and put into our slots.
We, the population, played our part in history—
all umpteen million of us sat at computers or scritched away at tables, diligently filling in our forms—
so that People could then look back and say,
Australia in 2011
X-amount of grown-ups, X-amount of kids, X-amount of Buddhists, X-amount of brick layers, X-amount of people needing help to pee, and X-amount of millionaires.
But they won't ever know how many homeschoolers there were,
there wasn't a box for us.
Nothing and nowhere for us to write:
No spot to slot into and be noted.
No rock to scratch our initials in,
nothing to say:
We Were Here!
The question on the form asked if
you were studying at an educational institution.
Either you were, or you were not.
That was it.
If you said yes you studied full-time or part-time, it asked, Where?
You answers could be:
pre-school, primary school, high-school, university, technical college or Other Educational Institution.
No open-ended Other with a simple box you could write "Homeschool."
You just couldn't dodge that word.
Now, the last I heard or read or knew, homeschoolers specifically and absolutely do NOT study in an institution.
I checked, and the definition of
institution |ˌinstiˈt(y)oō sh ən| is:
noun1 a society or organization founded for a religious, educational, social, or similar purpose
There may be four of us, plus two chickens, two cats, lots of goldfish and a dog living here, but I'm pretty sure we're not a society or an organisation.
As for being Founded: I'm not and never have been. I just got born, grew up, had adventures, chose with my kids' permission and to their delight, to have them learn outside of school.
So it seemed kind of clear:
our education—all the delicious leaping and learning we do— happens in nothing like an Institution. But just in case my dictionary was wrong, I checked around.
Freedictionary.com says an Institution is
a. An established organization or foundation, especially one dedicated to education, public service, or culture.
b. The building or buildings housing such an organization.
c. A place for the care of persons who are destitute, disabled, or mentally ill.
Well, nup, to a, b or c.
Wikipedia says it's
any structure or mechanism of social order and cooperation governing the behavior of a set of individuals within a given human community. Institutions are identified with a social purpose and permanence, transcending individual human lives and intentions, and with the making and enforcing of rules governing cooperative human behavior.
we don't fit any of that either.
So what to do?
Now, the Census form did generously add that the definition of
"study in an educational institution"
included study by correspondence.
That was awfully kind of them, but that's not how we homeschool.
(I s'pose if my kids just did their work and posted it to me under the door to my room where I lay inside eating bon bons and reading steamy novellas, that might count. Unfortunately though, that's not quite how we roll)
Which left me with no spot to say
what kind of Education we actually get.
It left me, being the stickler for the Truth that I am,
saying, in answer to "Do you study at an educational institution?"
for Every Single One of us:
Which looks to the naked eye like
we aren't any one of us being Educated right now.
him, her, him, or me.
Which is so silly,
because you and I know
Every day, in countless, joyful, and delighted ways,
No-one looking back at the Census of 2011,
years from now, or even just tomorrow,
just how lucky we and thousands other Australians are.
And it is so ironic, don't you think?
That we unboxed and unbound learners
had no box to fill.
Maybe that's exactly how it should be?
But in this thing,
this small hands-up, stand-up communal exercise,
I actually kinda would have liked to be counted.
Silly, silly census.