In my first post about homeschooling A. Peevie, I neologized "boxification" to describe how education in a traditional environment sometimes looks.
Everything is boxed up, planned, and rigidly controlled; there is very little room for exploration, imagination, or inspiration in a traditional educational setting.I'm not saying that this is true in all schools at all times for all students. I am asserting, however, that for some kids, the strictures of a traditional school detract and distract from real learning.
For example: A. Peevie has been studying about WWII in school. He asked Mr. Peevie, "Did the emperor of Japan commit suicide after Japan lost the war?" Mr. Peevie encouraged A. Peevie to do some further study on his own to find out.
The problem is, A. Peevie has tons of stupid homework every night. This is what I mean by detracting and distracting. Left to his own devices, A. Peevie would be researching and learning about post-war Japan. That WWII study unit would not be over just because an arbitrary curriculum said it was over. His interests might take him to the World War II Database, or to the Illinois Holocaust Museum in Skokie; or he might call his grandfather to ask about his experience in WWII, check out his army medals, and research what each one means.
Instead, he spends hours after school working on math problems that he still doesn't understand after two years of traditional instruction, filling in the blanks on spelling workbook pages, and answering questions from a 20-year-old social studies book.
Let's talk about that math situation for a moment. Why is this bright kid struggling so much to understand the basics of pre-algebra? Why are his standardized test scores dropping? He used to test in the 60th percentile, and now he is testing in the 30th. Clearly what we're doing is not working--but what is the response of the school? Do more of the same, in the same way, with the same teacher.
As Albert Einstein famously did NOT say, the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. (Einstein may not have said it, but it has verisimilitude, wouldn't you agree?)
There has got to be a more effective way for A. Peevie to learn algebra. We are going to start with the Kahn videos, and go from there. Honestly, I think all he needs is a little bit of compassion, a lot of patience, and a teaching approach that correlates effectively with his learning style--whatever that is. I don't know what this looks like; my own math-phobia precludes me from dealing with algebra any more than absolutely necessary.
I also think I will ask A. Peevie to read Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences. It's been awhile since I read this tiny tome (only 180 pages), but I remember that it made math accessible, interesting, and relevant.
Mr. Peevie and I want A.Peevie to be educated. We want him to have the tools to be successful in college and in life. At this point, I believe that we will prescribe certain learning objectives that we want him to accomplish by the end of his high school years. We will also help him develop and pursue his own learning goals. Our hope is that A. Peevie's high school curriculum will primarily derive from his own interests; and that these interests will lead to an unparalleled learning experience for him.
But I'll also admit that I am terrified. It's possible that this could be a big mistake; and it's unclear what the consequences will be if it is a mistake. We're moving forward on homeschool because it feels like keeping the educational status quo for A. Peevie would be an even bigger mistake.