I officially started my homeschooling career in 2005, the same year that we relocated from our home in Northern California to our new home in Northern New Jersey. It was shortly thereafter that I started my personal blog, Planet Harris. Planet Harris was purely a means of communicating our daily stories and pictures to dear family and friends three thousand miles away in California. While some of my blog focused on our homeschooling activities, I was still formulating and testing my own ideas about home education, and primarily used my blog as a way to express myself creatively and to showcase my incredibly amateur photography skills. Not only had we moved to a different part of the country, I was embarking on this journey we call homeschooling and still grappling with questions and doubts about how best to begin.
With the explosion of social media, I stopped blogging in late 2010, feeling that simply posting photos and family updates on a separate blog was not only too time consuming, but redundant when using other media platforms, thinking “no one is reading this thing anyway!”
After leaving blogging behind, I was actively involved in co-founding a co-operative learning group for homeschoolers that would launch in the fall of 2011. Our vision was to create a virtual school – one without permanent walls – that could be facilitated in different venues and offer academically enriching courses to homeschooled children ages nine to thirteen. Parents with a passion for and knowledge of certain subjects could teach, as well as other outside educators. Students could choose from a menu of classes and sign up for one or all of our offerings. Our first year has been a great success, with all classes filling to capacity.
After launching our “school,” my husband continued to suggest that I take up blogging again, but this time that I should write about what I knew best – homeschooling. Intellectually, it seemed like a decent idea, but what did I really have to say on the subject?
As most homeschoolers can testify, educating our children at home is a joy, but also an opportunity for personal growth. We learn patience by losing patience, and are constantly discovering new ways to reach and engage our children’s minds. Well into my second year of homeschooling, I came across the writings of John Taylor Gatto. After reading excerpts of his Underground History of American Education, I soon realized that what I was doing at home was replicating a school day, and while that might be sufficient, I had failed to see a bigger, more important picture. Afraid to make any sudden changes, I continued the “school-in-a-box” approach until the fall of 2009. After much deliberation and research, and discussions with my husband, I decided it was time to change our approach to learning. I am an advocate of self-directed, child-centered learning, and am dedicated to encouraging and fostering the sense of curiosity and wonder that all children innately posses.
Feeling that the time was right to begin blogging again, I decided in late September of 2011, to write my first piece on homeschooling. I had been kicking around a somewhat unusual name for my web-site, one that would simply state my personal mission. To that end, Raising Autodidacts, was born. A few weeks after I wrote my first piece, I sent a copy of it to educationrevolution.org – the on-line magazine of AERO (Alternative Education Resource Organization). AERO is dedicated to the advancement of all forms of alternative education, including homeschooling. It was my hope to offer a homeschooler’s perspective, so that families might feel inspired to make the same choice. Within a couple of days of submitting the piece, I was offered the chance to contribute periodically to the on-line magazine. I am profoundly honored to be listed with the great thinkers and writers of the alternative education movement, including John Taylor Gatto.
I just can't get rid of this crazy idea; by chosing an alternative education path, such as homeshooling, for even just one child; you can save the world.