I was looking at Instagram recently, just scrolling through
the pics until I came across one that made me stop and read the comments. It
was a breastfeeding pic and we all know how much I love those. Babies nestled
into their mummas for a hit of the good stuff. Gorgeous.
Normally, people will write a brief caption to go with their
photos but the owner of this pic had written at length beneath it. She talked
about how her eldest child was approaching preschool age and how it was making
her assess how she felt about the schooling system and what place, if any, she
wanted her child to have within it. She talked about Steiner, she talked about home-schooling
and wanting to keep her children near; and the subsequent comments that others
made echoed these serious questions being asked by parents who all had a less
than mainstream approach to raising their children.
A funny thing happens when I read of parents considering
things that I haven’t. On the one hand, I’m intrigued and perhaps inspired. On
the other, I am plagued with self-doubt about my own choices.
We looked at two primary schools for Luca. A Catholic one
(scene of my infamous flash to Father) and a public one. We interviewed at both
and decided on the public one for several reasons. Most importantly, I couldn’t
shake the uneasy feeling I had about all the God stuff. Despite baptising all
our kids Catholic, we are not a religious family. A curriculum heavily influenced
with God biz just didn’t sit comfortably with me. And then there was the
financial consideration of a private school.
But the deciding factor that tipped me over? A good friend
was sending her daughter to the public school. Yes, Luca had gone to kinder
with this little girl but it’s not like they were BFFs. I found the whole
decision- making process troubling and almost as though I could not trust
myself to make a sound choice, I followed someone else’s lead.
I briefly looked at a nearby Montessori school, liked many
of their philosophies but it never went much further than that.
Reading the Instagram woman’s thoughtful words about the future
of her children just made me wonder whether I have been taking this stuff
seriously. I just assumed our kids would go into the school system – it never
crossed my mind that that wouldn’t be the right place for them.
I certainly never considered home-schooling. And I haven’t
questioned that decision at all. I
have a lot of faith in the system – public or private – and I have less than
zero desire to be home with my children every day until they graduate from high
school. And I am very confident the feeling is mutual. The kids relish their
independence just as much as I do mine. Beyond that, there are days I’m not
sure I’m qualified to parent a child let alone be responsible for their formal
education. In my head, I am fifteen and looking to smoke bongs with the cute
boy in Year 12. What?
No doubt, there are compelling reasons for some families to
undertake home-schooling but I thank the Lord those reasons don’t apply to us.
And maybe that’s the thing – I see my children, am aware of their personalities and recognise that
they will integrate into the system well and importantly, that they will thrive within its framework. Maybe it didn’t require soul-searching
consideration because there were no obvious markers that indicated that the
status quo system would not benefit them.
I chose a school in a neighbouring suburb without even
considering those in my own and now am wondering if there might have been a “better”
school that was closer to home. Or anywhere else. An exhaustive search could
very possibly have revealed superiorities elsewhere. But then, what constitutes
better? I chose existing friendships
and a community feel over proximity to home or aesthetically “prettier”
schools. When I break it down in those simple terms, my criteria seem important
and reflective of our values.
Both Luca and Zig have settled beautifully into their
respective (pre)schools. Each looks forward to going. Is it just twisted mother
guilt that makes me feel that unless I agonised over the decision, I have
failed to take my child’s future seriously?
Regardless of the institution
in which our kids learn the three Rs, Bren and I are still overwhelmingly the
central teachers in their lives. We can influence world views, demonstrate compassion
and kindness and all the things that resonate with us most.
And in the end, they might just give us the big fuck you by
working as a commodities trader on Wall Street. Their bleeding heart liberal father
would be devastated but I admit, I would enjoy the New York penthouse views.
Click here to fund my child's education…or whatever…