Saturday, May 5, 2012

Their Loss

My last post, Drastic Measures, has generated a bit of controversy.

"You are making a big mistake," one friend offered.

"Don't leave your job! Don't isolate A. Peevie!" another friend worried. (She wasn't the only one who worried about socialization--it's the obligatory objection whenever the topic of homeschooling comes up.)

These comments do not offend me; I know they spring from love and concern. But they are also driven by ignorance--and I mean that in the dictionary sense of the word, and with no rancour.

We started thinking about high school for A. Peevie sometime during his sixth grade year. We knew that the Chicago Public School selective enrollment high schools were out of our reach, and we started researching other public and private high school options. We visited the Chicago Waldorf School, and I posted on my FB page that I couldn't imagine A. Peevie going anywhere else for high school.

And then, guess what? I was a little too honest about his struggles with anxiety and organizational skills, and they turned him down. Here's the letter I wrote asking them to reconsider:
I've been thinking about Waldorf's thumbs-down on accepting A.Peevie in the high school in the fall. I don't know if you have a waiting list or not, but if so, I'd like to ask the admissions committee to reconsider his application.

One of the things you mentioned is that you are looking for students who are self-motivated learners. This is exactly the reason we are looking for a non-traditional school for him. The traditional academic environment seems to crush his spirit and his enthusiasm for learning; but when he is on his own, he takes the initiative to learn many new things. For example, he was learning about Leif Erikson in school, and he was so interested in him, and in the time period and his background, that he started teaching himself to speak Norwegian.

One of his heroes is Albert Einstein. When he learned that Einstein loved geometry (when he was about 11 years old), he decided he wanted to learn it himself--so he went online, looked up related websites, and printed out 15 pages of beginning lessons. He worked through all 15 of those pages on his own because of his own interest and curiosity.

He showed you one of his unfinished games that he had started to create. He has created several different similar games, with characters that he has drawn himself; he made duplicate card packs that he distributed to friends and neighbors, and they have ongoing games and battles using his unique characters and scenarios.

Currently, he is writing an adventure story--on his own, and not for school--that is in the fantasy/adventure genre. It's already about 15 chapters long, with unique characters and names, imaginary settings, and dramatic conflict.

You also mentioned that he might need more help than what Waldorf can give him with regard to his organizational skills. But again, it seems to me that Waldorf has exactly the environment he needs, and the study skills class seems specifically designed for kids like A.Peevie. He also has two very involved and supportive parents who are determined to make sure that he learns what he needs to learn in that arena in order to be successful.

He has managed to keep his creativity and imagination alive in spite of (I'm sorry to say) the stultifying atmosphere of a school that is not equipped to handle kids that fall outside of the traditional academic mold. He struggles, but he perseveres. He has dealt with many difficult challenges in his life, and this has given him a great deal of empathy for other people who are struggling. He is a heroic, charming, beautiful soul who will someday change the world.

A.Peevie would be a great addition to your school, and I am confident that he would thrive in an atmosphere that values individuality and creativity. I hope you'll bring my letter to the attention of TPTB (the powers that be), and that they will reconsider.

I don't know how Waldorf turned him down after that inspiring (if I do say so myself) plea, but we got a two-line response saying, "No, we're not going to reconsider; good luck; try this other school." Bastards.

After I got over being angry, I felt like God was firmly closing that door so that we could move on; and we did.


jeanie said...

After I got over being angry, I felt like God was firmly closing that door so that we could move on; and we did.

The wonderful thing about a firmly closed door is that it allows you to move on. That's what you've done and I believe that you and Mr. Peevie are experts on A Peevie. There is only One who knows him better and it seems he is helping to by closing doors. I am kind of excited for A Peevie and this new adventure.

Eve Bradshaw said...

You know, I don't even believe in figurative "closed doors". I don't believe in reading signs and messages in events--it does not mesh with my understanding of the world and of divine revelation.

That might be a whole other blog post.

But that's how it felt, so I'm going with it.

zabyt said...

A. Peevie is way ahead of the curve education-wise. You describe exactly how the internet has enabled and flattened the way in which we can learn. I still think the guidance of a wise tutor is essential, but the motivation to learn is 95% of it. You both will learn so much.