One of the things I really like about blogging is getting to know other people with whom you might not otherwise have contact. I like being able to learn from and encourage each other, to bounce ideas off one another, and to get a new perspective on life.
One of the people that I’ve really enjoyed getting to know is Mister Taylor of Mister Dad’s Class. I know of some homeschooling dads of the “teaching parent” variety, but I don’t know any IRL. Of course, I don’t know Mister Taylor IRL, but the blog world is almost as good, right? I’ve appreciated Mister Taylor’s insight and encouragement and I love how much he seems to enjoy homeschooling his kids.
I recently asked if he would agree to be interviewed for Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers and he graciously agree. So, without further ado, I would like to welcome Mister Taylor.
In the homeschooling community, it’s unusual, though certainly not unheard of, to find a dad who is the teaching parent. What affected your family’s decision for you to be the teaching parent?
For our family, it was an easy choice, for two reasons, really. First off, my wife is amazing at her corporate job. It’s a very stable income that can carry us all, so long as we budget it right. I, on the other hand, was in marketing, as an artist and writer. Let’s just say, during down times, those are the guys slapped on the chopping block first.
The second is this: my wife really enjoys what she does at work. Not that she doesn’t love being a mom– she’s great at that, too. As for me, I really like kids. I’ve been around kids all my life. They are a huge source of inspiration and energy for me! Plus, learning is a big passion of mine. I’ve never stopped classes, training or studying something since pre-school. That was about 38 years ago.
What is your wife’s role in your family’s homeschool?
She’s very involved as the parent of students, inquiring and quizzing the kids in what they’ve learned. And she never minds when we solicit her help in an assignment.
I know that I, as the teaching parent, make the majority of the decisions that affect our homeschool, such as our style, our schedule, the materials we use, etc. Is that the case for you, as well?
It really is. She respects all the reading, research and time I’ve put into the teaching role. We’ve always been the type who believe an expert knows best. An engineer may not be the best salesperson. The hospital accountant shouldn’t be depended on for surgery procedures. I have teaching style preferences and quick flexibility. She has objectives, but doesn’t mind the path we take to get there.
We took turns freaking out, at the beginning, over “did we do the right thing?” and “are they on grade/month level?” But now that our feet are more wet, we don’t mind the splashing.
As a homeschooling dad, how do you feel that you are accepted, in general, in the homeschooling community, both online and in real life?
Most people are really supportive, in general. The homeschooling community’s a trickier pony, though. Aside from usual “guardedness” and bias people have who use a different curriculum or teaching style, I get my share of gender-based exclusions. Especially in Christian circles, there’s a lot of xenophobia [note from Kris: this means fear and hatred of strangers or foreigners or of anything that is strange or foreign. I thought I’d save the rest of the effort of looking it up. See how we can learn from each other. ;-)]. But I honestly focus on the positive connections we make, which has been much easier to find online. By the way, have I thanked you lately?
You’ve mentioned on your blog that your kids were in public school and that you were a public school employee. How did all of that influence your decision to homeschool?
It was HUGE. Most of my work was on the playground and in the lunchroom. I got to just hang out and listen to kids, many who said I was the only grown-up who’d listen. While this isn’t true, and I would explain the school staff had duties that kept them from “just chatting,” it was real what they felt. I also saw so much of the real stuff being learned during their 20 minutes of interaction and dialog during recess.
It broke my heart to see all these sweet kids so turned off by learning, especially at such an impressionable stage. Then, there was the issue our state assessment test. A group of little friends came up to me and said they just don’t understand the test. When I tried to help steer them along with some studies guides, I remember one asking, “No, why…?” We actually had to call an ambulance for a girl that passed out from the anxiety.
When we withdrew, the staff and teachers were all very supportive and encouraging. They were there doing their jobs, and they loved the kids, but their hands were tied to a lot of what-to-do’s and how-to-do-it’s.
What unique perspective do you feel that you bring to your homeschool, as a dad?
I would have to say a non-offensive, “None.”
I am really adamant that we are all unique, each a parent or caregiver, and being male is 99.9% indifferent to the role. To me, it’s like saying an overweight person teaches differently than a skinny one, or kids of homely educator don’t fair as well as a supermodel’s students.
But in real life, being a SAHD sets my kids up for frequent scrutiny. They both notice others’ bigotry as well as surprise. Sometimes I’m concerned how it will affect them. But the truth is, they’re very accepting individuals. I like that.
How long have you homeschooled and how has homeschooling affected your relationship with your children and your family life in general?
Two years from last Valentines. We’re affected in the same ways as most. I imagine others also notice how the kids can’t get enough of the working parent, and occasionally need a break from the one they’re around all night and day. My wife now makes me take one night off a week. But the bottom line is this, we’re all very involved in each others’ lives. It’s a blessing I fear we would’ve squandered without this chance.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I am grateful to you, Kris. Don’t leave that out. I’ve said it before, there are a handful of special homeschool sites that have made me a much better teacher/parent. This affects my kids, like having a guest lecturer. In many ways it makes me a better spouse as well. So keep up the good work.
I’d also like to leave some encouragement with your readers, to always keep an open eye out for similarities. The more we look for these likeness, the more unified we grow as humans, regardless of gender, race, age, size, status, beliefs, customs or even habits. It will change our world, if we let it.
And, with that last bit of wisdom, which I highlighted above, you see why I so enjoy Mister Taylor’s insight. Too often we get so caught up at looking at what divides us, that we fail to see what unites us. That’s true with homeschoolers as much as it is the general public — school-at-home or unschool, textbooks or library card, dad as the teaching parent or mom. Who cares? We get enough flack from the rest of the world. Let’s look at what we have in common and what we can learn from each other. Let’s support one another as best we can.
Is there something about your homeschool that you often find that others are curious about? Let me know and maybe we can highlight your experiences on Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.