Father Files: Cengiz
Welcome Cengiz! He is a father of four mashaAllah and teacher by profession. Him and his wife have been homeschooling for about six years now and currently reside in Turkey.
What were your first impressions of homeschooling?
My first encounter with homeschooling was in Teacher’s college when I took a course on Alternative Education. Reading up on the various educational philosophies of authors, such as Paulo Freire, John Taylor Gatto, Ivan Illich, and John Holt, made me much more critical of the traditional school model. As a result, I became much more curious and excited about the possibilities that homeschooling offered me as a parent.
Were there any homeschooling myths that you heard of previously that were eventually debunked when your family began homeschooling?
The homeschooling myths that I came across were many of the same ones that most homeschoolers have probably encountered. One being the lack of socialization that homeschooled children experience, as well as the competition myth, which claims that schools instil a competitive edge that motivates students to thrive in their learning. As someone who has experienced the school system first hand, in both Ontario and Quebec, the socialization that I witnessed had more to do with conformity than anything else, which was further reinforced, in my experience as a high school teacher. Similarly, that so called ‘competitive edge’ that we find in schools seems to have more to do with measuring one’s success via grades than focusing on the pleasures of the learning experience. On the other hand, I have to admit that I was one of those who also had a romanticized notion of what homeschooling was really about, and let’s just say that it is a much messier process than I would have ever imagined!
What is the most challenging part of homeschooling?
My biggest challenge is figuring out my role as a homeschooling father and in what capacity I can complement my wife’s efforts at home. This becomes especially difficult as a teacher by profession, since my work has a tendency to follow me home, which often disrupts my ability to fulfill my commitments to my children. Another homeschooling challenge is that your home no longer becomes a place where both child and parent can relax from the external pressures of work and school, which can engender a feeling of guilt when you do not find yourself actively engaging with your kids.
What is your favourite part of homeschooling?
My favourite part of homeschooling has to be the ability to witness the development of my children in real time as opposed to interpreting it through report cards. The bond that takes place between the mother and children is also something that I feel is important for the family.
Assuming that you work full time, outside of the house, are there things you wish you could do more of but can’t because of time constraints?
Working full time does make it a challenge to provide a supportive environment for my wife so that she can unwind and have some personal time to herself. The role of being both a mother and homeschooler does not offer her the luxuries of the lunch breaks and prep time that I take for granted while at work.
How do you feel you can offer your wife support (assuming she is the primary caretaker of your children)?
The role of the father is critical in any household. No matter how amazing the mother is, a father’s active support and endorsement is essential in reinforcing the mother’s authority as the primary educator in the house. The father’s natural leadership position within the family needs to also manifest in some shape or form. I tend to play various roles in our homeschooling from mainly consultative and administrative, to cheerleading. However, as our children get older, my plan is to have a more active curricular involvement in the homeschooling.
Any advice to dads starting up on the homeschooling journey?
First make sure that your role and responsibilities are clear in the family, and then prepare yourself mentally for organized chaos! Just remember that it will be natural to feel like you are not doing enough, because you probably won’t be and remember to thank Allah that you are not the mom. But all jokes aside, there is indeed a good reason to be grateful to Allah for blessing you with a spouse who is willing to invest her time and energy into what is considered to be one of the biggest amanah from Allah. Another glad tiding that is important to remember when times are tough, is that you have already done a great service to your children and won half the battle just by refraining from sending your kids to a factory school.
What do you wish for your children’s future?
I pray and hope that my children become good Muslims and lifelong learners who are able to put what they learn into practice by making a positive contribution to the world.
What is your favourite (motivational) quote?
“It is surely the case that schooling is only one small part of how a culture inducts the young into its canonical ways. Indeed, schooling may even be at odds with a culture’s other ways of inducting the young into the requirements of communal living… What has become increasingly clear… is that education is not just about conventional school matters like curriculum or standards or testing. What we resolve to do in school only makes sense when considered in the broader context of what the society intends to accomplish through its educational investment in the young. How one conceives of education, we have finally come to recognize, is a function of how one conceives of culture and its aims, professed and otherwise.” (Jerome S. Bruner)