Friday, November 2, 2012
In the five years that I've been blogging, I think I've written about this particular theme numerous times. I often bring up the story of when I was chatting with my classmates in 4th grade and the topic was how fat or thin our mothers were. My mother had always told me she was fat, she was very often on a diet. I didn't want to have to actually say those words aloud, and thankfully I didn't have to. As the conversation got around to my side of the table two different classmates chimed in "Julie's mother is thin!" I remember thinking "she is?" she always said she was fat. This is my perspective story. It turns out everyone is either fat or thin depending on who you are comparing them to! This is the homeschooling conundrum. When your kids aren't being compared to their peers in a standardized test fashion, you often wonder how they stack up. There are so many sidebars here, not the least of which is that standardized tests don't really do a great job of measuring these things anyway, but assuming they did... how do we know our kid is "getting it"? Just today I talked to a freshman in highschool whose course-load sounds much more like Jonathan's than Madi's. I think Madi and I both bristled a little at this. On the other hand in her Freshman English Honors class at the local public high school, Madi is kicking butt! I think she has about a 98 average. She comes home daily with stories of how these honors students don't know who Helen Keller is or don't know that Italy is in Europe. Seriously, I couldn't make this stuff up. Everyone is advanced or behind depending on who you are comparing them to. Someone will always be a little taller and run a little faster and someone else will always be a little shorter and run a little slower. This reminds me of another elementary school story where in 8th grade I made the cheerleading squad as a second alternate, "second alternate" meant you really stink but your aunt is the assistant coach and you're a nice girl. I knew this was pretty low, and was fairly down on myself until someone who hadn't made it at all congratulated me. That girl would've probably given anything to be second alternate (or to have her aunt be the assistant coach). Life is hard when you're trying to be the best, there's always going to be someone better. It's even harder when this applies to your kids and you're the teacher. This is not to say that I'm pushing my kids to be the best, I'm really just encouraging them to do their best. It's just complicated when you are their teacher and life gets in the way. Of course we put the schoolwork aside when friends from out of state come for a visit, and we put it away last week for the Florida Theatre Convention, and we put the actual curriculum away so much of the time to discuss actual life... elections, faith, poor weather conditions and damage where a lot of friends and relatives live. When it this the right decision? When is this the wrong decision? Will we ever know? Jonathan had a "tech audition" at the Florida Theatre Conference this weekend. This meant he stood at a table with his lighting design portfolio and representatives from colleges came around and talked to him about it. He specifically hit it off well with two of the representatives that really liked him. One of these schools is in Philadelphia (YIKES!!). Today Jonathan had to drop everything and go program lights for a nearby highschool that doesn't have anyone there who can do it. One day last week he had to drop everything to help two adults at our theatre figure something out. Needless to say, we are starting to get a tiny bit behind on the virtual school pace charts. This is stressful. I guess if all my kids did was school it wouldn't be that hard to keep up, they are just very full in the life department. Most of the time I know this is ok, sometimes not. It's all about perspective. By the same token, if all my kids did was school and it was happening somewhere other than our home with someone other than me as the teacher, my house would look considerably different (read: cleaner) than it does. A few weeks ago in his homily Fr Robert talked about how sometimes things aren't what they seem. He mentioned how brilliant people tend to score poorly and true/false or multiple choice tests because they read more into it. Along with perspective this is a theme that is frequently in the forefront of my mind. When Jonathan was about 5, he did a worksheet where he had to pick which thing didn't belong, the items were the sun, moon, star, and a book. He said the sun didn't belong because the book was a bedtime story and the stars and moon are out at night when you read a bedtime story. I knew then he was homeschooling material. A few weeks ago Jake had a similar example where he had to find a synonym for the word "hit" the choices were like, hand, strike, and paint. He knew they were looking for "strike", but he just couldn't bring himself to circle it because in baseball a strike is actually the opposite of a hit! I am so blessed to be able to spend so much time with my kids and can give them time to explain their thoughts on questions like these. On a standardized test they would just be marked wrong.