I’m not at all sure what I should be focusing on today. I spent much of the day thinking about what is wrong with our school system, after reading an excerpt of an article critical of homeschooling, and a blog post comeback highlighting that innovation comes from a variety of choices. Several of the comments were critical of the blog post and more in favor of public schooling but I thought the blog was right on target. It raised so many mixed feelings since I have experience on both sides.
My husband and I had both been through the public schools and there was a good one in the neighborhood so it seemed like the logical choice. And yet very early in his student experience I was having problems with how things were going. First of all, he was put in a combination class and loved being the older student and liked the teacher, but after a month or so, they decided to scatter the second graders into the other classes as there were too many first graders. He was put into a class with a real battle ax of a teacher. Boy was she strict, and boy was that my way or the highway approach wrong for my right brained kid! When they were punishing him by taking away recess simply because he couldn’t do timed math tests to suit them, I started looking into homeschooling. I am the type of person who wants to have a pretty good idea of what I am getting myself into so I didn’t pull him out at that time. I think it might have been wise though.
Third grade started and he was put with a teacher he liked. But then in December they pulled him out to put him into a combination class again. I objected, but it seems the parents don’t have much pull on things like that. Again I seriously considered pulling him out but held back for various reasons and I kept reading books about it. I’m convinced that teacher thought I never looked at the work he brought home because he had the last mailbox slot and somehow came home without permission slips on more than one occasion. By fourth grade, he was no longer under the class size restriction, so he finally got to stay with his teacher. He had to bootstrap his grades in one subject into passing territory by doing extra credit work but overall it was a positive year. That teacher loved him dearly even though he frustrated her no end when he simply wouldn’t put forth the effort to do his work or turn it in, on occasion.
Fifth grade was coming up and he told me he did not like any of the 5th grade teachers. So we finally tried out homeschooling, working with a district program to make sure he was on top of all the subjects. He often didn’t want to work for me either but we could try all sorts of things from exercise breaks, to oral dictation (that was him telling me things, which I would then write down to document it). We read all sorts of things, including the Odyssey, though he still balked at math, so we never made it through the math program I had bought. But it was an interesting year and I would have been willing to continue on, except he missed his friends, so he went back into public school.
There were a lot of other ups and downs over the next six or more years. At times I cried in frustration when the missing work problem would crop up again. It seems as though teachers think I could just have a little talk with him and he would function like a left brained kid. He gets the subjects, most of the time, but misses how or when the assignments are made. Sometimes on new subjects, it really does seem like he takes a few weeks to translate them into some form where his brain can assimilate the information. But he has improved over the years to where he is on the honor roll and he is going to college.
Of course, especially with math classes, he still asks why he needs this or that subject. I am unfailingly honest. I tell him I do not understand why there are so many more requirements than when I went to school. He has to take them because the Sacramento bureaucrats, who may have no experience in teaching, child raising or child development, have decreed that it must be so, if he wants to go to college. And unfortunately for him, there are some distribution requirements for college as well.
Well, this is getting too long, so I will talk about child #2 tomorrow.