Monday, July 28, 2008

You get a parachute.

Twenty, twenty five years ago I read this story:

In World war II, an English reporter who had heard so much about the bravery and elan of the Gurkhas visited a camp just in front of the enemy lines (Germans). During the course of his reporting, he had occasion to observe a mission being conducted. The mission was to airdrop a bunch of soldiers behind enemy lines to conduct some relatively light action. He watched the commander of the Gurkhas (a British soldier) pitch the mission and then ask for volunteers. To his surprise, only about half the Gurkhas volunteered and were sent off. Thoroughly disillusioned with the legends of Gurkha bravery, the reporter went back home. After the war, he happened to run into a Gurkha who had been there, and asked him why half the troops had failed to volunteer. It turned out that none of the squad, both those who volunteered and those who did not, were aware that they would get a parachute for the drop. Hence the low turnout.

I happened to remember this story today and dug it out of my files. I thought some about homeschooling. Many parents are scared to try homeschooling. They recognize it is a serious undertaking. Many have been told that only professionals can teach children. People are hesitant to try new things, especially when failing might hurt their children.

When our friends ask us about homeschooling we can acknowledge that it is work and they’ll be facing the unknown, but they will have a parachute. We can tell them that now, more than ever, there are a ton of resources. There are thousands of books. There are hundreds of thousands of blogs. There are millions of web sites. Most communities have homeschooling groups. There are magazines and conferences. The reality is we can have as many parachutes as we want.

As you reassure your friends that homeschooling will be strange and hard at times tell them that it is also a lot of fun. Tell them it may be one of the most important things they ever do in their lives. Helping our children get a quality education will pay dividends for the rest of their lives, and even for generations to come. But also tell them there are plenty of ways to get help, guidance, and support.

Most of us are willing to do hard things, when we realize that we have a parachute.

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