My Counter Culture, Part I

I guess yesterday I meant I'd be reading blogs, as opposed to writing any more here. Today I'll attempt what I was thinking about posting then and didn't. (I'm closer to finishing the draft of my little tale than I was yesterday, too.)

My son hopped into the van around noon today, finished. With this school year, yes, but more significantly he'd just completed the final achievement test he's required to take as a homeschooler in Oregon. Next year he'll likely do the SAT and then all those collegey things students of many stripes work on. But for now he has completed the state-required hoop-jumping, as his sister did before him, in completing the quest for a different education which I set before them both.

It was a chilly autumn morning when my daughter, at age seven, waited with me in our car for her first CAT (California Achievement Test) to commence. We were early. Other parents sat in other cars with their children, waiting for Mrs. Johnson to open her front door and usher us inside. She was the certified tester we'd chosen, and as it turned out we made a great choice. At the time, though, my fingers shook as I checked my little girl's lunch sack to make sure I'd remembered her juice. My stomach felt ill. I couldn't help communicating anxiety to my daughter.

If she did not do well today, we couldn't continue schooling at home. And though I knew the requirements weren't stiff (meeting the fifteenth percentile of the average national CAT scores), I also feared the test would show up failure on my part to begin her education as it ought to be done. After the day's testing began, with children situated at desks around Mrs. Johnson's basement room bent over test forms and making pencil marks inside little circles, all I could do was drive home and sweat it out.

My worst imaginings--Mrs. Johnson phoning early to inform me that my girl had broken down, unable to manage the intricacies of 3 + 4 = ___, or meeting me at the door when I returned with a shake of the head that meant preliminary scoring showed we'd have to explain ourselves to the school board--did not materialize. In fact, when Mrs. Johnson placed the graph page before me with comparative lines representing my daughter's test scores, hers ascended to the mountain top. "You'll have to find ways to creatively engage this kid's active mind," Mrs. Johnson said, smiling.

Relief was a nice gift that day, but I would face many more nervous moments, launching with my children into this unconventional mode. Even while every instinct told me we were on the right path educationally and socially/emotionally, something inside me balked at the un-pc-ness of it all.

I will record more of my adventures and reflect on what made me do this crazy home-teaching thing. Next installment I'll let you know whether my husband and I decided to do it for educational or religious reasons, and what the difference is between those two philosophies.