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Homeschool to high school update

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?

3 comments

  1. SilverSliver says:

    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.

  2. cyn says:

    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.

  3. Jackie says:

    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.

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