A Cross Blog Conversation With Nell Taliercio

October 15, 2007

This is a first. If you haven’t seen one (I had not until just last week), a cross blog conversation is when two bloggers speak to each other, answering questions and whatnot, and you get to be a fly on the wall and read what they have to say. It’s fun and you can join in the conversation by leaving comments on either blog, or by asking a new question of your own.

Nell Taliercio of Casual Friday Everyday invited me to participate in a cross blog conversation with her. You can read her entire blog post here, and I’ve also pasted her question to me below.  

After the many years I’ve known you online, and known of your passion for your parenting style and decisions, the one thing I don’t know quite as much about is why you decided to homeschool.

So, can you tell me why you decided to homeschool? Did you always know you’d homeschool?

Talk to you soon,

Firstly Nell, thank you so much for the nice things you had to say. I’m pretty bad at receiving compliments, but I really appreciate your kind words. :-)

So, why did I decide to homeschool?

Interestingly, I’ve had a survey on my site for a long time asking parents why they homeschool, but this question still required some thinking because I don’t really recall making a conscious decision when my oldest was a baby to homeschool him. Nevertheless, homeschooling is definitely not a stretch for me because I did homeschool for a couple of years in my grade school days, and I also left the public school system after 7th grade and completed 8th through high school at home. Also, my sister has homeschooled her boys their entire lives except for one brief period after she had her fourth baby.

Because of those experiences, I didn’t buy into many of the anti-homeschooling arguments. I knew that socialization wasn’t an issue and in fact I think I benefitted by not having to go through the high school experience. I’m certainly not socially inept, and in fact some of my best friends were homeschooling also, as were a lot of the young people in my religious faith, so I was never at a loss for friendships.

I was also able to spend more time doing something that was important to me (at the time I devoted a LOT of time to volunteer work), and was able to start earning income at a younger age, gaining valuable experience. I paid cash for my first car, and it was no beater. :-)

I do recall the uneasiness I felt at the thought of leaving Caleb all day in someone else’s charge. After Julien was born (baby number two), I enrolled Caleb in a two morning a week play date thing organized by the local county parks and recreation department. He loved it! He got to play with new kids and do all kinds of activities. I liked having some time to enjoy my new baby.

But then after about the fourth time, he would NOT let me leave him. He clung to me and had an absolute look of terror in his eyes. I didn’t question that, I just took him home, and I never took him back. That night I talked to him about why he didn’t want to go back, and it never was clear to me whether something happened to him, or whether he witnessed something disturbing. I’ve pieced together bits and pieces, and I *think* what happened was that another parent who was picking up their child began to yell at and spank the kid, and it bothered Caleb greatly. He had not seen that kind of behavior before.

So you could say that scared me a bit to the potential stuff that can happen when someone has access to your child.

Another thing that was emblazoned on my heart and mind was the fact that my sister was bulled terribly in school. She was teased because she looked like she belonged to another ethnicity, and the majority of students in the school in this urban area of Atlanta that we lived in happened to not get along with this other minority group. She was beat up and harassed daily. To add insult to injury, she was actually beaten by the teacher!

Back then (late 70’s), it was still common for school teachers to physically discipline students. Because of our religious convictions, we don’t salute the flag (a right that is guaranteed by the Supreme Court so it’s not like she was breaking the law). Her Teacher would beat her palms every day because of this. My parents didn’t figure out what was going on right away but when they did you can only imagine the conversation that took place between my mother and that teacher!

Fast forward to my school experience. I wasn’t picked on, but my mother was always having a (legitimate) problem with the way things were done. She hated that we were given 2-3 hours of homework to do after school. She always said that if they couldn’t teach me in the 8 hours they had me, they weren’t doing their job. She would keep me home from school all the time, sometimes just to go shopping with her or to a movie, and never felt that she should have to tell the teachers why. My excuse notes were hilarious! She would never give them a reason why I was absent, because she said it was none of their business. I agree totally. ;)

The homework would sometimes create a conflict with our worship services. My Dad used to write notes to the teachers saying all the things I learned at Bible Study and that I couldn’t finish my homework. God took priority over State in my home, lol! They were never ones to abdicate their parental authority and were eager to point out to the school who was in charge of me. :-)

Also, I suffered with severe low blood sugar in school and one year had PE right before lunch. I would be so hungry I would pass out sometimes or at least be in an eyes-glazed-over daze, so my Mom had to fight again with the school to allow me to eat a mid morning snack, and at least not be required to run laps for 30 minutes when I was ravenously hungry and shaking!

I also had a teacher who would threaten to put students in a box that was (she said) filled with snakes. Of course, it wasn’t, but it WAS located over a heating register, so it would get very hot inside, which was scary and a health hazard, not to mention emotionally abusive. My mom was pretty instrumental in having that teacher fired. ;)

So you could say that my parents had a bit of the educational heretic in them. LOL!

I don’t believe public schools are doing a good job of educating kids (and Georgia schools consistently score among the lowest when you compare us with other states) , but I’m primarily concerned about safety. During the brief time that my nephews were in school, in their tiny little one stop sign town in rural North Carolina, there was a child shot in front of the school. I have a friend whose 4 year old son was sexually assaulted by a fellow Pre-K classmate. And no, I don’t mean a little preteen butt slapping. I mean molestation.

The young teens I know who are in public school say that you can get any drug you want, for free, and that every day they are solicited sexually. The phrase “it’s a jungle out there” comes to mind. You have to worry about the students and the teachers these days, as anyone who watches the news can testify. How many sexual predators are attracted to the teaching profession because they have such easy access to kids?

Another reason I chose to homeschool is because I want to control what my children learn. I’m not a control freak when it comes to my kids, and I like for them to have relationships and learn from a lot of people, not just me. But I don’t want them receiving a biased message from teachers, school administrators, and writers of the curriculum. I want them learning creation rather than evolution (and yes, I want them to be able to give an intelligent explanation of both beliefs, but if they’re going to be taught a bias it is surely going to be mine!), and I don’t want someone’s political agenda being subtly woven into their education.

I also don’t believe kids are being given an accurate view of history. Ask a black American if that unpleasant part of early American history isn’t conveniently glossed over, or a Jew if they got the real picture as a child in school of how ugly Nazism was. How many of us learned the truth about how early American settlers treated the natives who were here with their own civilizations? I want my kids to see how man has dominated man to his injury since the beginning of time – the good, bad, and the ugly. If we don’t tell the whole truth, how can we not repeat our mistakes?

I also know my kids best and know how they learn. My oldest loves to read and is a real bookworm and he absorbs an incredible amount of information that way. At the same time, he exhibits many of the characteristics of an ADD child (which I think doesn’t really exist, at least not in the way we think of it). There is no doubt in my mind that if he were in school, teachers would be pushing me to drug him. But since he’s at home, I can work around those behaviors. If he does his math sitting on the sofa, big deal. If he has to break up schoolwork with running outside and hopping on his skateboard, big deal.

On the other hand, 6 year old is NOT the book learning type. But he is very, very intelligent when it comes to working with his hands. He’s already talking about building solar panels and other sources of alternative power, that’s an interest he has. He says he wants to earn “a thousand dollars a day”. I say more power to him. ;)

Not sure about the girls yet, they’re too young. But I can tailor their learning to their unique strengths. Everyone doesn’t have to excel at everything. We do better if we focus on our strengths instead of trying to have a “well rounded” education.

When I hear people talking about some of the nonsense that goes on in schools, it just makes me cringe! For example, the fact that at the beginning of the year, the teacher has to take away all the school supplies their parents have bought them. That is so wrong to me on several levels. I also don’t want to train my kids to be good little employees, and I think that’s what the school system does best. I have heard Rhea Perry speak about her thoughts on education, and she puts it so well. I know you’re familiar with her Nell, but for my readers that aren’t, Rhea is a homeschooling mom of 7 who teaches parents how to train their kids to become entrepreneurs.

That’s a huge goal of mine too, and I think it’s easier when they’re with me all day. Quite a lot of their ”schooling” consists of (at least with the oldest, but Julien will get there too) learning about money and business. Caleb worked for a time at his Grandmother’s Tea Room, and he was everyone’s favorite server. My Mom told me many times that he could figure out customer’s change without the cash register and was better at it than some of the teenagers who worked for me. He got huge tips and really learned a lot. He would never have been able to have that experience if he was in school. My goal is for my kids never to have a job, especially not when they’re teens, and I’ll write about why another time. ;)

The more I read about the faults of the modern day public school system, the less impressed I am. If I absolutely was forced to enroll my kids in school, I would probably opt for a private Montessori school, but I enjoy having them with me, even with the challenges. :)

I also believe that the school experience makes many people hate learning. I find reading and study to be pure pleasure and wish I had more time to do those things, but most adults I know feel the opposite. I think (and have been told this by some individuals) that’s because they have associated learning and study with school stress. I also think testing is not helpful and not indicative of true learning. You know, last week I read an article written by Marilyn vos Savant, who has the highest recorded IQ. She stated that in her opinion, testing means little. It doesn’t indicate intelligence or even aptitude, except at the very highest scores and very lowest scores.

School also creates an unnatural learning environment. People say it prepares you for the “real world”, but when in your entire life are you going to be in a situation where you’re surrounded all day long by people who are the exact same age as you? I think we all learn better when we’re with different kinds of people. It really touches me to see my oldest reading a story to his little sibs, or teaching his younger brother some math concept. It’s kind of Little House on the Prairie, y’know? ;)

You probably weren’t expecting such a lengthy reply were you Nell? LOL!

Edited to add: If you want to learn more about the history of education in America and the real forces behind the modern school system, you must read the writings of John Taylor Gatto. Formerly a public school teacher whose career spanned over 3 decades, he was an educational heretic. His books will shock you and keep you up at night but mostly they’ll remove the scales from your eyes so you can really see the cultural brainwashing that we have accepted about education and “school” – they are NOT the same thing!

So, let me ask you:

I know you were homeschooled as a child, tell me: Was it primarily because of your parent’s religious beliefs, or some other reason, and how do you think you benefited as a homeschooled kid?

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12 Responses to “A Cross Blog Conversation With Nell Taliercio”

  1. Tsoniki on October 15th, 2007 3:03 pm

    Carrie, I always love what you write and am glad to observe your convo with Nell! I look forward to the rest of it! :)

  2. Tiffany@naturemoms.com on October 15th, 2007 7:28 pm

    Carrie I stopped going to public after 8th grade too. I aksed my parents if I could drop out after we moved to another district and because I had started a business and I wanted to go at it full time. They agreed and I sent away for course work via mail. For 1.5 years I did not touch the stuff and then I got motivated by he thought of college and I finished highschool in 6 months. The I took college entrance tests because I was still 16 and I pased all of them with a 4.0. I certainly didn’t lose any advantage by staying at home!

    That said though I LOVED school. It was one of the BEST times of my life and I absolutley adored college too and would love to go back and get an advanced degree. The only thing I would have changed is that I would have went to an Ivy league school away from home but my parents would not let me go away from home…I think you would understand why.

    Right now my oldest son loves school too and I am happy. I worry about the socialization because he doesn’t get the same weekly interaction I had with the truth. Heck I rarely socialize at all now.

    He is in a REALLY good school but the homework IS outrageous. But if it stops being fun I have no problem with him staying home. One of my fears is that he will become the school jock, be a football player, and get himself into trouble…football players are Gods here and we didn’t have in Arizona. And he is so darn beautiful he is already the object of female attention just like his dad. hmmm…perhaps I am secretly hoping he will want to come home after 8th grade too.

  3. Elizabeth ashe on October 16th, 2007 3:19 am

    Carrie I love your thoughts on homeschool, and agree w/ everything. My son is 6 years old now and my and my husband are going to see how this next year pans out, before we decide to homeschool. He has always had trouble in school with the counselors and teachers now calling him adhd. So we will see how it works out, my main thing on keeping him home is because of the truth, although my husband is an unbeliever he does agree with me on many things so hopefully as the year goes by we will look more into homeschooling.

  4. Arika on October 16th, 2007 12:45 pm

    I love this conversation between you and Nell already! Btw…Carrie want to come to VA and homeschool my kids? ;-)

  5. casual friday everyday on October 16th, 2007 8:12 pm

    Carrie, I finally answered your question. Sorry for the delay!

  6. Darlene Hull on October 17th, 2007 8:50 pm

    Preach it, sister!

    As an almost accredited teacher (would have made me a third generation teacher) I was always against homeschooling. I thought it was stupid.

    My kids were born in France where school starts at the age of 3. They have full days, are bussed in, and France boasted the 2nd highest suicide rate amongst highschoolers due to the stress of their graduation system. My husband and I are from two different countries, and were living in a third country. We wanted our kids to understand their heritage correctly (you would not believe what people are taught about Canada!). All of that combined, we started homeschooling as an experiment. 9 years later, we’re still “experimenting”. The only comment I get from others regarding my children’s development is “It’s always so interesting talking to your kids. They know about EVERYTHING!”

    Even their ultra conservative, highly educated Irish family is now in agreement. It was a tough battle to win in a family of PhDs but I don’t get any flack anymore about it.

    Having helped other moms get their kids through school, I’d also say homeschooling is much easier than the morning chaos, the multiple volunteer expectations, and the evening stress of masses of homework competing with very important family time.

    I never thought I’d homeschool. I’ll never do anything else.


  7. Melissa on October 18th, 2007 10:28 am

    What an interesting concept. I enjoyed your answer and agreed with so many things you had to say. I just posted why I homeschool on my blog in case you care to give it a look see.

    Why I Homeschool

  8. Mara B. on October 19th, 2007 2:10 am

    I chose to homeschool my two for a number of reasons – the primary one being religious belief that God was asking us as parents to do so. We also homeschool because I want to have my children at home with me. No one knows them better than I, and no one else has their best interest at heart. They are free to learn about things that interest them rather than having to follow the same teaching as everyone else. They don’t learn like everyone else, why ask them to do so?

    My older son, as a matter of fact, took to reading like a fish to water. At 10 he’s reading on an upper high school level. He wouldn’t have been encouraged to excel in public school. My youngest, who’s 6, can read on level and is really fine with that. I’m not going to push him, I want him to love reading and I don’t see that happening if I push it on him.

    Another aspect that caused me to homeschool, which I guess goes along with religious conviction, is that I can actually teach my children about the Bible – both the historical and the spiritual aspects. I can teach them about creation, and emphasize that, but will also teach them about the THEORY of evolution. Until they can PROVE it, it’s still just a theory, and no more important than creation.

    Most importantly, I don’t want my children to be held back. If they were in public school, they wouldn’t be able to excel in one area or another. They’d be expected to do just what everyone else was doing, when everyone else was doing it. I want them to love learning and I believe they will have a much better chance of doing that if they are taught at home.

    I’d be lying if I said it was always easy. It’s not. But, I wouldn’t trade it for the world!

  9. carrie on October 19th, 2007 10:50 am

    Thanks everyone for your comments.

    Darlene, I had no idea you were homeschooling. What you said about France was interesting – isn’t our public school system based on theirs? No wonder so many kids are stressed out at school.

    Arika, maybe we can trade some VA work for homeschooling. LOL! Seriously though, if you’re toying with the idea, look into co-ops. Basically homeschoolers trade out “classes” in their area of expertise. You teach them art, she teaches them Spanish. It’s a nice way to share the workload.

    Melissa the link you provided wasn’t clickable, but I’ll search through your blog and try to find it. :)

    Mara – agreed on the theory of evolution. When I think of the mandate that we parents are given to teach our children “when we walk on the road, lie down and get up” (it’s early and dark and the kids are asleep and I can’t find my Bible but it’s Deuteronomy!) I think how better to do that than to have them there all day. And yes it is sometimes hard, but like you said, I wouldn’t do it any other way either.

  10. Nell Asks, Part 2: How Do You Do It All? | Natural Moms Talk Radio on October 19th, 2007 11:19 am

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