S2 Ep35: You Got This Homeschool Thing! A conversation on the success of homeschooling and empowering families to teach their children without institutional barriers and limitations.
8:41PM Apr 26, 2022
Shelli Ann Garland
Hello and welcome to A Dash of SaLT. I'm Dr. Shelli Ann, and I'm so glad you're here. Whether you stumbled upon this podcast by accident, or you're here because the subject drew you in welcome. SaLT is an acronym for society and learning today. This podcast was created as an outlet for inviting fresh discussions on sociology and learning theories that impact your world. Each episode includes a wide range of themes that focus on society in everyday learning, whether formal or informal, so let's get stuck in shall we.
Welcome to A Dash of SaLT. Today I'm joined by Carline Crevecoeur. Carline is a Haitian American born Certified Obstetrician and gynaecologist raised in Brooklyn, New York. She attended Brooklyn Technical High School and later St. John's University, earning a bachelor's degree in chemistry. After 20 years of medical service in New York and in Pennsylvania, Carline gave up her career to raise and homeschool her five African American children. Carline has volunteered on education boards and sponsored public health programmes. She's the first black woman elected for a seat on the SCA ISD school board. Carline has written a beautiful little memoir called pressure makes diamonds, and we're going to talk a little bit about that today. So I'm delighted to have you on the podcast today to talk to you about why you decided to leave your profession to homeschool your children, and your experiences of learning for yourself along the way. Welcome, Carline.
Thank you so much. I love that introduction.
Well, I want to get started right away by asking you to tell us a little bit about your backstory. And you know, if you would expand on some of what I shared just in that brief bio,
okay. Haitian American is correct. I left my country though, when I was two years old, and I came to this country and I settled in Brooklyn, New York, like you mentioned, when I was five. So during those three years, my dad and my mom and I, the three of us, we travelled, because my father got scholarships to different. He was a mathematician and a lawyer and ad. And so he got scholarships to different universities throughout the world. We lived in Africa for a year, we lived in France for a year. And finally, we settled in the United States. And that was in the 60s when there was a lot of turbulence in Haiti. And so our family left Haiti. And unfortunately, that was the great brain drain around that time. And so I came with my parents first. And then my five siblings came later. And then my grandmother came. And with immigrants, that's kind of trajectory, I guess. Because, you know, the father comes first and settles down and decides where he's going to raise his family. And then the wife and the children comes later. And so basically, that was what happened in our family. So most of my life, I grew up in New York, Brooklyn at first, and then Queens and then back to Brooklyn when I went to medical school. And then we my husband and I were both physician. And we decided to leave New York. We were both New Yorkers long lived in New York as I thought I would never leave New York for good. We were just young and happy and married no kids. And we both got really wonderful job offers in Pennsylvania and Central Pennsylvania. So we figured why not? We'll just stay a couple of years. And then we'll keep moving. We were thinking about Maryland at one point, because we both have families there. And so five years later in Pennsylvania, we have five kids. We had them one after the other. And so we ended up living in central Pennsylvania for the last, you know, 20 years or so. The first but we lived in different counties. The first one was in Altoona, and then we moved to State College like the book said, but they're both considered Central Pennsylvania. They're about 45 minutes from each other. And then we raised our kids and we've been living here since.
So five little kids under five.
That must have been a whirlwind of activity for you from the moment the first one came really getting all the way getting through them through college. I'm sure
it was but I cheated with my last pregnancy because I have twins. I've always wanted five because of my family and my husband comes from a family of five So we had always talked about having five children. But after he had his boy, his girl, he says, No way, we're done at two. And I said, No, you promise five, and then we settled for four, and then I got twins at the end. So that's how we ended up having you got what you wanted, didn't you?
I think that's great. Um, and we're going to talk a little bit more about your kids individually a little bit later on down the line here, but I read your lovely little memoir. And it's called pressure makes diamonds from homeschooling to the Ivy League, a parenting story. And it reads almost as a personal sort of field guide for successful homeschooling parents, at least that's how I felt when I was reading it. I love the little nuggets of wisdom in there, but it just really feels like this sort of, you know, Crash Course and field guide? And how do you handle these, this type of situation on through your, your eyes? And through your story? Why did you write why did you decide to write the book and you know, who was your perceived audience?
Okay, well, I decided to write the book. And that wasn't a book that I had in mind to write, because of the fact that my kids went, ended up going to the Ivy League, all five of them, I was told, Oh, my God, you have to write a book about this. And so when I sat down to write the book, I didn't want to become too presumptuous about what I did was so perfect, you know, I have the secret, you know, because that's not what I really wanted to convey, I really wanted to end up telling our story. And I, I included all these nuggets of details, like you said, because whatever somebody could glean out of our experience, I would like them to use it. But I also wanted to let them know that it was my journey with my kids. And that's important, because all of my five children was so different. And you have to really keep that in mind. What worked for my kids may not necessarily work for yours. And especially not at that moment. Like even with Danielle and Michael, they were my two oldest. And what I did with Danielle Mikey was just not into that. And I had to find out what worked best for him. And so there are some things of course, general things like maybe puzzles and mind games, I love doing that with the kids. And I think it helps a lot of kids with their creativity with how they approach problems. I think that's universal. But when to introduce that to different kids, that's, you know, that's questionable, based on your child. So this is why I kind of added at the end like a parenting story to like, people realise that it is the story that I'm saying about my kids.
Yeah, and I absolutely love that. Because, you know, each child is individual and each child learns differently, and at their own, you know, stages and ages, everybody is different, you can't have that expectation that, you know, every child that's, you know, ready for, you know, the, like first grade or second grade necessarily is ready for first grade or second grade. And in that same, you know, capacity. So, what made you decide to leave your practice, so a lot of a lot of parents and and especially mothers, especially in this day and age, figure out a way or sometimes try to figure out a way to to balance career and, and in schooling their children or career and raising their children. Because they don't maybe don't want to let that that piece of their profession go or that part of their identity go as you know, as a professional, but what made you decide to actually leave your practice as an OBGYN, and homeschool your children? And in when did you actually start to just start at the very beginning when the first one was of age?
No, that is actually going back to a previous question that you've asked me about my target audience. And in writing my book, when I sat down to do it, I was thinking of who is my target audience who am I talking to? Who do I think will glean anything from my book or will like it or could relate to it? And and of course, it was homeschoolers, and especially black homeschool is that was something that was not done. And now recently, I was on a panel with black homeschoolers. And we could talk about that later. It was about immigrants because I feel like sometimes immigrants are not looked upon in the best of ways. And I think even immigrants themselves, being in a new country feeling if you'll be accepted, and when we first moved to this country, we were not accepted, especially in Brooklyn, and I talk about that briefly. And so I wanted to let immigrants know that they could succeed in their adopted home. Anyone can really do this. There's going to be hurdles. I don't want to make it Seems like it's easy. No, it's not easy, there is racism, there is a lot of hurdles to have to navigate through. But it could be done. And so I think I was trying to reach about to immigrants, or black Americans, the fact that sometimes we're not seen as intelligent in STEM, and computers in, in, in piano playing and music, except like hip hop, maybe, you know, or basketball in sports, and my kids were swimmers. And so we did not fit that mould. And that's okay. This shouldn't be a mould for one, particularly group of person, people. And parents, I feel like every parents could relate to a book like this, because it deals with children, cancer patients, because unfortunately, I had to go through that. And I think we built a community of our own. Having gone through it, I could relate more to everything cancer related. And now going back to this previous question, this question that you just asked me, Is, women, and I felt that sometimes things are changing for us. But I think growing up especially in the 90s, early 90s, we were told that we could do everything. We could be doctors, we could bring home, the bacon, we can place the children, we could do all that. And I when I was by myself in central Pennsylvania, my husband and I were two professionals raising five children, I realised that I couldn't, it was impossible. When I was taking care of my patients, I was thinking about my kids, I have to go pick up my kids, some, if I get a phone call, one of my kids is sick, I have to stop what I'm doing. I have to tell my patients I'm sorry, I have to leave. When I'm with my kids. I'm thinking about my patients that I did this that I did that why could be causing this problem that she's having we pet we repeatedly we tried a lot of different things. I just felt that my world I was trying to separate my world into my professional life and my mothering life, and it was just hard. And so when my two oldest didn't want to go to school anymore, and then my middle child got injured by the babysitter because that was another nightmare that we had to go through that a lot of parents are understanding how important babysitters are qualified daycare is, especially with a pandemic. That was the last last straw and I had to quit my job. And it wasn't something that I wanted to do. I went screaming and kicking in every possible way. And, and I did it and I it was one of the best things that I've ever done. One of the interviewers I spoke to recently told me that how she admires me because she had the same problem with me. But then she ended up putting her kids in private school, but I just took out my kids. And I didn't want all of that adulation, because I didn't think I deserved it. Because there was no private school in the area that I was in, maybe I would have done it. If I had alternatives. I really didn't have alternatives. I looked at different alternatives. And I tried, but there weren't any. And at the end of the day, I said, Okay, you know why I wanted to have these five kids, they're my responsibility, I'll put my job my professional whole, I always thought I would go back. But I didn't. And, and that was the reason I did it. And again, like I said, it was one of the best things that I could have ever done. I enjoyed it, I loved it.
And, you know, one of the things that you said, just made me think of that idea of you know, sometimes it comes to the point where you either pick your passion or your passion picks you. And and but the great thing about I think all stages of the life course are life course is that it is fluid, and it changes and something that you may be, may not have been so passionate about in the beginning, or, you know, let's say you weren't passionate about your job, and you just felt more impassioned about, you know, homeschooling your children at that time. And then you get to a point when your kids are older and you decide, well, you know, they're a little bit more independent, they can learn more on their own. Maybe I'll go back to work, you know, and that passion may read resurface, you know, for going back into the medical field and practising medicine. But I think that's one thing that's really important for people to realise is that, you know, things change in our life stages and in along our life course. And, you know, you know, sometimes like I said, we either pick our passion or passion picks us and you get involved in something. And then all of a sudden you realise Well, this is real, this is really important. And I want to pursue this a little bit more specifically, and we're going to talk a little bit about that and your story and just a bit about getting onto a school board after being a homeschool mom. So, um, but you did touch on one of the questions that I was going to ask you about do you think that you will go back? You did say, you know, you haven't gone back yet. And all of your kids are out of college now. Is that right?
But my my youngest is graduating this year.
Yeah. So, you know, do you think that that shift might happen for you or
no. And unfortunately, it has to do with my illness. Because after chemo, I had a lot of neuropathy, I still have it in my fingers and toes, and I would be doing a disservice to women. That's who I see my patients. If I wasn't feeling I was 100%. Myself. One of the things that I really pride myself in was thorough examination, especially breast exam. And I worked in a breast clinic in New York for a while, and I got really, really good at really feeling any kind of nodules. And so I really always took my time doing that. And I would always teach my patients how to examine themselves, how to examine their breasts. And with my neuropathy, that would definitely be a hinderance. And then, of course, with the surgical tech, you know, there's so many things that have changed in surgical field and, and obstetrician, you know, in OB GYN, so because of those reasons, I It's, it would be hard to really hard to go back.
And I know, one of the other things that your book touches on is the, you know, the struggles that you went through with your littles when you know when each of them in their own way, with their learning processes. And now I will I do want to say that, you know, all of your children were incredibly high achievers, and they have gone on to Ivy League colleges. And, you know, even with those struggles, what do you attribute attribute their success to mostly? And and tell us a little bit about some of those moments of doubt that you had?
Okay. In the beginning, I felt that wait a minute, I'm not achieved yet. Why am I even doing this? Could I even do it? And I think that a lot of times we will we talk ourselves out of things that we don't even give ourselves a chance to experience and there's nothing wrong, I think in trying something and realise, okay, you know what I wasn't cut out for this, let's go, let's take another path. Nothing is written in stone that once you start down this road, you have to continue it. But don't give up without even trying. And this is what we try to tell our kids. And yet, we have all these self doubts. And I always tell my kids that, you know, they were in so many competitions. And I always told her I am so proud of you for even trying how many people are sitting in their chair now and thinking, Oh, I could be a podcaster I think I can be a good interviewer. But they're afraid to taking that first step. And, and then always having regrets in your life. What if I did this could things have been different. And I think regret regrets are so useless. Because it doesn't accomplish anything I would have liked to try and fail than not try at all, because at least you gave it your best shot. And even if you fail something now, you realise that maybe it's the way you approached it. And you always learn something through that journey. And it's not something that you're going to use in this specific time. But you'll come back and you'll realise Wow, and I learned this because of the fact that I homeschool my kids or that I ran for school board or there's always something to learn even in your failures. And I would say maybe because of your failures that you learn so much from and I I think that one should never stop learning. Because what else is there to to, you know, if you don't push yourself, challenge yourself, learn new things, read new books, meet new people. All of that is a different part of learning, but it's still learning than the same. And so when people told me how do you what if you run out of money to teach your kids thinking that's impossible will we'll learn Russian we'll learn. There's so many things out there to learn. I don't think that you could ever run out of material you run out of creativity maybe or you run out of you know, your own self doubts maybe, but you just so many things to learn. And so, so yeah, it was a journey going through this with my kids. Their success, I think is that they grew up in a very stable, loving, safe environment. And I think that this one is for trial, because they're not afraid to ask questions. They're not afraid to let their curiosity lead them. I encourage finding information or their curiosity. There was this one experiment that I did with all of them are Of course, it was mostly good to my oldest to she Danielle, she was maybe around maybe eight, seven and then the rest for like a year apart. And we did this plan area study plenty of years of flatworms that have ability to regenerate. And so we wanted to, we cut the flat arms, like in three pieces, they're tiny, and they regroup, they regenerate, they regenerate almost their whole body, they made new heads. And the kids were like, Mom, what if we were able to do that? And I said, Well, think about some areas in your body that you could do that. And they said, What about our teeth? I'll take regenerate. I said, Well, only twice. But then we learn about other animals like sharks that can't keep regenerating their T because it's so important. And then one of my other kids said something about Mom, do they feel pain? I said, Well, why don't we study the nervous system and see about their nervous system. And so from that regeneration experiment, there were so many other avenues that we were able to bounce off from. And it wasn't me leading the discussion, it was their questions, and with their questions. And when kids ask questions, they are more eager to find out the answers. And so sometimes I didn't know the answer. And I said, Let's go look it up and they will shock Mom, you don't know the answer. Like they look up to me. Of course, you know, the answer is I said, No, I don't. But we can look it up together. And once they realise that mom doesn't know everything, which is a bad moment. But still, it's a good moment, because now they feel empowered, that they could teach themselves, they could lead that education, they could learn information on their own, and we'll discuss that. So a lot of times when I assigned them projects to do, they went way beyond what I had expected. They incorporate so many different avenues in it, that once you let kids go, it's amazing that things they could do, there's a lot of different types of homeschool is from homeschool is to unschoolers. And I feel like I'm in the middle. I'm not an unschooling because I do have certain structure. But within those structures, I let them do what they want. But I do set guidelines, I do say we're going to study chemistry, or we're gonna do physics, or we're going to do biology. But within that, within those units, they could take it wherever they want to go. And I feel like I I like to have the best of both worlds.
First of all, I do want to say that the very last line of my thesis, my PhD thesis, is learning is lifelong never stop. It's the very last sentence, in my, in my thesis that I that I wrote, when I did my PhD, and when you I just got so excited when you started talking about the fact that, you know, learning is lifelong, and we should always all of us are always learning, you know, every day just listening to a podcast, you can learn so much from conversations that that other people are having about their experiences, and opportunities and things that they've gone through and that kind of thing. And, you know, one of the things that I was just starting to say there was, you know, as someone who has studied education, the sociology of education, I have found that there are many types of teaching approaches that really work. And there's a lot of scholars and experts in these certain areas that are really trying to get teachers, especially old school ways of thinking in the public, and sometimes private institution areas to stop having the teacher be that sage on the stage or that, you know, person in the front of the room, and allowing the teacher to explore in that learning along, you know, more of that child centred approach. And that's one of the things that popped into my head right away, when you were talking about what you do is, you know, you really took a child centred approach and let your child be, you know, interested and let their questions lead where they go next in their learning process and your learning rate and you you're confident in letting them know I'm learning right along with you. You know, mom may have, you know, been a highly educated person. And yeah, there's a lot of things that I know, but I don't know this, and I want to learn it with you. And I think that's really, really, you know, exciting. And I know you also use a lot of active teaching approaches as well in your, your homeschool classroom with your kids. What, which approach is there one specific approach that you found most successful for you? Or was it a variety of approaches that you used in teaching? And, you know, what did you use and why?
Yeah, I use the villa a variety because you just never know which ones that the kids are going to I really clicked with. And so I always did what I also like when I was growing up the things that I like, and I and I feel like that's so important when you decide to homeschool your kids, look at the courses that inspired you and why. And then pick up from that. And it may be different from your kids, but at least you have a starting point, and the causes that you didn't like, why? And one of the things I know in school geography, I was never really good at geography never really interest me. And I had to find out why. And I said, Okay, I'm going to make geography much more interactive with my kids, because I'm going to have to teach them that. So I found a ways we did map drawings we did. Physical map we did using killer conflicts, like the mountains, the Rocky Mountains, Appalachians, we use straws for the lakes and rivers, I really wanted them to get engaged with it, it's a project. But at the same time, when we travel, also, we would talk about where we're going. And I would ask these kids now that we have GPS for everything, but the kids were responsible of mapping out where we're going, which I think it's such a critical skill to teach them, you know. And so the interactive approach is very good. I, you know, I like that. And now, of course, we'll talk about the school board method, you know, being on the school district, I feel that some of these approaches are so much harder to do with 30 kids. And then you have a curriculum to finish. And so occasionally, when Danielle discovered multiplication on her own, and she thought it was so fantastic, I found out I know the key like she invented it, I really wanted all my kids to kind of discover multiplication of cover these new theorems in math that they think they're the ones that discovered it. But it got harder, I got even a little bit more structured as they got older. Because then we had SATs we had, we have all these other things to study and prepare for. So some of my most creative years were when they were younger. And I'm glad I did at least that because their creativity did continue until they got older. But the like the approaches to solving problems was was so ingenious. And it started from very young age. But my structure, my creativity, I think became limited as they got older, because there are things there curriculums that we had to finish as AP exams to prepare. And so that part of my teaching, I was not happy with it. But it was a necessary evil, because we had to get a little bit more structured. And I feel like in schools, we criticise schools a lot. But schools have to report to parents, they have to have report cards, they have to say, What are you teaching my kids, when my kids were younger, we never had exams, we never had report cards because I knew what they knew. And I knew what they didn't understand. And I didn't have to report to anyone, but because of the schools and you have to be poor to teach, you know, to parents, I think it's so much different to allow the creative process to, to lead itself, because we have a certain number of days in school. And so that because I've always thought about that, how, and we we are doing we are changing a lot of curriculum to make it more child based curiosity learning. But even within that it has to be limited, but at least as an acknowledgement I feel that's going on to a lot of school.
Yeah, absolutely. And I think that, you know, one of the things you talked about is when you know, when you really did those really creative approaches and those active learning approaches, when they were young, younger, you were really helping your children to learn, you know, to learn by doing to learn by experiencing, and to really hone their their own analytic their self analysis and their own analytical skills. And then when it comes time to, you know, sort of put their nose in a book per se, and, you know, really kind of learn what they needed to learn to pass those important exams that would get them into college and university. They had that critical ability, through that active learning to be able to say, Okay, wait a second, I need to take this structure, I need to look at it a little different. But I I realised that this is still learning for me. And though it may be a little bit more of that traditional sort of old school way of learning, you know, they have that ability because you've taught them through that creative process early on.
Right? And a lot of times parents don't think or teachers maybe when you're teaching them One thing, you're really preparing them from something else. Because I was playing chess with my oldest, Danielle, she taught herself how to play chess at six years old. It was just amazing, just by watching. And recently, when I was trying to teach my nephew who's sick, and he's really smart, he got bored with it. And he was getting confused. And he didn't want to do it. And then I realised I never really taught my kids chess. She watched me play with my husband and wanted to see what are they doing. Her Curiosity made her want to learn. And then when I started playing with her, all the others, that's how they learned, I never sat down to teach them. This is the night this is how the night moves. Because kids don't like planning like that. Sometimes it turns them off. And so when I started playing chess with Mikey, my second oldest, one of the reason for him, it was important to play chess with him, because he was making a lot of math mistakes. He was forgetting to cross out to cabbie, he was just going through it so fast, that he didn't stop to correct his work and check his work and go through the process. And so when we started playing chess, and he would move his his queen in a position that I could take his queen, and I would say things like, Do you really want to make that move? See, this is what's happening. When you do map, you go too fast, and you lose, and you could lose your queen right now. And losing his kwena. Everybody knows that the game is almost over, it suddenly clicks, like, I am moving too fast, I need to think I need to look at the whole board, I need to look at different moves. And his math improve. And I don't if there was this theory is about math, piano and chess, how, you know, they help that analytical thinking, and one helps the other. But I also think that it helped him plan his move, it helped him not be too impulsive. And he started doing so much better in math, once we started playing chess, and his chess improved also.
In your memoir, in 2008, as part of your you had made this decision that as part of your civics class with your children, you'd signed them up along with yourself to volunteer for the Obama campaign. And tell us what made you decide to do this for civics? And you know, what was the experience like for you and your children?
Because at that time, I don't think I ever really thought about civics class until the big, you know, controversy with the first black president and then the first woman president, they were running against each other. And it just presented itself as a good opportunity to teach them about civics to teach them about election and get involved in the campaign. And so the kids were pretty excited about that. At the time, Michael was now an independent, but at the time, he was a Republican, I was a Democrat. And I felt that was perfect, because he could give his viewpoint on why he believes some of the things that he does, and I would give my viewpoint and let the kids figure it out themselves. And, you know, a lot of people think that when you homeschool your kids, you instil all of your own values in them and, and in a way you do things that are important to you. But you also have to let them know, that mom may be wrong, maybe that's right, maybe being a rebel, like you can still make up your own mind what presenting you these different options. But then you could come with a third option, like you're not a carbon copy of me. That's how people learn. And so yes, maybe the kids will say, okay, yeah, Mom, I see your point, or the SLC ICU says this point, and maybe I'll change my mind. That's okay. There's, there's nothing that you should be afraid of speaking to your kids about, about the world about what's happening, something's I think you couldn't wait until they get older. Because I don't think every conversation is appropriate at every age. But I think that they need to know what's happening in the world, because it is their world. And they are going to go out there. And they, they need to know how to live in that world, how to relate to that world, how to ask the proper questions in that world. And I think that parents are the first teachers of their child, children. And if they can't ask you the questions, who are they going to ask the questions to?
And that's the thing is, as parents, it starts, right it starts in the home because children's learning always starts at home before they ever even set foot into any type of formal schooling capacity. And I think what you've said is really important because You know, we are responsible for either teaching our children to be closed minded, or open minded, you know, debate can be very is very healthy. As long as as long as those who are debating can both be open minded about the other side's position. And I think what happens a lot as we see many times in the public and in television and in politics, and you know, everything else out social media, where you have some open minded people who are wanting to have a healthy conversation, discussion, debate about a subject an issue, and then they then there's the closed minded people who get in there, and they start taking it personally. And that's when, you know, bashing occurs, and you know, terrible things that are said about people, it becomes really personal. And it's, it's really disappointing. And I think that if people could start realising that having an open mind, you can still have your own opinion, your own position, but still have the respect for somebody else's opinion and dissent and position on certain matters. And not always expect that a debate isn't about specifically trying to change somebody else's mind. It's a, it's about giving them the information that they need to make that informed decision on whether they want to change their mind or not,
right. And I feel like everybody now is set in their camps that even if some part of it doesn't make sense, but they have to, they have to swallow the whole thing, because that's who their camp is. That's who they're with. Now. It's a sort of identity. And so you have to, you have to obey or believe everything from that camp. And it's not true, you know, there's some good things and bad things in every, in every little camp, that's, that's around. And now, you feel that, even if you want to change your mind, you can't, because that's gonna seem as American negative, like, you're not allowed to change your mind and are allowed to grow and, and learn. And I, that's, that's wrong, but I think it's done on purpose. I think our politics has become terribly because of it. You know, the headline will say such and such change their mind, you know, like, they're, they're flip flopping and you don't want to be seen as a flip flopper. So you got to stand your ground, even if it doesn't make sense.
Yeah. And that's really disappointing. It really is disappointing. You know, we should have the ability to change our mind and give our informed reasons as to why we changed our mind. And people should respect that and just doesn't happen. So
I feel that I believe in debates, because I think it's a win win. If I'm wrong, I've learned something. If I'm not wrong, you learn something. Either way we're learning and we're coming together. And it shouldn't be a fight. It should be where we exchange ideas, and maybe I was using faulty research. And I wasn't I didn't understand the conclusion direct, you know, completely. And you enlighten me, you helped me find it, or I did it for you. Either way. It's a win win, and then we move forward. So if you're debating in good faith, like you said, then you see it as nothing wrong with that you see it as something positive. If you're debating in bad faith, just to score points, and purposely changing what the other person is saying to score points, then it's not. It's not a real debate.
Absolutely. So what is we're going to move on here to your experiences as school bar, a school board volunteer, an elected school board official. But the last question I want to ask you about the homeschooling bit specifically is, you know, what would you say is the most significant thing that you've learned as a homeschooling mom?
I think not to be afraid to try new things with your kids. And because some of the things that I ended up doing with them are wonderful. And I would not think of myself, if you had asked me maybe 20 years ago, to describe myself, I would not put creativity down at all, I felt I was a plan I was structured I was, this is what I had to do. And this is how I'm going to do it. And my kids just change that. I had to learn how to reach them on their level. I had to learn how to be creative, and I enjoyed it. I had to figure out how to get them from point A to point B, how, you know, different pathways to take. I liked that about me, you know, and I think that in using that for them. I use it now a lot when I'm talking to people trying to get them to see my point of view using different metaphors and using different things that I think it was only through homeschooling. that I realised this part of myself. And so you have so many things that you do, it opens up another insight about who you are. Human human interaction also helps you learn through their eyes, who you are, and what you could do and what you're not afraid of doing anymore. And, and I, and I wanted my kids also, to see me in that light. Maybe if I didn't homeschool, I didn't have kids, maybe I wouldn't feel the urge for them to see me in another role. And so to homeschooling, I think I learned a lot about myself and my creativity and what I can, what I can do.
And we talked about the fact that, you know, you have been really integral and involved in, you know, getting your, your children as part of their schooling involved in civic engagement in some form or another and, and in volunteering. And you've really played that active role. And part of that was actually deciding to run for school board, in your, in your community, and in your the area that you lived. So what made you decide to take that on to do that? And you know, and why do you think it's important?
When I was, began homeschooling my kids, stay College had something where you could do enrol them, you could let them take some courses at the school, and you could take courses at home and forth. But we were still considered homeschoolers. And so I got into a couple of arguments with the superintendent with a few of the principals all the time. And one of them had mentioned to me something like, you know, you're one of the parents that have such wonderful ideas and inputs and show you're so passionate about education, you should be on the school board, or you should be like the president of the PTO. And I said, Yeah, like, that's gonna happen. But I felt that it was a criticism, like, he was telling me instead of you fighting for everyone, you're just fighting for your own kids, you're just taking them out of the school, and you're thinking like the rest of you, I don't care about and that, that was pretty hurtful, because part of it was true. That's exactly what I was doing. But then I had a commitment to my own kids, you know, and I just know that sometimes all the bureaucracy before things get changed, my kids would be going in high school, they will be graduating, and then these things will be this change will be implemented. And I couldn't wait that long. So I said, Yeah, right. I said, when I'm finished educating my kids, I would come back and run for school board. But I was just joking. You know, I was just, you know, tongue in cheek kind of stuff. And when my kids work on, why don't I run for school? Boy, this is a perfect time to do so. And I knew a lot of the ins and outs of what's going on in the school district because I kept myself involved in that. And that was some of the questions when I went door knocking people like you homeschool your kids. Why are you running for school board? Like, it's like I said, because I love education. I love what school stands for, I think public education. I'm a person of public education. And I think that it's important, it's vital to our continued success in this world. And I want to do whatever I can to make that continue to work for everyone. And so I want I guess, I guess they liked what I had to say. And how has your experience been since it's been? It's been wonderful. There's a lot of things that I assumed that I knew that I found out, I didn't. There's some learning curve, but overall, I you know, the different committees are very interesting. And, and I get to speak with the constituents, the people that voted for US oil, and I get to listen to them. And they write letters to us all the time, which is very helpful. Because then they're involved. And I love, we get like 1020 letters, sometimes a day, depending if it's an issue that really matters to the community. And I love seeing that I love seeing community engagement, you know, because you should have a voice, you know, we're representing what you want. And so I read all the emails, I don't skim them, I read all of them. And I make a note of it and some of the emails that the letters that we get, helps me to change my mind on a certain issue, how I'm going to vote. So I do think that it's a wonderful thing of public engagement.
And I think it's, it's drawing that awareness you know, you're you're sort of a an instrument of drawing that awareness. Out of the school being a closed specifically closed, you know, area in the community being a closed area, and home being a closed area, and all of them are actually, you know, woven quite tightly within each other. And a lot of times people don't stop to realise that, you know, the school is the community, the home is the community, the community is the school and the home and it's all intermingled and interwoven. And, you know, these issues that come to play is because people sort of forget, you know, sometimes parents will send their kids to school and say, Okay, now it's, this is your time to do this, this is, you know, you send the kids off to school, and the school is responsible for this. But actually, the parents forget that no years, but still responsible for your children and their learning. And the school sometimes forgets that wait a second, we need to send us home, and we need to communicate better with the home, because it is all part of that, you know, that community of learning that that comes about that is so well said.
And I agree 100% of everything you said about the community, how we need each other, how we'll learn from each other. And I think I will get stronger, if we understand that we're all working for the good of the children. If that were if we keep that as our focus has our goal has our North Star, then I think we could all come together with their input. But the only thing that I would have to disagree with is, as far as some of the parents thinking that once I send the kids to school, that's your job. Because sometimes culturally, when I the way I grew up, that is kind of a Haitian culture that we educate the well being of our children has for as their manners, their roles in life, at home, you educate the children, has four has the math, the science, that's your job. And so my parents never went to parent teacher conference, because they didn't see the need to unless there was a problem, you do your job, and I'll do my job. And so now, I think we do have a lot of some immigrants because of the university, from different areas of the world. And I think when we have their children, I think we we shouldn't assume that they're not coming to Parent Teachers Association, because of the fact they don't care. I think we have to assume that sometimes it's cultural. And sometimes they just don't have the time. But so we need to find a way to reach out to these parents and let them know that they do, they are involved, and they are welcome. Their opinions are welcome in the well being of their children. So and the more we intermingle with different people from around the world, the more we get to understand their child, their children, which is so important in education.
Yeah, absolutely. That value in that, you know, getting the word out that this this is a partnership. Yeah. And, you know, in, like you said, you know, you when you take, you give the reins over to the school as an institution to do what they need to do, you're still part of that partnership. And your role in this partnership as a parent is also very integral. So you said that very well as as well. Traditionally, homeschooling is specifically in the US has been predominantly white, and often an evangelical family movement. But really a growing number. And you touched on this right at the very beginning, a growing number of black families in the US have started teaching their children at home and and also other families of colour as well, immigrant families and things like that. And they've been they've been citing, specifically black families have cited racism as well as the pandemic as their reasons for deciding that they were going to take the control of their schooling of their children back into the home with them. So do you agree with this? And, you know, do you have anything else to add to that?
Um, I do agree, because especially being the only black child, a lot of white classes, you know, growing up, it was such an uncomfortable feeling. And a lot of times even now, I find myself being the only black person in this white space. And you're always second guessing at least I used to anyway, but I think I still do it to an extent. You know, like how you perceive Are you representing every black person what you say you have to speak to your whole group wishes, not fear. It's a lot of pressure to put on one person, you know, and so. So I do think that growing up in a community where you feel loved and respected and safe as a black person, then you could understand who you are, you could understand your potential. If you're you go to school very early on and you're you feel ostracised you feel Well, the kids are not talking to you or you feel different. And I've had a teacher I mentioned that really literally pushed me away for breathing on her. And I felt so embarrassed, I felt ashamed. And I never spoke up in that class again, I became withdrawn. And you know, as years later, I realised this had such a tremendous effect on me. And so yeah, a lot of black students are saying that they do undergo racism, or microaggressions that some of the teachers are not even aware of that they're doing. And so these are some of the things that we're trying to address. But it's a lot to go through. And so I don't blame a lot of black parents for wanting to homeschool their kids. That wasn't the reason that I chose to do it. But I do see the importance and how my kids were able to evolve, and their own individual ality, like, they didn't have to like basketball like this, the stereotypes weren't pushed on them, because they didn't know they existed. You know, they didn't, Danielle, they know that girls were not allowed to like math, she loves math, you know. And so these are little stereotypes, these little micro aggressions that we keep telling these black kids, these black children that eventually they start believing it. And so the title of my book pressure makes diamond for homeschool to the Ivy League, I could have said, some homeschooling to college. But I had to include Ivy League because I wanted black parents, black children, to know that they could achieve the highest level of success, we should be allowed to compete and see ourselves in all of these spaces, from being astronauts, to musicians to Nobel Prize winners, we should not say Oh, well, you know, black people, we don't do that. No, why not. And so it wasn't a way for me to elevate myself and my kids. Oh, look at us, we got to the Ivy League. No, it was a way to think that we could all do that. If we believe in ourselves, if we raise our kids with confidence and knowledge to know that there is no space that should not be, they should not be able to feel welcome and allowed in. So that was the purpose of continuing that subtitle of my book,
people of colour lack that, that I that relatable identity identification, or a identity ability, with the people in the schools that are teaching them. As you know, in also the curriculum, you know, they don't have they don't have the history and they don't have the books and they don't have the stories and they don't have the learning that that pertains to them. It is very, in not just in the US in other countries as well, including Ireland, it is very whitewashed, it is very white, you know, the school curriculum tends to be very white dominant. And, and I think that that's another reason why black families should be empowered to take back the learning for their for their children, because then you, you know, can make sure that the history is covered in as it should be in its full entirety. And that, you know, stories that are read to the children, you know, takes in the colour of their skin or their hair, the textures of their hair, or, you know, these kinds of things and that your children can identify with their learning, because they are part of their learning. They realise Oh, yeah, this is me. I can identify with this.
Yeah, exactly. And it's so funny about books and stuff. You know, like, all the books that's dealing with Black should not only be on slavery? Absolutely, no, that's not the only thing that we should be known for. And even movies, and I was telling my husband, oh, wouldn't it be good for my book to become a movie, you know, and it just a family life? And you could, you know, it's about a black family. But some white people that read my books that oh, God, your your, you know, your son reminded me of my son and different things that happened happened to me. And I said, Yeah, because we're like a normal family. Oh, yeah. Okay, we have high achievers, but it's not always about drugs. And you know, all of these negative stereotypes. There was that movie parenting, I think 12 a dozen, I think, with Steve Moore, and I love that story. And I said, you know, why can we have a black family with that they have 12 kids and all the chaos that occurs with having 12 Kids and he's a coach, and why can a black family play that? You know, why do we always have to add this added dimension of black family being dysfunctional? If we're not drug infested? Or, you know, why can we just have good, feel good stories about us without a lot of these negative stereotypes?
Oh, absolutely. There is something that you said earlier you made, I want to correct you on it. And I'm sorry that I feel like you have to correct you on it. But you said, we're like a normal family. No, you're not like a normal family, you are a normal family. So I want to make sure that you embrace that as well, you know, empower you to say that you are not like a normal family, you definitely most certainly are a normal family, obviously, begin the beginning of 2020 really led many children around the world, to being schooled. You know, going to school every day on a daily basis to all of a sudden, they're being schooled from home, and all the logistics that were involved in that between the school and the home. And again, the community. You know, how is this what has happened? Because of the pandemic different from homeschool? And, you know, what advice would you give parents who are now thinking about homeschooling their kids beyond 2022?
I think that they have to look, realistically, is it something that they want to do, and it's not something momentarily, because there's a lot of things involving you have to also get buy in from your children. And the older they are the they may not want that they may want to be with their friends and everything else, I still believe that you're the parents and you make the decision. But you want them to believe that it's for their best interest, you want them to believe in it. And because if you both are on board that there'll be more successful. So you have to know the reason that you're doing it. And if you it's not just everybody's doing it kind of stuff, because it could be hurtful there, your kid could lose a whole year of schooling because you didn't know what you were doing or you weren't sure if you should do that. So you really should think carefully about is it something that you want to do. So once they excited about it, then you do your research. There is so many more research open for homeschool and black homeschooling different types of homeschooling unschooling, which could be a little confusing to, so you just have to again, know your child, child children, and see what kind of schooling works best for you. And beyond that, I did my own research, I looked into book like, genius denied when I feel I realised that my kids were so gifted, what are some steps how the brain works, and wanted to understand that and a few things about educating the whole child. And I wrote a lot of these books that I used in my notes in the back of the book. So if anyone wants to look at the books, the research that I did in the beginning, because like I said, there wasn't a lot of homeschooling website at the time, and especially black school and website.
As we say, get ready to say our goodbyes to each other on with through this great conversation we've had today, I asked you if you have any final words of wisdom or advice for listeners?
I do actually. And we touched on it. And I think that was like the essence or the overwhelming theme or overarching theme of our talk today. And Mahmoud the king had says that your life and when you become silent. And I believe I would make a tweak to that even though I do agree with him. But I would tweak it a little bit to say your life ends when you stop learning.
Yes, if you're not learning, you're not living. I think there's another similar kind of saying to that, and it's so true. Totally you and I are both on board and full supporters of lifelong learning and, you know, self directed learning and active learning and just, you know, always learning as Michelangelo says, you know, I'm still learning. Yeah, that's something important that we should always remember. Carline, thank you so much for being such an honoured guest on my podcast. I have really, really enjoyed our conversation together. And I hope to continue to follow you in the success of your children as well. Thank you so much for being here today.
Thank you so much. I enjoyed it. Thank you for having me.
If you're interested in what car liens kids are up to these days, Stay tuned after the outro for some bonus content, we have a little bit of a discussion as to what they're up to. Thanks for listening.
I hope that you've enjoyed this discussion on A Dash of SaLT, a space where you'll always find fresh and current discussions on society and learning today. Seasoned with just the right touch of experts in education and a dash of sociological imagination. Please be sure to like and share this episode. And don't forget to subscribe to A Dash of SaLT on PodBean so that you don't miss the next episode. Thanks so much and we'll chat again soon.
And here's your opportunity to a shout out about your amazing students. As a teacher, what are your children up to today? And in the end, tell us a little about each of them and what what they're up to today and in how your relationship is with them.
Okay, I'll start with Danielle, my oldest, she started it all. I refer to her as my multitalented child. And when she went to Harvard, she was the first to start this trend. She was pre med because she wanted to be like mommy and daddy. And she did a lot of research and everything else. And a graduation or the year before she decides to switch into consulting. And I'm, like, shocked. And she says, Mom, you know me, you know, consulting is perfect for me. Because I could consult on medicine, I could consult in computer, I could do this for a while I'll never get bored, I'll never get tired. And I said at least take the MCAT because you may change your mind at this point, you know, and she says, Mom, I don't want to just do medicine. Now I want to see what else is out there. So consulting would give me an opportunity to do that. After so she takes the MCAT she was not happy about and she scores like 99th percentile. And so it's good for three years. And in three years. She says Mom, I'm ready to go to medical school. So she does all her consulting all her travelling, she learned so much. And she presents these big things, PowerPoint presentation to CEOs, head of companies. And now she's in school and she goes, Mom, I miss school. She's at UPenn. She's in her second year. And she says, Mom, this is such a breeze compared to drink presentation and data crunching. And I love being a student. This is so easy. I miss school. So she's doing well. She took a three year hiatus and she's back in school. My second child, Michael, he went to MIT. He was my musician. He minored in music. He was in the orchestra in MIT. But he majored in computer programming. And he did almost like Daniel did for about two and a half, three years, he worked at a computer programming firm, um, software developer in Washington, DC. And after that, he says, Mom, I'm going back to school, I want to get my PhD in AI. So he is doing that now I kind of give him Atlanta. My Nicholas, he went to Dartmouth, he was pre med, he was my other creative child. And when he took this thing in high school, where he saw a gallbladder being removed with robotics and everything else, he thought that was so ingenious. He goes, Oh, my God, mom, that looks so good. The doctor how even touched the patient back there was playing all these video games and everything else. So when he was at Dartmouth, he took this software programming, like course. And then he worked for the developer. He did that while he was at school. And his pre med eventually changed to VI, vr Virtual virtual reality. And he switched his major into that. And now he's at Stanford, getting his master's in virtual reality computer. His not his nemesis, his little brother, Joey, who, throughout the book, they were at odds with each other. They are now both roommates at Stanford, Joey's getting his PhD in economics. He loved math, he continued to do math. He's gotten a lot of awards. He graduated from Harvard, and his twin Jackie, join him at Harvard a year later. They were together and this pandemic, unfortunately, you know, her last year, she's, you know, he graduated a year earlier. And that was the pandemic so they didn't really get back together. So her last year, she said it was kind of sad because she would walk by where his dorm was they would catch lunch together. And you know, she miss out on all that and she's my social. My social child who loves people who loves you know, she will get on the airport, I go pick her up when she comes home from Boston. And there's like two three people. Oh, Jackie, Hi, Jackie. You know, like I said, My God, you just been back for what? A few minutes that everybody's recognising you already. So she has a lot of instil in the community. And she's graduating this year from Harvard. She majored in psychology and she minored in economics. And she will be working at a firm I believe in Chicago next year, so yeah,
yeah, your kids are amazing in your You're amazing as well. And And, you know, again, you know, hands hands hats off to both you and your husband for, you know, being so involved in raising such amazing contributors to our society and to our communities. So it just some amazing, brilliant children that you have