Thursday, September 13, 2012
Back to School
Listening to people talk about going back to school brought back memories for me .
I was thinking about my childhood and lunch boxes. Did you have a metal lunch box? Do you remember what a status symbol your lunch box was? I always hoped to have the coolest one but never did. One year I thought for sure I had one of the best and this girl showed up with a drawstring bag, she had the only one and she got best lunchbox. She was also biggest snob.
What did you love about going back to school? Did you make book covers from brown paper bags?
Did you love the smell of new crayons? Did anyone else like to smell the leather in their new saddle oxfords? The most uncomfortable shoes ever made, I swear they felt like 5 pound weights. I begged my Mom for them and hated walking home in the heat with those monsters on. Me and Huckleberry we would have been buds.
I was kind of an academic kid. I loved the books. In elementary school I would read the "reader" the night I brought it home and then ask the teacher for a new book the next day. That didn't go over to well. It also got me tied to the chair.
If I was a child today there would be no hope for me. I could hardly manage to sit still between recesses unless I was really interested in what we were doing. Now there is no recess. We all looked forward to the lunch HOUR. That's where we made friends and played games or got into fights and all of that baloney. Kids today barely have time to eat and use the bathroom, they get 15 minutes at my grand kids school. I remember learning about the schools in Red China. The children wore uniforms and worked long hours without play. I felt so sorry for them. I don't see much difference between them and us anymore, in our schools.
Childhood is so short. There is enough time to cram data into our children's heads. In this day of information you really need to know how to find information. More importantly you need critical thinking and how to evaluate what you read. Children need to know how the world is made, how things grow, how to treat each other and learn to work. Makes sense that farm kids turn out so well. They get a lot of fresh air, sunshine and real life experience. I don't know why we turn over our most precious commodity; our own children to failing institutions, or any institution for that matter. Have you ever really thought about that?
I'm so grateful that I learned about home schooling and that my granddaughters were the beneficiaries of that. Those years were such joy for us. We were able to CHOSE what we wanted to study and where we wanted to study it. There is nothing like studying the sea at the beach!
The world is really your oyster when you teach your own.
It;s great to be able to take a big tote bag or basket to the library and go hog wild checking out books, and then read them! After the book is read you take it back not belabor it until what you learn is to hate reading. How do you know if a kid reads a book? You read it too and talk about it. Or they write about it and you read it. We think we need a degree to teach but teachers with degrees are so busy trying to maintain some sense of order and keep records of who is where doing what; how much time do they have? Even those with the best of intentions have a very tough time of it.
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. She is a 6th grade math teacher in a poor school. They have a beautiful building. They have new stuff. The problem is the teachers came from that same neighborhood, they tell the kids they are stupid. A lot of my friends students are at the 2nd grade level. She can hardly maintain her class because of the rowdy behavior of the kids. What are those kids supposed to do? They have no time to run, they don't understand what's expected of them and they are told they are stupid. No government program will ever solve this.
We talked and were trying to drum up ideas to help reach the kids. Then I asked her how many students she has. Because kids are sent to a different classroom for each period she has 163 students. How on earth is she expected to inpact any one of them much less learn their names?
I admit that I was leary of teaching the girls in high school. For one thing I am challenged when it comes to math, my spelling is atrocious, and I still don't have good punctuation and grammer.
When your thinking about college you want your kids well prepared. I knew I could handle the elementary years. Then I found out how much is out there! We have on line schools for almost any age or subject. There are computer classes for anything you can't teach yourself and groups of other home schoolers to join and share activities with. The sky was the limit again. I never was big on work books or regurgitation. I taught the girls to think, to analyse, and they loved to learn. They love to read. They know how to find information. They know how to work hard. More importantly the have an artistic flair for life that is their own, they have knowlege about life itself and the world and how systems work together and are integrated. They are intelligent people. That is what education is all about isn't it? Can you tell I feel pasionate about this?
I have other memories of school. Memories of crying at my desk trying to write "I will not talk" for the 1000th time. Memories of being socked in the back by a teacher, of having my mouth taped shut.
Or how about being chosen last for sports? Knowing they don't want to chose you at all. How about being made fun of by other kids? How about being kicked by a group of girls for being friends with a little Mexican boy? School is educational alright. Educational for what?
I realize that many people enjoy school. There are excellent schools out there and dedicated teachers. What I am saying is to question it. Not everyone feels good about letting there children go away for the whole day. Those people don't have too! That is the beauty of living in America. The standards and requirements for each grade are in public domains. With research about compliance and great materials, a pubic library and some group activities, parents can opt to teach their own children.
The memories I have of little girls discovering the world with wonder are a priceless joy that I would never give away to someone else. I wanted them with me. I enjoyed relearning and watching them. Life through the eyes of a child make us look at the world again fresh. It's joy I tell you, pure joy!!