Wednesday, April 14, 2010

And The Gods Laughed.....

Blessings, Darlings!

Long ago, in a city far, far away - okay, in the 1960's in Chicago's north suburbs - my father was trying to help me grow into a financially secure adult. So he tried his best to convince me to grow up to be a teacher. He reasoned that teachers had secure jobs. And, of course, I'm a chick and teaching is a 'woman's job'. Two of his sisters were teachers, after all. His other sister was .... a lawyer. The first woman to graduate in law from the college she went to. For that matter, HE was a lawyer. And one of his brothers a doctor. And the last brother a chemist, or a chemical engineer, I've forgotten which.

But I was sure I'd HATE to teach. I hated the kids I was in school with - this was back in elementary school. I hated the idea of going over the same basic crap year after year. I didn't think I'd like to GIVE tests any more than I liked TAKING tests.

Years passed. My father died not too many years later, while I was still in middle school/junior high school. I .... uh ..... took my time in getting thru' college, changed majors about 5 times, dropped out and worked as a secretary for a while, finally got my degree, and worked for years in shelters with homeless and abused women. My degree? Oh, Health Education. Not that I was ever in a school environment. I STILL didn't want to go near that!

Time passed. I had the Spawn. The first 6 weeks of parenting were the hardest 6 weeks of my life, in part because of the c-section (and I was working with the obgyn with the lowest intervention rate in the area! We went 45 hours from when my water burst 'till the c-section) and in part because in that time my father in law was diagnosed with terminal cancer and died all in that time period.

I went back to work when the Spawn was 6 weeks old. He came to work with me every day - he had an assortment of physical delays, he wasn't tearing up the shelter, he was pretty passive, so he was no problem. He loved sitting in his car seat on a desk top, surveying the staff and clients, being talked to. Husban lost his job. When Spawn was 9 months old we moved. I became a stay at home mom.

But he had all these delays, and I didn't have a diagnosis for him, or any clear idea on how to help him. And his speech delay was frustrating BOTH of us. At 2 1/2 Spawn started special ed preschool, where he became a special ed poster child. He was in regular school for kindergarten.

And I began to think about home schooling. Not because of any experience we'd had in the schools - our experience was great. The teachers were great. The school population was multicultural, which I loved. Schools were close and I volunteered regularly. In fact, our local school was a math/science magnet school, and my son was a year ahead in math and loved it all.

Okay, later he had a math teacher that was MISERABLE for a whole lot of reasons. But I was already interested in homeschooling by then.

But I was already picking up that the schools were socializing the students for old fashioned factory jobs, for blind obedience to bells, etc. I didn't like that the group had to move at the speed of the slowest student. I REALLY hated it when they stopped letting him be a year ahead in math, and he had a miserable bored year.

Husband was NOT thinking about home schooling. Sigh.

But then came middle school. And son had a MISERABLE experience there, due to some teachers who were overwhelmed (school was terribly overcrowded) and may have had other personal issues, and because of bullying. By the end of those two years, Spawn was depressed and felt like a failure. And clearly had ADD and the school hadn't helped us deal with that at all. By middle school, apparently the lost children are supposed disappear, not be helped. He was doing college level work in math and science, and 5th or 6th grade work in reading comprehension and writing.

High school, in the same system, in a school just as overcrowded, terrified us all.

We chose home schooling.

It wasn't a smooth transition. Oh, the first 6 weeks were great - the opposite of the first six weeks of his life! I packed him and camping equipment in the car and we drove the Oregon Trail. Along the way we also visited a ton of the pagans I had met in the chat rooms on Prodigy. We did lots of history, map reading, meeting folks of all different ages/backgrounds, geography, etc. For example, in Casper, we met my online friend Sharon, and her husband led us on a person and detailed tour of Fort Casper and the Fort Casper museum, where he volunteered. In California, Sarah and John, dispite having a VERY new baby, welcomed us and treated the Spawn as a valued equal, worthy of having opinions an being involved in games and conversations.

But I had a hard time finding great textbooks (other than the full set of freshman English text books I'd gotten from a friend who led a high school English department). The Spawn was so disspirited from problems he had in writing that I didn't have him do much writing that entire year. All that got easier over time.

What we really did that first year was work on getting him and me organized. He learned to be in control of his schooling, assignments, life. I learned how to help him learn.

One day I looked at my life and said "Oh, Crap - I'm a school teacher!"

And The Gods Laughed......

Frondly, Fern

No comments:

Post a Comment