Friday, February 12, 2016

Textbooks and Training Wheels

I wrote the very first post for this blog (with the same graphic) early one Monday morning before the kids were up.  I had a crazy plan.  I had been talking to my dad and my brother some about it.  And I wanted to start documenting it from the beginning.  So I started the blog.  I meant to talk about the training wheels analogy at some point.  And I meant to talk about why I would think about going without textbooks.  And then life kinda happened.  And this whole journey churned up a lot of other thoughts to process that ended up as blog posts.  So, here I am again, back to the start to finish what I began.  What does this blog have to do with training wheels?

We had our first homebirth with the birth of our fourth baby.  While part of me thought "I wish I had done it this way all along!" another part of me wondered if I really would have been up for that.  Perhaps, in God's providence, it was the right thing for me to have a few babies in the hospital before coming across the idea of homebirth.  I feel the same way about going without textbooks.  I haven't even finally decided if this will work for us.  But I feel pretty sure that it wouldn't have worked for me from the beginning (though I am sure that there are plenty of moms out there who take off sans-textbook from the word go).  I needed time to get my balance, so to speak, and, honestly, to mature a little bit.  That is why I use the analogy of training wheels.  I'm glad I learned to homeschool with textbooks.  Now I'd like to try without and see if we can enjoy and manage the freedom (and risk!).

However, I want to be very clear that I didn't choose that analogy because I wanted to set no-textbooks as superior to or more sophisticated than using textbooks.  I don't even see it as something that all homeschooling moms are or should be working towards.  It was just that on that Monday morning, our new experiment felt to me like taking the training wheels of my bike for the first time.  Exhilarating ... yet terrifying!

So many times as I read through Teaching from Rest, I felt like Sarah Mackenzie had reached into my own brain, scooped out my half-formed thoughts and composed them into eloquent, coherent sentences.  Here's one example that applies to this discussion:
Whether or not you purchase open-and-go curriculum doesn't really matter.  You can pretty much forget all the heated discussions about whether you are caving in to school-at-home if you use traditional workbooks or a straight-from-the-box curriculum.  I know successful homeschooling families who use textbooks and successful homeschooling families who eschew them.  I don't think that's a relevant debate to be having if you want to teach from rest and become happy, content, peaceful and effective homeschooling moms.
If I have one point to argue about using textbooks, it isn't that you should or shouldn't.  It's just that you don't have to.  I don't yet  know which camp I will land in.  As this point, I think it likely we'll use textbooks for some subjects and not for others.  But either way, this experiment has been worth it, because I now know that I can decide based on what works best for us!

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