Failure is a Possibility. Expect it.
I homeschool my children, teach writing classes for our local homeschool cooperative, and write about homeschooling. For all practical purposes, it may appear as though I know what I am doing – that I am confident about educating my children; that would be true most of the time.
However, just because I have taken full responsibility for the direction of my kids’ education does not mean I don’t question myself. Believe me, I question myself regularly: about the curriculum I select, the approach I take, whether our family’s decision will in any way limit our kids’ opportunities, when and where to find tutors in struggle areas, etc.
Those who stay actively engaged in their children’s public or private schools are tuned-in to local school board decisions, academic direction, and teaching standards. Homeschooling families meet the same concerns head-on, but in a more direct, tangible, “Holy crap what are we using for this year’s history curriculum?” kind of way.
If I fail at homeschooling my children, it is my fault. I can’t in true faith point the finger at a fledgling administration, an exhausted, underpaid teacher, or a poor curriculum.
However, throughout this journey, I have learned the only sure-fire way to fail is never to try at all. So here’s what I do: I overwrite my fear of failure with an active approach – knowing full well I will “fail” along the way and need to assess, adjust, and accelerate in a different direction.
Actively Overwriting the Fear of Failure
I know of no better visual representation for our approach to homeschooling than the photo above of my two daughters, Emelie and Meredith, and my cousin (their cousin once removed), Olivia.
This photo rests in a frame on the piano lid right at eye level for my younger daughter (the only member of our household who plays piano). It serves as an inspiration that failure is temporal; that, with the right tools and perseverance, success is at her (literal) fingertips.
On the day of the photo, the girls were trying rather unsuccessfully at first, to capture an action shot.
My grandmother has a concrete pig aptly named Wilbur in her side yard. The girls wanted the photo to essentially “frame” Olivia balanced on the pig between their two jumping bodies. Using Emelie’s iPhone and the GorillaCam they discovered while looking for self-timer photo apps, the girls probably took no less than 50 shots trying to photograph what was in their cumulative mind’s eye.
Before they managed to capture the final photo, they soaked their shoes and butts in the rain-drenched grass, their stomachs were sore from laughing hysterically at the many less-than-successful photo captures, and they were plain tired of jumping, and in Liv’s case, posing on the pig.
And yet, in spite of one failed attempt after another, they kept on doing it.
They kept on trying.
Now we have this photo as proof of their success, and as a reminder that even seemingly trivial undertakings can easily become difficult, but in the end, are worth the sustained effort.
Education Requires a Sustained Effort
Failure is always a possibility; expect it. It is why a solid education requires a sustained effort, regardless of where that education occurs.
When people approach or email me saying, “I think it is wonderful what you do, but I could never homeschool!” I know it isn’t correct. The truth of what they are saying is “I think it is wonderful what you do, but I don’t want to.”, “…am afraid I might fail.”, or “…am not certain what choice is right for me and my family.”
All of those are valid.
Homeschooling is not the only choice; it is simply one choice. It is our family’s choice.
We give home education our all because our all will not always be good enough initially, but if we persevere, will always be good enough eventually.
Published October 8, 2013. Last updated October 8, 2013.