Homeschooling Crusades: An Open Letter to the Romeikes

20 of February 2014

So in the last months I haven’t truly gave you  a full overview of what is going on with my family educational-wise. I feel this is an important aspect of my travels and blog that will hopefully not only benefit families interested in pursuing a similar lifestyle, but also in advocating for what I strongly believe to be the way to learn.

Months prior to our exodus from California, Mum and Papa were researching and delving into the possibilities of homeschooling my five younger siblings. As a content student studying art in a rigorous program at an institution, I thought myself to be exempt from the impending homeschooling because I needed the institution’s influence to launch my art career. The rest of my family viewed homeschooling as a future reprieve that could not come fast enough; an eternal alleviation of cookie-cutter “learning” and liberation into the world of intellect. My sister Kira was in a public middle school that wasn’t anywhere near her academic capabilities and was wrapping her up in typical, pre-teen drama. Teachers were teaching to the masses in an industrialized format, not straining for anything more than what the government required them to teach to students. Kira found that most teachers had lost their luster and taught in a bored, “I don’t want to be here either” manner. Aidan, the oldest boy in our family and athletic phenomena, had transferred to a private Christian academy at the semester because the elementary he was attending with Kalin, who is a grade younger than him, wasn’t teaching him a way that he could learn, lending Aidan to a recess in academic standards. The Christian school was not much better for him. Kalin is a sharp, witty hothead who is volumes above his age in maturity and intellect. He was bored in his third grade class, struggling to dumb his quick mind down to cater to his slower professor. At the time- just a year ago, actually!- our twins Kanon and Delilah were just four and were enrolled in a Christian preschool. I tell you all this to give you a sense of our family dichotomy at the time, because little did we know that was all about to change with the rush of our move to Mexico.

I have elaborated on the move before, so I’ll only spend a second as a recap: the decision to live in Mexico for a year spontaneously appeared in the lives of the six of us kids, was welcomed with all the enthusiasm and excitement in the world, and the actual migration was preceded by a few weeks of packing and pickup of the house, straightening out any loose ends. For five months, my siblings and I attended El Papalote, an incredible community of parents and kids ranging from preschool toddlers to seniors in high school. Although our time there was only somewhat tumultuous and great fun, we weren’t learning anything besides Spanish because of low academic levels. The school had exhausted its purpose for our family as we came to realize that if we were going to make traveling a continuous lifestyle instead of going back to the States, we’d have to actually get an education. This realization that we had to lead a nomadic household fueled the rush of discernment that followed, a perfect example of cause and effect. Cause: we cannot go back to the box of the States and lead “idyllic” lives in the “American dream” after we have experienced the world and the AWESOMENESS of it. Effect: speedy progression into homeschooling, Papa compensating and working one-hundred percent over mobile devices, and Neus, our Spanish tutor, teaching us eight hours a week from the house. We are still deeply involved in the public school community of El Papalote and constantly spending time with friends we made there, but now we are able to travel as we please and not have to worry about the undermining of education, the discrepancies and unimpressive level of studies, and the poor teaching attuned to a drone of the masses. My family is learning in a way that is suited to our own strengths and weaknesses, growing to love erudition, and cultivating our out-of-the-box mindsets.

I am a major proponent for the classical education, which is a style of homeschool education that encompasses the trivium: grammar, dialectic, and rhetoric stages. Mum explored many options and theories for a couple years prior to our extradition into home studies and it eventually came down to two books: The Core by Leigh A. Bortens and The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer and Jesse Wise; and one goal: to instill in my siblings and I a comprehensive knowledge of the world and academic studies to give us the tools to be successful, revolutionary, competent, and happy in life. We aren’t learning fragmented, out of order events about Christopher Columbus at a shallow level, the only explorer that history teachers can seem to have their pupils remember. Instead I’m watching my five year old sister pump out a list of the major groups of invertebrates as if she was naming her favorite colors (sponges, stinging-cell animals, round worms, flat worms, segmented worms, mollusks, sea stars, and arthropods) and explaining the fall of the Roman Empire (The Roman Empire fought the Punic Wars, which were followed by the Pax Romana. In 286 AD, the empire split into western and eastern empires until Germanic barbarians invaded the western empire in 476 AD.) At five, Delilah is receiving a comprehensive knowledge of the contents of history that she can spurt out at the drop of a pin; we all are sucking up this gift of a knowledge. Seven wonders of the ancient world? No problem. List of the fifty prepositions in the English language? Let me tell you. And the best part is watching this all happen in English, then walking outside and our world is instantly in Spanish. I cannot imagine a route to a brighter future because for the first time in our lives, we are truly learning.

What people fail to grasp- or they ignore the fact- is that the government controls what is being said, taught, and expressed in public schools. In any school, really. Governments want to raise a complacent nation, easily manipulated, and abound with national pride. They value these fundamentals above fostering the intellect of a nation, because knowledge is power. Did you know that a popular TED Talk about food was banned by the American government because it was too revealing of the truth about food? There is hundreds of stories like the TED Talk, information being concealed, twisted, and put down quietly by the controlling forces of government. Education is just a piece of the crusade and fight for learning, yet it is the basis of this internal war. We can look at the Romeikes’ case from the political puzzle piece and know that the Obama Administration wants the family out of the country and declines a response to the submitted petition to keep them in North America because: a, they want to stay on good terms with Germany; and b, if the Romeikes aren’t granted asylum, the government can slowly begin to pick away at Americans’ freedom to educate their own children. Why does the government want the freedom of home education revoked? The simple answer is that knowledge is power, and without the government’s assured hold on what kids are learning, when they are learning it, and what they are being taught to accept, feel, and value through culture and school, the major part of their growing years, it has no control over the country it rules.

I am a big advocate for the Romeike family and am in awe at the lengths they’ve gone to educate their kids in a way that has not only been natural since the beginnings of time, but also has a modern revival to- hopefully- eventually lead to the upheaval of the corrupt public education system. A day away from the potential hearing of the case, I have knots in my stomach and a buzzing in my head. What I am witnessing from my beachside flat in central Playa Del Carmen is life changing for not only my family, but families all over the world. If the Romeikes’ are sent back to Germany, their family will be disbanded unless they bend to unjust laws of their home country. If they are granted asylum in America, their family will continue to educate and raise happy, successful, and intellectual additions to the world. It will mean that homeschooling can continue to thrive as it should and that homeschoolers across the globe can find inspiration and refuge in a lifestyle that changes people for the better. To raise a classically taught generation is the equivalent of sending out Einsteins, Kahlos, da Vincis, and hundreds of other world shakers that will advance the world in a way that reclusion, close-minded education, and minimalistic theories to maintain power as a ruling class never could.The uncanny similarities my family shares with the Romeikes, a Christian family of eight like us, with three boys and three girls (exactly like my family), really brings into focus the fact that my family could be experiencing the same circumstances.We are praying for you, Romeikes.

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