Why Do You Look at Me Like That? : Uncovering Homeschool Myth #4

  1. Our kids are unsocialized

  2. You have to be patient, organized & crafty 

  3. We breed like rabbits

  4. We all wear glasses and live to be on the “Geek Squad”

  5. We keep our kids in a bubble so they won’t see or hear evil

So now that I’ve played Tim Hawkins for you, I’m going to change the subject. Are you familiar with the story of Seabiscuit? Seabiscuit was bred a race horse. Except when put on the track, Seabiscuit went every way but straight. He was wild and unruly, walked with a strange gait and was just slow. But something about the horse caught the attention of a cowboy named Tom Smith. He says the first time he saw him, the horse looked straight through him. I have a daughter kinda like Seabiscuit. Set her down with “school-work” and she’s all over the board. From the day I first put words in front of her to read, my daughter has fled the scene like a dog chasing a squirrel. Thinking she was being rebellious, lazy, obstinate or missing a few tools in her toolshed, I pressed in harder. I tried every curriculum I could get my hands on, buying the sales pitch that this one would be the magic solution. Finally, I decided it’s not the curriculum…it must be me. I am the wrong fit for my daughter. I’m not trained; I’m not the professional. It would be better for her to learn under someone else. So I tried to turn in my 2 week notice to my husband, but he wouldn’t accept it. He listened to my complaints, dried my tears and together we made some changes. What I found was that underneath the giggles, wiggles and fingernail polish lay a brilliant, sleeping giant of a mind. Kinda like Seabiscuit. Here’s a clip of the story from Laura Hillenbrand’s book Seabiscuit: “With long, careful schooling, Seabiscuit began to figure things out. Once he was no longer being coerced, his instincts bubbled back to the surface. His innate love of running returned. Pollard used the whip not as an implement of force, but as a signal: one glancing swat on the rump at the eighth pole, another a few feet from home, a cue that it was time to hustle. Seabiscuit began to wait for it and respond with lightening quickness. ‘So long as you treat him like a gentleman,’ said Pollard (his jockey), ‘he’ll run his heart out for you.’ Though the horse was still goofing off and pulling tricks in his workouts, his speed was excellent.” Putting this in the perspective of education, I believe kids have an innate desire to learn. Just like Seabiscuit was bred to be a race horse and therefore had a natural desire to run, our kids, too, are “bred” for something special and it’s our job to point them in the right direction. We “treat ’em like a gentleman” and allow their natural love of learning to bubble to the surface. With homeschooling, we don’t care if our kids make the “geek squad” or not – yeah, sure, I’m sure some do. But that’s not at the heart of homeschooling. At the heart is the desire to unleash our kids to learn – to start that fire burning deep in their souls and fan it in as many ways as we can.  Is it scary? Hard? Oftentimes un-definable? YES! One of the biggest races of Seabiscuit’s life wasn’t even at an “official” racetrack. It was between he and War Admiral. The day before the big race, Biscuit’s jockey, Red Pollard, suffered a should-be career ending accident and was laid up in a hospital bed. In his place, “Ice Man” Wolfe was set to ride Seabiscuit in this once-in-a-lifetime race. The two talked strategy over the phone. They both agreed War Admiral had more natural speed than Seabiscuit. Seabiscuit usually started slow, then caught up towards the finish line. That wouldn’t work here. If they let War Admiral get away, Seabiscuit would never catch him. So instead, they would break Seabiscuit hard and fast from the start and bet he would beat War Admiral to the first turn. Pollard told Woolf to “gun to the lead, but to keep him in check on the backstretch…” To Woolf’s complete surprise, Pollard instructed him to actually let War Admiral catch up. “Once a horse gives Seabiscuit the old look-in-the-eye, he begins to run to parts unknown. He might loaf sometimes when he’s in front and thinks he’s got a race in the bag…Seabiscuit is the gamer horse.” I hate to give away the ending, but it proved true. Some say Seabiscuit was the greatest horse that ever raced. Had it not been for farmer Tom Smith, Seabiscuit would’ve been destitute to live a life as a lead pony. How sad and unfulfilling that would have been for Seabiscuit! Somehow, I fear, we have mainstreamed education to the point of putting kids in at one end of the assembly line and then spitting them out at the other, forming them to look just like the mold. Again, homeschooling may not be for you. But I hope you decide that for the right reasons. Homeschooling is not about winning every race and producing what we think are good scores in life. It’s not about being the smartest kid on the block or district. It’s about, when you have a Seabiscuit child, you don’t let them be OK with being a lead-pony when they were created to be a race horse!

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