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Why Home Schooling
Why Home Schooling?
by Lady Raya

On November 8, 2001, I learned that my 15 year old son had been purchasing drugs inside his high school in suburban America for at least six months. I learned it because he told me. He told me because he thought I already knew. He thought I already knew because I saw his pupils dilated at dinner, and I calmly said, "Honey, you've been taking drugs." He assumed it was my psychic vision that told me, and he thought that meant there was no way around it, so he confessed.
On November 9, I took him to school. Bravely. I didn't know what to do. My husband suggested military school, but my older son said, "What, so they can advance him to coke there?" Military school didn't sound like a good idea to me. I felt the terror.
I turned to the Internet. I looked up home schooling. I found out that in the state of Maryland, where I live, I could pull him out of public school and home school him. If I home schooled him, and kept him with me or his father all the time, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, we could stand between him and drugs. It seemed the only appropriate action.

I drove to the county board of education and spoke to the psychological services division. Their suggestion was to talk to the principal of the high school, who would protect him from these contacts. My older son said, "If the principal did that, and you did that, somebody would end up dead." His words shocked me. I thought he was exaggerating. On reflection, I didn't want to test to find out, with my family as the guinea pigs.
I filed the paperwork, and I removed him from school.
After I removed him from school, I realized I had to come up with a lesson plan for home school. I went to the county public school distribution center, and I purchased the curriculum guides for tenth grade. I had never thought about home schooling before. Logically, I thought I would just get his textbooks and work through them with him. I thought I would just work with him through this year, until he turned 16. Then, I figured, he could take the GED test and be finished with high school. I sat down to review the teacher's guides and consider the task.
I'd forgotten how irrelevant high school was. Identify relevant physical and cultural characteristics of Ming China c. 1500, the History text said. Model effective strategies for planning and/or conducting interviews, using the graphic organizer, the English text said.
What language is that? I wondered. It quickly became apparent that I was not going to be teaching my son what he normally would have been taught in tenth grade public school.
No, if I were to be his educator, I could only teach him what I knew. I could only teach him what I found to be important and relevant to living. I could only teach him what my personal values considered to be worth knowing.
I considered myself pretty capable with the English language and how to write it. As I reviewed the materials, I knew I would never master modelling with the graphic organizer. I also knew that mastering the graphic organizer would not teach my son to write a coherent sentence.
I asked him to write one for me. The evidence proved the theory.
I asked him what he knew about the history of Islam, and why the Islamic and Christian peoples in many lands were in conflict. I asked him why the Arabs and Israelis fought. I asked him to name some great civilizations throughout history, and tell me what he knew of them. I asked him what he knew of the world.
"We aren't studying world history," he told me. "We only study National, State, and Local government."
And then I was afraid.
I returned to the Internet, and I printed out the Maryland law for home schoolers. Did I have to teach my son what was taught in public schools, I wondered?
No, the law said. I have to teach him the subjects typically taught in public schools, in a regular program of instruction, but not the same material. I have to teach him English, Math, Social Studies, Science, Health, Music, Art, and Physical Education.
In English, I decided, I would teach how to write a business letter, a resume, a selling presentation, and an entertaining story. I would teach him to discern between fact and fiction in his reading, so that he could tell when he was reading an opinion or a truth. I would teach him to recognize propaganda and use logic to uncover concealed assumptions. I would teach him to find books to read that he enjoyed. Harry Potter topped my reading list.
In Math, I would teach him a little geometry and algebra, and a lot of accounting, budgeting, financial management, and investing.
In Social Studies, I would teach him the historical basis of current events.
In Science, I would teach him the balance of the ecosystem, the agricultural methods of organic farming, the nature of DNA and genetic engineering.
In Health, I would teach him the impact of nutrition, whole foods, and herbs on the body's functioning. I would teach him basic first aid, sex education, and family values.
In Music, I would take him to hear the symphony orchestras, the opera, and the ballet.
In Art, I would let him choose a handmade craft to develop into a small business for himself. I would integrate his learning by showing him how to turn the work of his hands into an operating business, selling it to people, and learning the apprenticeship of manufacturing and the logistics of distributing a product.
I realized it was a wonderful gift from the Goddess, that my son should have taken drugs in his high school. It was a gift because now I learned that he had not been being educated in the manner that I, as a Pagan parent, would want him to be. It was a gift because it reset my priorities, and caused me to learn that there was nothing more important for me to do, than to attend to my child's development.
Of course it's true that I don't have time to do this. Of course it's true that I have my own work, and my own desires, that will get in the way. Of course it's true that this will change and impact my life in ways that I had not planned for. Thank the Goddess, I work from home, using the Internet, so that I can be here for my son. But if I didn't work from home, I would have to start. You see, if a parent can't stand in a child's way when harm beckons him, what is a parent for? We can find a way to live if we lose some money. We can't find a way to live if we lose a child.
I see now that maybe I should have been home schooling him all along. Stephen Jobs, the founder of Apple Computer, is famous for having given thousands of computers to schools. His thought was that the computers would improve the public school system. "I see now that the problem with the public schools is one which technology can't solve," Jobs is quoted as saying, fifteen years after his gifts brought computers into the nation's schools.
I don't know what the problem is with public schools. I don't care to join a crusade to reform them. I don't have political aspirations to make a change. I don't interfere with my neighbors or the way they choose to raise their families. I only care that I can provide for the needs of my family. I only know if my son hadn't found his high school to be a drug distribution center, I wouldn't have bothered looking into it.
But now that I've looked, I won't look back.

Lady Raya
Bio: Lady Raya is high priestess of White Wolf Temple of the Olde Religion,