Friday, March 25, 2011

Shocking Discoveries at a Homeschool Convention

I tend to be a bit (ahem, mild understatement to say the least) cynical and jaded.  It probably stems from my training and experience as a lawyer.  In particular, being a former prosecutor causes one to be distrustful and to search out for others’ ulterior motives and bias.   This cynical nature of mine is evident especially when I encounter something that has mass appeal.  Homeschooling doesn’t fall into this category at first blush since they are bucking the system, but when hooking up with thousands of homeschoolers, it does.

So I was prepared for salespeople and others pushing their own agenda when I went to my first homeschool convention.  But what I found instead was shocking to the cynic in me...

Comprehensive, overwhelming support of one another!  What?  From perfect strangers???  Absolutely!  And they weren’t trying to sell me anything either!

Every person I spoke with was extremely encouraging and supportive of our decision to homeschool.  When I mentioned that our kids were still enrolled in private school but they were not re-enrolled for next year, we were (GULP) going to homeschool them, I heard, “Congratulations!” [Emphasis supplied with exuberance by the speakers]  They didn’t ask why or ask if we were sure or had we considered a different school or if we realized how hard it would be.  Not one person mentioned “SOCIALIZATION.”  They all smiled with genuine warmth and enthusiasm and shared that we could do it, challenges and all.

I thought through my life, has there ever been a time when universally people were unquestionably supportive and encouraging???  Not that I could think of off the top of my head.  Maybe kindergarteners walking into school on the first day might get this level of encouragement. 

Why? How could this be?  Why would they care about encouraging me?  (See, I told you that I’m a cynic.)  My husband has a theory.  The group as a whole has made a conscious decision to buck the system and go against the mainstream educational system.  There was a sense of, “We’re all in this together.”  They all could relate to concerns and questions about:  how would it work; would the kids learn enough; would the kids learn the “right” things, etc.?  As such, they were a balm for my fears and concerns.  Their reassurance allowed for the heretofore tiny voice of “this could be amazing for us” to grow a little louder in my head into a feeling of excitement over the possibilities of homeschooling.

Another shocking discovery of mine was the level of trust exhibited by the vendors at the conference in their customers.  Are you kidding me?  Don’t they know what happens when you place your trust in the common man?  They rob you blind!  (Remember, I warned you I was cynical.  You thought I was kidding!)  Apparently I was on the verge of another shocking discovery about homeschoolers.  They are not “the common man.”  How refreshing!  There was more than ample opportunity for a person to walk off with all sorts of curricula and educational materials.  Yet no one did.  After sending felons to prison for years, I found this level of trust personally dumfounding.

By being “uncommon,” apparently it is possible to find those values like honesty, caring and integrity in something other than an old-fashioned movie.  “Pollyana” views of the goodness of others can actually exist in this day and age.   Time to pick my jaw up off the ground and enjoy an exhibition hall full of people who are “uncommon” for some of the best reasons.  I sure hope that as the popularity of homeschooling grows amongst the general population, that this “atmosphere of trust and faith in one another” doesn’t go the way of the Dodo bird.

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