Friday, February 12, 2010

Homeschooling Support

This post is going to seem a bit rambling, but I am hoping to work some things out in my mind here. It involves the homeschool group I am part of, and the commotion that has been brewing in recent weeks. This will take quite a bit of back story so bear with me...

When I first began to consider homeschooling I was lost. I didn't know any homeschoolers, and I had no idea how to find them. After some searching I did find a couple groups. None of them met my needs. Some were formed for older kids. Some had a forced statement of faith. Others were just full of crazies. Finally, I I met a few like minded people. All of our kids were relatively small, so our get togethers were more about the kids playing and the Moms socializing than about "school". This lasted for 2+ years. People came and people went. Sometimes, people decided to send their kids to school. Sometimes they moved away. Sometimes they just drifted off because our gatherings were so informal. Others would drift in to take their place. We had field trips and park days, and in general it went well.

Finally a year and a half ago one of our members said she had found a group of other homeschoolers that we should merge with. I'll be honest I was a bit nervous because I didn't want to end up like one of those previously mentioned crazy groups. Eventually we met, and most of them seemed "normal". My initial reaction to almost all of them was positive, and as we planned for the fall of '09 I felt pretty good. We had lots of good ideas, and a regular meeting space. Then the year started. For a number of reasons the meetings didn't go as I had hoped. I left every single meeting feeling awful. It was utter chaos. I was ready to drop the regular meetings altogether. Still there were a few high points. Many in our group were also members of Earth Scouts which seemed to run much more smoothly. Also, several of the more rowdy families moved on. I guess they sensed that the situation wasn't a good fit for them. We took a break for the summer vowing to have some park days, but somehow none of us took the initiative to plan them.

When summer ended we decided to get back to our regular meetings. We met again with lots of good ideas. Additionally we stated this year with a great group of people. I can honestly say that I like all of them. Fall went pretty well, and I was fairly happy with things in general. After a short winter break we met and discussed more ideas, and got back to our regular meetings. I thought things were going well. Then it started...

It's funny how little innocent things can start such drama. Someone made a suggestion, and then someone else have a flippant response. Suddenly it's on. People begin debating things that probably shouldn't be debated. People get annoyed; people feel misunderstood; people get mad. Eventually that issue gets dropped, but Pandora's box has been opened. The next misunderstanding gets to this point even quicker, and is slower to be dropped. Finally people stop speaking altogether.

I will be honest. The whole situation has me feeling sick to my stomach. I do not like conflict (although I do enjoy philosophical debates). The dismissive, territorial tones of some people make it almost impossible for other people not to respond in defensive tones. Then the cycle continues. I am afraid of where it will lead. As I said I like these people. Do I think they are perfect? No! Am I perfect? No! Still I do like these people. I feel a connection to them, and I really do hope to make this group my perfect support system. I also would love to be part of the support system for them. It doesn't seem possible at this time. The group seems to be developing into some us vs. them mentality. I HATE that.

So now we are on the edge. I'm just very nervous about what comes next.


Mike McGuire said...

Hi, Jen. I just read your blog post. (Did you know you had readers? :-) You raise good concerns. Why not share them openly and directly with the folks you are referring to. I don't think anyone relishes confrontation, but is quiet stewing, unspoken frustration, and mounting resentment a better way? This sounds like a sure path toward group dysfunction (and possible disintegration) to me.

Jen, I only know you through the relatively few interactions we've had through the group, but I enjoy knowing you. I've enjoyed the bits of conversation we've exchanged and value what you have to say. Your children are wonderful (I don't need to tell you that) and our son values their friendship as well. Let's keep the conversation going.

I don't want to sound like an arm-chair psychologist or a cliche, but I truly believe that open, honest, ongoing communication is the key to healthy relationships--both between individuals and within groups. Don't you agree?

Jen said...


Thanks for taking the time to respond :-) Check you E-mail.