Do they even realize how they inadvertently promote homeschooling?

My 7-year-old checked a book of poems out of the library last week called, Did You See What I Saw? Poems about School, by Kay Winters. Here’s one of the poems in the book:

If I Were in Charge

Waiting in line,
a long thin line
takes time
every day
from our play.
We start
then we stop
while we
straighten our line
missing more time
on the way.

Why can’t we bunch
as we go to our lunch?
Or walk in a group
for our soup?

There’s a rule
in each school
about standing in line,
a stupid straight line.
I resign!

My daughter brought this book to me last night while I was in the midst of a grumpy moment, brought on by an attempt to sit down and write a few lines of poetry myself. Said attempt was foiled by an almost constant stream of interruptions, all of which began with the words, “Hey, Mom…?”

Twenty minutes of this sort of thing, and the poem I was working on had disappeared from my thoughts, and I was struck with the frustrating realization that if I were to put them in school next month, I’d have about seven hours a day to sit in silence and write whatever I damn well pleased.

Then my daughter brought me this book, and I flipped through it, and so many of the poems served as yet another reminder of why I’m doing what I’m doing. Sure, there were a few little poems about the specialness of teachers. But really only a couple. Most of them highlighted the many irritations, both big and little, about industrial schooling, like the example above.

And speaking of that poem above…. Let’s just examine that title for a moment: If I Were in Charge.

Notice how the writer uses it to give the child a voice. Notice how that voice understands the condescension inherent in the endless lessons in waiting-in-line. Notice how the voice understands that the best course of action is to simply leave. To resign. And think of how many kids out there that want to say that exact same thing. But never get to.

Um… yep. We’ll keep on homschooling, I guess.

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5 Responses to “Do they even realize how they inadvertently promote homeschooling?”


  1. 1 Obi-Mom Kenobi August 3, 2010 at 10:51 am

    Whenever I feel like shipping Padawan Learner off to the Spice Mines Academy for pushing my buttons or because I just want a few hours to myself, I’ll try to remember that poem and the stultifying reality of forced, industrialized schooling. Thanks for the reminder – especially this time of year.

  2. 2 InstinctiveMom August 3, 2010 at 11:04 am

    Oh, how true 🙂 We’re headed to the library in a bit – I’m marking this to see if our library carries it.
    Warmly,
    ~h

  3. 3 Mom #1 August 3, 2010 at 11:58 am

    I used to have moments of ambivalence about homeschooling and something would ALWAYS happen to remind me of why I was persevering. No one said it would be easy, but anything worth doing is . . . well . . . hard. Believe me,I know.

  4. 4 RegularMom August 3, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    ObiMom, yes, I suppose this is a good time to read such a poem, and remember why we’re doing this. Although, the spice mines of Kessel do sound tempting sometimes, I agree.

    InstinctiveMom, welcome. Did you find the book? It’s a pretty quick read in general.

    Mom #1, I think of you often, now that Baby Boy is almost done. You are one of the people I look up to, because you’ve gone the whole distance, and LIVED TO TELL US ALL ABOUT IT. 🙂

  5. 5 candyn August 4, 2010 at 11:28 am

    Oh, wow. Thanks. I needed that. 🙂


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