Thursday, April 17, 2008

Home Schooling, or, I High Tailed it up South Street…

Reading Marko’s post about how his kids are virtual leaning machines, reminded me of my yute & another, more timely story.

Part 1.

When I was a crumb-snatcher, my Mom was a mom- in the 50s most families were like that. I had a "yearnin’ for learnin’" that my Mom recognized, so she would read to me about airplanes, trains, & other stuff of great interest to a young lad. When I entered the pubic (not a typo) school system at age 7, I could read, spell, & do most of my numbers. I’m no Mensa sort; she just fed me what I, & probably most kids wanted- more.

Set up: first grade in my day was in a big brick building. We kept out coats & such in the "basement", which also housed the bathroom area.

Part of "curriculum" was "letters"- these were scrabble-like cardboard squares loose in a box. When "letters" time came around, Miss Phelps (I still remember her name??!!) would print a word on the blackboard, something challenging, like "cat" or "house". Our mission was to form the observed word on our desks using the aforementioned squares. I found this to be the stupidest thing on the planet- bored doesn’t describe it- more like loathing.

So, in my evil little mind, a plan takes shape.

I raise my hand.
"Yes J?"
"Can I got to the bathroom?"
"Yes, you may. Please hurry back"

I go down to the basement, still filled with the loathing & resentment of being made to do this stupid crap, grab my hat & coat, & go home (everyone walked to school in those days).

I walk into the house, "Hi Ma"!
"J! What are YOU doing here, you’re supposed to be in school!"
"It was boring".
"I’m calling your father".

Dad came home, tried to figure out the problem, & brought me back to prison, err, school.

This happened a couple more times (combined with actual basement "needs"), each time with increasing suspicion by the teacher, until one day, as I headed for the outside, Miss Phelps was standing on the stairs by the door.

Buh-bye. Out the doors I went, with Miss Phelps in hot pursuit. The school was on a big hill, & as I ran up that hill I could see that old Miss Phelps wasn’t going to catch me by a long shot, so I took my time, only running when necessary.
I have a feeling this perturbed her even more.

By the time I got home, taking my sweet time, Dad was already there, & I received a stern warning (& a bit more IIRC) that this behavior was to stop.
I stayed for letters after that final episode.

I was a hero in my first grade class, probably because no one else had the cajones (or was dumb enough) to escape.

Moral of the story? If you teach you children well at home, there is no need for the futility & drudgery of pubic school.

Part 2.

This is a more recent anecdote.

My good friend has a daughter in the 4th grade. She wasn’t doing so well, averaging just in the top half of her class in reading, & in the lower half for math & science. As his wife was/is a teacher, they decided to homeschool.

In THREE MONTHS, 3 hours per day, she finished the work for 4th grade, & finished at the TOP of her class. In another FOUR months, she had completed the 5th grade, again testing at the top of her class (the girl is brought to the school for testing along with her "classmates").

Moral of the story? If you teach you children well at home, there is no need for the futility & drudgery of pubic school.

Phew, I got blisters on me fingers…


Jay G said...

I started to post a reply, then realized I had too much to say in a comment...

So I put up my own post...

Thanks for the inspiration!

Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the great childhood memory and your help in getting the word out about how public school completely demoralizes average to above-average kids. This leads to misbehavior, (in your case Alcatraz-like escapes), and the spiral of failure is complete and perpetuated.
Short days with intensive learning modules, coupled with dicipline are half of the soloution. Professional teachers, who are capable of negotiating their own pay and benefits and therefore, don't need or want the protection of a union, are the other half.

Paul, Dammit! said...

I'm with you 100%. I was constantly being sent home with little passive-aggressive letters about my lack of participation in school. I became a scientist half out of spite, I think...perhaps explaining why I traded my microscope for a marlinespike later on.