Friday, January 9, 2015

Dual enrollment

Every time I start a blog post, I am tempted to say, "I am thinking about writing about...blah blah blah..."  I can never seem to write about something, I'm always stuck just thinking about writing about something.  I imagine this is because I'm generally torn between I'm not really a blogger and will probably never write again and I'm almost ready to write that book.  Today I've had a few different conversations that sent me down the path of I might have something to write about.  So here goes.  Jonathan is a homeschool graduate who will finish his associate's degree in May, a year ahead of schedule.  He will eventually get his bachelor's degree, but his plans for when and where are a little up in the air right now.  Madi is a homeschooled junior in her second semester of dual enrollment.  Let me say I am a huge fan of dual enrollment.  I am also a huge fan of the local state college where the dual enrollment (or in Jonathan's case enrollment) takes place.  I think we're well beyond the concerns of not saying our last name or giving away where we live in this space.  I'm pretty sure the three of you that will be reading this already know those things.  So Lake Sumter State College... I love this place.  My kids do too.  One conversation today was with a friend over the merits of AP versus dual enrollment.  The local public schools seem to tell kids that AP is far superior to dual enrollment.  I am pretty sure that as far as classroom rigor goes, this may indeed be the case more often then not.  On the other hand, consider the source.  If you stay at the school and take the AP class (and pass, and pass the test) the school looks good.  If you leave the school grounds to take a class elsewhere, not so much.  I know that there are very good AP classes at the local public schools and I know of plenty of kids to have taken them and will excel in their big name university educations because of it.  I don't deny that.  We have not gone that route.  As homeschoolers dual enrollment makes much more sense and because it is the direction we've chosen I'm here to praise it.  If you google dual enrollment versus AP courses you will see all kinds of pros and cons for each.  Dual enrollment goes more with homeschooling in general.  More freedom to choose the classes you want, when to take them, when to study, etc.  Some local state and community colleges may not be as rigorous as comparable AP classes (lots of online material points to the fact that AP students are usually at the top of their class while entry level college students are not necessarily), but you know what dual enrollment certainly prepares you for college because, guess what? it is college!  One of the websites even said that AP makes more sense for high school students because that class is often taught over a whole year instead of a semester.  Um well in college the whole thing is done in one semester so dragging it out doesn't really sound so superior in my book.  Here's the thing.  This is my same old argument about maybe mastering the more basic material is a better idea than doing harder work and not really "getting it".  Information is out there.  We pretty much all walk around with a small device in our pockets that can give us any information at any time.  Did the Union or the Confederacy win the battle of Shiloh?  I don't know, but I know how to find out really fast.  I do know who won the war though and I know factors that led up to it were around since the founding of our nation, my kids know those things too.  They've read and listened to many books about the Civil War and about lots of other things too.  They know about the battle of Gettysburg and they can almost word for word give the Gettysburg address, they know how long four score and seven years ago is, and they know how to look up any other battle or general or whatever they might need to know about.  Today when Madi and I were discussing her American History and it was time for a quiz, I had her do the matching of the people's names to what they did (who was John Wilkes Booth... kind of important), but had her totally skip the which battle was what part.  When a question of battles comes up on trivia crack, she'll have to make an educated guess and then google it later.  I seem to have gotten off track, but in my mind it is actually the same thing.  After lots and lots of years of homeschooling and turning out some pretty cool kids, I have to say that harder classes are not necessarily better classes.  And dare I say harder classes don't necessarily make you smarter.  My high school physics teacher was a genius.  I don't think I learned anything in that class.  There must have been some kind of a curve though because I must have gotten either an A or a B because that's all I ever got.  I've blogged before about how frustrated I've gotten when people have belittled something that I find worthy educationally because it isn't at a high enough grade level or reading level.  Does something have to be hard to read to give good information?  I don't think so.  I've also blogged at length about how conversation has been one of our main methods of education over the years.  This way of learning is carried out at Lake Sumter.  Jonathan is definitely an auditory learner, it is serving him well in his college classes.  He has been invited into and has joined an honor society phi theta something based on his excelling in his classes.  This is my blog and I've been his main teacher for most of his life, so of course I can say this makes me proud.  But really it's not my thing anymore, now it's his thing.  I really have a grown kid now and another one coming up right behind him (and before I know it that last one will be there too).  Jake at this point is thinking his high school learning will mostly take place inside the school building, so I am in no way saying that our way is the right way or the only way, I'm just saying I feel a little more at liberty to say what worked for us because we can now see that it really did work for us.  And since another one of my conversations today was with a public school mom who is pulling her 10th grader out of school next week, I was able to tell her the ways these things have worked for us, and how this once unconventional way of doing things has now become the thing that so many people want to know more about.  Our early homeschool days would probably be called delayed academics (with a heavy dose of talking), our middle years might be considered a little closer to the school model (but again with a lot more talking), and our later years will definitely be classified as pro-dual enrollment (and yes lots of talking).  Take it or leave it, I have no need to convince anyone of anything, but if you want my opinions on why we do what we do, I'm happy to tell people and maybe even sometimes write a little about it here in this very neglected place.