Tuesday, October 26, 2010

What I Think of Education, Part II (Repost from earlier blog)

My mom originally wanted to be a teacher. However, I came along and she gave up her college studies to raise me at home. She read to me constantly, several times a day from what I remember: fairy stories, poetry, children's nursery rhymes, and books too hard for me to comprehend at the time, but enjoyed all the same (The Trumpet of the Swan, The Little Princess, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Narnia, and many more). I could read easily by the time I was four. My mom helped me memorize things like Bible verses, songs, multiplication tables, and vocabulary. I listened to music all the time, mostly classical, because I couldn't stand anything composed later the mid-twentieth century (I was weird).

When I was eight, my family moved to Idaho. I asked my parents if I could attend a local public school, and they agreed. At first, I really liked "going to school": walking with friends in the morning the few blocks to the school building, participating in a real class of kids my age, the arts and crafts... it seemed very fun. But very shortly I began to see disadvantages. The class was very cliquish; the girls didn't accept me easily, and the boys were nice but often rough in their play. The teacher, in spite of being a wonderfully sweet lady, often didn't know what to do with me when I would finish my class work quickly and ask for something to do... she began sending me to the library just to read. Also, math was beginning to be a problem; I'd never been great with numbers, but my math skills were declining as the class was taught new concepts and I fell behind because I didn't understand them. Mostly... I was bored. After already having had my mom's full care in my education for eight years, the divided attentions of a teacher who had to deal with a class of two dozen children could hardly compare.

Here's the honest-to-goodness reason why I eventually begged my mom to take me out of school: My class began studying the Chinese culture, and when we got around to learning about the Chinese New Year, we found out that all the children in the class were born in the Year of the Tiger... except for me. I was slightly younger than the rest of the class, and had been born in the Year of the Hare. After that, the class thought that its duty was to chase, catch, and eat me during every recess. A silly thing to some people, but horrifying for an eight year old child who was naturally shy. I left less than a year after I had begun.

It seems to me that my three main problems in public school (besides the Chinese New Year) were these: social difficulties, insufficient activities for my appropriate level of ability (which varied from subject to subject), and lack of teacher availability for special help in a subject that caused me a lot of confusion. I was so happy to be home-schooling again!

Granted, I spent a very small amount of time in a public school, but I still think that being homeschooled was definitely the best choice. In my next blog, I'll give my reasons for why I think homeschooling is such a good idea.

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