I’m a second-generation homeschooler, and no, I can’t believe I’m admitting that here. My parents were pioneers in the homeschooling movement (homeschooling in a communist country behind the Iron Curtain, anyone?) They never meant to become trailblazing homeschoolers. They didn’t set out to buck the system. But when we lived in the former Yugoslavia, they saw the rows of primary school children in red scarves pledging allegiance to Tito’s socialist republic, and knew there had to be another option for education.
Years later, I find myself here, having been in this homeschool world for years upon years upon years, first abroad, and then all over this country — the Midwest, Northern California, and Central Florida. I’ve seen behind the curtain. I can tell you all the publishers, all the speakers, and what they stand for — not just today, but going back the last couple decades. I’m not new to this scene. I’ve seen it all: the good, the bad, and whole lot of ugly. To be frank, while I’ve always believed in homeschooling, I haven’t necessarily always liked being associated with homeschool subculture. I say this even as a ‘success story’, someone who was homeschooled from pre-K through high school, went on to receive a university degree and emerged personally unscathed with no family disasters. I have incredible parents who gave me a stellar educational experience.
But you have to understand — I’ve seen the ragged fringes of an already-fringe movement. The stories you read in the news about homeschooling scandals? They aren’t always about strangers. I’ve been privy to the closed door goings on of subcultures within subcultures within subcultures. I’ve had brushes with very cultish movements (I lived in NorCal; it was bound to happen). It hasn’t always been good. But do you know what? My path as a homeschool mom doesn’t have to be tainted by the things I’ve seen as a homeschool kid. God is rewriting my story. God is re-writing my view of what it means to be a homeschooler. That’s so freeing!
So where am I now? I am a homeschool mom — a label I really never thought I’d use to describe myself. But I shouldn’t be surprised. My life hasn’t exactly followed a predictable path. In the 1980s, deep in Mexico a thousand miles from the Texas border, I was born to American missionary parents. By the end of that same decade, I was six thousand miles across the globe, living under the Iron Curtain in the former Yugoslavia. I was in Germany the same day the Berlin Wall fell. In the early 1990s, we packed a few suitcases for what we thought was a temporary furlough to escape the hovering military helicopters and rumbles of war in the Balkans. But when we left, the airspace over Yugoslavia closed, and tanks rolled in. We found ourselves in the United States with no home, no jobs, and a definite case of culture shock. (I write about that experience here: I Came to America After the Tanks Rolled In: Remembering the Former Yugoslavia).
I’m a third culture kid. Over the past 33 years, I’ve lived in 19 different places. I’ve never felt fully home anywhere I’ve been, but I’ve also been able to make my home anywhere. I’ve earned a law enforcement degree, was trained as an EMT, spent summers as a sheet metal factory worker, worked as a juvenile detention supervisor, cut my teeth in the corporate world as a systems coordinator/data analyst and later as a marketing assistant, and made my foray into freelance as a PR consultant and a magazine editor. (I’m certified in non-violent crisis intervention, but I’m also part Italian, so those two pretty much cancel each other out.)
Through it all, as far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a writer. In fact, I’ve been writing regularly under the Oaxacaborn name, on various platforms, since 2002. WordPress wasn’t even launched yet! I was blogging sporadically before then, also, on plain HTML pages where I had to code my own blog format before I could even type in the content. (I think we call that the Dark Ages.)
For a long time, I resisted writing about homeschooling. Even when I knew my blog was headed in that direction, I resisted. I didn’t want to be associated with homeschool culture, because of the negative fundamentalist, fringe, legalist stigma. I rubbed shoulders with all that as a homeschool kid, and I didn’t want anything to do with it as a homeschool parent. But I’m reclaiming what it means to be a homeschooler. I refuse to be defined by the past. Now, I’ve embraced it. I’m proud to be a homeschool blogger. I’m a member of iHomeschool Network (see my posts for iHN), and I contribute to the Sonlight Curriculum blog as well.
Won’t you join me on this journey as together we blaze a new trail for a new generation of homeschoolers? Let’s leave the stereotypes behind. Let’s have the courage to do things differently, to speak truth, and to challenge the way things have always been done.
Let’s leave fear behind. And let’s face each new day with this worldview in mind —
“Here is the world.
Beautiful and terrible things will happen.
Don’t be afraid.”