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Homeschool to high school update

Posted by Cyn | Posted in Homeschooling | Posted on 12-11-2006

3

I haven't mentioned how Katie is doing in school in a while. While there have been some adjustment issues switching over to "school" from homeschooling, she's got all As. The "life by the bell" thing has been a nuisance, and she and one of her teachers just do not communicate on the same wavelength, but she's dealing with it. She adores her art class, something I'm definitely not equipped to teach at all.

Two of her three academic classes are advanced, and the third would be but was already overcrowded when we registered her for classes. So much for having trouble getting into high school as a homeschooler.

The schedule isn't easy on her body or the family, but again, she's dealing. She does have increased fibromyalgia symptoms as a result, and has had to add a daily nap to her schedule after school.

One of the most difficult issues is having certain lines of discussion "off limits." That's just too weird, after years of being encouraged to follow her interests and inquiries wherever they lead. While she's attending a relatively liberal school, the fact that it is a school means that there are constraints on subject matter.

Her literature teacher referred to chastity belts as a medieval urban legend earlier in the year, and when she started explaining just how very wrong he was, he slammed the discussion to a close. If the man is going to be so sloppy with his facts, he shouldn't be surprised when he encounters disagreement!

Sam and I met someone yesterday who said, "Advanced classes are how we segregate these days." I pointed out that they certainly aren't new, as my own class of 1984 was tracked into advanced, regular, and remedial (although the last two weren't called that, precisely) tracks, too. I found it an interesting statement, but we were in the middle of Charis Books and discussing many things, and didn't get to pursue that one as far as I'd hoped. What do you think of it?

Comments (3)

I think learn­ing speed tracks of some sort are a healthy way to divide class­es. As some­one on the “hon­ors” track in school, I went bonkers when forced to take “reg­u­lar” class­es out of sheer bre­dom. I read in class dur­ing times when we weren’t learn­ing any­thing new or active­ly engaged in an activ­i­ty. Many kids who are bored act out. But if you keep us busy, then we’re eas­i­er to deal with and hap­pi­er with the course. I think you get the same act­ing out in the slow­er-learn­ing stu­dents as well in “reg­u­lar” class­es, because with­out sig­nif­i­cant instruc­tor atten­tion out­side class they can’t keep up, get over­whelmed, and then give up. Mean­while, every­one who’s learn­ing slow­er than the fastest learn­er feels like an idiot because it’s so easy for those few peo­ple at the top of the class. 

That said, I do think the track­ing sys­tem in use in many pub­lic schools is far too rigid. It is dif­fi­cult to “prove your­self wor­thy” of a high­er track when your brain matures a bit, makes a lot more con­nec­tions, and you’re ready for a big­ger chal­lenge. Guid­ance coun­selors tend to be par­toniz­ing (“Are you sure you can han­dle this? It’s going to be hard!”) and teach­ers dubi­ous of your improved mas­tery of the sub­ject. There’s also a bit of pres­sure to take all their class­es in one track or anoth­er, rather than tak­ing their weak­er class­es in a low­er track than their stronger ones. In my high school, Eng­lish and gym were the only class­es where I tend­ed to see peo­ple who took the rest of the class­es out­side the hon­ors track. 

A more flu­id sys­tem of track­ing that would let stu­dents change with their chang­ing learn­ing speeds over time would go a long way toward alle­vi­at­ing the sense of seg­re­ga­tion. Some­how sep­a­rat­ing “abil­i­ty” or “learn­ing speed” and “mas­tery” of a sub­ject is also nec­es­sary. I think slow learn­ers get brand­ed as stu­pid a good deal of the time, just because it takes them mod­er­ate­ly more time to mas­ter a giv­en con­cept. As it is, your track is kind of like the brand­ing one gets in Brave new World: once a Delta, always a Delta.

I tend to think that learn­ing speed just isn’t enough. What about learn­ing styles? Even more impor­tant­ly, I wish there were a way to let stu­dents who give a damn sort them­selves into class­es togeth­er, so that they can go faster and dig deep­er with­out being held back by the “is this going to be on the test?” twits.

School sys­tems also have an unfor­tu­nate ten­den­cy to lump “learn­ing dif­fer­ence” in with “stu­pid.”

Of course, all of these things are areas where indi­vid­u­al­ized and small-group edu­ca­tion like home­school­ing rock — it just isn’t avail­able to every­one. It’s just hard­er and hard­er as kids get old­er. I know that I couldn’t give Katie what she’s get­ting from three of her four teach­ers right now, and she is get­ting *some­thing* from the group interactions. 

This school isn’t near­ly as good, in most ways, as the one she attend­ed briefly last year, but then, it doesn’t cost near­ly as much, either, and it push­es her much harder.

School sys­tems tend to lump, “Any­one who isn’t a mind­less sheep fal­low­ing the flock” as stu­pid. Schools real­ly have no place for any­one, who isn’t just there to be babysat for the day

Any­one who actu­al­ly is there to learn, is con­sid­ered a trou­ble­mak­er, for expect­ing more from class then just mak­ing those who behave like small chil­dren complacent.

I think Cyn’s com­ment about the teacher slam­ming the dis­cus­sion over mide­val chasti­ty belts to a close, just shows you how utter­ly use­less pub­lic schools are these days. I could’ve learned more from using one of those Fly Pens. It isn’t about edu­ca­tion any­more, it’s about social abil­i­ty. I have Asperger’s Syn­drome, so basi­cal­ly I failed social abil­i­ty with fly­ing col­ors. I mean I have social abil­i­ty, just not with a bunch of mind­less jocks and preps.

So, about home­school­ing vs pub­lic school­ing. I don’t know Cyn. Sounds to me like Katie would do bet­ter at home, then quar­rel­ing with a teacher who throws a fit when he’s dis­agreed with.