Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Friday, September 11, 2009

Homeschooling? What’s that?

Sometimes things happen fast around here.

For years now, we've been dedicated unschoolers, basing our educational philosophy on the work of John Holt, Alfie Kohn, John Taylor Gatto, and Marshall Rosenberg. Unschooling has its challenges, of course, but we made the sacrifices necessary to accommodate them gladly, and everything went well. Sam reads way above grade level. Trin's knows science stuff that most adults don't know. The boys' friends trotted off to their various schools a week or two back, and it seemed we were all set for another year of homeschooling.

Then, last week, Kristin told me that she desired more structure in our lives, including in regards to their unschooling.

Be careful what you ask for. Desire is prayer.

Tuesday, I came home to find Kristin and the boys in deep discussion. Sam had asked to go to school.

Well, our intent in unschooling was to give the boys the best education we could, without coercion. We've told them from the start that they could go to school if they want to, but so far, they've resisted – particularly Trinidad, who did NOT enjoy Waldorf kindergarten. Not that we could afford private school, anyway.

Wednesday, I came home and before she even greeted me, Kristin said, "Come here, look at this!" and showed me the Family School website. It's one of our groovy local alternative public charter schools, and shares much of our educational philosophy: Multi-age classrooms. A cooperative, child-centered learning environment. A garden. Parents are integrated into the school, and can participate as much as they want. It's one of few local schools that composts its food waste. Of course, there are downsides, like the idiotic standardized testing they'll have to endure, and getting up early, but there are downsides to unschooling, too. Besides, as I mentioned, it's also one of our groovy schools that always has a long waiting list; the chances of getting in this year are slim, and the lottery for school choice ended way back in March or something and won't happen again until next year. Still, Kristin and I agreed that she should visit the school and check it out.

Thursday evening, as we sat down to dinner, my ears filled with the story of Kristin's and the boys' visit to the school. They liked what they saw. Even Trin wanted to go. The teachers had mentioned that they were looking to add a couple students, but didn't know what grade level they were looking for – they'd have to meet and decide. The discussion wandered to getting on the waiting list, and wondering how long it was, but both of us felt completely unworried. We both knew that if it was the right thing, they'd get in – if not, no way – regardless of evidence. Then the phone rang. Strange number, so we almost didn't answer, but at the last moment Kristin picked up the phone.

It was the head teacher at the Family School. They'd met. They offered the boys a spot. Both of them, different classes.

Like that.

The boys start their new educational adventure Monday. My homeschooling co-worker is going to be shocked. Shocked! I thought back to my post from just a few weeks ago, and I laughed. "I have to blog about this!"

Eating crow?

Nah. Just sliding along on the path of least resistance. No way is unschooling off the plate. Their educations are still in the boys' hands.

Because nobody can take responsibility for your education, except yourself.


anne said...

Hey girl,

Well, the journey is about the kids, not about forcing them. Max went to all kinds of school alternatives and even did 6 months in regular school (hated it). Eugene has some exceptional charter schools that are more like co-ops than "schools." School and unschool is what you make of it. Your kids will always know that they can no go if they want. Having that freedom is what is important. We didn't have that and school was like jail.

I don't see any eggs on your face, but rather a parent who is listening rather than forcing children to do what you want.


David Carrel said...

That is neat that your kids were able to decide about it. I think it would make a big difference in kids lives if they were at the point where they said, this is what I want to do. Glad you guys seemed to find a good fit. You will have to let us all know how it goes.

Seda said...

Hey, Anne, I took Max's prescience quiz. Interesting. I think Peak Oil is going to shoot down a lot of the other stuff for good. And Peak Oil is either here or right around the corner. So, I'm a doubter.

"I ... see ... a parent who is listening rather than forcing children to do what you want."

'zakly. If the boys hadn't requested it, they wouldn't be going to school. I don't know how long they'll be there - maybe they'll enjoy it and will stay 'til the end. Or maybe they'll be back home next year. They know it's their choice; the issue is not school, but to get the best possible education, and to not limit their horizons.

Hey, David,
It is neat. Imagine if we'd had that choice?

I was going to ask if you're a dad yet, but of course you are. The question is, have you had a chance to hold your daughter in your arms yet? Have you seen her? That's always so exciting!

David Carrel said...

Haven't held her yet, unless wrapping my arms around Sarah's belly counts. haha. It is coming. I will let you know when she gets here. 6 days from due date. Sarah's mom and sister get here on Tuesday, so I am hoping we go from the airport to home for a minute and then to the hospital (although they will probably at least want one night's rest after an all night plane trip. haha

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our