When we were first starting out as homeschoolers, I googled “Asian-American homeschoolers” and “Asian-American unschoolers” and came up with very little to nothing. So I proceeded to make it up as I went along. Sometimes I was Waldorf-y, other times I leaned towards project-based-learning. There were a few periods where we unschooled. I owed much of my learning to many of the homeschool blogs out there over the years.
A couple years back, when we were traveling and worldschooling in Southeast Asia I tried googling again and reported back:
The topic of homeschooling is far too weighty a topic to discuss casually—and I find it even more challenging to address the issues around being an Asian-American family that homeschools (try Googling it, the interwebs is very thin in that department). I’ll save that for another day.
Although I live in a very homeschool-friendly community–and fortunate enough to do so in a time of vast resources thanks to the internet–I have still found it a bit lonely when it comes to dealing with some of the specific challenges of being an Asian-American homeschooling mom.
Along my journey, many questions have come, for example: How do you parent gently and respectfully when you didn’t experience that growing up? How do you deal with critical family members and academic pressure when you are homeschooling? Those seem general enough that I can google it, right? But the devil is in the details.
Some of the differences lie in the magnitude. When I discuss issues with mom friends (I live in Maine, where it is very white), they may have had demanding or critical parents, but somehow that felt different than the trauma and collective weight of four thousand years of patriarchy, control, and violence on my shoulders. One of my friends might say, “Yeah, I grew up in the suburbs with lots of academic pressure.” But upon further investigation, yes, they had academic pressure. But they were still allowed to do sports, participate in school plays, go to school dances, have sleepovers, or date. That was a vastly different context than what I experienced.
And then there are questions are specific to bi-cultural parents. How do you navigate two cultural systems that often are in conflict with one another? How do you respect your native culture’s values while choosing your own path. How do you deal with some of the inherent sexism in your native culture (in our case, Chinese)? Should I deal with this particular situation in the American way or the Chinese way? I How should we deal with racism as a minority and as parents, and how do we talk about these issues with my children?
This is all to say that it can be lonely to grapple with these questions. I don’t have any answers, and I hope you weren’t looking for any here! Often Tig and I muddle through and try to do our best.
Over the last few years, I’ve found a few Asian-American homeschool blogs that are focused on bilingual education like Chalk Academy or Mandarin Mama. But what I’m really craving are Asian-American blogs about gentle parenting, life-learning (boat-schooling, roadschooling, worldschooling!), relaxed homeschooling/unschooling, and preferably secular.
More recently, I’ve stumbled across the Untigering website by Iris Chen. As an American Born Chinese, she is working through her own journey of “detoxing from being tiger parented” and “from being a tiger parent.” She has been interviewed on the Exploring Unschooling podcast, and hosts her own Facebook group called Untigering Parents to discuss these issues. It has been incredibly healing to participate and add my own voice to the conversation. I’ve also enjoyed having the term “untigering” to describe my own deschooling process.
Perhaps, as homeschooling becomes more accepted in the Asian-American community and more voices come to the table, future generations of homeschooling parents will not feel as lonely.