Thursday, July 21, 2005

My name is Jenny and I am a homeschooler. My dc are still pre-schoolers, but I've known from the beginning that I wanted to homeschool. When I was young, school was very easy for me. I could read before I entered Kindergarten. I always tried to impress the teachers because I wanted them to be proud of me. But in second grade my best friend told me that everyone else hated me because I was smarter than they were. I had thought I had friends - guess not. Shortly thereafter, I learned that I only had to put in half as much effort to get the same results as everyone else, so that's what I did. I certainly didn't want to put in more effort because I wanted friends. I got my friends, but the half-the-effort for all-the-work method started to fail me somewhere around seventh grade. I ended up dropping out of high school and taking the California High School Proficiency Exam (which by law must be accepted as a "real" diploma) in the beginning of my senior year because I got caught ditching something like three weeks of school. I didn't care in the slightest and the scary part was that the CHSPE was still ridiculously easy.

It wasn't until junior college, a couple of years later, that I started to care about my education. I believe it was the combination of actually paying for it, the fact that I got to choose which classes to take, and that I didn't have to be there made it mean so much more. I learned for the sake of learning and graduated a member of the honor society. I then transfered to one of the University of California campuses as a junior and was graduated from there with a Bachelor's of Science in Chemistry. The most important thing I learned in college though, besides algebra, was how to learn. I learned a lot more actual chemistry in my first job than I did in school, but college taught me how to learn. Why is it that twelve years of compulsory education hadn't taught me that??

I worked as a math and science tutor both in college and as a supplementary job during those first broke years of marriage. I saw that just about anyone can learn just about anything with one on one attention and it made me seriously look into the option of homeschooling. I tutored a couple of girls who were homeschooled for their elementary years and had transferred back to public school for high school. They were the smartest, sweetest, most genuine teenagers I had ever met. I frequently asked them about their homeschool experience and they had nothing but great things to say about it. I think they convinced me. :)

Shortly after my dd was born I read The Well-Trained Mind and fell in love! That was the education I was meant to have and that was the education I was going to give my dc. LOL, I'm slowly learning that I don't always get to choose but that's ok. I want my children vested in their education so that they care about it and always want to learn more. I feel that classical education really has the potential for that. My plan is to introduce a broad topic or point in time and let them explore which parts are the most interesting to them. Here's the skeleton, fill in what you really want to know. As long as I can keep myself from being too bogged down by the ideals that they have to learn Latin in fourth grade and logic in sixth, etc, etc. then I hope that I can keep a love of learning alive in them. Education should be an adventure, not a chore.

Another book that I read that really influenced me was Dumbing us Down by John Taylor Gatto. I could really relate to many of the inherent flaws in the public education system that he has observed from his years as a public school teacher. In a nutshell, he claims that public schools are meant to turn children into drones of consumers who respond to advertising and do not bother to think for themselves. It's a pretty depressing reality, especially since I could see how "the system" has, in fact, shaped me in many ways. I saw him speak at a local alternative schooling conference and when I approached him to autograph my book, I felt as though he had just looked into my soul and knew everything that I have just told you here. (He probably did too, because I think my story is a pretty common one.) He signed my book, "Light up the shadows - John Taylor Gatto" and that is what I intend to do. I am naming our homeschool Shadowlight Academy in his honor and I hope to keep the light and the love of knowledge burning in my children and hopefully in their children for generations to come.

I hope you enjoy my blog, but my main purpose in writing it is to keep myself on track. I'll be posting pretty equally about the education of my children and the education of myself - it's all homeschool to me. ;) Welcome to my life. My name is Jenny and I am a homeschooler.