Whodda Thunk It?
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.
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.
"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 awake...it struck me.
This is homeschooling, dudes.
I've been homeschooling my kids for years.
What about that.