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Saturday, September 13, 2008

Marching to Your Own Drummer

No, I haven't fallen off the face of the earth....just had/am having a difficult week. I managed to contract pink eye and hate doctors, so even though I have great insurance I decided I could self treat and have only accomplished making it worse! So I look like a hideous monster with one eye completely swollen up not to mention a vibrant shade of red that can't quite be described. What most likely started off as viral pinkeye is now bacterial thanks to my genius idea of using one of the kids old prescriptions that contaminated my eye with their past infection! YUCK!!

IF that were the worse of my I mentioned in a previous post we started a public school homeschool program this year. I have such mixed feelings about this. I can't say I really like it, but can't say I hate it either. I can say that because it is an online school, and we only have one computer with Internet access and two kids using the program, school takes us 10 or more hours a day!!

Also, being a public school program, things are expected to be done in certain ways according to their standards. Now, I will have to admit that I am a bit of a free-spirit over all, and very much so when it comes to the education of my children. My children in turn, one in particular are very much free spirits. Overall, I think this is a good thing, but when it comes to trying to fit someone else's mold or fit into their cookie cutters, well we just don't fit all that well.

Let me explain; here is a little story that I have always kept in mind during our homeschooling career. I have come across it in several books but stole it from this website last night.

"The teacher handed out crayons and paper and announced that it was time to draw a picture. The little boy enthusiastically grabbed the crayons and began to imagine all the things he could draw: mountains, lakes, airplanes, his family, his dog, the ocean, the stars at night...Hundreds of ideas raced through his creative little mind.His teacher, seeing that he had started drawing, stopped him and said that today the class would be drawing flowers. The boy's mind again ran wild: daisies, daffodils, roses, carnations, violets, lilacs, pansies, mixed bouquets, green gardens full of rainbows of colors...The teacher again interrupted, informing the class that today they would be drawing a certain kind of flower.Taking colored chalk, the teacher went to the board and drew a green stem, with two leaves, and four identical pink petals. The little boy, eager to please, dutifully copied her drawing.After several attempts, his drawing looked exactly like hers. The teacher congratulated him for doing such good work.As the school year passed, the little boy became a very good student; he learned to listen, obey instructions and get the right answers on tests. Hes parents were very proud of him, and his teacher was impressed with his excellent progress.When the next school year arrived, the boy had done so well in his classes that he was enrolled in an accelerated program. During the first week of class, the teacher handed out crayons and paper and announced that it was time to draw a picture. The little boy, still in love with art, enthusiastically picked up his crayons and waited for instructions. After several minutes the teacher noticed that the little boy wasn't drawing. "Why haven't you started?" she asked. "Don't you like to draw?""I love to draw," responded the little boy, "but I was waiting for you to tell us what the assignment is.""Just draw whatever you want," the teacher smiled and left the little boy to his creativity.The little boy sat for a long time, watching the minutes tick off the clock and wondering what he should draw. Nothing came to mind.Finally, in a burst of creative inspiration, he picked up his crayons and began to draw:A green stem, with two leaves, and four identical pink petals."

This really came to mind twice this week when dealing with my youngest. The first incident was when he was asked to do a particular essay on a particular topic. He was more than willing to write the essay, but just not on their theme. He had his own idea on what he wanted to write, but it didn't fit the guidelines of what they were asking. Luckily this assignment wasn't required to be turned in, and I was able to compromise a bit with him.

The second incident was almost identical to the story above. He was asked to draw a portrait of a real or made up person. No problem...but he just wasn't willing to do it exactly as they wanted. They had very specific guidelines on size, order, etc...I was growing more and more frustrated trying to get him to do it their way. Then I remembered the above story and our reasons for homeschooling all of these years(eleven years now!) While a bit frustrated with him, I have to admit I was also proud. Not so much proud that he wouldn't obey me, but proud that at such a young age, he is willing to stand up for himself and not allow me, a school, or anyone else stifle his creativity. He was willing to make a portrait, but they way HE wanted...which by the way happened to be an elf.

Daniel is definitely his own person with his own thoughts and ideas and very unique personality. I am ashamed to admit there have been times we have asked him to change to fit societies standards or expectations. He can be very young for his age at time and we are always telling him to grow up or act his age, but he continues to march to the beat of his own drummer, and he truly doesn't care what others think, even if they make fun of him. We should all be so bold.

My husband reminded me of this song this morning:

When I was young, it seemed that life was so wonderful,A miracle, oh it was beautiful, magical.And all the birds in the trees, well they'd be singing so happily,Joyfully, playfully watching me.But then they send me away to teach me how to be sensible,Logical, responsible, practical.And they showed me a world where I could be so dependable,Clinical, intellectual, cynical.

There are times when all the worlds asleep,The questions run too deep For such a simple man.Wont you please, please tell me what we've learned I know it sounds absurd But please tell me who I am.

Now watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical,Liberal, fanatical, criminal.Wont you sign up your name, wed like to feel you're Acceptable, respectable, presentable, a vegetable!

At night, when all the worlds asleep,The questions run so deep For such a simple man.Wont you please, please tell me what we've learned I know it sounds absurd But please tell me who I am.

The Logic Song by Supertramp. Doesn't this just remind you of what public schooling and society in general does to us all? Kudos to those who are brave enough to continue marching to their own drummer!

Okay, as usual, this went an entirely different direction than planned when I started. I will be back later and give you my review of the school good and bad.


William Cooney said...

I say stick to your guns and continue to facilitate your youngest's creativity.

The famous pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock suggested that children should be raised as individuals and not be driven to conformity as subjects of ritual discipline.

Keep up the good work.

Red said...

Sorry for my lack of commenting.

We homeschool as well but for different reasons. And in truth, it does not matter why we homeschool.

My daughter is definitely different. First and foremost we do not follow any religion and all of the children she hangs out with are Christians. Makes for a wonderfully interesting mix.

I love the flexibility that homeschooling gives us. As I type this(10:07AM), my daughter is still sleeping. why? Because she stays up late, while I am sleeping and schools.

When many of us grew up we lived in a 9-5 world, but that has since changed. When I was in the work force, I loved my 3-11 shift and in doing so I would not get home until midnights on many an evening. My daughter may be someone who works a shift similar to that or even a graveyard shift. Kudos to her.

My husband on thee other hand loves to rise early and get all his stuff done and out of the way. OK, that works for him, but not my daughter. And yet, if we need to go somewhere, she adjusts. She is not oblivious to the real world, for we have talked 'with' her about what will be expected of her as she grows older. College, a boss, a marriage, children. We all have to conform to some degree. She knows this, because 'we' have educated her.

Loved this post!!!!!!!!!!