Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Saturday, March 17, 2012

And while we're at it...

The chief wonder of education is that it does not ruin everybody concerned in it, teachers and taught. ~Henry Brooks Adams 

Amongst the more inane comments to come out of the discussion [?] on homeschooling was this to a homeschooler who graduated from Sarah Lawrence: Well, you would have done well in the Public system as well.  Even I know Sarah Lawrence is pretty top of the ant pile but I take exception to the thinking that assumes this kid would have done well anywhere.

I do wonder where people leave their brains some days.  Honestly.  The commentors don't know this girl's personality, inate  academic ability, distractability yadda yadda.  They know nothing about her at all excpet what she chose to reveal; just 2 things: she's a homeschool graduate & she graduated with a law degree from Sarah Lawrence.

*Sigh*.  The first thing any homeschooling parent learns is that no two children learn alike.  Not even siblings.   What suits one is probably poison to the other.  I wish it were as simple as some of these people would like to make it!  Teachers know this too but when you have 30 kids to teach you are going to make a number of sacrifices.  Too much originality is not going to be encouraged.

Liddy attended school.  We actually pulled her out the first time in preschool.  My boys did preschool at home.  When Liddy's turn came she had already done 2 years of preschool & the brand new preschool 2 islands over bored her to tears.  She was so distressed we pulled her out~  I did not confer with Dearest on this one.  She began grade one on cue at the local primary school ~ & to all intents & purposes Liddy was a model student.  She learnt to read & write & do math.  She didn't hit, kick or bite people who annoyed her [our boys did so BIG bonus, this one!]  She was social, helpful, sporty & apparently doing well all round.  Apparently.  I was not overly happy with certain changes I noticed.  Liddy, always passive aggressive, became much more so.  She became very reserved & lacking in confidence ~ not  traits of her earlier years!  She became exceedingly reluctant to express an opinion & when she entered High School she began begging us to take her out.  The Negative Peer Pressure [read socialisation!!!] was causing nightmares, sleepwalking, temper tantrums.  Her academic grades did not slip.  She was still a high achieving athlete.  But her personality was warping.

We pulled her out.  It was the best decision we ever made.  Not that adjusting to homeschooling was easy for any of us but within months we noticed remarkable changes in Liddy's personality.  She was making eye contact when addressed by an adult.  She was expressing her opinions more.  She was more confident & secure.  She was relating better all round to everyone she came into contact with.

Now my Star is a different kettle of fish all round.  Star was very much the child who did not want to play alone; the child who thought her siblings were there to entertain her; the child who set out to wow the world & expected plenty of acclaim while she did it!   And we did not put her in school.  I was, however, working part time at the time & I had an exceptionally good raport with the grade  1/2 teacher so every so often when Dearest was unavailable I got permission for Star to have a morning at school in a regular classroom.

Star is not one of my passive/aggressive ones.  Star is one of my ADD ones.  She was reading rings round the rest of grade one, who were only half~way through their alphabet.  She had moved from counting in ones to 100 to counting by 5s to 100. She was uninterested in the lessons so had a wonderful time doing what Star has always done best: talking!!! She doesn't need an audience.  Star has always had a strong auditory learning style so she just rabbited on & on...& on...&....

The teacher thought she was wonderful.  So bright.  So enthusiastic.  So helpful.  So obedient.  Star!!!  She wanted a dozen Star's in her classroom.  If only she knew!  At the time we planned on intergrating Star into school so these occasional outings were considered highly important guages as to how sucessful her intergration would be. 

The first one was an unmitigated sucess.  Everything had huge novelty value.  Star felt very grown up ~ & she knew she didn't have to stay forever.  The third one was a disaster.  No novelty value.  I was a little late arriving in the junior playground to pick Star up but she had her morning tea & I knew she knew what she was to do.  I expected to find her playing with her little friends & was prepared to let her stay for the afternoon session if she was keen.  She wasn't.

I found Star sitting by herself under a tree, her morning tea uneaten, the staff unconcerned by her isolation. [Obviously she was molly~coddled & just needed to *man up*].  We collected her things & went home.  My lively, inquisitive, talkative child was absolutely silent.  She was white & I wondered if maybe she was coming down with something when she took herself to bed & went straight to sleep.  I though we had just infected the entire school with some dread disease!

When she finally surfaced again, her usual perky self though still with huge dark rings under her eyes, I asked about her morning in school.  Mummy, Star said seriously, They are noisy & naughty.  I learnt later from the teacher it had been one of her less succesful mornings & the noise level had been pretty bad.  Star had ended up with a massive headache that took several days for her to get over completely.

Star, even way back then, had a musician's hearing.  She was, & is, extremely noise sensitive.  Days, weeks, months & finally years in such an environment would have damaged her hearing irreparably.  The child who one might have thought would best thrive in a school environment is the one who most needed not to be there but even Liddy, who in so many ways coped really well,  still did not perform to her best until we pulled her out.  She stunned us all with her first marks.  Unlike Star English was not Liddy's strong subject & she had only ever scraped Cs.  After one term of me on her case she was scoring As & A+s.  Her math went up although in that she was completely self~taught.  Her other subjects also came up.

It begs the question, doesn't it?  How much better might so many other children do if they too could come out of the schools & study in comparative peace & quiet at home?

I am not anti public education.  We need it because not every parent can, or even wants to, educate their own, but it is sheer arrogance to assume that every child can or should be in school; that every academically able child will do well wherever they are educated; that because you have had a bad experience either at school or at home that that is so for others & so people shouldn't have a choice.  That's what Hitler thought.  He knew the key to controlling the country was to control the youth ~ & he did.  It's why homeschooling is still illegal in Germany.  Hitler banned it so no~one could teach the youth an oppossing point of view.  And the west's educational system is based on this.  Worth thinking about, eh?


Joyfulmum said...

Thanks for sharing your kids experiences ganeida! No one can argue with our personal testimonies that's for sure!

Ruby said...

Yes, it is great to hear of stories such as these because we have not actually experienced our children in a school environment. (Workshops, homeschool groups aside) Also, you yourself have the experience of working with children in both. As I have mentioned before my own school days were wonderful. I also worked in a school library for years but a rather exceptional girl's school. Not that there weren't any problems but nothing like some state highs.

Pen Wilcock said...

Well said!