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When I was expecting our oldest daughter Michelle in 1988 I read a book called Anything School Can Do You Can Do Better by a Mother of 13 children.
The mother in the biography used the Montessori philosophy in her home to teach her own children. This book was one that I picked up at the library. I had been planning to have a huge family since I was a young girl and was always drawn to books written by mothers who had a large brood of children. I cannot recall what it was about the book that spoke to my soul as I read it 25 years ago, but I do recall having the feeling that Homeschool was in my future.
When Michelle was born I remember making a comment to my sister about how she was NEVER going to attend public school. I now believe my attitude was mostly tied to traumatic events that happened to me in and around my participation in the Michigan Public School system during the early 70’s. I recently recovered memories of ritual abuse tied to my elementary school years. I remember being forced to commit heinous acts when I was in the third grade at Pattengill Elementary in Berkley Michigan. This would have been in and around 1976. I believe this trauma tied to my public school experience is directly tied to my desire to Homeschool my five children. If you attended this same school and remember weird incidents around your third grade year would you contact me at JennyMHatch@Yahoo.com? I am collecting information from that time in my life and am looking for corroborating evidence of what really happened. When I was hospitalized for suicidal overwhelm a year ago last January I was able to recover quite a bit of detail about what happened to me and my psychiatrist documented all of it in my patient files.
I will not take the time now to outline what I have remembered, as it is really bizarre, dark stuff, but I would like to say that these traumas are very much tied to my emotional illness and I believe contributed greatly to my overall emotional distress. I believe my older brother Dave, who died of a drug overdose, also was exposed to these same types of ritual abuse situations at the same school. And I will also say that those who were involved in the abuse went looking for children who were being raised in religious homes who had obvious signs of being sexually assaulted. I was programmed by my school abusers that if it ever appeared that I was finally getting truly well, that I be thrust into complete suicidal overwhelm to end it all. One of the things that came to me during that hospitalization and the weeks shortly after is that the people who did this wanted to discredit religion in general and large religious families in particular and so they targeted children from those homes for the various traumas that would bring on emotional illness and suicide. I am grateful for my good Bishop who played a pivotal role in helping me through some dark weeks around these memories being recovered, and also my Psychiatrist who was very helpful during the weeks of my hospitalization.
Anyway, this desire to never send my children to public school was a part of my being from the earliest days of my Mothering. I felt such a protective feeling towards my daughter that the thought of sending her to day care, to preschool, to kindergarten was not even an option. I even found it nearly impossible to leave her for a night to have a getaway with my husband. I believe many of us who choose to Homeschool have suffered from sexual assault and Ritual Abuse and feel extremely protective of our children. At least that is the feeling I get from my many years of participation in the various online chatrooms and support groups that I have been a part of.
When I lost my mind a few months after Michelle was born, I was not sure that I could have any more children, much less Homeschool or be involved in any sort of proactive lifestyle. I spent years on my couch doped on every psychiatric pill my doctor could legally prescribe and the last thing on my mind during that time was teaching my daughter. When she was two I found a psychiatrist who was willing to help me wean off the meds and as I worked my way through that labrinth of distress, I found myself turning back to educational pursuits and began reading books on early childhood education. I taught Michelle her alphabet and read Maria Montesorris books, Johns Holts epic books, as well as Rudolph Steiners books.
A few months before we conceived Allison we were living in Yellow Springs Ohio and I was introduced to Neil Flinders book Teach the Children, an Agency Approach to Education, which was the life work of a brilliant Mormon Educator. Paul and I had been attending an evening Institute class together and the teacher of the class told us about the book. I purchased the hard copy and over the next few years read the book cover to cover several times. This book had perhaps the most profound impact on my views around teaching my family. And We have used Dr. Flinders philosophy for almost all of the 23 years that have clicked by as we have nurtured our children.
I tend to be rather deliberate and hypervigilant when I conduct research, so I read EVERYTHING on education. These various books, learning methods, and philosophies had a huge impact on my views of my role as Mother/Teacher. When I was expecting Allison in 1991 I spent many hours in the Omaha Nebraska Library where we lived that summer and picked up many books on Education. Rudolph Fleschs book Why Johnny Can’t Read was perhaps the most influential during those months.
This foundational learning was extremely important as the day quickly approached when Michelle was old enough to attend public school and I would be expected to register her for Kindergarten.
Read Part One: Uncommon Lore: Introduction