Like Herding Cats

by S.C. Torrington on January 30, 2007

100_6837I swear, trying to organize a group of home educators is like herding cats. Just when you think you’ve got’em going in the same direction, they dart off to do their own thing. But I suppose it’s that independent spirit that contributed to our homeschooling choice. Unfortunately, when everyone is doing their own Thing, rarely does that coincide with anybody else’s Thing. Can you dig it?

In public school, a classroom of 30 seventh graders are studying the same subject, let’s say The War of 1812. So when the permission slip for a field trip to Fort McHenry goes home, it’s not really up for debate. The tour location, theme, date and time have already been determined, thank you very much. Everybody comes to school, piles on a bus with their packed lunch, rides to Fort McHenry, takes the tour, eats their lunch and gets back to school in time to catch the bus home. Take it or leave it. Your kid can always spend his day in study hall.

By contrast, in a homeschool group of 30, you’ll have kids from toddlers to teens. Plus parents. Odds are only you, the trip organizer, is currently studying The War of 1812. But everybody else figures they’ll get to it sooner or later, so they sign up on your database. (We don’t need no stinkin’ permission slips!) If given a choice of time, that generally comes up for a debate and eventual vote. Can you find a tour that’s gonna be of interest to a six-year-old and a sixth grader? Probably not, but you’ve gotta ask.

As coordinator, you also have to provide driving directions, rainout protocol, secure a lunching location, calculate and collect the tour fees. Then you have to hope everybody shows up to qualify for the group discount you negotiated. But don’t bank on it.

So you see, to get a group of homeschoolers to agree upon, sign up and show up for what is traditionally a one-step field trip, you gotta have patience, stick-to-it-tive-ness and a pretty smelly tin of sardines.

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