The Homeschooling & Freedom
By Melody Schafer
When one talks about homeschooling, the two words that usually comes to one’s mind is “education” and “socialization”. The word that comes to my mind is “FREEDOM”.
I went to a Catholic school for the first 12 years of my education. I had wonderful teachers, the schools were nice. I had friends and got good grades. Even with all that, I remember as if it were yesterday, sitting in the classroom, looking out the window wishing I could leave and be outside. I felt like a prisoner with no escape. This was back in the 1970s & 80s. I never heard of homeschooling, but I remember thinking…..IF I ever had kids I’m not going to make them sit in a classroom day in and day out for 12 years. I felt the hours of my life being stolen from me as the clock ticked…tick-tock…tick-tock….
This was me in grade school.
I was 6, 7, 8 years old, then 9 years old as the time passed. In 1975, Francisco Franco, the dictator of Spain died. Franco was the murderer of my grandfather during the Spanish Civil War in 1936, leaving my mother who was only 11 years old and her little brother who was 8 years old to fight for their lives….a struggle they would never forget.
The little girl to the left is my mother and her brother is the little boy to the right. This was taken before my grandfather was killed.
The 3 above are pictures that were taken on the trip in the province of Asturias in Spain. This place is called Covadonga. Do a search and you will find some rich history.
In 1976, my mother, along with my oldest brother took my youngest brother and myself to Spain for 5 weeks in October to visit my grandmother, uncle and other relatives. My mother had not seen her family for so many years. I was in 3rd grade at the time. I remember the teachers gave me all the work that would be covered in those 5 weeks so I would not miss out on anything. I did all the work in 3 days so I wouldn’t have to take “homework” with me. That is when I really started thinking….if I got this work done in 3 days…why does it take 5 weeks to cover it in the classroom?
So off to Spain we went and what I learned in those 5 weeks was more than I learned in the 12 years of my education in “school”. As it was, my mother was very pro-education. When her father was killed, she could no longer attend school. No one…but NO ONE would tell her she could NOT learn. Even though she would have to work in the factories or sewing to help earn money to feed the family, she found the time and a way to learn. It wasn’t in a classroom. She was self-taught and is one of the smartest women I know, even today. She is 90 years old and tells me she is still always learning. She was an avid reader and always had books of all types in the house….and I read every one. My mother has taught me so much about life and what it is REALLY about. I have learned that just being alive is important, that being FREE and to be free to be with one’s family is what REALLY matters.
This is my grandfather shortly before he was murdered.
So after those 5 weeks in Spain, I went back to school and I remember I wanted to get through the workbooks as fast as I could so I could go to the library and carry as many books that my long skinny arms could carry home to learn about things I was not learning at school. So I was so proud to show my teacher how I go the whole year of work done in a couple of weeks only to be scolded. I was young and just didn’t understand why I got into trouble. Most kids got into trouble for NOT doing their homework. What I mostly learned in school turned out to be incorrect historically, scientifically or of no use in what I do in my life today.
So my quest for learning outside of school continued. I would love to talk to my father’s friends who grew up during the Great Depression or who served in World War 2 and/or Korea with him. Hearing the stories first hand was so much different than the one paragraph or the one chapter we had learned in school.
These 3 pictures above are of my father who served in WW 2 and the Korean War. The Korean War has been called a "police action" and a "conflict". I'm calling it a "War" because that is what my dad said it was to him. "War". He was stationed in Sasebo Japan.
The years continued as the clock ticked away and when I was 15, my younger brother and I went to Spain with our parents. I was in 10th grade at this time. It took me a little longer this time to get all the work done that the teachers gave me before we left for 4 weeks, but I got it done in a very short time.
This was me getting my homework done.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to travel more of Spain this time and also visit Gibraltar which is British Territory. You can read more about Gibraltar and its history if you search online. It is most interesting.
Above is the Rock of Gibraltar.
We also visited family in Ceuta, Spain which is on the continent of Africa on the Mediterranean as well as visiting Morocco. We took a fairy that took us from Southern Spain to Northern Africa. It was a wonderful short trip. We watched the dolphins jump and swim along our boat. We met people from around the world including Germans, Canadians and other Americans. When we came ashore, a Moroccan man with a donkey and a camel offered to trade for me. My father politely explained he was not in need of a camel or donkey and pushed me behind him and we kept moving. I was amazed at the difference in clothe, food, way of doing business and more. I learned how different the customs and cultures can be. I thought “NOW I’m getting an education!”
I remember when we were in the province of Asturias, in Northern Spain. We were on top of the mountain when my dad pulled the car over to take pictures of the breathtaking views. I stood their looking down at the valley with the wind blowing in my hair and I felt such freedom…such exhilaration. I remember thinking, at that very moment, my friends at school were in Chemistry class and I was sooooo grateful not to be in class. I REALLY knew then that this feeling was a feeling of FREEDOM and I wanted MORE of it.
Here is a picture of me on top of one the many beautiful mountains in the region at 15 years old.
I continued all my life to strive for this feeling of freedom. It has not always been easy and it is much too easy to lose grasp of it if I am not paying attention.
Homeschooling doesn’t have to be HOW or WHAT one homeschools their children, but more of WHY one would homeschool. For our family, it is about being FREE. Free to be with our children, to learn about ourselves…TOGETHER as afamily.