I wasn’t homeschooled until my twenties; when I thought I was educating my sons, I was actually educating myself. Now more than ten years later I can see that homeschooling is so much more than winning spelling bees and having good penmanship. It’s about creativity.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed the hundreds of new homeschool products and the thousands of new homeschool blogs in the past five years or so, but I suspect you have. Have you seen the Rainbow Resource Catalog? It’s bigger than my Grandma’s Cadillac!
I have a totally unscientific and probably unprovable theory that the reason for the product explosion is not the money waiting in the homeschool market nearly as much as it is the unleashing of the creative spirit that homeschooling brings to everyone in the homeschool house–kids and parents alike. After all it’s not text-book publishers and education companies that are coming out with this stuff, it’s Moms and Pops.
I have never been artistic, until I began to homeschool. Look at me now! I drew and painted all the watercolor icons for our units and the watercolor buttons for our sidebars and links.
Karen has never been a computer expert, but you see this page design? She did that, code and all.
Ten years ago neither of us would have even had it cross our minds that we could write an entire curriculum or run a website. But the experience we’ve had with being homeschooled changed our confidence level and our ability level, which is to say our creativity level.
Homeschooling has stretched us. I understand math and grammar that I never got in school, learned world history which was never taught to me, and memorized poems I never had to because I’ve been in an environment where I was not forced to learn, but wanted to, was motivated to and had the freedom and time to. When you become your own teacher, when you choose your own books and plan your own projects, learning itself is a creative act.
My kids have gone through this process too. They read and read and read because they want to know. They make “inventions” and build stuff and have time to think, to play, to work, and to do nothing. They get to play a part in which projects we do, which books we read, which subjects we study. They internalize all those little facts about ancient Rome or the continent of Africa or the inner workings of an atom and it has made their lives richer.
Creativity is taking the magical bits of the wonders of the world and making them into something that is uniquely us. We don’t start with a blank slate. We start with the whole world at our fingertips and realize we have a part to play in that wonder. Creativity is taking what the world has given us and giving a bit back.
And creativity doesn’t stop with the art scene. A mathematician, a botanist, an engineer, a mother, a teacher, and an athlete all express their creativity in different ways. Homeschooling taught me that I don’t have to have a talent displayable at a “talent show” in order to have a talent.
It’s so much deeper and more meaningful and useful than any of that. At the end of the day, my creativity is there to bring me satisfaction in my work and blessing to the lives of others. I hope that is what I do and I hope that is what I teach my kids; not to get good grades so they can go to a good college so they can get a good job and make good money, but to learn for the adventure of it, to produce for the joy of it, and to help others because we’re human and it’s what we do. That’s not a mere career, that’s a life’s work.