Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Whodda Thunk It?

There's been a lot of talk about homeschool around here lately. In truth, I've thought of little else.

The topic comes up almost every year.

School is difficult for my son under the best of circumstances. He is fantastically bright and creative. But he is an unconventional child. And public school is ill suited to educating children who are anything but "average" and/or "normal". It is also ill suited to nurturing gifts such as creativity, imagination and ingenuity.

Out of the box thinkers only make things more difficult for teachers who are already laboring under almost intolerable working conditions; overloaded classrooms, rigid curriculum, strict policies, and NCLB initiatives. They just don't have time to deal with a lot of free thought and extrapolating ideas.

For a lot of you, it's been many years since you were exposed to the charms of public education. And perhaps you, like me, have somewhat idyllic memories of your elementary school days.

I remember having two recesses every day, plus our lunch recess. We had art and music on alternating days of the week, so depending upon the week, we had one or the other three times.

My children are flabbergasted when I tell them this. They simply don't believe it.

Because there is no time for fun or creativity in school anymore.

Elementary school children get ONE recess a day, directly following lunch. And "specials" (art, music and technology) happen once a week.

My Middle Schooler gets 20 minutes for lunch, period. That is his one and only break throughout the entire day.

"Connections" classes are supposedly elective, but are chosen for you on a rotating basis. My poor Pubescent One has gotten Family and Consumer Science, Keyboarding, and Health so far this year. Finally, this quarter, he got Phy Ed, which he, strangely enough, really wants. But he's gone the whole year with no art or music.

This is nothing new, and I've written about it several times. It's one of my pet issues, which you know if you've been reading me for any length of time.

Our public schools are not breeding great thinkers, strong leaders, visionaries, trailblazers or captains of industry. They are churning out drones; worker bees who can follow directions and will take their place willingly in the natural order of things.

People who become wildly successful adults do so despite their public education, not because of it.

So there's that.

And then, of course, there's the bully issue. Being picked on constantly complicates matters and causes an already struggling child to founder further.

So...why the hell didn't I begin homeschooling my children years ago??? You may be asking.

It's a valid question.

I have no philosophical objections to home schooling. In fact, I greatly admire people who can take that on and make it work.

I can't.

One thing I've learned from taking this journey with my boys is that the reason I did so poorly in school is that I quite likely suffer from ADD as well. I doubt I could provide the structure, the constancy and the direction that they would need to succeed.

Oh we would do well for a while; a month, maybe two, while the idea was still novel and we, still enthusiastic. But then things would begin to slowly fall apart. We would sleep a little later every day. We would skip a lesson here, an assignment there. We would begin to blow off mandatory reporting.

And soon, my kids would be doing nothing but wearing their pajamas all day and playing video games until their eyes crossed.

And patience...lord people, I am not a patient person. God, if he's up there, has played quite a prank pairing Diminutive One and I. Because aside from having ADD, and possibly Asperger's, he's stubborn, defiant, persistent and agrumentative. His behavior is sometimes very difficult to endure. When you throw my impatience into the mix you have a genuine recipe for disaster.

But every year, when it becomes clear that public school has yet again failed my son, I revisit the issue; turning it over and over in my mind, running down the pros and cons over and over and over.

It always comes down the the fact that I am afraid to take on something that is supposed to be for his benefit only to wind up doing him more damage than the school could ever hope to do.

Quite simply, I don't want to be responsible for ruining my kid.

Last night, because he is not attending school right now, and because he had been waiting eagerly, I let him stay up watch "Waking The Baby Mammoth".

We chatted as we prepared a snack.

"I wonder how long that baby mammoth has been frozen?" he mused.

"I think the advertisement said she has been in the permafrost for 40,000 years!" I exclaimed.

"What's permafrost?"

"Uh, I think it's a mixture of dirt and ice that's below the snow."

"Hmmmm." he said thoughtfully. "How do they know it's been 40,000 years?"

"I don't know, but I'm sure we'll find out."

"Do you think she died in like, a meteor blast or something, or do you think she just got sick?"

"I don't know. I'll be interested to hear the answer to that myself."

We settled down to watch the two hour program, during which, we talked about the things we were learning.

We learned that Russian reindeer herders are nomadic and live in tents and that they move from place to place as they follow their herd. It was a reindeer herder who found Lyuba.

He thought it an ill omen and feared that his family might be cursed by the discovery. For this reason, the wife was not terribly pleased that the dead Mammoth infant had been named after her.

The scientific team that visited them in their tent was served raw reinder meat and hot tea. We agreed that we would have a hard time choking it down, but would try, for the sake of diplomacy.


"I guess they don't ever take baths, since they don't have a bathroom." Diminutive One hypothesized.

"I think it's probably too cold anyway..." I said. "I wonder what the average temperature is out on the Tundra?"

Moments later, our question was answered.

"Yep, definitely too cold to take a bath!" he announced.

For two hours, this continued. Both of us enjoyed the program immensely, and even after it had concluded, Diminutive One was full of chatter and questions. Those that hadn't been answered, we looked up on the internet.

And there, at midnight on a Sunday night, just he and I struck me.

This is homeschooling, dudes.

I've been homeschooling my kids for years.

What about that.


  • At 1:38 PM, Blogger Middle Girl said…

    Yep. Anyway you slice it.

    So, so cool.

  • At 1:49 PM, Anonymous AA said…

    Exactly. And that is why you do not have to worry about your kid. He will get "enrichment" (that's and educationn term) at home. Just like I will drive 40 miles (one way) today to take my kid to piano lessons and music theory class. Our kids will get what is not missing from public school. I feel sad for the kids whose parents won't, or can't, do that for them. I also feel sad for our society and how it will be changed. Soon, I fear, there will be no one who plays piano in bars or volunteers to lead the children's choir, no one who can sit down and play Happy Birthday or Jingle Bells at a party.

    I really think you could homeschool. There are many ways to do it. There are even sattelite classrooms and videos that he can watch, so that you don't have to do it all.

  • At 1:51 PM, Anonymous AA said…

    Oops! Typos-- that should say what is NOW missing from public schools. I hate it when my typos change the whole meaning of the sentence.

  • At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    I'm so sorry about the state of your state public education. I live in SE Wisconsin where my 2nd & 4th grader have morning & afternoon recess and lunch recess. Art, music and PE are twice a week.
    I realize that we are lucky, because even in the same school district they have taken away recess at one school due to No Child Left Behind in order to be better readers and have higher test scores. So sad.
    Good luck with whatever you decide for your son!
    Amy in Sheboygan

  • At 5:22 PM, Blogger Unknown said…

    If I could homeschool MY two nutcases, you could certainly do one slightly off center but smart as heck young man. I KNOW you could. You're just thinking of homeschooling like it's schooling at home, and that isn't going to work for DO. He's more of a deep learner, a kid that takes something and really wants to know all about it. That doesn't mean that this isn't the RIGHT approach because of the archaic GA schools. It might be just the right approach for him.

    And you have to remember that homeschooling involves joining various groups, finding people that specialize in teaching languages or math or science, and then you get to teach something (writing) that you're really well versed in. Homeschooling is just schooling outside of a building, and you design the curriculum, you design what DO needs to learn, and you make the connections between other homeschoolers in your area who can help you just as you can help them.

    Even park days (i.e. recess) can be 2 or 3 hours long several days a week, which would suit DO's desire for PE.

    You CAN do it. You have to find the right kind of homeschooling for your family. And you have to set certain hours that are school hours, and stick to them. We only did 2 hours/day of actual schooling and we ended up a full grade level ahead of the game for both kids. My son did a year of math in 6 weeks. He spent almost no time on the actual lessons, he picked things up quickly and ran with them.

    If you want some off line advice, you know how to find me!

  • At 7:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    As I was reading this post I thought from the beginning "this is homeschooling" and it's great you realize that.

    When I was contimplating homeschooling I had the same thoughts you do. I figured by now (been doing it 7 years) that we'd be in our PJs all day (and sometimes we are), that we'd miss lessons (sometimes we do), and that we would not accomplish anything (and sometimes it feels that way). However, at the end of each year I look back and realize how much we've learned, accomplished, ENJOYED each other, etc.

    We get on one another's nerves. We have to have breaks from one another.

    Now I have to say this...and hope it doesn't start a huge debate or make you too angry... but your comment "Quite simply, I don't want to be responsible for ruining my kid." confuses me.

    So therefore I must ask a question.

    Others are already ruining your kid as evidenced here... and you are rightfully able to blame them.. so does blaming them make you able to sleep at night?

    You taught your children how to talk, walk, eat, bathe, love, honor, etc. Surely you can teach them the easy stuff... math, writing, reading, phonics, etc.

    Plus there are many options in the homeschooling community. There are programs you can use that teach him on a computer or using DVDs on a Tv. You could get full curriculums that you teach and keep records.

    Look up the laws in your state.
    Look up the curriculum options you have. Look up the methods of homeschooling and surely ONE if not more would fit your life style.

    You could "school" him in a matter of a few hours a day. Leaving the rest of the day for personal activities for you and for him.

    TRY it for the rest of this year... if it doesn't work put him back in public next year.

    You should try it and at least KNOW if it would work. It's not like you can't go back to public school. It's not like this is a life altering change that can be reversed.

    Just do it. {smile}

  • At 8:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    Get thee to this website:

    Mary in Texas

  • At 6:51 AM, Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said…

    I love this post --- you should read about unschooling which doesn't mean "no schooling", or think about eclectic homeschooling (which is what we do). We have some structure but it isn't anything like a school environment, and I really try to adapt things to fit my kids' learning styles.

    There are lots of ways to skin a cat (so to speak) and there are literally dozens of ways to handle schooling at home. And there are books and websites about homeschooling kids with ADD.

    But get ready to be faced with some majorly religious people---we aren't Christian but most of the homeschoolers we know are. Fortunately, we have found many who don't care if we are or aren't, although there are some groups we can't join b/c we aren't of their faith. Oh well, their loss.

  • At 12:26 PM, Anonymous Apryl's Antics said…

    D to the ITTO. Out-of-the-box means out-of-the-cubicle to me. Nothing wrong with that.

  • At 4:56 PM, Blogger Laura K. said…

    Awesome. I love seeing the lightbulb go on for parents when they realize that they are, in fact, very capable of facilitating their child's education.

  • At 1:51 PM, Blogger PunditMom said…

    I'm not in shock anymore at how little our kids get in public school these days. But I am shocked at how the school is treating your child. I am sure there is a reporter out there who would LOVE to hear about this story. Really.

  • At 11:14 AM, Anonymous gurukarm (@karma_musings) said…

    BA, Amanda has totally nailed it. Trying it out for the rest of this school year is a great idea.

    I encourage you also to read this really great book, "The Dan Riley School for a Girl" - written several years ago by a dad who saw that public school wasn't working for his daughter, and decided to homeschool her for a year - this is a really readable and inspiring, and helpful! book. He tells how he made it work in his work schedule and for his daughter to still be able to hang with friends etc.

    You can do it! You go, girl! (cheerleading away, here! :-) )


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