What Is Education? Part 2: My experience thus far

What Is Education? Part 2: My experience thus far

Continuing to respond to some questions Michele’s been asking about homeschooling.

Part 1 is here

What�s your experience?

My first experiences in teaching were reading to my younger sister and brothers, helping them with their homework, and trying to teach them Latin when I was taking it in high school. I suppose you could say that teaching just came naturally to me. Since then, I’ve been a tutor, a college instructor, and a catechist. And I’ve been a mother for almost three years. So I’ve got no experience and much, depending on how you look at it.

I’ve not yet done any formal homeschooling with my own children, but I’ve been a professional educator and have been helping to guide and form young minds for much of my adult life. Teaching is my vocation, a clear call from God that sets my soul to ringing, and yet for much of my life I didn’t know where to go with that call. When I learned that such a thing as homeschooling existed it was like this light went on. I knew that was what I was supposed to do.

I started tutoring when I was in college. I don’t even remember how I got into it; but I helped a high school student with her Latin for a while. It was fun and having a little extra money was nice. I also tutored a friend who needed to pass French to graduate. He rewarded me with food. When I was in grad school I started tutoring to make a little extra money. Again, Latin and French. I found students through my roommate who was a high school teacher and referred me to her teacher friends. I always feel a bit of a phony when I tutor because I don’t know the subjects half as well as I should like. But I think the important thing for a tutor is that you know more than your students do, I knew enough.

It was actually one of my Latin students who first got me excited about homeschooling. His mother didn’t know Latin at all and he was taking the course by correspondence but got stuck with some things that he just couldn’t get from a textbook, that needed to be explained in person. Our first session was several hours long and I was so very impressed with his attention span and focus as well as with his motivation and enthusiasm for the subject. He was so excited when a concept would finally click. His mother explained to me that his father was a captain of a small ship and they spent part of the year in the Carribean. What a lifestyle!

I began teaching at the college level when I got a fellowship at BC in the second year of my MA program. I taught freshman composition and was not especially good at it, trying to juggle my own studies as well as lesson planning and grading. I both loved and hated the experience of standing in front of a classroom and had a love-hate relationship with the field of composition as well. After I completed my MA I found a job teaching composition at the state school just up the street from our apartment.  I worked there for several years as an adjunct professor, hired on a semester by semester basis. Then I added some humanities survey classes at a local art college. I also continued to do some tutoring to make ends meet. i enjoyed teaching but neither composition nor humanities were really the subjects I wanted to teach. I only ever taught one literature class, which was very fun. I wouldn’t mind going back to teaching if I could teach only higher level literature classes. I stopped teaching after I became pregnant with my first daughter, Isabella and most of the time I don’t miss it.

In the first semester after I stopped teaching I felt so lazy for staying at home doing nothing but gestating a baby (not that that’s nothing; but I still felt I needed something to focus me and give me intellectual stimulation.) So I assigned myself a project: to learn as much as I could about homeschooling. Thus began the odyssey I have chronicled on this blog to become a homeschooling mother. I have met so many wonderful homeschoolers online, a joy I never anticipated when I set out. I have learned so much; but most of it is very hard to pin down. That’s why I decided to begin this series of blog posts. I want to do a little retrospective and review where I’ve been and perhaps even look forward a bit to where I’m going.

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