My Confessions

So, I have a confession to make. I have a Masters of Education. With an emphasis in Curriculum and Instruction.  And I used to teach high school.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I was part of the machine.  I was one of those teachers who believed in structure and homework. Okay, not really. I actually hardly gave homework and I often bucked structure. But, I did give tests and sometimes I even used scantron.

But, I wouldn’t change it for anything. First, because it was during my time as an educator that I learned of Summerhill (in fact, I read about it in my Philosophy of Education course). And, during researching free schools, I ran into the idea of unschooling. I honestly don’t think I would have come to the same conclusion if I had been a secretary or a bank teller or an artist.  I just would not have spent as much time thinking about education and really digging into the best way to raise my own children had I not gone the route of formal teacher. The second reason I wouldn’t change anything is that I was a darn good teacher.  I didn’t just teach out of a book. I wrote my own curriculum and tried as hard as I could to make the learning organic – well, as much as could be done within an inorganic structure.  So, if those kids were going to be stuck at school, at least they were stuck with me.

And now, my second confession. I’m not just a past member of the machine, I currently reside there.  Two evenings a week, I am a tutor. I teach English and writing to a fourth grade girl, a sixth grade boy, and a tenth grade girl. I am hanging my head in shame.

I must admit that I struggle with this philosophically, but our financial struggles trump that. We need the few extra bucks this brings in, and, again, at least they have me and not another more traditional tutor. At least I won’t force things down their throats. At least I ask them which direction they want to go and at least they are allowed to express their dislike or disinterest in the topic so we can give it a break. However, I’m still in the same system. Their parents have hired a tutor because they are expecting an increase in their child’s grades and they certainly don’t want to know that we played hangman for 15 minutes.

So, what do I do? For now, just keep being a darn good tutor and friend to these kids. And, hopefully soon my husband will get a raise or the ads on this blog will start bringing in some real money and I can rid myself of institutionalized education for good.

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4 Comments on "My Confessions"

  1. Natalie
    28/10/2009 at 5:07 am Permalink

    I’ve been doing an online self-development course called Family Time and Money Freedom by the author of the Jackrabbit Factor, Leslie Householder, homeschooling mom of 7 and someone who’s managed to go from debt and never enough to being prosperous and having the time to spend with her family enjoying it (hence the title of the course).

    They are currently looking for beta testers for the online course. It only costs $19.95 a month and I think it’s fantastic. There are a few bugs here and there to report in as you go, but very few now and the content more than makes up for the small energy exchange. You can do it as quickly or as slowly as you like. The full course with hard copies of the materials usually costs $800.

    I found out about it by word of mouth so I wanted to pass it forward to you. Let me know if you take it up and how you’re finding it. It’s always pretty cool to share notes on stuff like this and have a shared experience of the highs and lows.

    If you want to just check out her first book which is the analogy for most of the teachings in there (though she also draws on her training with Bob Proctor – The Secret, The Science of Getting Rich and the 11 Forgotten Laws as well), you can download the Jackrabbit Factor for free here: It’s a quick read, probably 2 or 3 hours altogether.

    BTW, these aren’t affiliate links, I don’t have any financial or other links with the company, so no hidden agendas here other than passing on something I’m finding really helpful and useful.

  2. Heather
    04/11/2009 at 9:00 am Permalink

    I come from a very similar place. We unschool our 3 kids but I am a former teacher (I taught special ed and elementary ed and that is exactly WHY we decided to homeschool in the first place). Many of the unschoolers I know are actually former teachers which I think is very interesting. I spend most of my evenings tutoring/helping my baby brother (a high school senior) with his public school work. He knows that I would much prefer to take him out of school and let him learn what he is interested in (he is passionate about metal smithing/blacksmithing at this time) but because he lives with our dad who is also a former public school teacher there is no question. In the meantime I help him find ways to get his homework done quickly so he can learn it the best he can (and make it interesting to him if possible) so that he does have time to pursue what he is really interested in. He constantly comments at how much my kids already know about things that the school is forcing him to “learn”– for instance my passionate reader 9 year old often tests him on his vocabulary. I figure that, if he ever has kids, there will be no question of whether they go to public school or are unschooled as he has seen the difference and loves my kids’ lifestyle.

  3. Cindy Wade
    23/03/2010 at 2:00 am Permalink

    Bravo! In reading your later posts (March 2010) I suspected you had had the opportunity to research unschooling before having your first child. Now I see you did study education and quite thoroughly. I am so glad to read you resisted the baggage of educational theory and have developed a more organic approach to teaching. Having a child of your own to nurture has a way of putting life and priorities into perspective. I made my decision to home educate my future children when I was student teaching in college. I had always known I never wanted to place my children in public school after having experienced it myself. John Holt was the first author I read on the subject but John Taylor Gatto eventually became the inspiration to let my children become self-learners. Lucky you for having a head start unschooling your son because by the time many parents call me much of the damage has already been done by the public school.


  1. [...] the first in this series, I’d like to talk about teachers. I’ve mentioned before that I was a teacher…

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