Saturday, October 19, 2013

A New Road Less Terrifying

"And the new man reigns by love, by faith, by perfection, by patience, and by wisdom. Yet his king is the light mind, who is king of all. He reigns over it as he wishes." 

~Manichaean Literature

Quite a bit happened over the past few days with my youngest(12yo) boy with school and it's led me to make decisions I never thought I'd be strong enough to make. I'm brave. I'm fearless. I have taken on the responsibility of teaching this boy 8th grade US History for the rest of the school year. Yes, yes, REAL home school. He was virtual schooling up until now, curriculum and teachers provided by the county. 

Emotionally, as of Friday I was a wrecking ball of nerves after fighting with the county administration for virtual schooling over his Final Exams for 7th grade Civics. (He's worked ahead and is going into 8th now.) Long story short, there is no such thing as letting a child fail anymore. No Sir. Nope. Now, you either make a 60% or above on your Mid Term Exams and your Final Exams(apiece) or you fail the entire course and have to retake it. OR you can retake the Exam itself. Well, when a teacher resets the exam before even talking to the parents it kinda takes the whole 'choice' out of everyone's hands, don't you think? That's precisely what happened on Friday.

As a rule, we do not allow do-overs or resubmissions. We've always let our kids suck it up and take the failing grade so they learn from it. And until now we've never run into this 60% policy of this virtual school. With the elder boy(13yo) being such an overachiever the lowest grade he's ever made on a midterm or final was a C. John is not his brother. John has problems memorizing facts and dates and definitions. History is BORING!!!! Ergo, his grades in that class have always been on a slippery slope. I get it. I totally do. I was the same way in history classes all my life.

His teacher held the password for the last part(there were three parts) of the Final hostage until he retook the second part. He did better on the second part by a good twenty points. GREAT! Not that it's any real indication of learning since quite a few of the questions were the same the second time around and the night before I made sure he looked in his lessons and found the correct answers to figure out what happened on the test. Of course he did better the second time around! He had access to some of the same questions and had time to look up the correct answer. This is kind of a no-brainer to me.

Anyway, hubby and I were not happy and vented to every administrator you can think of with the county and the main company itself which provides the curriculum the county contracts from on a yearly basis. It's a respect issue, I feel. I think it's disrespectful to expect a kid to be happy about retaking a test because he didn't get the information the first time around and then letting it all be about the company's numbers during auditing. And that is exactly what it's about. ( has a minimum of 80% by the way. On EVERY assignment, not just the tests. Imagine the stress being in school there!) Life doesn't give you do-overs and neither should school. It's a bad way to practice for 'real life' after high school. My kids totally get our philosophy and happily abide by it because they understand its worth. It helps them push harder to do better in the future.

So I decided to take the high road and home school John in 8th grade US History. We'll get a signature from a teacher at the end of the year and submit it to the county and that will be that. This is an adventure that is quite a bit less terrifying since it'll only be one class but still, when I went to the library this afternoon to find a starting point I was looking at four shelves of books for the main core topics and could only guestimate what would be best based on the time frame of the topic. 

Monday is a long way away still in my mind. I have some work to do and some decisions to make about how to make this more digestible for my boy. I want to do some old school kind of learning to help him with reading and vocabulary and writing but still teaching him the subject. I came home with five books dealing with and leading up to the Colonial era and I guess that's where we'll start. We'll compile a bibliography for his homeschool portfolio as required. Read, write essays, research using the Library of Congress for students, find things he's interested in learning about on his own and he can report it however he wants.... I'd like to make it more easy going than the cyber pressure he's been feeling in school. Not sure how successful I'll be or if I'll turn into a raving beast when confronted with his bad spelling. I don't want everything to be graded. I'd rather have an 'unschooling' approach to the final result but have structure because of John's lack of enthusiasm about the subject. 

Who knows, maybe he'll bloom within the new freedom and find that History isn't such a dry thing after all? 

I am breathing deep and finding that calm inside myself to understand that perhaps this is what this child needs right now. So what if we spend a month doing absolutely nothing but reading cool historical books and figuring things out, right?!! Oh well. We'll have fun reading and talking about the books and anything cool he discovers. Then maybe we can get a timeline going up on his cork board and put things into perspective in a more logical way for him visually. 

I'd love to do the same thing with him in English but fear I'd be biting off more than I can chew at the moment. As it is, the second semester of his LA class can't be opened yet because the curriculum hasn't been published yet. Why? Common Core is about to crash and burn in the state of Florida and the school can't figure out what to do. I know, right? It's insane!! He should be done with the second semester of this year's LA in six weeks and instead, we're still waiting for the school to retract it's head from it's sphincter and take a look at reality. People don't want Common Core. Competition is a good thing, keeping everyone on the same level is BAD. It pulls everyone down.

This momma is ready to learn whatever the journey is willing to teach. Hopefully a little boy is willing to go out and find the lessons he wants to learn best. 

 "He breaks off from his teacher and the brothers. He always wants to go in and come out alone, a solitary man. He will always walk alone. It is a sign that the closeness of his brothers does not persuade him." 

~Manichaean Literature

And this is the way of gnosis, entirely. It is a solitary pursuit when it's all said and done. We take cues from the world around us which are available but we must apply it to our heart and sort out the gold from the chaff.

Cat's Eye Nebula, Hubble telescope

No comments: