It was meant as an insult.
And I was justifiably offended.
So I shared my offense with a fellow homeschooling mother who told me to quit whining and suck it up.
"We are pioneers!" She pulled my ear like a teacher disciplining a child. "Be proud! For goodness sakes, if it weren't for pioneers, where would we be today? Pioneers are the ones who go forward and explore new territory and set new paths for others to follow. Pioneers aren't weak! They're strong. Go forward! Be proud!"
I've always kept her words "Be proud!" close to my heart during this ten year journey of ours because I realize the truth in her words and I'm grateful for them.
If home education were just a passing fad it would not be growing in leaps and bounds many years later. Our pioneering path explores new ways of surviving in the wilderness, it opens new territories outside the walls of an institution, and it scales new terrain once forbidden by educators.
For too long educators have made parents feel inferior and insufficient. Despite those very teachers having given us our education, they look down at us as though we cannot possibly be smart enough to relay the information back to a younger generation. Evidently they are insecure about their teaching methods as well.
Pioneers insist that the only way one learns is by doing. Pull up your boots, arm yourself with the necessary tools, make sure your party is fed, and Go Forward! into the unknown, leaving a path for others to follow...and, Be Proud!
John Mark Reynolds has written a superb essay entitled Home School Mothers: The Beatrice Brigade
This essay makes me even prouder than ever to be a pioneering mother. I will quote it in part but I encourage you to read the whole piece linked above:
"Talents that could vitalize a corporate board room are turned to teaching children to read. Their children, of course, take such sacrifice for granted. Their mothers make it safe for them to be blissfully unaware of their blessings. So these strong women sacrifice everything our culture deems important. They have no resume inflating career. Yet they give new life and meaning to all the Victorian platitudes lodged, because they are true, in the back of all our minds. “The hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.”
These are kitchen table Socrates. They don’t trust the government schools that spend billions to produce cookie cutter children. These women use cookie cutters on cookies not children. Like Socrates, they despise uniformity in education and people who teach for money and not love of students . There children are producing reems of stories, hours of music, original plays, and a whole new civilization. If our boys are overseas defending the West, these women are home renewing it.
Home school mothers are the heart of a traditionalist revolution that is driving life back into the homes... Spreading like some beneficial virus, men and women are returning basic educational, economic, and social functions to home where they have always belonged. "