Monthly Archives: February 2015

Curriculum: WTF?

Does anyone actually just buy a curriculum or download one and actually stick to it all year?

My friend’s college-aged older brother (who is somehow better at lesson planning than her parents) was the one who introduced my family to the idea of homeschooling. He went to all this painstaking effort to pick and choose random stuff from across the internet. Part of that was because of income – they couldn’t afford to just buy the BYU package or whatever. A bigger part of it was just because he thought that he could give her a better “genuine high school experience” than most of those publishers.

My family didn’t think too hard about that. Back when I stopped going to regular school, my family’s expectation was “oh, okay, we’ll find some complete all-in-one set of curriculum-ish things and then we’ll just work through them.”

Here’s about how that went.

Day 1: Oh, here’s something. Wait, it’s $500 for one class? Screw that.

Day 2: Oh, here’s something. Wait, it’s $50 a month and I don’t even get to preview it to make sure it’s good? Screw that!

Day 3: Okay, let’s just mix and match. That’ll work.

Day 4: EVERYTHING I PICKED IS TERRIBLE.

All the syllabuses we tried writing have been scrapped. Nothing has stuck for more than a few weeks. If I had to clump English so far into “units,” here’s what I’d have:

Unit 1: A “Lore” class from Grey School of Wizardry. I know GSW doesn’t really want to be seen as a “curriculum provider” and it isn’t, but the “lore” assignments actually took me through some common core requirements. The first assignment had me studying general themes and literary archetypes. The second one had me comparing myths and legends to each other while learning to apply themes and archetypes to literary analysis. The third assignment involved reading and writing about a myth local to my geographic region. The fourth assignment (which I’m still working on periodically) involved choosing a book that relates somehow to an ancient myth and explaining how they’re similar. I read a young-adult book called Janie: Face to Face for that. I go back to this curriculum every now and then – namely for the short story I’m working on.

Unit 2: Some John Milton from Saylor.org. Mostly all I read about was his life. I didn’t get to read much of his writing before that site started bugging out on me.

Unit 3: A TON of grammar study using a grammar book from Barnes and Noble, plus some review on Purdue Owl about proper citation style. I ended up helping other people revise their essays to familiarize myself with structure. When I was done with that, I took a giant test over grammar and usage.

Unit 4: I read The Giver for free online. Then, I watched the movie. My big “assignment” on the subject was basically a blog response.

Unit 5: A Separate Peace. I’m using a free curriculum from Curriki for that, which contains study guides and such.

Does anyone else actually just make a plan and stick to it 100%?

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English curriculum.

Me: *Looks up curriculum for English.*

Curriculum: ANTIGONE!!!!

Me: Read it in 8th grade.

Curriculum: JULIUS CAESAR!!!!

Me: Read it at some point.

Curriculum: ROMEO AND JULIET!!!!

Me; Read it, saw it performed, saw the movie, wrote a paper on it, etc.

Curriculum: RED BADGE OF COURAGE!!!!

Me: I read that in freaking elementary school.

Curriculum: Where the Red Fern Grows????

Me: Seventh grade.

Curriculum: Uh…geez…kid…what do you want? To Kill a Mockingbird? Surely you haven’t read that one!!!!

Me: Summer before 9th grade.

Curriculum: Screw you, Lilly.

Winter Allergies

Khan Academy is great for biology and math. YouTube has some great history lessons, and there’s this other site I don’t remember the name of that’s great for geography. What’s great for health?

WebMD. This is a general summary of the research I did there today.

I’ve been wondering why my “cold” symptoms have lasted for more than 3 weeks. The family bought some of that fancy Claritin with pseudoephedrine that young people aren’t allowed to buy because supposedly people under 18 are MORE LIKELY to use it to produce meth labs than adults are (explain this to me, please) but it hasn’t helped quite enough for me. It has really confused me why I seem to have ALLERGIES in the dead of winter. Rather than wasting my time in some “alcohol is bad” module today, I decided to research winter allergies on WebMD and Prevention.com.

Causes

Air vents are gross and full of dust, mold, dead pieces of bugs, and other sickening things. During the winter time, the furnaces blow hot air into your house or apartment but don’t bother filtering out all the dust, mold, and dead pieces of bugs to keep them from flying into your house and shooting up your nostrils, causing an eruption of mucous and suffering.

Solutions

1. If you aren’t traumatized from bad experiences with needles as a child, get an allergy shot.

2. Otherwise, you can shell out $200 on an air purifier that gets some of the bug bits and dust out of the air.

3. You can also get a dehumidifier which gets the air less damp, preventing mold growth.

4. Supposedly, washing your sheets in HOT HOT HOT HOT water is helpful. Only problem with that is, I like washing things on cold to protect the environment.

5. Showering at night supposedly helps get dust and pollen from outside off of you.

6. Taking allergy pills before bed is important, even if the box says just once every 24 hours.

TL:DR;

Allergies aren’t just something people get in the spring. I’m most likely not dying from a wasting disease. Thank you, self-directed health class.

“A is for Abstinence” Reaction Essay

Honestly, I don’t really get the obsession a lot of people my age have with sex. I guess it doesn’t really fascinate me or seem like the world’s most important thing. That being said, I am getting really tired of BOTH kinds of sex ed. The kind that pushes abstinence as the only acceptable option just ignores the fact that there’s an overwhelming amount of pressure both from your peers and from your body to have sex, and that you need to know how to do it safely. It also ignores the fact that teens won’t be teens forever, and the possibility of STIs, non-consensual experiences, coercion, pregnancy, and that supercharged heartbreak you’re supposed to experience if you feel like you’ve given something up to someone who doesn’t value it like you hoped do NOT disappear when you turn 18 or when you get married. Wedding rings are not magic, and neither are the candles on an 18-year-old’s birthday cake. On the flip-side, I’m not really digging most of what sex-positive sex-ed has to offer. A lot of it seems to suggest the following things:

1. Literally 100% of people like sex and 100% of teens are just horny sex machines.

2. Sex is inevitable for all human beings. This erases the asexual experience completely.

Instead of making an abstinence list, I decided to watch Laci Green’s “A is for Abstinence” video today. She makes some good points (mostly the same neo-liberal “let’s stop shaming sex” argument I’ve seen a billion times on Tumblr, but that’s not what I’m here to talk about today). I wanted to react specifically to some of her points to reflect on what I’ve been taught/learned in the past.

Laci Green mentioned how people usually learn about STDs in school. She correctly reports that health textbooks tend to show the grossest, most terrifying pictures of diseases and infections available. I remember once looking at this health textbook where a person’s back looked like a freaking pizza. If you actually bothered to read the caption, you’d know that whatever it was he was sick with was something that didn’t get THAT BAD unless it went untreated for 10+ years. In other words, if that guy had gotten the same disease but gone into a clinic to have it treated ten years sooner, NONE OF THAT WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

The idea presented in health textbooks is that your life is pretty much over once you’ve contracted an STD. Most STDs can be cured or at least treated, so it ends up looking like a lot of fear-mongering. Any disease can be made terrifying with the right extreme image. Heck, skin tags are 100% harmless and fairly easy to remove, but you can find some DISGUSTING pictures of them on Google Image search.

I disagree with the assessment that “look at this disgusting thing” type education is all about shaming people for having sex. I’ve actually noticed that a LOT of things are taught about that way. My guess is that whoever chooses the pictures for health textbooks has the mind of a 13-year-old boy and is sitting there plotting ways to ruin peoples’ lunch. Have you ever received education about Gingivitus? It kind of goes like this:

Kid Dentist: YOU BETTER BRUSH YOUR TEETH TWICE A DAY AND FLOSS AND DON’T EAT SUGAR BECAUSE IF YOU DO, YOU’LL GET GUM DISEASE AND YOUR GUMS WILL TURN RED LIKE THE SINFUL SPIRIT OF SATAN AND BLEED ALL OVER YOUR SHOES!!!!

Adult Dentist: Ah, that’s just a little gum disease. Take this mouth wash and go home. We probably want to schedule you for a cleaning, but don’t lose sleep over it or anything.

A similar thing happens in driver’s ed. Nobody seems to think that driving can be effectively taught to teenagers without us having to see at least 4 horrifically mangled bodies on the side of the road with doom-saying captions about how driving will DEFINITELY make you dead, so do it safely (not that they bother telling you how to do it safely rather than just yelling at you pointlessly).

In other words, there’s a grossness trend in teaching literally ANYTHING people are possibly scared of.

The one thing she said that I don’t really like is the part about how it’s okay to not be “ready.” She’s totally right that you don’t have to be ready, but readiness isn’t the only model for understanding sexual disinterest in my opinion. I think talking about not being “ready” for sex can have some troubling connotations – like that the loser who’s pressuring you for it is “ready” whereas you’re immature/somehow childish compared to that person. You might just not want it, not be interested, be asexual, have been through sexual violence, etc. People can’t assume it’s this inevitable thing that you’re either “ready for” or planning to postpone. It’s not like debt where you have to do it eventually to make the big, scary number go away.