who would love to educate their children at home from doing so?  I sure hope not!

This summer, as I was planning our school year, I decided to write down some reasons that remind me I’m able to teach my kids.  I keep the list in my homeschool planner so if I ever feel discouraged, I can remember that I am well capable.  Here are just a few:

  • No one cares about our children’s education more than my husband and I do.  We will ensure they have an excellent education.
  • We have been teaching them their whole lives already!
  • I graduated from a public High School with a college prep endorsement.  I must have learned everything public education deems important, right?
  • I earned two B.A.s  This shows I know how to learn, but really, anyone who is enthusiastic about learning will be a great homeschooler, no B.A. required.
  • There are many resources for those subjects we need a little help teaching. 

The third one is my favorite.  Have you ever really thought about it?  If you went to public school, you took a range of classes the government said were important.  If you graduated from that public school, then the same government gave you their stamp of approval and sent you out into the world with everything they thought you needed to know.  So, technically, that same government thinks I’m able to teach my children.  Let that sink in.

I’m thankful for the homeschool moms who have been doing this longer than I and have written of their conversations with strangers and how they reacted politely. I pray I’ll never get defensive or snarky when asked about homeschooling in this manner, (as much as I may secretly want to) and that I’ll remember that many are just curious.  Maybe someday, someone will realize they are able to teach their children too.