When we began homeschooling / unschooling our kids a couple of years ago, I felt this tremendous pressure to explain ourselves…

I wanted to go into great detail and explain our process, the reasons for our decision, our research and our journey… with every doubter, every naysayer, friend, relative or random stranger who raised a skeptical eyebrow in our general direction.

I wanted to share the stories, the research, the articles, the books, the TED talks…

I wanted to share the reasons.

I wanted them to understand why we chose the homeschooling / unschooling route.  I wanted to defend our choices.

I wanted to present my long lists of homeschooled / unschooled / self-taught adults.  I wanted to share the success stories… the “evidence”.  I even compiled a “Doing Education Differently” manifesto – about 60 pages or so – supplying detailed explanations, quotes and long lists of external references and resources.   I intended to dump a copy of it on the lap of the next well-intentioned yet misinformed person who wanted to know how my children would ever be “socialized”.

But, as the years have gone by… as we’ve settled in to our chosen lifestyle… the desire to explain and disclaim has gradually diminished.

I seldom even bring up the whole homeschooling / unschooling thing these days.

Not because I’m embarrassed or ashamed… but rather because it’s now such a part of life – such a part of who we are – that it’s kinda like… coffee beans.

I drink coffee every day.  I love coffee.  I love the flavour and the aroma.  One of life’s daily pleasures is my morning cup of coffee, made with freshly ground organic beans.  Nick loves coffee too.  Good coffee is our ‘thing’.  It’s our preference.  It works for us.

I drink coffee every day – but feel no need to explain or justify my choice to all the tea drinkers out there.

So what?  Some folk prefer tea.

That’s great!

If tea is what they genuinely enjoy… if tea is their deliberate choice… their preference… then tea is what they must drink.  And if they’re happy with tea – then I will (genuinely) be happy for them.

I will always be (genuinely) happy for those who are (genuinely) happy doing-what-they-do.

I have no desire to try and convert tea drinkers into coffee drinkers.  I don’t feel any need to try and convince the tea drinkers to ditch-the-leaf and convert-to-bean!  You’re not going to find me preaching to the tea drinkers… telling them that coffee is the “right” choice… the “best” choice… the “only” choice…

I am perfectly happy with other people being tea drinkers.

Coffee is not for everyone.  And neither is tea.

In the same way… I’m perfectly happy in the company of folk who choose to send their children to school.

I’m not threatened by them.  I don’t cringe at their choices or roll my eyes knowingly when they share stories about their child’s performance at school.  I don’t feel ‘above’ them… or ‘beneath’ them.  I don’t think that I’m wiser or more enlightened than them.

Nick and I have chosen a… different path.

Sure – we do believe that it’s a better path, but specifically, it’s a better path for us… and our family… and our chosen lifestyle… and our situation.  But it’s not necessarily a better path for other people.  What works wonderfully for our family may be an awful fit for others.  There is no one-size-fits-all.

Interestingly, I could also use the coffee-drinker / tea-drinker metaphor to describe:

  • our spiritual journey…
  • our lifestyle choices…
  • our political beliefs…
  • our decision to leave…
  • our decision to deliberately extract ourselves from any kind of 9-to-5 “normal” routine…
  • … and all kinds of other preferences and choices.

A final thought:

I will never be offended by your difference (which is also why you won’t find me going out of my way to ridicule or mock the political or religious beliefs of others).

I will never want you (or anyone else) to be more like ME.

But I deeply want you to be more like you… and if you authentically prefer tea… and love tea… then I will celebrate your tea-loving unique’ness with you!

But… if you don’t (really, truly) enjoy tea (or coffee)… but you drink it obediently because-everyone-else-drinks-it… or because-you’re-expected-to-drink-it… or because-other-people-will-get-offended-if-you-don’t-drink-it… or because you feel that you ought-to drink it because it’s The-Done-Thing…

Well… that’s a different conversation, entirely…