Mr. Pete and I became an item in high school, when he was in his senior year and I was just a junior. We were as different as night and day when it came to academics. When I had a free period, I was always in the library studying and preparing for upcoming classes, while Mr. Pete could be found in the "commons" or social area hanging around with his friends. It wasn't that Mr. Pete was a bad student, it was more that he was an "adequate" student. With just showing up to class and paying a modicum of attention he was able to pass every course and even get B's and an occasional A (as well as an occasional C). I never saw him sweat any homework or prepare for a big test. But it was all okay because he was getting through high school.
Because I was super smitten with my new boyfriend that year, I agreed to help him with his psychology homework. Psychology was a senior class and I was still a junior, but I was pretty sure I could handle it. Every week I was to read an article from Psychology Today and write a short report about it. "We" did great. My reports always got an A and Mr. Pete was gliding through the class. This all came to an abrupt halt one week when I had no time to do his homework because I had to do mine. (If I recall correctly this was one of our first big fights.)
Of course now, more than 30 years later, this is a good story that is fun to pull out and re-tell from time to time, but in retrospect, Mr. Pete has said that he wished he had taken his studies more seriously and had gotten more out of his high school experience. It is with that hindsight that we try to pass on the importance of education to our own children.
And even though we are homeschooling, and even though I have beaten myself up for not being an adequate-enough teacher for my kids, we have both come to realize that for the kids that are slackers (and they know who they are!) this realization will come to them someday too. It's not that they would have done anything differently in an institutional school setting- in fact they might have gotten away with more stuff with teachers, who have divided responsibilities and attention, than they have with their me, their mom and homeschool teacher!
Last week Calvin (age 23) was talking about a report he was writing for school and how he is always concerned about his spelling. I gave him some tips for improving his spelling, (copy work, re-writes, looking for patterns etc.)and I reminded him that he really gave me a hard time about spelling when he was still my student.
"Yea, I know Mom. It was just in me to give you a hard time then!"
To which I smiled- because I'm not the one having a hard time now.
Homeschooling moms frequently fret about failing their children, or not providing them with a proper education. But that's not what homeschooling was ever about, at least not for us. We always wanted our kids to love learning and to know how to learn for themselves; some kids will take advantage of that and some won't. But now that I have had two children come to the end of their homeschool career and another one finishing up, I can look back and see that just like in regular school, a good portion of education was really part of their responsibility too. And it's really neat to see them come to that conclusion eventually on their own - even if it's years later.