Monday, August 22, 2011

Here we go 'round the plumeria tree

The first I heard of homeschooling was a friend of mine whose parents were in YWAM. He was I think 1 year younger than I so maybe 10 or 11. YWAM is a mission organization that sometimes whole families would be in and spend 6 months on the field. So this homeschooling was out of necessity.

I really wanted to homeschool when I heard it extolled on a Christian radio station. So the first reason I had may have been concern for the secular humanism in government schools that I don’t care for. Once we decided to homeschool and grew as parents doing it we learned more good reasons. But I’ve never considered my school years as a reason to homeschool our children until yesterday evening. That’s when I remembered something.

I was an ethnic minority in school. I was awkward and unathletic and usually alone. I was bullied, yes but not to the point where someone should have demanded legislation and curriculum to combat it. I lived through it. But I had very little reason to like school.

Yesterday afternoon I was lying on the grass in my backyard. Jamie and Nathaniel right away made up a game of running and jumping over me and the chickens were out in the yard grazing. After a while Nathaniel tried to catch one. Nowadays you can pick up the layers if you’re quick. Nathaniel wasn’t. And I remembered something in 5th grade.

It was a school day. Whatever the subject was that morning kids were working on it and I noticed movement out the window. There was a chicken outside running around. The school’s vice principal and two students were trying to catch it. For the next several minutes this very tall man and two kids ran circles around a small plumeria tree in a wonderful show of catch the chicken. When my teacher discovered the distraction she became indignant and sent me back to my desk. She assigned me the exercise of writing down what I saw. And because I was in school of course she told me it must conclude with what I learned from it.
I scrawled in dreadful cursive writing year about Mister Williams and two older kids chasing a chicken and not catching it. As for what I learned. I said the lesson was never chase a chicken. What I also may have learned if I didn’t already know it was this. If you’re in school, regardless of what you’re doing you must appear to be learning something.

And last night as I looked at the sky and listened to Nathaniel play I thought of something else, if not a reason to homeschool, at least a mark against government schools. My memories of 5th grade include being pushed around by another kid. I remember a student storming out of the classroom swearing at the teacher. I remember struggling with math but I don’t remember if it was fractions or three digit multiplication. I don’t remember any science or art or English. My best memory of the 5th grade was watching a chicken chase out the classroom window. The writing assignment I got after was supposed to be disciplinary, not teaching. But I did learn from the assignment.

I did learn something even if it took over 30 years to realize. I think the teacher was fearful of any learning that didn’t take place in the agenda of the Department of Education. You will learn just what we tell you to learn. Maybe not all government schools are like that. But if my children are learning at home then I have the option to say the same thing. But that is right because they are my children and will not be taught or raised by the state. I cannot guarantee that they will be any better or smarter at the end of the year than kids who were. But there will be good memories to look back at. That I am sure of.

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