Thursday, May 30, 2013


When I was a kid, I hated school. Hated it with a passion and determination that made both my life and my mother's miserable from the first day. I've always loved learning things, but hated school. I begged Mum to homeschool me. She was a qualified teacher, but in those days it just wasn't done, not really even among the hippies.

When we got back to Canada from England I was put back into North American "grade 1" and I concluded that the kids were all idiots. We had been rather more advanced in the English school I had gone to, and I couldn't understand why the only thing we did all day was "play". What was the point of that? Why did I have to go to this horrible, sterile place that smelled bad and was filled with screaming morons to do something I could do much more effectively at home? Besides, the only place I could get my hands on any books was at home.

School has never made sense to me. Learning things is interesting. Wasting your days sitting in a row of desks listening to a tired, underpaid functionary tell the other kids to shut up and pay attention was decidedly not. I was given my first library card when I was five. Libraries, books at home and my mother, the university undergraduate in maths and marine biology, was where you learned things. It was where the secrets of the universe were being revealed. School was prison.

After my first day of school in Victoria, my mother was walking me home and I asked, "How long do I have to keep going there?" She said, "About 12 years." I burst into tears and was inconsolable for the rest of the day.

For a long time, I thought my hatred of school was my fault.

Now I know I was right when I was five. As was so often the case.



Hermit Crab said...

Thou, whose exterior semblance doth belie
Thy soul's immensity;
Thou best philosopher, who yet dost keep
Thy heritage, thou eye among the blind,
That, deaf and silent, read'st the eternal deep,
Haunted for ever by the eternal mind.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

Is that your way of saying, "Why yes, Hilary, you ARE always right..."

skin peels said...

Hhm this article is quite intriguing. A controversial parody no doubt but you do have a point there.

Anonymous said...

I don't send mine to school but it means I look like hell on wheels and have no sanity. The homeschool bloggers who make it look pretty and sweet are all liars liars pants on fires. - Karen

Anonymous said...

For me, school was a haven from the home I hated. And I suspect it was that way for some of the other kids as well. Homeschooling may work for some, but not for others.


Anonymous said...

Homeschooling is not for everyone but schools, as they are now, are for no one, so a lot of people are just being hung out to dry. - Karen

Hermit Crab said...

Yes, Hilary, you ARE always right.
Your description of your childhood echoes the lines from the Immortality ode.

Also, in your article "Ghosts", you had asked: "Am I haunted, or am I really a ghost from the past who's doing the haunting of the modern world?"
Wordsworth's line "haunted for ever by the eternal mind" seemed to me an echo this.

Aimee Gladwell said...

I used to hate school with a passion, thought it would never end and couldn't wait to leave. However, after having left 12 years ago I'd love to go back haha.

Dymphna said...

After high school graduation I walked out and didn't look back. I felt so free. School is a pretty hellish place if you are either above or below average. All the system does is try to brow beat you into conforming to the crowd.

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

A "controversial parody"?



And please note the commbox rules posted to the sidebar on the left. You must leave a real or plausible-sounding name. Anonymous posts and obvious pseudonyms are not allowed.

And "skin peels"? Seriously?

Teresa B. said...

I have learned more in my time homeschooling than I ever did in the institutional school! It can be so much more fun and extremely stimulating.
Having two children, I make an effort to do lots of field trips and we read together a lot.
History is just one long interesting story that sometimes gets repeated. As they found out when we went through the beginning of the French Revolution - they both noted how it resembles the present day USA in some ways.
Yesterday I took my kids to the Medieval Educational Festival.
Saw some jousting and my kids were disappointed that no one was hurt.
They wanted to see the servant who picks up the body parts.
They wanted authentic.

Now that they are a bit older - we can take in more Stratford plays! And homeschoolers get $10 ticket deals!!

Hilary Jane Margaret White said...

I used to go on information binges (still do, actually). I went to see Henry V with Kenneth Branagh and decided that I needed to know all the historical and literary background. The history of the Anglo/French wars went back at least as far as Henry II and Elinor, and pushed as far forward as the Tudors. Fascinating! I spent a year reading about nothing but the Wars of the Roses. Learned about the Salic Law and the dreadful French kings all the way back to the Merovingians.

Anonymous said...

I enjoy the homeschooling life. It's not easy and it's often a big challenge but I hated sending my kids to school. Really really hated it. I'm much happier having them at home.

And though I've had a hideous three years with other stuff, I don't look like hell on wheels. I have managed, barely, to hang on to my sanity, but homeschooling is not the culprit there.


Anonymous said...

No, it's not homeschooling itself, it's homeschooling AND running the house AND nursing the baby AND getting the kids around to all their activities. I'm glad it hasn't done a number on your looks but we can't all be so lucky.

I've been homeschooling for over a decade now and I was observing the scene for even longer. There is a really strange refusal to acknowledge that burdening individual women with total responsibility for educating their children along with the rest of the duties of a wife and mother is just not a society-wide solution. There are too many normal vicissitudes of life that can sink your homeschool, and unless you are very, very lucky in your parish when your homeschool sinks there is no one to pick up the slack.

Sure, some families pull it off. Some women are doctors and have happy marriages and wonderful wellbehaved children too. But cultural conservatives have this weird doublethink where we all say that it's impossible for a normal wife to be a career woman, but then somehow it's totally possible for her to do something that is the equivalent of a career if done properly. - Karen