Quote of the day...er...week...umm...hey, look, a quote!!

"...besides love, independence of thought is the greatest gift an adult can give a child." - Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One

For old quotes, look here.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Others Have Excuses, I Have My Reasons Why

So why do I home-school?

Or is that homeschool? Or home school?

Ahem. In no particular order, here are some (but probably not all) of the reasons:

While generally adequate, the public schools where I live aren't terrific - the children who attend them cannot answer even the most basic of questions in math, history, literature, or civics. I knew more in the fourth grade than these kids know upon graduation - and I was not a stellar student (Homework? Uh...what's homework??)

Public schools around here have become more like holding pens and less like educational institutions. They quash individuality, creativity, and free thinking, focusing instead on turning children into drones ready for the workforce - don't raise your voice, raise a question, think for yourself. Go along to get along.

The schools are rife with bullies who get away with it if they're involved with sports programs - they are idols worshipped on the field every weekend and Gods among their fellow students, and parents will demand a teacher be fired before they will accept their precious center-forward or quarterback might not have an A, or misbehaved, or broke the law and therefor has been dropped from the team, suspended, or benched for one game. Nope, their precious little darlin' can do no wrong, and they'll scream bloody murder about disciplinary action but won't deign to apologize to the old lady whose lawn is trenched, to the smaller, weaker kid who was victim to vicious pranks, to the neighborhood righting baseball batted mailboxes, to the girl who was assaulted.

Drugs, especially methamphetamine, are rampant; more often than not administrators turn a blind eye rather than try to help. Or they swing to the other extreme and crack down so hard that even the best of students are smothered.

Weapons and assaults are common. Threats of violence are common. Acts of violence are common.

Where I live, what church you attend is more important than what kind of life you live. I am pagan. My son is pagan. In a deeply religious (but not necessarily spiritual) Christian community, who do you think would be the target for pranks, bullying, and censure?

Private schools in my area are almost all attached to churches. Those that aren't are either military academies (where local folks tend to send the kids they can't be bothered with or they can't handle, sad to say) or so exclusive and expensive that I could win the lottery and still not afford them.

I want my son's spirit to make it through his education intact. I want him to enjoy learning, to go about it as naturally as breathing, and not to be forced into one class with kids who are one age all doing one thing at one time. I think the system we have today is just about the worst educational system there could be - it runs counter to how children naturally learn, and if I don't have to force my round kid into a square hole, I won't.

Ultimately, I think he's safer and likely to have a better education here than in someone else's hands. If he was in the school system right now, he'd be forced to speed up or slow down to keep on pace with the other kids his age. Instead, he may be a little rough with his handwriting and need some extra time for that, but his math skills are at second-grade level. He knows anatomy better than some adults, and could lecture at the Smithsonian about dinosaurs. He is learning to cook, to do laundry, and to play the drum. He is learning sign-language and Spanish.

He can play equally well with children his age, younger children, and older kids too. He is open to new folks, doesn't care about skin color or who they worship, and isn't invested in any fads (if you don't have Poke Mon you're a freak who should be shunned)(or whatever the latest thing is). He knows that people eat a variety of foods, and even if he doesn't like what they're eating they can be friends. He doesn't care about clothing or who is playing with whom or popularity - he is a kid acting like a kid and I'm going to let him grow up on his own, not at some State-mandated pace.

As for socialization - he gets plenty of that. Homeschooling doesn't mean we never leave the house - on the contrary, as much as my agoraphobic arse would like to stay in, we are constantly going out - to the market, the bank, friend's homes, play groups, and soon enough we'll be trying to add karate and gymnastics to the list. We go to museums, the library, parks, and movies. His education is never-ending...it's all an opportunity to learn.

There are no sick days in home-schooling. You can't skip home, either. We can study things by being in the middle of them - American history by traveling around the country. Oceanography by going to the seaside. How do trees affect our environment? Let's go to a forest and find out! How does electricity work? Let's go to the EMC and ask! We aren't limited to certain days or times. If we want to go on the road, we can. If he blasts through first grade in a month or three, we can move right on to second grade without having to wait for anyone else. If it takes him thirteen months to get second grade, no biggie.

If public education is what a family can afford, then I have no issue with that - sometimes you have to take what you can get, and a child deserves to learn. Kids are sponges, absorbing it all at an astonishing rate. Home schooling is not for everyone, and I don't think it's superior or inferior to any other form of education - I just think it's the best fit for my child at this time.

I admit it's not all sunshine and roses - homeschooling means I don't have a minute to myself unless I beg my husband or mother to hang with the kid for a little while, or get up early or go to bed late - it took more than a year to write a book you could read in an afternoon (short and not very complicated), because I went days without having the time to write...and often, I went without sleep to write into the wee hours because I knew I wouldn't have any other opportunity. Yeah, yeah, your heart's breaking, I know. I have to include the Evil Genius in all my plans, or make arrangements for someone to watch him while I try to get things done. If I want to write, clean, weed, do laundry, or get anything accomplished, I can't do it without a constant pull for my time and attention. His education is my responsibility - and that can be a terrifying prospect!

I know I'm leaving things out, not addressing every reason, every concern - but I've been composing this for quite a while now, and it's time for us to bake bread - which will teach measurements, fractions, chemistry, a little biology, and baking skills to the Evil Genius. School on!!


MereCat said...

Girl, I hear ya. And it's not just public schools that are lame, it's GA public schools that are indeed embarrassing. I wouldn't dis public education in many other parts of the country because it can be quite good, but here? You almost have no choice but to home school.

Rock on with your bad self. I am most respectful.

Kyddryn said...

Funny you should mention...I'm in Georgia. Yep...the schools here rank somewhere around Hell's armpit for quality.

Oh, there are a few with stellar teachers and incredible resources, but I don't live in Dunwoody anymore, I live halfway to the sticks!