My Story: My Education

I want this to be a place where people can really get to know me and I them. I don’t want to be an impersonal blogger who’s writing is disconnected from her real life and story. So, I’ve started this little series called my story to help you get to know me better. Today’s segment I want to tell you about my education, but I don’t want this to end up sounding like a resume. I’ll try – we’ll see how it goes.

My memories of elementary school include things like a field trip to make bagels at a bakery, and going to see Plymouth Rock and walking on a recreation of the May Flower, following deer tracks through the forest, copying scripture, painting a world globe on a pumpkin, doing math problems with my dad in the kitchen, and reading tons of books, but especially Lewis, Tolkien and George MacDonald. Yes, you guessed it. I was homeschooled. And I loved it. Well, that is I loved it until I hated it...and then loved it again.

I loved homeschooling when we were doing it, but when I started going to school again in six grade I found the transition incredibly difficult. It was a private Christian school and they were pretty adapt at working with homeschooling families. But, it was still hard for me. I’m naturally very introverted anyway and the transition from learning in a free atmosphere with close family and occasionally close friends who also homeschooled to being in a big school setting with lots of people I didn’t know – well, it was a bit of a shock to my system. I withdrew a lot and sort of hid into myself for most of that first year. Eventually a few other girls really drew me out and befriended me and before I knew it I was doing great and loving school once again. But, throughout most of junior high and early high school there was a part of me that resented my parents for homeschooling.

I felt like they had put me at a disadvantage socially and like it was their fault that I had such a difficult time transitioning into a social school setting. I resented the fact that it was easier for me to socialize with people twice my age then it was to socialize with my peers. I think there have even been times in my life when I have used the fact that I was homeschooled as an excuse for my own fears and insecurities when it came to meeting new people. Thankfully, I eventually realized that my difficulties meeting new people weren’t my parents fault or the fault of homeschooling. My parents had given my siblings and I lots of opportunities to socialize and in homeschooling us they had give us other gifts that were invaluable for our development and overall success in life.

Now that I’m older (and hopefully more mature) I love the fact that I was homeschooled. I love that the schooling I received was truly unique for my needs. I love the fact that the schooling I received instilled in me so many of my current values. I love that it enabled me to see so much and experience so much from a very young age. In fact, when the time comes to put my son in school I will seriously consider homeschooling him because overall I have such positive feelings toward my own experience. I am so grateful now that my parents homeschooled me and I know now as a parent myself the sacrifice that it involved for them.

I’m also thankful that they put me into a Christian school for junior high and High School. Once I settled in I had an amazing experience there. Especially by the time High School came around, I felt like I fit in there. I had close friends, and knew everyone in my class. I was involved in nearly everything. I felt like I had a place and a purpose there and I loved that feeling. I had a very positive high school experience and I’m so grateful for the education I had.

But, I did go to a private Christian school, and as anyone who has been through that can tell you, there are definitely some negatives associated with Christian schooling. I lived in a bubble for high school – it was a bubble I loved, but it was a bubble that would inevitably be broken and I for one did not take the braking very well.

When I graduated high school my parents had only one requirement: I had to go out of state for college and I had to live on-campus. Going away and living on campus was something they never really experienced and I think they thought it would be really important for my siblings and I. In some ways they were right, going away was incredible significant for me, but it was also one of the most difficult things I’ve ever been through.

I went to a university where I didn’t know anyone and suddenly I felt like I was in six grade all over again. That first year in college really shook me. It shook my faith, my health, and pretty much everything I believed about the world and my place in this world. Now I am so grateful that I went through it, but at the time it felt like a long nightmare.

After the first year I moved home and changed schools. After that I went to three different universities and took classes at three different community colleges. I changed majors three times – from Theatre to Education to my final major of History. I think in some ways during that time I was searching for some place to belong, some place where I fit, a community I could call home. I never really found it in school again, like I had in high school.

In the end I finished my bachelors degree in four years with an above average GPA and I was so glad to be done with it. I felt completely relieved to be finished with school, which I had started to hate by the end (28 credits a semester might have contributed to that).

Sometimes I wonder what it was all for. All the stress, all the rush to finish, all the money spent. For what? So, that I could get married, run off to Europe, have a child and do work that in no way utilizes or requires the degree that I received. Other days I’m grateful for the experiences that pressing through allowed me to have. I’m proud of the fact that I’m the only one in my immediate family with a college degree. And I’m thankful for the experience getting a degree gave me. My dad used to tell me that getting a degree wasn’t so much about the information you learned or what degree you got as it was about the process and how that process shaped you. Now I know he was right.

So, what is your education story? If you were homeschooled how do you feel about that now? If you have a college degree do you use it? Are you glad that you have it even if you don’t use it?

Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman