Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Breaking Out Of The Box!

Homeschoolers talk a lot about the failure of the traditional education system to meet individual needs.

We talk a lot about wanting more for our kids than the national average.

We say we don't need - or even want - our kids to fit into the box that they've been labelled and sorted into. 

I don't want to be in a box, interrupts Ryan, I'd rather be in a paddock.

Yes dear. 

She's been taking art classes too.  And doing exceptionally well. 

Except she moans about having to use colour.

I like it better in black and white, she says.

No kidding.

We saw the specialist yesterday, showed him our just-about-national-average scores, the rave reviews from her teachers here, the condemning ones from Germany.  Thank God, at least the teachers LIKE her here!

Contributions in class are highly dependent on whether or not the topic interests her.  Doesn't know how to tailor her conversation topics to interest the other kids.  Seems exhausted by the demands of the day.  Is unable to express her thoughts clearly when writing.  Has to work on her handwriting.  (This is a German thing!!)  Isn't able to apply the rote maths she has learned to higher level problem solving.  Is dreamy and unfocused.  Doesn't get the point of school.  Often doesn't seem to understand the directions and then just does the work any which way she pleases.  Is polite and respectful to the teacher. 

I got mad translating the remarks into English.  WHY oh WHY should this child have been so polite and respectful for so long?  WHY oh WHY did I make her go back into that demeaning, aggressive, entirely unacceptable situation for so long?  HOW did she do it day after day, hour after hour, knowing she would never be good enough, never meet expectations, never get the help she was unable to ask for.    She is a much stronger person than any of us ever give her credit for.

Of course I sent her because I didn't know any better either. 

And, finally, because I would have been arrested if I hadn't sent her.

The system in Germany refuses to meet the needs of my child but then refuses to accord me the right to meet them myself.

I honestly don't get the point of school either.

Or worse, I get it now.

In Germany, its a form of social control.  The state controls you.  You conform to the state. 

I think Australia and the USA use it as the best means of babysitting the children of the masses that they can find.  Let's face it, at some point, all you are trying to do is keep the fifteen year olds from getting knocked up.  Or ending up in juvenile detention.  Off the streets and out of trouble.

What's the point of 12 -or more- years of school, when the average person reads at a Grade 7 level.  Doesn't know the multiplication tables.  Or enough basic maths to add up a column of grocery items or do double digit addition and subtraction?

How many Americans know what the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria did?  Or what Plymouth Rock is?  Or why we remember Washington or Lincoln for that matter?  Or celebrate the fourth of July on the fourth of July?

Go ahead and laugh.  How many Australians really know the significance of Botany Bay?  The First Fleet?  Willis and Bourke.  Let alone who Mabo is?  What the Rabbit Proof Fence is?  And who that guy is on the Fifty Dollar Bill? 

Listen, the Germans don't learn ANYTHING about their history until after grade school.  I tried when I was homeschooling.  There wasn't anything appropriate for children of that age.  Better to let them learn about the Egyptians.  And concentrate on their handwriting.

The traditional education system - public mass education - was implemented to train farm workers to work in factories.  It wasn't meant to churn out brain surgeons or astronauts or poets and philosphers.

I'm not saying that they aren't doing the best they can.  The sad thing is that I think they are doing remarkably well given what they have to work with. 

At some point, an institution exists mainly to perpetuate itself.

The brutality I have heard about in schools would be considered sexual harassment in the work place.  It would be assault on the street.

At school it is called bullying. 

The social skills I hear about from highschools are not the social skills I need my children learning.  These are not the people I want my children to have to learn to get along with. 

My three boys are doing fine at the school they are in now.  They are learning, they are happy.  They are with children who behave the way we expect ours to behave. 

My boys fit in.  They are bright, they are athletic, they are friendly and funny and social.  They can break out of the box and excel because they know how to fit into the box in the first place.

But for those who DON'T fit in there is ridicule, rejection, fear and pain, emotional violence and actual physical danger.

And an institution covering up for itself instead of protecting those it is supposed to nurture.

Ryan is lucky.  It didn't get that far.  We can homeschool.

But we did get that buck up and fit in attitutude from friends in Germany.  Like Ryan should accept her inferior status and be happy to have it.

We are out of the box. 

The box is broken.

But I didn't let it break my child.

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