Not Too Optimistic

Assessing “The Project” Now & Into the Future
“Most people should not be home schooled, my dad says, and I agree.”
Not <em>Too</em> OptimisticChapter: SchoolLess Speaks
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I have vague memories from years ago of Skeptic saying in a sad tone something along the lines of, “Your dad is this far from home schooling you.”  She held her hands close together to show me just how close.

Even then, only seven or so, I would try to convince her that if I was home schooled I could learn more and go to more concerts.  My reasons have only gotten more complex since then, though haven’t really changed their main idea.  I still think that school is too structured and is based too much around things like strict algebraic formulas and five paragraph essays instead of “deep” games, like Go, or short story writing.  Not once during my Hannah Senesh experience did I write fiction, only on “the first time you did something great” or “a big event.”  God, that pisses me off.

This year, being home schooled has given me the opportunity to see Edward Hopper at the Whitney and The Magic Flute at the Met during a school day, to stay up late and see The Decemberists and Chekhov’s Three Sisters.  All very good, although the orchestra was not together in The Magic Flute, which was very distracting.  Also, Colin Meloy, the singer for the Decemberists was really getting on my nerves, too much between songs talking and too much crowd participation.  Three Sisters was three hours, but was so good it passed in what felt like no time.  Dad quote:  “Chekhov’s the man!”

The other day, I “interviewed” my dad, the “leader” or maybe even “principal” of my “schooling,” as he was sitting in his chair, which is very strictly his chair.  He had that thinking face on that he has whenever he is strongly into what he is saying, and it strongly resembled a PBS documentary.

According to him, he was only thinking about home schooling seriously last year, although he was still against many aspects of school before that.  As a kid, he hated school.  During fifth grade, he skipped school for two weeks straight.  He says he read books in his basement, although my aunt and her husband are convinced that he studied baseball cards and read sports magazines.

Personally, if I had skipped school last year (so tempting), I would have spent the day shooting baskets in Carroll Park and eating olives and mozzarella from Caputo’s.  I would have become a fatter Ray Allen.

Despite all this rebellion against typical school, he was never interested in being home schooled himself.  He says that there would have been tension and lack of clarity with his family about goals.  Also, he thinks that he wouldn’t have had the discipline to do work the way I do.  Thank you for the compliment, Father Jason.

Most people should not be home schooled, my dad says, and I agree.  A home schooled kid needs to be independent and acknowledge and be willing to live with the loss of socialization.  It’s possible to partially make up for it, but only partially.

My dad thinks that parents home school their kids for different reasons, the main ones being either they want their kids to be doing more work (parents have their own interpretations of that) or because they want their kids to learn differently.  My dad falls into the differently category.  But either way, the kid and the parent need to be on the same page, or it could result in arguments, wasted time, and no progress.  The student needs a say in the curriculum and schedule.  The “sys

tem” should be based on him, with bits and pieces of the “teacher” of course.

My dad is very happy with the outcome of our “schooling.”  He says he never had a clear vision of what it would exactly be like before we started, but as we get into a clearer schedule, he is satisfied.  I am too, if you were wondering.  It’s been pretty great.

But I don’t want to be too optimistic here.  I just hate an optimistic piece of writing.  I do wake up days and think about what I might be doing better, what I might be doing worse, what friends I’d have if I wasn’t home schooled.  I can’t find any satisfying answers.

I’ve tried to map my life out three different ways, all starting this year: being home schooled for seventh and eighth grades, if I stayed at Senesh, and if I went to MCS.  In all of them, I would have a decent, relatively ordinary life.  I don’t expect to be rich and famous, nor do I expect to be poor.  I expect to be a teacher.  I don’t know why.  And I don’t really want to be one:  it’s a little too ordinary.

This choice we made probably won’t drastically alter my life.  My dad says it is impossible to know, but this is my educated guess.

So far home schooling isn’t totally right, but that’s okay.  It’s an experiment.  We don’t have it exact, but we have data, and we’re using that data to get closer to totally right every day.

I’ll admit, sometimes I don’t get as much work done as I would like to, but in the end, I am being more productive and am happier, to say the least, than any other year of my life.

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