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Keep your school off of my [child's] education

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nov. 20e, 2008 | 10:56 pm

I went to 4-H and played soccer with a girl who was home schooled. She and her 4 siblings were all home schooled. As a middle/high schooler, I thought this was quite tragic. What a terribly uneventful life she must have (which was so very far from the truth- from what I recall she played violin, soccer, did 4-H and whatever else she desire I imagine). In high school my mother's cousin and his wife decided to home school their daughter. I remember thinking that they were probably the worst parents ever. Their daughter would obviously grow up unsocialized and lacking any sense of normalcy.

This is amusing to me when I reflect on my own supposed socialization and normalcy. I suppose to many people I appeared "properly socialized". Mostly though, public school destroyed me emotionally, with support from my family of course. I was teased relentlessly for any number of things- being the chubby kid, the poor kid, the smart kid. When Mike and I decided (more or less) that we'd do some sort of child rearing in the far off distant future I began thinking about their education.

Here's a great statement from a blog I found earlier that is almost verbatim how I feel about public and even private education in the US:
"Schools tell kids what to learn, when, in what order, and probably the worst thing for my kids, schools told them when they had learned enough. My children learned to become passive learners, taking in only what they were given, no longer questioning what else there might be to know."

I've expressed in previous posts my complete dissatisfaction with the current educational system, both at the K-12 and Higher ed level. I think that many teachers share the same dislike of standardized testing and teaching to the test. I have no suggestions on how to improve this situation.

Therefore, my child(ren) will be unschooled at home. I will practice child-led learning because children, as human beings are just as entitled to have personal interests and pursue knowledge they crave rather than becoming inactive knowledge targets.

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Comments {6}


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from: arrowwhiskers
date: nov. 21e, 2008 05:30 am (UTC)

Oh lord public school.

Thank god you're realizing this now. It really will make a difference in your child[ren]'s life. I guarantee it.

This is kind of an egocentric rant, but:
I had the worst school experience ever. The more I talk to other people the more that I realize my high school was more akin to a prison than most. Academically, people had 6 or 7 classes at the same time, each course every day (there were 6 class periods per day) and you were expected to be able to concentrate all your time and effort of all of them simultaneously, and do homework for each of them every night of the week, and learn effectively. It just doesn't work like that. People just crammed information, bullshat assignments, and halfassed their way because there wasn't time for anything else. If, by some miracle, you were interested in stuff beyond the curriculum in class, you were usually met by confusion on the part of the teacher, and sometimes dismissal because they didn't want to waste time straying too far from the mandated curriculum or were annoyed at having to do extra work themselves.

Logistically, you could only miss 7 classes per semester before you were summarily failed from all your courses, there were 3 minutes between classes, 18 minutes for lunch, and no other break times. If you were late to class because you were slow in crossing the building, you were yelled at. Often, students were denied passes to go to the bathroom during class by frustrated teachers, even though there was no time to stop in the bathroom beforehand. There was no open campus, so even seniors who had nothing to do could not leave. It felt so oppressive that I actually developed trauma, because I had physical health issues and would feel nauseous/dizzy during class, and would ask to go to the nurse, and sometimes I would be denied a pass--and other times I would be allowed to go, but the nurse would just become aggravated that I was there so often and would send me BACK to class. It was so traumatic that by the end of my senior year I had to take a year off before going to college to RECOVER FROM PUBLIC SCHOOL.

There is a point to this story, I promise I'm getting there... A friend of mine had a similar experience to mine, but while I stuck it out since I was a senior, she was a sophomore, and public school was making her suicidal. So, she dropped out and started homeschooling. I have never seen such a transformation. Suddenly, she seemed vivacious again, and envigorated by learning. During my year off, I spent a lot of time with her since we both had a lot of free time. We both had to learn how to live again, and how to think of ourselves as free human beings with academic (and physical!) agency. I went to a few of her homeschooling classes, and they just felt like dreams...they were often designed in part by the students, and had so much more freedom to explore various subjects and ways of learning than in normal school. Plus, there was no sense of feeling trapped.

And just, it seems so silly to me that I didn't homeschool from the start. I could have seriously averted so much of the fucked up shit in my life if anyone had even just told me that homeschooling was an option--but that's another poison of the public school system, that it downplays the legitimacy all other possible life directions. So while my friend kicked her school-induced depression and became, in my opinion, one of the most thoughtful and intellectual people I know, I dragged myself out of years and years of burnout. Even now, in my sophomore year of college, I find myself even now unlearning the toxic lessons of school concerning scholarship and work ethic.

Sorry for writing a NOVEL, I'm just really impassioned about this subject because homeschooling changes and enriches lives and I know that there are people who have gone through similar experiences to mine and it just makes me VERY happy to see that someone is seeking to help their children to avoid it. So kudos to you.

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from: jayj79
date: nov. 21e, 2008 07:30 am (UTC)

I went to public school and I learned quite a bit and turned out just fine.

Well, I would have turned out just fine if I wasn't a lazy arse who dropped out of college and let my life go into the shitter. But homeschooling wouldn't have helped with any of that.

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from: thalionhiril
date: nov. 22e, 2008 02:25 am (UTC)

Yes, I totally agree with that. I think that just putting it out there for them is a great start and hopefully they will enjoy learning more. I hate math, but I can think of several ways it could have been introduced/taught to me that would have made it less horrible :)

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Captain Jonesy!

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from: twaingirl
date: nov. 22e, 2008 01:32 am (UTC)

Unschooling IS THE BEST.

If you'd like to talk to anyone about it, you may speak to my parents or my brother, all who serve on the California Homeschoolers Conference

Unschoolers are bright, smart, innovative, self starters.

At one HSC conference, I met this girl who gave a paper at an IAP conference. She's 15. She wanted to learn physics so she did.

Unschooling is better than homeschooling too.

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one of the lost ones

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from: ellaquin
date: nov. 23e, 2008 03:20 am (UTC)

my grandfather told my parents not to send me to school, he said they would pigeonhole me.

Good lord was he right.

The only thing is that, I did learn one important thing from all my years at school that I would have been had a hard time learning otherwise. It's not something easily put into words, its something like acceptance of who I am crossed with the confidence to do things alone if I have to crossed with an understanding of how to blend in. I'm not saying that, like all children in the school system, I was not failed in some areas, I was. In some big ways. And I am not saying it wasn't horrible sometimes, it was.

on the other hand, the price was my wings, my parents would have let me soar, but, when it came time to take my place in the world, I might have been even less able to cope if I had not struggled the way I did. Stupid world. I think we need to overhaul the education system completely.

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from: ziasummer
date: déc. 4e, 2008 09:24 pm (UTC)

Was browsing LJ and came across your page. I was actually barely making it in grade school but in 4th grade went to being home school, I was able to test in and start college at the age of 14 with that extra support. It's sorta funny when I was 19 I got a head injury and I could do some things but had to relearn things, including academics. The 'traditional' style wasn't working. My brain did not know who to do book and then apply to life, so most of my therapies became hands on and guided as I worked on experiences and not focusing on the 'knowledge of it' I got back some of my memories in time and most of them are from the few years I was home schooled and the experiences I had. It took me forever to remember the ABC's but I could write a simple letter with 3-5 letter words... but not remember what order the letters would be if recalling the ABCs.

I tutor now at a after-school program. My Christopher is becoming a teacher. Looking at teaching math or Latin. We both have decided we will most like homeschool or if resources manage to come by, we are looking at getting the additional education to open a small school for learners who are not academically incline. Although my Christopher thrived in public school, he is realizing that is a rare case and not the rule. :(

Thank you for writing something so thought provoking.


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