Thursday, September 26, 2013

Thoughts on Education

The print above really sells it all. It was created by the lovely Heather Bruggeman. It is exactly what I feel education should be. It is so exciting to watch a child's eyes get big in wonder as they discover something new. You know the look I am talking about. I put this print on the front of my homeschool planner for the year. An every day reminder of what I want to keep forefront in my mind.

As you know, Athena opted to try public school this year. At the 11th hour. One of the reasons we homeschooled in the first place was that she had a very hard time concentrating on her work. She was very easily distracted. I had noticed considerable improvement in the past year especially and so I hesitantly agreed to let her go. I had the whole year planned out. Good stuff I tell you. I was excited about it myself.


One month in, I have made a few observations already. She is taking out ridiculously easy and not very meaty books from the library. Rainbow Fairies to be exact. She has never been one to get her own books out. I always picked out 4 or 5 books and she would read the backs, look at the cover and choose from those. It has worked very well. The shelves and shelves of proffering is too much for her to consider. I suggested she take a book from home and she thought that was a much better idea. I bought a whole stack of books that we planned to read for grade 4. Good books. I don't know why the schools don't promote this good literature.

There was a PD day already and since I had to run to town for a library pick up and since she said she was missing her writing notebook we decided to stop in and I would show her how to organize her desk. Her desk was a disaster. Loose papers strewn about, paper clippings here and there, library books stuck between loose leaf and duo tangs. So we removed everything and started from scratch. As I picked up each paper I asked her where it went. It was either in a specific folder or in her binder. Health, Math and Language Arts... all in the same binder with no dividers, no order no nothing. Ridiculous. So I got her some dividers so she can at least have some division. Her teacher says it is completed work so just put it in anywhere.
As I looked around the class room it was easy to see the teacher herself was unorganized too. Papers everywhere. Boxes stacked, one on top of the other. Papers on the floor. More than one half filled cup of coffee on this desk or this shelf. It was horrible.

One thing that I did really like was that the school is using the Spelling Workout Series and the Vocabulary books from Modern Curriculum Press. Good solid stuff. Score one for the school! The math... oh the math. I don't even know where to start, so I won't.

I have also learned that kids are a lot meaner than they were when my older girls went to school. Almost every day there is something that we have to discuss. I have also had to go to the school to talk about a bullying issue. Athena is just too kind. She wouldn't dream that people would make fun of her or try to be mean. Innocent and so naïve. Can you imagine the difficulty a mother has saying "Maybe don't pretend you are a dragon at school. The other kids might not think that is an acceptable thing to do." Only to have her cock her head and ask "Why not?"
She plays alone at lunch and recess so of course she is a target for those mean kids. I told her today that she is not allowed to play with a certain girl. It is passive aggressive bullying every single day. I also encouraged her to ask some girls in her class if she could play with them. I hope they don't say no. 
And as for me? I walk past her empty desk every day, which has since been moved to her bedroom, and I feel guilty and sad. I think I am a bit depressed about the whole thing to tell you the truth, and I don't get depressed. I think about the poor little thing most of the day. I have to listen to her stories when she gets home. I sit with her while she does homework. Things that she gets done easily at home but is too distracted to complete at school.
She has asked if it is too late to be home schooled again. My motherly instinct is to bring her back home the very next day. Her father has another opinion. He does not want her to learn that quitting is the answer. She has to stay until Christmas break. When I ask her how her day was she always says that it was great. She likes it well enough. Why? I don't understand it yet.
She wants to be successful at school and even though I think home is a better place for a girl like her, I want her to be successful too. I love that this little girl is so unique. Never have I known anyone like her. But there is a part of me that wishes she would fit in and be "normal". Not because I want her to be different. Not at all. But simply because I want life to be a little easier for her. I think we would both feel better if she could just have one good friend. Just one. Is that too much to wish for?


Dawn said...

Oh Michelle, I wish that I could just come over and share a glass of wine with you right now, just to be there as a friend. I don't have answers, just a whole lot of empathy for what you're going through. In many ways, Athena and Trent sound very similar. When Trent was in public school, I used to volunteer in his classroom once a week. While I was there, I would always go through his desk to help him organize his things and turn in papers that he thought he had lost. He is also very distractible. I will be keeping Athena in my prayers, for that one special friend that she needs. I

EMMA said...

Athena sounds like a wonderful little girl. I think you are quite right about kids being meaner now that years ago, but why they are, I don't know!
It must be very hard for you at home imagining what might be going on in school.
I hope things improve and that Athena makes lots of friends soon.
Kindest regards from the french alps.

Tara said...

It's heart wrenching when we want things to happen for our kids and we have to force ourselves to agonize from the sidelines... at least for a bit.

Owen has very few friends, and the one close buddy he has isn't always very generous and Owen often does most of the work to maintain the friendship. Still, I try to be patient and trust that new friends are on the way at some point.

Just the fact that Athena has parents who are committed to her success and happiness makes all the difference. Good luck and keep your chin up!!