|HOME SCHOOLING / INTERNATIONAL|
“What am I getting into?”
By Joan Escriu
I’ve been part of the Spanish homeschooling movement for seven years now and wanted to answer a very simple question that all new families never dare to ask, but nevertheless all have: What am I getting into?
|Joan Escriu and daughter|
It’s a legitimate question that can only be answered by the collective as a whole, not by one specific family. There was no book yet written on this topic. All you had in Spanish were the experiences of this or that family or the conclusions of this or that expert, nothing more. That created a sugarcoated version of the homeschooling reality, focusing on the good only and leaving out the raw bits of the unpleasant. We all like good things, but when making a decision of this importance, what we want is all the information, not just the good stuff.
The real answers to “What is it like?” and “What am I getting into?” were all floating around in the air, aired at weekly gatherings and scattered through thousands of conversations. Someone had to document it. There was a need to literally capture the oral history of the movement.Homeschooling in Spain
The cornerstone of homeschooling in Spain, or at least here in Barcelona, is the socialization group. We meet 4 to 6 hours a day, one, two, or three times a week, for years. These are open meetings: you don’t have to be a member of anything, you don’t have to commit to going any number of times, you don’t have to pay. Just find the facebook page, find the place and the time, and go. It’s always in a public place like a park, a beach, or forest—the weather is benevolent here, it helps.
These meetings are almost as important to adults as they are to children, maybe even more so. Homeschooling is not difficult, just hard. We do have a need to talk with friends, laugh, get new ideas, debate … it’s therapeutic. I was already going twice a week, so I took a notebook and started interviewing people. I gathered hundreds of stories on families’ and friends’ reactions, general fears, big mistakes, wise choices and so on.
Then something happened. Right from the moment I became involved in the homeschooling movement, I realized a key bit of information: There is a real need to stop the senseless legal persecution of homeschooling families, and to do that, we need a change in the law. There isn’t anyone, in any office or department or anywhere at all, that is going to work to solve our collective problems in this area. If we want to make this happen, if we want to be able to homeschool like they do in the US, or the UK, or most of Europe, we are going to have to make it happen ourselves, because I assure you, no one else will.
|Nosotros, los homeschoolers: Realidades, mitos y leyendas|
Just by chance, a new Spanish law was being drafted. I volunteered to be a spokesperson for the homeschooling association that I belonged to, the Catalan association. We teamed up with the other big association in Spain, the Spanish one, and together tried to organize and get the article we needed passed. We were just parents with little resources, but we made an impact. They were frenetic months. There were meetings to schedule with important politicians—that task alone is Herculean—technicians to meet, lawyers to consult, experts to hear … there were thousands of decisions to be made, people to inform, reports to gather, translations to make, arguments to defend, meetings to prepare. It was hard, but fantastic. People totally underestimate what they can accomplish when they organize and work together with self-discipline, intelligence, and determination.
We managed to meet all key congressmen face to face and inform them about the most important matters: who we, the homeschoolers, are; who we are not; what the rest of the world has and what we want.
The law didn’t pass as we wanted it to, but we got some legal advantages. Most importantly, now everybody in Congress knows what homeschooling is about and why there is a real need for a legal solution. They will eventually legislate for the good if we keep pushing. We may not have accomplished our final goal yet, but we have surely paved the way for future efforts.
I had to include all these experiences in the book and, for the same reason, I did it with no sugarcoating either. People need to know the reality and, most of all, need to understand that homeschooling is not just about education and socialization, but also about being ever-vigilant of our rights, and that the only way to effectively defend them or stand up for them is together.
Joan Escriu is a homeschool father in Catalonia, Spain and authored the book Nosotros, los homeschoolers about the homeschool movement in Spain. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org and blogs at https://jescriu.wordpress.com/.
| Other Resources|
Learn more by visiting HSLDA’s Spain page.