It is no secret that I love homeschooling. That doesn’t, however, make me opposed to traditional schools. One of my major concerns during sixteen years teaching at home was, “Am I causing my children to miss out on Mrs. Richman?”
Mrs. Richman was my fifth-grade teacher. Our class full of easily bored and, hence, mischievous kids adored her. We worked harder in her class than for any other teacher. She introduced us to Shakespeare, setting us passages to memorize that I still remember. We honed our writing skills and in eighth grade I submitted a composition I had written for my fifth-grade class, and received an ‘A’ on it. She loved Greek mythology which, years later, led me to take classes in Greek and Roman classics in college.
I wish I could remember her teaching methods; all I know is that I looked forward to school every day and I credit Mrs. Richman with instilling in me a love of learning. Our class and she partnered so well together that the next year she moved up a grade with us. Since as sixth-graders we now worked under a departmental system, she was only our English language teacher, but that subject remained a favorite.
I have no idea what Mrs. Richman’s politics were, if there was a Mr. Richman and if they had children. I knew little personal data about her. She must have been old because as a fledgling teacher she had taught my father. She was a smoker, something we knew from seeing her on the street as we left the school building. She was a New York Mets’ fan, taking our class to a game one day and making us into diehard Mets’ fans for two years. Other than that, with the self-centeredness of youth, as far as we were concerned her life revolved around us. Mrs. Richman died shortly after school closed the summer after sixth grade, leaving a legacy of stimulated students behind her.
What if, by teaching my own kids at home, I was depriving them of their own Mrs. Richman? I was fortunate to attend a wonderful school for both elementary and high school, and I had many good and very good teachers. There were one or two poor ones, but they were few and far between. As a teaching mother, I felt that I could equal them (sometimes doing the job very well, well or poorly) but not Mrs. Richman.
Over the years I resolved that concern. How I did so remains for another Practical Parenting post.