So it has come to pass that I’m nearing the age where most people start high school. I’m noticing lately that as excited as I was about home schooling I get a little sad every time we drive by a “real” brick and mortar school. The reason is, I’m not entirely home schooled by choice. It was actually kind of out of necessity. The school environment stopped working for me completely, partially due to my own issues and partially due to the way other people were treating me. Rather than accommodate me the school kind of had a “tough luck” attitude and so I was stuck mid-year with this “oh shit now what” moment. We had to come up with emergency curriculum and it has been rocky. The scary thing is, I’ve actually found out that a LOT of people end up in this situation. The school just essentially drops them or sets them up with impossible ultimatums and their parents end up needing to essentially rethink their child’s entire education and create meaningful curriculum TOMORROW. We had a lot of flukes when trying to do that on such short notice. Grey School of Wizardry’s Lore class was accounting for some of my English, but then like nine teachers walked out (I guess due to some personal disagreements with Oberon and the remaining staff) and it has seemed like not a rigorous enough environment anyway. We tried having me do Spanish on Live Mocha but that site quickly got traded in for Fluencia which I haven’t used nearly enough yet. That said, it hasn’t been a total loss. I’ve studied a few majorly useful things over the past few months (a little under a semester). Those include:
- Literary themes and archetypes, and examples of them in both ancient myth and modern novels. This course is still in-progress at GSW although I may trade it in for something else.
- I did a bit of the 8th grade English curriculum on Saylor Academy, but the reading bored me to tears so I switched it out for the 400-level college course on Milton. This is one thing I love about home schooling – you can do that!
- Ancient civilizations in North America and the Great Pyramids. This was through GSW and Education Portal, though mostly the latter.
- I was placed in Math 7 last time I was in school (that’s before pre-algebra) but thanks to Khan Academy realized I was pretty much set on arithmetic and Pre-Algebra so I was able to start Algebra and work through the horror known as the Distributive Property.
- Some basics on herb-related science – what is poisonous, what is safe for consumption, how to know the difference, what herbs can be used for, etc. This was at GSW.
- Some art history.
- A bit of Shakespeare. I went and saw a live performance of Macbeth.
- Some health. I actually studied health by reading part of “Wintergirls” and watching “Thirteen” to study how adolescent health is portrayed in modern media.
- Some computer skills such as Word and Excel.
- I learned about John Milton’s life and am going to read “A Paradise Lost” probably this summer.
- I learned about meditation practices. Hey, if “Biblical truth” counts as a real class then meditation should too.
- I started a blog. Yay.
- I started studying for the LP written test on road rules. Boring but necessary. I won’t be allowed to actually take that test for a while but wanted to be ready since my state makes you do a TON of stuff to get the actual permit and license.
- Astrology across different cultures.
So even if you scrap your curriculum 500 times, you don’t lose the work you did. You can keep it and save it in case you ever need to prove that it happened. For that reason, I’m continuing to at least casually study this summer to avoid falling too far behind.
It feels like more than I thought when I look at it there, but I still keep thinking it’s not enough. “Real” students are working harder. I feel like the “real” school rejected me. It doesn’t want kids with opinions, who spark debates with teachers, who have a past or any kind of trauma in their history, who won’t put up with bullying and sexual harassment, etc. People tend to tell me “well that’s okay, just hang out with other home school kids.”
It seems like most kids who home school do so for very different reasons than I do, though. My family isn’t Christian and trying to keep me shielded from things that aren’t “of God” (like Algebra class I guess). They’re also not major hippies who give us names like Wynde and Skye and think that school stunts the growth of the spirit (although that’s probably true so I shouldn’t make fun). They aren’t even those really zealous home schooling advocates so much as people who just got tired of fighting with my school and seeing me have to fight the same fights over and over again too.
It’s scary how much the mainstream schooling world wants to fight you on trying to be home schooled like that bad ex who doesn’t want you but also doesn’t want anyone else to have you. Classes that are free and mandatory everywhere else can cost like $450 or more online. There’s this idea of the “home school diploma” coming from an accredited online school, and you have to compare that option to places like Saylor Academy that basically offer complete college courses sans accreditation. It really makes you think about what accreditation even means.
I guess I feel rejected but also just very confused as to what on Earth education is supposed to be and why we put so much value on the brick and mortar to begin with.