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Fail. It’s Not Something We Want to Do!

It’s that time of year when parents are re-evaluating schooling options for their kids. I hear over and over again, “I want to homeschool (or my kids want to homeschool) but I’m so worried I’ll fail.” Having homeschooled for 25 years, we’ve seen it all. Wild homeschooling success and wild, abject homeschooling failure. Here is my not so subtle list about how to fail as a homeschooler.

1- Stop learning I mean you, the Homeschooling Teacher. The first law of the teacher is to know the material, which takes time and energy.If you want to fail as a homeschooler, model NOT learning. Model NOT reading, Model intellectual apathy, fed on a diet of social media, low standards and cultivated disinterest in things that matter beyond ones self. Embrace the heresy of antinomianism, but apply it to homeschooling God loves you, no matter what, so you can do whatever you want.

2- Be Prideful You are all that. And you are happy to let everyone know it. You are willing to be sought after, but rarely, if ever, serve. You keep the good info, classes, curriculum to yourself and let everyone else know that you have what they don’t. Your kids are all that, too, and you cultivate a subtle, but effective, narcissism that intentionally keeps you aloof and ohsospecial. Definite fail.

3- Never Ask Questions. Cultivate the attitude of disinterest; what you don’t know is boring. Asking questions requires vulnerability and humility. Don’t show either.

3-Be Stingy & Hoard (in keeping with #2). Opportunities, people, competitions, curriculum, knowledge; you need to keep whatever good thing you have to yourself. Don’t share, promote, develop or go beyond your circle. Keep in mind the Toddler Rule: What’s Yours is Yours. Peanut-butter sticky hands fail.

4- Be Fearful Homeschool because the world is scary and public schools are of the devil. Be reactive. Be closeted and fearful. Homeschool because there is nothing better. Hunker down for the coming of apocalypse zombies. Not so funny fail.

5- Be Lazy Have the attitude, based on #4 above, that no matter what you do or don’t do as a homeschooler, it is better than what the public schools do or don’t do, so if you really don’t “do” school or even train your kids, that’s o.k. Tragic fail.

6- Be Tolerant Let your kids run wild, in the name of homeschooling freedom. Allow them to break rules, to be rebellious, to set a low standard for others at classes, co-ops, field trips, to subtly jeer and undermine. This gives the impression that all homeschoolers have low standards and ensures that no homeschoolers will be allowed that field trip in the future, that any homework assigned will be mocked, that work itself is not really that important, that co-ops should cater to the lowest common denominator. Lowering the bar fail.

7-Be Irresponsible  Make excuses; make them often and frequently for yourself and your kids, regarding academic standards, character issues, things left undone and overdone. Don’t take responsibility to educate your kids. Use the term unschooling often and bank on the fact that other homeschoolers continue to consider it a pedagogy but that they are not enlightened or read enough to actual understand the term (which is most often the case).

8- Be Idolatrous. Idolize your child, and their individuality to the point of extreme. Idolize creativity while sacrificing discipline. Buy into the cheap imitation of chaos theory that free expression without tools, time or discipline will produce creative talent beyond our wildest dreams. In keeping with this, teach to your kids strengths (if you teach at all) and let their weaknesses go unchecked.

I’m sure that there are other ways to fail as a homeschooler, but these are the ones I’ve personally most often encountered over the years. And, True Confessions, My name is Lisa, and I’m a Homeschooling Failure myself, having participated in all of these at one time or another. Admission, so I’m told by those in the know, is the first step towards recovery. Good thing, that.

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Lisa Nehring has homeschooled long enough to have had amazing successes and pretty wild failures. She’s kept at it, nevertheless, because her curiosity about the world always wins out.


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