Thursday, September 3, 2015

Journeying

I came to my profession accidentally on purpose. By declaring it a profession, I realize that indicates I am paid for it, and I am, albeit poorly in pecuniary matters. If, however, you define it as payment in accomplished students of all stripes and abilities, then I am richly rewarded.

Way back when I was in college, I briefly considered a double major in English and Education. Even then, though, I realized that what I wanted to do wouldn't fit within the mainstream model of education. I wanted wiggle room. Freedom to respond to my students. To meet them where they were and bring them along further in their journey of self-education. And I wanted to be able to choose my own means and materials to accomplish that. The English degree won out, and the Education degree was forgotten. This was 1990. I had just begun to hear of homeschooling.

Fast forward now to 1997. My husband and I welcomed our first child into the world in Dayton, OH. Almost immediately I began to picture his future and what I would like it to look like. Homeschooling sounded like an attractive idea. I began to devour books by John Taylor Gatto, Raymond and Dorothy Moore, and Ruth Beechick. Mary Hood's book, The Joyful Homeschooler, became dogeared with frequent use. I haunted The Elijah Catalog* and combed it's pages of useful articles. We began to homeschool.

Homeschooling my tiny family of three was my entire focus for many years. I learned quickly that one child in a family does not necessarily indicate how the following children will behave or learn, and I adapted. I learned about gifted education, special needs, and especially dyslexia. The journey was oftentimes challenging and painful, but through it all I persevered. And our family also persevered. Slowly, by degrees too slight to measure, the kids grew and blossomed.

Now that I have older children, I have had leisure to share the bits and bobs that I've learned along the way. Much has been gathered by the school of hard knocks, and I am known to joke with my kids about how they are my "mulligans." I am now tutoring outside the home, teaching literature and writing classes in a local co-op, critiquing and advising students remotely, and designing my own classes. It's exhilarating! My students range anywhere in age from nine to eighteen years old, and they have a wide range of abilities. Each one is a joy and a delight.

The road from where I started to where I am presently is filled with switchbacks, bumps, and valleys with a few mountain top moments to keep me motivated. It hasn't been easy. In truth, I will admit there were long periods of doubt, especially when my daughter and I were addressing her severe dyslexia early on. That light at the end of the tunnel is getting brighter, though, and I can see the finish line. When my own kids are on their own journey after homeschooling, I am excited to consider I can continue sharing my gleanings, my excitement, and my time with future students. My training in education has been a process defined through many years of hard work and prayer. You might call it nontraditional, but it has been the adventure of a lifetime, and I'm so glad I had the courage to take the first step. It has made all the difference.

* The Elijah Catalog is sadly no more, although many of the wonderful articles Chris Davis wrote for it were included in one volume called I Saw the Angel in the Marble. A further volume, I Carved the Angel in the Marble, is also available.

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