A good friend of mine once commented about homeschooling that she felt that children needed more people than their mothers as teachers in their lives. I couldn't agree more. One of the things that I love about homeschooling is the time and opportunity to make use of all of the wonderful teachers who are around. I am using the term 'teacher' in a very broad (and perhaps a more discriminating ?) way than most. I am not talking about someone who has gone to university for any number of years, has the certificate on the wall, and the regular pay cheque for their time. I am talking about people who are passionate about a subject, who are immersed in it, steeped in it, and radiate a love for it, and who what to share their love with others. Just as kids learn most when they are excited about something, they also learn better when their teacher is enthusiastic. The kind of teacher that I am referring to and the traditional kind who work in schools are not mutually exclusive. I know many wonderful teachers who work in the public and private school system who genuinely love what they do, and go out of their way to share their excitement with the children in their charge. May of them even mamage to bring some of their own interests and passions into the classroom to share, in spite of the rigid curriculum guidelines set out for them. I think, though, that it is not easily done - not through fault of the teachers, but rather as a function of the system that they are working in.
Our neighbors across the street know that we are homeschooling our children. One thing about being known as a homeschooling family is that teachers, the real kind, emerge from the wood work to share what they know. This wonderful woman first came over to introduce herself to us last fall. She had seen us around, and knew that our approach to education did not require the kids to be in bed by 7:30 at night. This piece was essential - she is an astronomer, and the stars are most often not out before 'bedtime'. This woman absolutely radiates a love of astronomy. It is a hobby of hers, not a paid profession, but you can see that it is a key part of her life, and of her identity. She has taken over a year (and a great deal of money) to build her own high powered telescope, and on clear nights she sets it up in the back yard. She invited the boys to come over to check it out!!!
This woman is not a teacher in the traditional sense. But boy, does she love to look at the stars!!! Last night William saw the Owl cluster, the Orion nebula, two spiral galaxies (one of which is enveloping the other) and Saturn, including its rings - very cool!!!!! This is the kind of learning that is fun - not forced pages in a work book. This is the kind of learning that is exciting for the student and for the teacher, and it is the kind of education that I would hope will continue to be a part of all of our lives.