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Hunter

Statistics and Stories about Blue Collar Homeschoolers

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Low-income homeschoolers can get a double-whammy of judgement from those with different circumstances and choices, so I completely understand the desire to discuss certain challenges with homeschooling in private.  I have even seen, on this forum, people condemning families for using government assistance for food.  To me it is a form of hypocrisy to condemn the family of 6 who uses $10,000 a year in food assistance, but who homeschools and saves the taxpayers $40,000 a year in educational assistance.  In America, you have to have just the right kind of financial assistance -- from your parents or through the public schools -- but if you use the "wrong" kind of assistance, you're "abusing the system."   

 

There is also the problem with income being associated with educational success -- money as the causal element -- myths perpetuated by an ineffective public school system and the media.  I frequently see reports about the educational "risks" of being low-income.  People try so hard to make money the determining factor in a child's intelligence level and educational attainment.  It's so much more complicated than that.  And I think homeschoolers are mainly the ones to blow those notions out of the water.  I think those might be the stories that people are looking for.  The ones that prove that our children's destiny is not pre-determined by the circumstances of the parent's upbringing.  Ultimately they are stories of hope in a complicated world.  This is why telling certain moms that they "need" to buy a $100 phonics program to teach their children well, or recommending they buy a new program for each child because they're all so different, or to read difficult stuff like Plutarch, feels a bit hopeless to those who can't.  It's not bad to do those things, but I totally understand the desire to focus on how to succeed with both alternative definitions of success and alternative resources.  

 

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Thank you! I will need to get onto a library computer to access these links or somehow log into the library subscription.

 

Low-income does teach us how to problem-solve doesn't it?

Really? Diane Ravitch is a public blog. And I do not have nytimes or wash post digital access. Don't the links work when you click the?

 

Oh, am I remembering correctly... You are on a. phone, limited cellular data, is that right? Gosh, that would be an eye opener to letting me know how much I take for granted.

 

And access to information is a whole other subject on have/have not differences. It certainly does come up in terms of studying -- lines at library computers can be so long in some areas that some kids can't complete assignments.

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So, is there anyone else here who is homeschooling their children without having been to university? Do you find that impacts you or your homeschool in any way? I am curious. I sometimes lack confidence as an educator because I lack formal schooling. 

 

I actually don't often know what someone's educational background is (referring to the homeschoolers I've met).  Some have told me, but I never ask that. 

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So, is there anyone else here who is homeschooling their children without having been to university? Do you find that impacts you or your homeschool in any way? I am curious. I sometimes lack confidence as an educator because I lack formal schooling. 

 

The person who inspired me to homeschool never went to college, nor did her dh.  I've never considered her 'less educated' than me; she inspired me to homeschool because I saw what a great job she was doing with her kids.

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I can only read 10 NY Times articles a month, without paying for a subscription, or logging on through someone else's subscription.

 

No home WiFi has got to be one of the most challenging things about homeschooling today. The world is set up to expect it.

 

I am lucky I have large screen phone with unlimited data. But that means being careful enough with it not to have Sprint threaten to drop me for abusing it.

 

I cannot tell you the flak I take for having this phone, despite the fact that every doctor and social worker I see says I need it to deal with my memory loss. Without my memory loss, I think they too would think I should in some way not need it.

 

The very poor not only have to deal with what they don't have, but daily deal with the anger of having things that people think they should be able to do without. It is just nuts.

 

Just having a phone is like viewing the world through a small window. But, having a window, even if it makes people mad to see me with a window, is life changing.

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I can only read 10 NY Times articles a month, without paying for a subscription, or logging on through someone else's subscription.

 

No home WiFi has got to be one of the most challenging things about homeschooling today. The world is set up to expect it.

 

I am lucky I have large screen phone with unlimited data. But that means being careful enough with it not to have Sprint threaten to drop me for abusing it.

 

I cannot tell you the flak I take for having this phone, despite the fact that every doctor and social worker I see says I need it to deal with my memory loss. Without my memory loss, I think they too would think I should in some way not need it.

 

The very poor not only have to deal with what they don't have, but daily deal with the anger of having things that people think they should be able to do without. It is just nuts.

 

Just having a phone is like viewing the world through a small window. But, having a window, even if it makes people mad to see me with a window, is life changing.

That is a shame you get flak for your phone. Phones are changing life for the better in sub Saharan Africa and other economically challenged places. Farmers can get weather forecasts, find out what current crop prices are, and so on. People may be charging up their phones with a bicycle -- electricity is optional, but information isn't.

 

ETA. Two free sources that quote entire articles (you do not need to link) are Diane Ravitch and Save Our School NJ FB. Diane's blog has no photos, so probably not much data required. HTH.

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I can only read 10 NY Times articles a month, without paying for a subscription, or logging on through someone else's subscription.

 

No home WiFi has got to be one of the most challenging things about homeschooling today. The world is set up to expect it.

 

I am lucky I have large screen phone with unlimited data. But that means being careful enough with it not to have Sprint threaten to drop me for abusing it.

 

I cannot tell you the flak I take for having this phone, despite the fact that every doctor and social worker I see says I need it to deal with my memory loss. Without my memory loss, I think they too would think I should in some way not need it.

 

The very poor not only have to deal with what they don't have, but daily deal with the anger of having things that people think they should be able to do without. It is just nuts.

 

Just having a phone is like viewing the world through a small window. But, having a window, even if it makes people mad to see me with a window, is life changing.

 

It always was interesting to me that even though we cut all our costs (satellite/cable, drive old cars) and qualified and accepted various govt assistance programs through the years, I've always had internet. I would think, "How can we be poor, and still have dsl service?"

 

But, my at-home jobs were based on having a pc and fast internet service. Jobs that helped pay bills and kept me home so I could homeschool. I couldn't NOT have internet service. My first pc was given to me through freecycle, and a random internet stranger gave me a bootlegged copy of an os so I could work. Risky, yes. I've since bought my own pc with legal os, for those dying to know.

 

So, yeah. One can't look at what a person has and assume they have more, or think they shouldn't have the little they do. 

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I had to be evaluated by an old guy educational psychologist from a wealthy suburb in the city. He really couldn't comprehend my sleeping in my kitchen because my house is too small to have my own room, and my taking dd to the opera that night. They don't ask when you book your tickets how you managed to afford it. :) And I afford it because I'm bloody lucky my brother lets me live in this one bedroom house rent free. 

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I can only read 10 NY Times articles a month, without paying for a subscription, or logging on through someone else's subscription.

 

No home WiFi has got to be one of the most challenging things about homeschooling today. The world is set up to expect it.

 

I am lucky I have large screen phone with unlimited data. But that means being careful enough with it not to have Sprint threaten to drop me for abusing it.

 

I cannot tell you the flak I take for having this phone, despite the fact that every doctor and social worker I see says I need it to deal with my memory loss. Without my memory loss, I think they too would think I should in some way not need it.

 

The very poor not only have to deal with what they don't have, but daily deal with the anger of having things that people think they should be able to do without. It is just nuts.

 

Just having a phone is like viewing the world through a small window. But, having a window, even if it makes people mad to see me with a window, is life changing.

 

Have you checked your local library?  Here I can use my library card to access tons of newspapers via the library website. 

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Have you checked your local library? Here I can use my library card to access tons of newspapers via the library website.

I don't know how to copy and paste these cut off posts into the subscribed area. If I sit at a library computer and log onto TWTM, maybe I can just click on the links. Even that might not work. I might have to start at the subscription site.

 

I'll figure out something.

 

It amazes me how hard it is to do the most basic things. Like when I bought a chromebook and then found out Google often locks you out of everything Google when it sees you are at a public wifi site. To "protect" you. Sigh.

 

But a more expensive Windows computer works just fine.

 

Mixing low cost ideas often doesn't work the way people assume it will. That is one of my lessons learned this year. Theory isn't field tested. And reality is harder than people think.

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I have not read all the replies yet.  I think this site is likely filled with blue collar families.  Families with a hard working parent busting their butt everyday to support their family so the other parent can stay home and homeschool.

I think are fewer low income families because generally they are busy constantly trying to make ends meet to have time to hang out here.  I know that is the case for me.  I am here during breaks and when things slow down for me but during the main part of the school term I am too busy to be here.  I am busy working 2 jobs, doing college classes and teaching my own kids.  I am not sure that a subforum is necessary for those in that situation because they would not be around much.  Ideas of how to save money, get cheap or free curric etc can benefit everyone not just those that are blue collar or low income etc.

As well being blue collar does not mean no college education.  I have plenty of college education, even once I graduate again this spring with my 2nd college diploma, and  with my 3rd next year and then carry on to university I am still a low income earner in a blue collar career.  When it comes to my kids, it wouldn't matter what income bracket or career path i currently have, my goal is the same, that they follow the path that best suits their needs and interests.  At this point that has 3 of them looking at post secondary training (2 looking at degrees at universities, one looking as specialized career training at a college and the steps to follow afterwards).  I will be blue collar and low income for a very long time despite having a lot of college education under my belt, one is not necessarily exclusive of the other.

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Income and education are not always tied so closely as people think.  My brother, who attended a training program resulting in a certification, makes more money than I ever will with my graduate degree.  

 

I've been poor - without food, a phone, or healthcare.  I did have an old car so I was ahead of most poor people.  I slept on the couch of a small rental duplex because the bed was gross.  (furnished place)  I worked in a nursing home.  A coworker gave me enough biscuits and bologna to make it through a week when I didn't have any food.  I've never been homeless.

 

I've been "poor" in a nice house with a lot of education because my dh was unemployed.  We had three young kids so it was impractical for me to work.  We still had a nicer house than most people will live in their entire life.  Looking back, I wish I had spent my college time and money on a nursing degree (R.N.) because it is a lot of "bang for your education buck".

 

The highest salary I have made with a graduate degree and an advanced clinical license was about $7,000 less than a beginning teacher with an undergrad degree.  I could not support a family on it.  Me working full-time was a stop-gap measure.  I was still grateful that I had the education and licensure I did because I was able to get a decent job very quickly.

 

 

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Hunter--

 

I did a presentation to mental health professionals on homeschooling and I found some demographic data that suggested income for homeschooling families is bimodally distributed. As in, there is a group of families $30k and less, and then another group $120k+. I don't recall off the top of my head where I found that information. But it fit with my experience here in CA.

 

Blue collar is not necessarily the term I would use because many of the low income families are very well educated, just under employed.

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I'm reading, interested, and will come back to ramble later!

We are solidly blue collar.

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I grew up in a white-collar home, though we were lower-middle class surrounded by upper-middle class. My father (a doctor) left before I was born and my mother didn't want to move, so we struggled financially. My parents and grandparents all had post-baccalaureate educations. Education was extremely important and there was an environment that nurtured that, even without much money.

No one in my husband's family has even attended college before him. DH got a technical degree and works a blue-collar job making more now than my university professor mother does. But, the culture of education is just not there. He wants the kids to do well and to go to college. But, I can't explain it. He just doesn't know how to foster an educationally rich environment.

I'm not saying one way is better than the other. But, they are very different and make life difficult when the two collide.

 

Edited for auto correct error

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I grew up in a white-collar home, though we were lower-middle class surrounded by upper-middle class. My father (a doctor) left before I was born and my mother didn't want to move, so we struggled financially. My parents and grandparents all had post-bachelorette educations. Education was extremely important and there was an environment that nurtured that, even without much money.

No one in my husband's family has even attended college before him. DH got a technical degree and works a blue-collar job making more now than my university professor mother does. But, the culture of education is just not there. He wants the kids to do well and to go to college. But, I can't explain it. He just doesn't know how to foster an educationally rich environment.

I'm not saying one way is better than the other. But, they are very different and make life difficult when the two collide.

 

Yes. Yes it does. This is something I've pondered since I came into the realization of our "position" a couple of years ago. It was a bit uncomfortable realization actually. However, I will not veer into that bunny trail, so everyone can ignore this comment and keep on hoppin'. Lol!

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So, is there anyone else here who is homeschooling their children without having been to university? Do you find that impacts you or your homeschool in any way? I am curious. I sometimes lack confidence as an educator because I lack formal schooling. 

Yes.  I've homeschooled my kids from 3rd grade through graduation with a measly high school diploma. :001_smile:  I just finished my freshman year at college (with my freshman in college dd, btw.)  My husband's higher education consisted of diesel mechanic school and a handful of seminary classes.  

 

 

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Just looked up a local welding school.  It is a 12 week program (very short).  It costs $6700 (financial aid available).  So relatively inexpensive, but not free.

 

There is a local business that was looking for welders. They would provide free after work welding classes to anyone they hired. The starting pay at the job was pretty low, but was compensated in training.

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Just looked up a local welding school.  It is a 12 week program (very short).  It costs $6700 (financial aid available).  So relatively inexpensive, but not free.

 

I wouldn't normally post this thought I had, but it seems extremely relevant to the conversation, so here goes:

When I read stuff like this, it often just makes me shake my head in disbelief. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but just because the idea of $6700 for a 12 week program (so just under $600/wk) being relatively inexpensive - even with financial aid available - is beyond my comprehension. I get that it's cheaper than college and all, but...

 

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I kind of feel like the whole American culture has "moved up." As a child I'd say we were definitely low class, blue collar. I was raised by a single father who was a janitor, and who had to work two jobs to afford our new school clothes once a year, but we always had food and a roof over our heads. The only high culture I experienced was what I read from the library, and I always felt like I was missing out. I earned scholarships and aid through college, the first and still only in my family.

 

I now consider our nuclear family and my extended family as middle class, white collar. My DH supports us on one income and we have our basic needs met and a tiny bit extra. We cannot afford a second car or vacations, but compared to my childhood, we are well off. But, everyone else still defines us as poor. Even my father who is now in management, has two cars, takes two vacations every year, spends lots of money to support hobbies, considers himself poor and lower/working class. I cannot fathom that considering my childhood except by noticing that everyone seems to think that way.

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My dad was a groundskeeper and my mom is a nurse. My husband worked retail for years and, while I have a BA and MA, work part time in an office.

 

My dad has memorized numerous Frost and Kipling poems, Kennedy speeches, knows Latin, etc. My mom had won a full scholarship to Fordham but dropped out when her Dad became ill, so she could work and support the family. 

 

I think it's harder to define blue collar because, around here, people who work in offices don't make more than people who work in manufacturing and trades. 

 

I have been in many college classes where the professor started talking about blue collar and working class, and they totally described my family (as far as income, education level, etc) and then started going down a path that would cause me to say "apparently I'm from a working class family, but the stuff you just started to say - it doesn't apply at all." 

 

And then they would tell me my situation was unusual. But I'm not sure it was. So these discussions are hard for me. Apparently I was privileged blue collar because my parents read books to us.

 

I see it as 2 different things really, parents can be highly educated/smart and not make much money- service fields come to mind- teaching, social work(my degree!) etc. Or they could have plenty of money and little education- I think it is more common to have education without money then vice versa and becoming even more so but I don't know the statistics. Each have their own effect. I've often wanted to start a thread on here on what do successful parents do with their kids- how do you replicate that? What can you replicate? I feel being here is a huge boost because a lot is knowing about what opportunities exist but I know that there are habits, actions, etc that are done, that aren't even thought about, like those studies about the things missing in the homes of poor parents- one because it just isn't done but also because when you have to focus so hard on the basics there isn't much left for the rest, especially if you don't even realize that these are things you are supposed to do and even if you do you can't manage to do it anyway because of various limitations. I missed a full ride 4 year scholarship because I didn't apply in time we were all clueless about it all. We also didn't think much beyond anything that was local, that was not an option that was really presented as a possibility.  Now dh and I do financially ok as I said due to low col, no debt (some luck, some hard work and frugality) so I don't often feel terribly limited(at least not yet as at the Elementary age even the expensive things aren't even a fraction of costs at the highschool level(we'll cross that bridge when we get there) but I'm still trying to figure out what are these things I'm supposed to do to help my kids get a good start.

 

With blue collar, it was a lot about being trained on the job.  Stuff like factory work.  My dad was a screw machine set up/operator trained on the job.  He made enough to support a family of four.  That job does not exist anymore.  If there is any manufacturing left at all it is all about computerized machines requiring training (often not on the job training). 

 

 

That is the sort of job my dh has, he has been there 21 years now. We know it is a dying sector and it was a huge impetus to us paying off our house because there are no guarantees. He is not union so doesn't do as well as his father did but he does well then a lot with college degrees around here. He also worked on making himself very indispensable by going so far above and beyond learning and doing things on his own.

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You know reading more posts got me thinking more.  I really don't think it matters what class you are in, or if you are blue collar, white collar or whatever, it really is a mindset.  One that can be in any of those situations.  I grew up in a working class/blue collar home.  My father was the first in his family to ever graduate high school, my mother dropped out of school at the end of 8th grade.  WHen I was young my father worked for a plastics plant making plastic buckets.  During the recession of the 80s he was laid off and instead went to work driving cab(he owned a cab company before I was born and sold it when I was 1 so driving cab was always his fall back job) and delivering newspapers.  Mom worked at a gas station convenience store.  When I was 9 my mom went back to high school to take a typing class, from that class she got a job as a secretary and dropped out of high school again, but it spurred her to go to college at night.  She worked as a secretary all day and took business classes at night.  My father eventually got a job in another plastics plant and took his millwright at night.  We were initially low income, then lower middle class.  As my father finished each level of millright he got a raise (it is equal to a journeyman ticket so 4 years to earn).  Fast forward to now, My mother runs the office she was once merely a secretary in.  My father is vice president of operations for a company that has a plastics plant and a woods plant (all profits go into the organization attached tot he plants which does job training and employment for people with disabilities).  Most of the time dad could be considered white collar these days, spending most of his time in meetings etc, however that doesn't stop him from working the line if needed, and he is the only one that can properly fix the machines so they call him at all hours to do so.  My parents were very hands off with our educations.  Aside from reading our report cards and going to teacher interviews they never had much clue.  When it came to high school they never knew what I was taking, what I signed up for, what I dropped and switched etc.  My mom hates museums etc We were limited on extracurriculars, partly due to being low income but also partly because my parents didn't see the value in them. What my mom did do was take us to the library weekly. My siblings do not read for pleasure, never have, but I always have been an avid reader.

 

I graduated high school, followed by my siblings.  I moved out, worked fulltime and finally decided 18 months after graduating high school to go to university.  My siblings went to uni right out of high school.  I dropped out of uni 18 months after starting because I got pregnant and it was a complicated pregnancy including bedrest.  I stayed home fulltime with my kids after that.  My siblings graduated university and have great jobs.  I did return to college when I left my husband, my oldest kids were 2 and 3 at the time.  I did the first year of a 2 year early childhood development diploma.  I did not return my 2nd year because oldest needed me home.  So I stayed home a couple more year.  When my 3rd born was 13 months old, I took medical office assistant, a 10 month certificate, and graduated. Got a job in a peds office, great career opportunities but too much time away from my kids.  I stayed home again fulltime for many years.  2 years ago I re-entered the workforce fulltime (as opposed to the jobs I had been doing like delivering newspapers with the kids with me).  I worked fast food and 2 daycares.  Last year I returned to college again, doing online classes in 2 different diploma programs and I gave up my fast food job.  I am finishing that second year of the early childhood program I started a decade ago and graduate at the end of next term.  I am also doing mental health practitioner and graduate next winter from that one.  In all of this we have been low income, we have been working class.

 

I have been low income the entire time I have been a parent.  And yet my kids are in many extracurriculars, I take them to the symphony, live theatre, museums, art galleries, special events, summer camps etc.  We listen to audio books in the car, we talk and talk and talk. Even when we have been at our poorest I found ways for my kids to experience these things.  Education is huge in my household.  It doesn't matter what job I am working, it doesn't matter how low my income is, it doesn't matter if we were living in the low income housing we were in for years or in this small house I own.  I have ensured my kids had a learning rich environment growing up.  I may not be the most intelligent or learned person out there, especially compared to those on this board.  But I have always made sure my kids have had opportunities to learn.  I have pushed university to a point but have also laid out other paths they can take and we have looked into various opportunities, from trades, regular employment, military, post secondary option etc.  Growing up no one did that sort of thing with me.  We go to something called try a trade every year where they can try their hand at various trades and make contacts with potential employers, they have also sat down with admissions people from several post secondary institutions for a few years running now to check on various programs, entrance requirements etc.

My sister could be counted as white collar, as can my bil.  Because of the career my sister has I do see them doing more with him than my parents did with us.  He is in extracurrics, they take him on trips, they help him with his homework(only in 2nd grade and he has like 30 minutes of homework a night). But there are very few books in the home, they don't go to museums and live performances, or what my kids call "adventures".  There is an assumption from them that nephew will grow up and go to university because that is what both of them did and they can not imagine anything different.  Perhaps once he is older that will change.  

 

So all of that and I am not sure I even made my point.  Which is simply that it doesn't matter if you are working class, upper class, low income, blue collar, white collar, or on welfare. The mindset about education, children's needs, introduction to culture, etc crosses all of those lines.  I don't even know if I am making sense right now.  I just got this feeling that the OP felt like those in the middle working class/blue collar were not expecting their kids to go onto post secondary that they were not educating them well enough to or something like that.  And I don't think that is the case at all.  I can not pay for university for my kids, I am lucky that I am paying for my own at this point.  Each will take a different path to afford it, but all plan to attend.  Even faced with being low income, having learning disabilities etc they still plan to achieve a higher education after they graduate high school.  Even if that means working all day and taking night classes, or getting student loans, or joining the military to have them pay for it.  All have been introduced to other paths but they want the university education.  I have spent their whole lives trying to ensure they had more options to live a better life than the one I could afford to give them.  They also see value in education, they see me pushing myself to get a higher education while working 2 jobs, knowing that I am lucky I make as much as I do in those jobs because it is not typical.  I want more for my kids than minimum wage so that means preparing them for all paths beyond that, for trades, for college whatever.  I would be doing the same if I was upper class white collar this whole time, I would just be doing it interspersed with trips to mexico and a maid to help around the house biweekly lol 

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An interesting thread. I always wanted to home school because well people kept talking about facts, lifestyles, and trajectories (as in education, jobs, and money making trajectories) that don't exist in my world. I realize these boxes may exist elsewhere.

 

We have lived below the poverty line but currently are probably defined as upper middle class because a 6 figure income. I would say my husband is white collar I guess. He works in information technology. He used to work on new technology at Microsoft but we wanted to live in Alaska so he handles networks and databases for the present. This ain't no Silicon Valley 😉 We can't say how our children will turn out because they are still young. We don't expect them to go to college or do anything specific. It is their life. I will attempt to help them research opportunities in whatever path they choose and warn them to look around and keep their eyes open as things are always changing.

 

The reason this thread interests me is because my family background. My father never graduated from high school and has successfully run three businesses. My brother dropped out of high school as a sophomore and also never pursued more education (well he has a CDL and probably other certifications but never went to school) but makes way more than my husband. My mother got married at 16 but after children her husband died and she went back to school and finished not only college but med school with four kids. My mother and father aren't married if my story seems confusing to you. My grandfather was a coal miner. I guess you don't get much more working class than that. So watching all these poverty raised people become the upper middle and in some cases millionaires made me think the box is made up or only applies to people who expect it.

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I realize no one individual can say and I haven't heard any redefining of terms but I wonder if the new "blue collar" worker is more the service worker now. I read somewhere that Americans for the first time ever spent more money eating at restaurants than at home. Service work can be anything from washing dishes at a restaurant which will keep you near the poverty line or under if you have children to dental hygienists and hair stylists that can make a good income.  I realize some of the service jobs are variable based on your skill and clientele like the stylist unlike say a grocery store clerk. The service sector has grown considerable though and could be said to make up a large part of the middle class. 

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I realize no one individual can say and I haven't heard any redefining of terms but I wonder if the new "blue collar" worker is more the service worker now. I read somewhere that Americans for the first time ever spent more money eating at restaurants than at home. Service work can be anything from washing dishes at a restaurant which will keep you near the poverty line or under if you have children to dental hygienists and hair stylists that can make a good income.  I realize some of the service jobs are variable based on your skill and clientele like the stylist unlike say a grocery store clerk. The service sector has grown considerable though and could be said to make up a large part of the middle class. 

 

That is an interesting thought.  I know my line of work counts as a service job...I work in daycare.  Thankfully I work in a province where minimum wage is higher than that in the USA, my employer pays above min wage even for those just starting out with no credentials and above that for those with higher credentials AND I live in a province where the gov't give wage top ups to accredited centers to help retain staff (all daycares are licensed, to get accredited means going above and beyond standard criteria and meeting a higher level of criteria), and I work in such a center.  In fact I have helped both places I work in get accredited.  The top ups are based on your level of education in the field, so I work in daycare but make well above what most would think in daycare and will get a raise again from the gov't and on my base pay at the end of the school year when my new credentials are approved.  But yes I can see your thinking on that.

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Hmm, how to define these groups is interesting.  A lot of them are not exclusive, I think, there are all kinds of overlaps.  And I also think with technology changes there have been changes in some of the class connotations.

 

I think of trades as having a skill, usually one that involves an apprenticship, working with hands.  I would call such people working class, or blue collar though that term is uncommon here.  Some times people call them "white van" jobs. Unless they own their own business, in which case they become small business owners/shopkeepers.  Most such people here are middle class.

 

Unskilled labour is also working class, and blue collar.  Often those people don't get to the middle class, in part because of instability,  and they will generally really absolutely require two incomes.  These jobs have changed a lot - now, rather than hard physical labour, they are often things like fast food, waiting tables in cheaper places, cashier type jobs.

 

White collar is office work, and usually middle class.  But not necessarily well paying particularly.  So secretaries, managers in larger stores, some kinds of sales people.  Some people will have something like a business program, or maybe university.  The income level can be even lower than trades up to upper middle class in some cases.  IN recent years, a lot of jobs seem to have migrated from blue collar to white collar, I think - things like working in a call center, say.  They don't have the extra requirements that people used to think of as going along with office work over labour, the pay is no better either, and they aren't independent.

 

Then above that I would probably think of professional programs that require, normally, some sort of university, but certainly qualify for a higher level of income and there is probably a professional organization.  Executives I would put in this group, doctors, nurses, university faculty. These will normally be middle to upper middle class jobs.

 

Entrepreneurs are another class altogether, whether they be shopkeepers, trades businesses, farmers, or whatever.

 

With military, generally I associate the ranks with the trades, and officers with the professional class, though that is only approximate.  To some extent I'd say they are a class organization of their own.

 

Genteel poverty - these are people who are probably well educated, and have a cultured background, but no longer have any financial liquidity, and they may have lost more than that. Essentially it comes from the fact that class is often a cultural as well as simple financial or work related thing. My nana grew up in a fairly well off - her father was a gentleman farmer, he taught at the agricultural college and owned a pub.  After he died though, they still had rather nice things, but no money because of debt and loss of income.  Their class identification, education, their cultural values, their accents, were all upper class, but no money.  Or my friends grandparents who fled Europe in WWII - clearly they came from money and a cultured educated background, but they had very little. 

 

 

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I wouldn't normally post this thought I had, but it seems extremely relevant to the conversation, so here goes:

When I read stuff like this, it often just makes me shake my head in disbelief. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but just because the idea of $6700 for a 12 week program (so just under $600/wk) being relatively inexpensive - even with financial aid available - is beyond my comprehension. I get that it's cheaper than college and all, but...

 

 

Part of that cost is tools and supplies that can be kept by the student to use at a future job.  Although it is not the largest chunk of the cost.

 

Yeah I don't know where they get off charging that for that amount of time.  Kinda crazy. 

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As far as my family, it is quite mixed.  What I find interesting is you can really see the way class culture is passed down over time.

 

My mom's family is small.  Her dad's family were Huguenots, they went to England, and then came to Canada. They have largely been shop-keepers.  My granddad was in the navy and then the civil service.  The paternal grandmothers family were German, and were mostly farmers once they came to Canada.  They were very musical.

 

His wife, my Nana, was from a rural upper class English background.  Her dad a farmer but I think he's been to university, her mom went to cheese-making school.  My nana worked for an agricultural company briefly and then was in the navy, and later after she married she did secretarial work.

 

My dad's family I think of as working class.  His dad was navy, and later a journalist.  He was very well educated, but not from university - he read a lot, and wrote poetry. They were originally from Ireland, and then they lived in Glasgow for generations.  They were tenant farmers, labourers, weavers, and sailors.  Presbyterians.

 

His mums family were shipyard workers, shopkeepers, farmers, soldiers, and a lighthouse keeper.  THe most well off branch included bankers and members of government, but they originally were butchers.  THey were Catholic and mostly Irish.

 

Despite, especially in recent years, mixed education levels among both groups, the cultural trappings and attitudes to work are quite different in the different sections of the family.

 

 

I think we are actually on the cusp of a change in the next 50 years.  I think there is going to be a real renewal of interest in skilled trades, and small business along with it.

 

I also think, among homeschoolers here, there is a class difference in approach, to some extent.  I'm not sure I could put my finger on what it is though.

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No, but they all require some sort of education after high school.  Usually it's much shorter than getting an academic degree, but still it's education that will take time and cost money.

 

With blue collar, it was a lot about being trained on the job.  Stuff like factory work.  My dad was a screw machine set up/operator trained on the job.  He made enough to support a family of four.  That job does not exist anymore.  If there is any manufacturing left at all it is all about computerized machines requiring training (often not on the job training). 

 

I can't think of too many jobs that pay any sort of amount one can scrape by on that don't require some sort of training outside of high school.  So I'm saying I would not pigeon hole my kid into a zero skill/training job unless they had significant disabilities (mental/physical).  Of course this does not mean they are washed up if they don't figure this out immediately at the age of 18.  There are many different paths. 

 

I probably am not entirely understanding what this thread is about though. 

 

One of the things I think is that it isn't just the jobs that have changed - in a lot of cases, its a kind of decision on the part of employers.  Instead of spending money training their own workers, they have off-loaded the cost of training on the workers.  Many jobs, if they wanted to, could still work though on the job training and true apprnticeships.

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One of the things I think is that it isn't just the jobs that have changed - in a lot of cases, its a kind of decision on the part of employers.  Instead of spending money training their own workers, they have off-loaded the cost of training on the workers.  Many jobs, if they wanted to, could still work though on the job training and true apprnticeships.

 

Yeah I don't know.  My first real job out of college they trained on the job.  They preferred to hire people with degrees, but it was not an absolute requirement.  What I found baffling is they'd spend months training people and they'd fire someone at the end of that for the dumbest thing.  You'd think after investing all that time in someone they wouldn't be so quick to fire for no reasonable reason. 

 

And then another possible factor is a lot of companies hire people in foreign countries.  They will work for less money and are often highly educated.  Locally there is a company that got city grants with the hope they'd hire more people locally.  No.  They claim they couldn't find enough programmers to fill the jobs so they opened an office in China.  I find this really hard to believe.  The area I live is filled with a lot of IT people and companies.  I think it is just an excuse to get cheaper labor.

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I agree that we are in a time of change. We don't have vocabulary to describe what has happened. And certainly none to describe what is just starting to happen.

 

I really want to thank everyone again. This could have gotten nasty, and everyone chose not to do that.

 

It may look like nothing was accomplished, and that may be true for some people. But others of us did get something out of this. Maybe more new questions, than answers to old questions, but that is okay.

 

The world is changing. Those changes affect the homeschooling community. Some homeschoolers are being affected more than others.

 

I got something out of this. I did. It is equivalent to those who are still brainstorming to write a research paper. I'm not yet ready to write a thesis, or a bunch of them. I've just got a scrap of paper with a bunch of ideas. It's a mess. As it is supposed to be at this stage. I'm okay with mess. Good stuff cannot always be rushed.

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Hmm. My husband is blue collar. He's a trucker and people will not let you forget that that is a crappy, less than job. As in people saying to you, " Well, I homeschool so my son doesn't up driving a truck." Or, " Has he considered just getting a better job?" "Yeah,my husband has a job where he actually has to work. Not just get to drive all around all day." Or a snotty post on that Mt. Hope homeschool blog about how hilarious it was to go to a Christmas party filled with truckers. So I can confidently say we are a blue collar or low class family in terms of perception.

 

I think the only truly difficult thing is juggling financial and emotional resources to get the things we need. I put together most our curriculum to save money, but that takes a lot of time. I'm hoping to buy a math curriculum soon. I also think juggling resources is something I'd do anyway since my youngest would need daycare and my son after school care.

 

A group is an interesting thought. But so often advice on homeschooling on a low income comes from people/blogs linking MEP and Ambleside even they've never used it and their curriculum retails for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It's not in the trenches advice which is hard to find because the people deep in trenches are busy.

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Hmm. My husband is blue collar. He's a trucker and people will not let you forget that that is a crappy, less than job. As in people saying to you, " Well, I homeschool so my son doesn't up driving a truck." Or, " Has he considered just getting a better job?" "Yeah,my husband has a job where he actually has to work. Not just get to drive all around all day." Or a snotty post on that Mt. Hope homeschool blog about how hilarious it was to go to a Christmas party filled with truckers. So I can confidently say we are a blue collar or low class family in terms of perception.

 

I think the only truly difficult thing is juggling financial and emotional resources to get the things we need. I put together most our curriculum to save money, but that takes a lot of time. I'm hoping to buy a math curriculum soon. I also think juggling resources is something I'd do anyway since my youngest would need daycare and my son after school care.

 

A group is an interesting thought. But so often advice on homeschooling on a low income comes from people/blogs linking MEP and Ambleside even they've never used it and their curriculum retails for hundreds and hundreds of dollars. It's not in the trenches advice which is hard to find because the people deep in trenches are busy.

 

Oh geesh.  You know the wrong kind of people.  Never heard anyone say something like that.

 

You might like this story:

 

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=128674314

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When I read stuff like this, it often just makes me shake my head in disbelief. Not because there's anything wrong with it, but just because the idea of $6700 for a 12 week program (so just under $600/wk) being relatively inexpensive - even with financial aid available - is beyond my comprehension. I get that it's cheaper than college and all, but...

 

Some employers will sponsor the whole price tag. Ship and oil rig welders do earn more than engineers where I was from.

I have to do welding in engineering lab. It is not easy to be a good welder and companies are usually willing to pay for training and pay increase in return for a year bond.

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Some employers will sponsor the whole price tag. Ship and oil rig welders do earn more than engineers where I was from.

I have to do welding in engineering lab. It is not easy to be a good welder and companies are usually willing to pay for training and pay increase in return for a year bond.

 

Although if you are already in an engineering lab I assume you have some prior education.  Getting one's foot in the door of a company is hard to do without a degree in the first place.  An employer of my husband paid for his master's degree so that was nice, but not like they hired him before having a degree.

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From a cultural point of view, the Chinese imperial exams dates back many centuries. People would send their kids to the village school, teach their kids at home or get a home tutor. Even when kids go to govt. schools parents would still afterschool. The cultural mindset of education (eta: more of guided nurturing) is still strong among chinese immigrants. Those who grew up here think differently (ETA: more of nature will take its course).

 

I do agree that MEP and other free PDFs are not cheap when you have to factor in the cost of printing or a tablet to read the PDF.

 

ETA:

The unofficial working class upper limit in my home country is over US$6k of monthly take home pay. Once the mortgage (high property prices) is paid up, a working class pay is very comfortable. Food cost excluding beef and seafood is about US$1k for a family of four because food is mainly imported.

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Hmm. My husband is blue collar. He's a trucker and people will not let you forget that that is a crappy, less than job. As in people saying to you, " Well, I homeschool so my son doesn't up driving a truck." Or, " Has he considered just getting a better job?" "Yeah,my husband has a job where he actually has to work. Not just get to drive all around all day." Or a snotty post on that Mt. Hope homeschool blog about how hilarious it was to go to a Christmas party filled with truckers. So I can confidently say we are a blue collar or low class family in terms of perception.

 

I remember a comment on a podcast about economics and the person interviewed just happened to mention the relatively unskilled labor of truckers. I know their licensing doesn't exacatly take as many years as med school but the funny thing was at the bottom of my road is a little liqueur store that requires the driver to get in at a funny angle but to unload he has to be lined up with the door and straight because the doors and such. Also if he didn't do it right the first time then traffic would quickly get backed up and I really wished the person on the radio show could come try it. :)

 

So I for one appreciate that truckers fill the grocery stores and such and think it is honorable work that the rest of us really need done. But I feel for you with all the travel and being away from home. Sorry people are such jerks.

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One of my step-dads was a trucker, and I've known a lot of them. They are the most polite men I have ever met, especially on the road.

 

What is with homeschooling slamming of truckers??? I think those of us with trucker family are more sensitive to noticing and remembering.

 

Do those with trucker husbands hate to run shot-gun with them because they hug the shoulder of the road even when in a teeny tiny car?

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Genteel poverty - these are people who are probably well educated, and have a cultured background, but no longer have any financial liquidity, and they may have lost more than that. Essentially it comes from the fact that class is often a cultural as well as simple financial or work related thing. My nana grew up in a fairly well off - her father was a gentleman farmer, he taught at the agricultural college and owned a pub.  After he died though, they still had rather nice things, but no money because of debt and loss of income.  Their class identification, education, their cultural values, their accents, were all upper class, but no money.  Or my friends grandparents who fled Europe in WWII - clearly they came from money and a cultured educated background, but they had very little. 

 

My family had a lot of this as well (very upper class and then nothing, but not in the U.S.), although things have shifted over the last 50 years. They definitely maintained their cultural values, friends, and accents after they had nothing, but they were driven by a cause so I think that helped their mental adjustment to a new reality.

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Although if you are already in an engineering lab I assume you have some prior education. Getting one's foot in the door of a company is hard to do without a degree in the first place.

The welders I know were from trade schools/VoTech. So there is prior education but not necessarily a degree.

The plumber that services my complex doesn't have a degree either but does have vocational training. He says he is comfortable with his income and his wife is a SAHM with young kids.

 

ETA:

We met many truckers at truck stops while on road trips :). What's with subway and truck stops :lol:

 

ETA:

I don't know if being in a high dense area leads to more employers sponsoring VoTech certification courses in return for a bond.

We have many large apartment complexes and those have maintenance crew onsite. Many said the company help paid for training.

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So I for one appreciate that truckers fill the grocery stores and such and think it is honorable work that the rest of us really need done. .

 

It's so nonsensical when people get bent about "non-skilled" labor.

 

Yeah, go ahead and gripe about the people that drive our trucks, pick our food and mine our coal, and be completely SHOCKED at how terrible life is if they up and quit doing it. We'd all go downhill, double time, without unskilled labor, so show a little respect! If not out of basic human decency (preferable), then out of self-preservation!

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It's so nonsensical when people get bent about "non-skilled" labor.

 

Yeah, go ahead and gripe about the people that drive our trucks, pick our food and mine our coal, and be completely SHOCKED at how terrible life is if they up and quit doing it. We'd all go downhill, double time, without unskilled labor, so show a little respect! If not out of basic human decency (preferable), then out of self-preservation!

 

This is what I don't understand. When a culture doesn't at least treat its workers well enough to preserve their own interests.

 

In my marriage, domestic abuse reached the point where I was no longer able to serve. Never mind what was good for me, but the abuser didn't get what he wanted most.

 

Loans and credit can postpone things. International slavery by importing goods and even people can postpone things but bring new problems. At some point, things can only get so bad for working-class, before it harms those being fed and served by them.

 

I keep running out of likes. I'm sorry!!!!!

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I agree that we are in a time of change. We don't have vocabulary to describe what has happened. And certainly none to describe what is just starting to happen.

 

 

 

I do agree that this is true.  When I was 18yo, it was college college college.  Now, I'm really thinking more along the lines of finishing high school at an accelerated rate in order to leave the house at 18yo with a certificate of some sort so that they can earn a living while pursuing their adulthood.  

 

That said, some things never change.  Resources (money!) = freedom to spend leisure time = opportunity for education = increased opportunity to both make and save $$$ = Resources (money!) = freedom...

 

 

Some homeschoolers have found a way to break into the upward spiral by claiming leisure time for the purpose of education whether they can truly "afford it" or not.  Much like your phone...only the rich "deserve" to have a parent stay home to HS.  I'm of a "class" that drives old vehicles, wears thrift-store clothes, eats inexpensive foods, plays at free parks, and lives in a modest home.  I spend my time richly on educating and nurturing my children.  (And, I spend most of my extra cash on books, games, and library fines.)  Most people in the same financial state in my circles do not get my literary references and jokes.  :blink:   

 

I've seen several families succeed in this, living "Genteel Poverty" for the sake of spending TIME educating their children.  I'm impressed in every way with how these families have thrived.  Not that they are all wealthy, but that they are all independent, strong, and living their own lives.  They have that freedom...yes, enough $ to live comfortably...but freedom to pursue their life's work.

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With military, generally I associate the ranks with the trades, and officers with the professional class, though that is only approximate.  To some extent I'd say they are a class organization of their own.

 

 

 

I assume by 'ranks' you mean enlisted personnel. I find your assumption frequently among civilians; however, those familiar with the military know this is not true at all. Many, many enlisted service members have college educations and even carry out what is considered a white-collar job in the military despite not being officers. It's not that simple at all. There are so many different jobs a person can have in the military -  infantryman, physician, and everything in between.

 

While in the military, DH would some days go to the firing range or a long ruck march or whatever soldier duties were called for. Other days, he would go to work in a suit and tie, completely out of uniform.

 

I think you're right to say that it's a completely different class organization. In some ways, it's a completely different world that most people don't understand.

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I was PMed by someone with the offer to start a private subforum here for people who would like a protected place to explore working-class and lower-income homeschooling, geared towards moms/educators with no college background themselves. I don't think the focus would be towards upward mobility, but more to explore alternatives to that, and trying to mine the working-class cultures for overlooked resources that are there for the taking.

 

I haven't got the focus to read all 4 pages of the thread here, but just wanted to jump in. I'd be very interested in a subforum for working class families with no college education themselves. It's a little different in my country, many blue collar workers make more money than white collar ones! But, there is a difference in culture which clearly separates the two. I grew up in a family that looked down on white collar workers, not our of jealously but out of the keen differences in cultures between the bogans and the yuppies, which are the extreme examples of both groups.  I don't look down on them, I even like some niceties that would have been frowned upon growing up. But, yeah, there's differences, and in my personal experience there's definite differences in how they homeschool as well, their focuses, goals and what they are able to do seems to change. 

 

Also, college (university)  is one option for our kids, but it's definitely not the only one, or even the best one necessarily. So having a different end goal changes things. I wonder if you might have been hinting at that in your post quoted above, people who don't see college as the ultimate goal (or even a possible one, considering the costs in the US.)

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I should add that my husband does local haul. He hauls crude oil from wells to refineries. He works very long hours, but is home most nights now. :). We're very happy he's not over the road at this point in our life.

 

Thanks for the kind words. They mean a lot.

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Well, reading through this thread has been interesting and I have a lot say as it seems the discussion has gone many ways.

 

For one, the difinition of "blue collar" ---- to me this implies traditionally skilled labor that requires a certain degree of training, such as trade school, apprenticeship or learning skills on the job, is, something that would require more learning than just walking on the job but not more than 1-2 year degree program. I would probably describe this as a "tradesman" or "tradeswoman". Generally, these careers require physical labor of varying degrees (mechanic, carpenter, electritiin, plumber, law enforcement, etc). What would traditionally seperate "blue collar" from the "lower class" (I don't like that term but am using it as it's familiar) or the working poor, would be the low level of skill one would need to enter their job, the lack of ability for one to advance in their career, and generally low wages, and could share the similarity of requiring physical labor, where areas traditionally in our country a "blue collar" to me would have been equated with a much more middle class income (which is a whole other interesting topic in what defines middle class and how do we differentiate it from being poor), although usually the lower to mid bracket of being middle class. In the past, career sin these fields could mean you made a similar wage or higher wage than your neighbor with a 4 year degree in some instances.

 

That said, I don't think that applies much any longer in our country. In the part of the country we live, having a career in trade of skilled labor is no longer a ticket to the "middle class." Neither is a 4 year degree (or more) necessarily for that matter (think public school teacher). And I think that is a very sad thing. As a country we genuinely need skilled labor to run and I am the opinion anyone who puts in a 40 hr week (even in a low skill job) should not have to live in poverty and be eligible for food stamps to get by. I think we need to reinvest in creating skilled labor in our country so that the option of not going to college but securing a middle class job is available once again.

 

I think to an extent we have trouble identifying as part of the working class in this country because we lack a real labor party (although the Democratic Party traditionally took up this platform it was long ago abandoned and only ever a poor substitute to a real labor party based on socialist values). And because we are spoon feed the whole "American Dream" and access to the middle class that I would say a lot of peoe identify as middle class when in fact they are not. I would probably lump skilled labor and unskilled labor together as part of the working class or proletariat. I also think because if the government's rhetoric of blaming the poor for being poor most Americans want to close their eyes to the fact that people with a 40+ hr work week and a trade or skilled labor are struggling to make ends meat because it challenges their perception of what the lower class looks like and contradicts the idea that the poor are poor because they are lazy and made poor choices.

 

I also am enjoying the application of class, the proletariat, Marxism, and a working class party being discussed, but than I was a poli sci major at UCB so that would make me excited!

 

As far as the original question- which I think is do you identify as blue collar and homeschool using the WTM as a resource?

 

Hmmmm.....mostly yes. I grew up in a blue collar family with my mother working a lot of various jobs in the service industry or business with job experience and an AA or staying home and my first stepfather being a carpenter and my second stepfather being in law enforcement. Neither had any sort of college degree. My husbands family was definitely blue collar. My father in law was a truck driver and my mother in law worked in agriculture in a packing shed but in a management level job, and had a stint of running a home daycare when her kids were little.

 

My husband is a mechanic and has been in this industry for about 12 years now. I have a bachelors degree, and am working on my masters degree. But since we homeschool and our a young family, I haven't actually worked since having kids, so we are on one income, and that income is "blue collar" so I would say we most definitely fall into the category of "the working poor" despite my husband having a skilled trade and working 48+ hrs a week and me being very productive as a mother to young children. I largely decided not to work because the cost of childcare when I graduated college for two children 2 and under when I would be entry level would have made the odds for me to earn much more than the cost of care pretty low, so I decided to start a grad school program part te instead after taking some time off. Now with only 6 units to complete my masters and two year old and twins on the way I find myself I'm the same boat. I'm not sure when and if I will be using my degree any time soon.

 

Do working class families use The Well

Trained Mind that homeschool that in know IRL? Possibly? Classical Education through CC is pretty popular in my area. It's a reference listed to those in CC but honestly I don't think a lit if the CC moms actually read up that much on the classical approach to education and largely relay on the CC model to learn how to use it at home based on conversations I have had with moms in real life, the exception being a handful of CC moms, normally tutors, who do have a college degree, some with backgrounds in education. The families I know who do use WTM or similar models (classical or CM) are generally with mom having a college degree and are generally middle / upper middle class. In fact where I live the majority of homeschooling moms I know IRL have a bachelors degree or higher, although I know some moms who do not, and I think they are doing a great job and don't see any reason they can't do it. I do think moms using this forum and The Well Trained Mind are more likely to have college degrees. I would say this is because they are probably more likely to enjoy the process of researching. However I recommend it as a source to all newbies to check out if they'd like to learn more about classical education and don't see why it could not be useful to famies were neither parent has a degree. That said, I do think perhaps some of the older homegrown curriculum from pre y2k with a more unit study feel might be more appealing for families with larger families and a limited budget. I actually enjoy blending both, using unit studies but giving them a CM / classical bent.

 

The other question I think was would families be interested in a sub-forum for blue collar families (or working class)? Yes! I do think it would be a good resource. I think I often feel I am running into challenges that other homeschool moms are not facing in my area because homeschool is increasingly becoming less common among lower income families (at least in my area) and I do sometimes feel a bit out of place in my homeschool community although I would also say that almost all the moms I know in my homeschool group IRL do sacrifice to live on one income even if their husbands make relatively good money because the cost of living is so high where we live. For example we generally all pack lunches for field trips and park days and try to keep field trip costs low because most families are 1 income families. I also am often trying to stretch my homeschool budget as far as I can. I am blessed to have a charter school option with instructional funds. Some years this is the only way we could possibly afford curriculum and have to use funds to pay for basic office supplies like ink, printing paper, markers, construction paper, etc. We often can not sign up for as many classes or extra curricular activities as other families, and there have been times we are struggling to met our basic needs (paying rent and being able to buy groceries or pay for clothes for our kids). I think the general position of living pay check to check adds a bit of a unique challenge to homeschooling that would be great to be able to discuss in a safe place without feeling judged. For example right now I'm expecting twins, and I have have had people suggest that I get night nurse, or an Au Pair. These are not even options I could possibly entertain. We are struggling to just scramble together the second hand items we'll need for twins. We can barely afford to have them, lol! People mean well, and I think because I am well educated, I can easily fit into both the culture of blue and white collar conversation, so maybe people assume I am better off than I am? However, having 3 children already and now expecting twins, expressing to others how tight money is for us would make me feel vulnerable because the obvious (why are you having more kids!?!). I ask myself the same question, lol....that's a whole other topic....I think it's hard for a lot of people to fathom but I am really good at getting pregnant while actively avoiding it.

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