Investing in Education: Teaching and Learning

By Laura Hoffpauir

Teaching and learning are two things I’m passionate about. For the past 30 years I have been homeschooling my 6 children. Over the years I have also spent time teaching small group co-op classes, volunteering to teach religious education classes, and tutoring. Next month, I’m set to retire from homeschooling as my youngest finishes high school.

When people ask what I’m going to do after I “retire”, I tell them I don’t know exactly, but I do know that it will be in the realm of education. I’m sure I will continue to tutor high school math. Other ideas I’m considering include teaching math in some larger homeschool co-ops, a return to volunteering in religious education, writing the math textbook I’ve been talking about for years, and writing articles and creating workshops and videos designed to help parents help their children with math.

One of the things I love about teaching is that I continue to learn as I teach. Every student is unique, and I have had the great privilege of teaching students who think differently, learn differently, and have mental, emotional, or physical obstacles to overcome in order to learn. As I try to help them, I learn about their struggles and their strengths and what works best in each situation. I learn new methods and new approaches to teaching. Sometimes my research into finding new ways to explain a certain topic even leads to having a broader and deeper understanding of the topic myself.

In addition to what I learn by teaching, I invest in myself by learning new things constantly. I find joy in the learning, it keeps my aging brain well exercised, and often the things I learn are useful as well as entertaining.

In the last few years, I have learned some basic ukulele chords and strum patterns, new craft techniques, and new recipes. I took advantage of free courses in gardening, calligraphy, productivity, and home management. I’ve watched videos to learn basic design, pattern making, how to make crepe paper flowers, paint on denim, work with watercolors, replace the belt on my dryer, and create my own digital planner and digital stickers. I visited a zoo, an arboretum, and a couple of nature centers, soaking in the natural beauty and the knowledge they offered. I attended an online presentation by a research scientist about a rare disease that affects one of my family members, I perfected my technique for starting a fire in the fire pit, and I attended enriching presentations at several churches.

My 83-year-old father reads about particle physics as a hobby. Several months ago, my mother learned how to make a t-shirt quilt so she could work on a project with one of her granddaughters. This apple didn’t fall far from the tree. I have no doubt that as long as I’m able, I’ll continue to invest in myself by learning and invest in my community by teaching.

Laura Hoffpauir is passionate about learning and teaching. She has homeschooled her 6 children, taught small classes in homeschooling co-ops, and continues to provide tutoring services. She also enjoys crochet, crafts, birdwatching, word games, and live music of all kinds, from her daughters’ church choirs to her husband and son’s rock cover band, The Lakeshore Drivers.