The following rant is just that, an expression of frustration with events that interfere with my daily schedule and take me away from what I like to do, reading books and commenting on what I have read.
To homeschool or not to … and other Life Changing Events (LCE).
A commonly accepted “truth” is that certain events in our lives; marriage, divorce, giving birth, and retirement will possibly produce profound behavioral changes in daily routines. Having just slammed into two such events; change of employment (almost retirement) and the reality of a failing education system for my son, the tumultuous daily routine I now enjoy makes my days not “routine.”
Retirement, or the almost-retirement I enjoy, means I have lots and lots of free time to do all the stuff I really like to do, like read books and write reviews, right? Nope, not at all. I find myself busier now than when fully employed, an observation that will not sit well with former employers that might be reading this. True, I still read lots of books, that’s easy to do because my Kindle Paperwhite is always with me and I read quite a bit over coffee while waiting for others. But writing reviews is another matter; there just never seems to be time. I now have a TBR (to be reviewed) list that threatens to rival my TBR (to be read) list. But those lists contain “fun” books, things that really interest me. Now, just like a student forced into reading boring textbooks, I find myself forced to wade through material related to Homeschooling. A totally new topic for me, it is not a choice I wanted to make but …
After being told by a fourth-grade student to “f*** off” in a school where I volunteered to help teach English as a Foreign Language (at least he used English) I began to look closer at the school environment, the same school where my son attends 10th-grade classes. I found a similar situation, although not always as crudely expressed, at all levels I taught (grades 4, 7, 8, and 10). Teachers seemed to condone this type of behavior as appropriate in a curriculum styled as “activity based.” By itself, this isolated incident did not drive me toward homeschooling. I began to look further at such things as quizzes, test scores, class schedules, and how reported results matched reality. I was appalled. The only thing I found positive was the quality and competence of teachers. I could not and cannot understand how such good, qualified people continue to work in such a broken work environment. The fault and failings rest with the administration at levels from principal to higher government administrative regulatory bodies that foster the construction of a system that will lead to individual graduate failure in a real world that will not pay attention to phony credentials.
As a recently employed lecturer at a university level, it became easier for me to understand why some of my low achievers were at their low level. I began asking where they went to high school. I started asking about their experiences in high school. Were results as false and phony as I had seen? Was discipline so absent that the word couldn’t be found in the school dictionary? Everything I found confirmed my feelings that at least below university level there was a “system” run amok. Where was a realistic solution for me to be found? As a guest in a foreign country, I was not going to write my congressman (or anyone else’s congressman for that matter). I would have to take the coward’s way out and put the interests of my son (and me) first. Yep, it sounds a lot like a popular political slogan pounded into our heads by a real estate guy but I will get past that and go directly to my solution, homeschooling.
And then I met an array of problems. What about accreditation? Who gives the diploma? What about quality content? How are honest evaluations to be done? What is the extent of my hands-on involvement? And the really, really important consideration; how will homeschooling affect my son’s socialization skills? So, I began to read all the literature I could get my hands on (thank you, internet). Other than the easily thought of stuff like content and evaluation, there is the really difficult stuff that involves … get ready for it … the government. Except in my case, it involves more than one government since my son and I plan for him to attend university in the US with a high school diploma that will fulfill the requirements of the Ministry of Education, Indonesia as well as US governing agencies.
All of this is to explain why I have not been actively reviewing books for the past couple of months. I don’t want to review advertising brochures from homeschool agencies or turgid legal documents detailing what I must do to participate in a recognized education program.
On the positive side, the pressure is lessening as I become more familiar with processes I must follow. I look forward to getting back to what I like doing.