Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Drastic Measures

If you have ever met me, you will know that what I am about to tell you is completely and utterly unexpected, out of character, and insane.

We are going to homeschool A. Peevie for high school in the fall.


I sense a whole bunch of blog posts in my future about this decision--which, BTW, just became final this very evening.

As you may recall, we are not satisfied with the experience A. Peevie has had at the little Lutheran grade school he's been attending since kindergarten. I'm sure that most of the teachers and staff are well-intentioned--but that place is almost as inflexible as the character of the Almighty himself--only not in a good way. 

For a kid like A. Peevie, who does not have a typical learning style, and who thinks so far outside of the box that he doesn't even know there is a box, it is a prison of random, painful tortures.

One problem is the rules. They love rules, those Lutherans; they love making new ones, and allowing no exceptions to the existing ones. Even about things that really should not matter. Midway through the school year, for example, we learned that his teacher had banned the wearing of hooded sweatshirts. This was well before Geraldo Rivera infamously blamed Trayvon Martin's death on his hoodie. The reason: Hoodies make kids feel too comfortable, too relaxed.

Seriously, Ms. Lutheran School Teacher? You believe that feeling relaxed is a deterrent to learning? For A. Peevie, who lives in hoodies and finds comfort in their relaxed fit and warmth, this was a terrible blow.

This teacher is very young--which is sometimes a good thing in a teacher. But she appears to have no clue how to relate to adolescent boys. Day after day, A. Peevie would come home with a story about how she embarrassed one boy, spoke harshly to another, or teased another. This is the last thing a boy needs to deal with, when he's already trying to figure out how to navigate the scary, hairy, testosterone-fueled world of male adolescence.

Remember those unseasonably warm weeks of early spring in Chicago, when the temperatures reached the 80s on eight days in March? The principal was unwilling to allow exceptions to the rule on the books that stipulates "no shorts before April 1," and even punished kids who wore shorts on those days.

Mr. Peevie requested a special dispensation, and even offered a script for how this rule exception could be presented; and the response was, "The students will be able to wear shorts on March 23 for Fun in the Sun Day. What a blessing we have with this warm weather!" 

Predictably, and ironically, Fun in the Sun Day turned out cold and rainy.

But these are not really the reasons we are quitting school. Our reasons have to do with the random boxification of education. Everything is boxed up, planned, and rigidly controlled; there is very little room for exploration, imagination, or inspiration in a traditional educational setting. Some kids still learn and thrive and grow--possibly in spite of the boxification. 

But a kid like A. Peevie does not flourish in this kind of environment, and this is the reason we are contemplating turning our lives upside down.


jkww said...


Wow and three cheers and good for you and all those things you say to someone who has committed to embark upon an arduous and imperative adventure. Arbitrary and inflexible rules make me feel all ragey. Though, I've encountered plenty of arbitrariness and inflexibility in my adult life too - I guess I just have the voice to advocate for myself and be taken at least a little bit seriously when I encounter them than I ever would have been as a kid.

Definitely do keep us updated.

Kristen said...

The chance to do things they way they work for each individual kid is one of the reasons we're still doing school at home, even on the hard days. Obviously, I'm biased in favor of your decision. ;-) I hope it is a great experience for A. Peevie!

zabyt said...

Excellent! You know so well the amazing-ness that is your A. Peevie. He will blossom under your tutelage.