Monday, March 14, 2011

In Which We Consider Schooling

I've been struggling lately with the school that we send Riley to.  Not really his school in particular, but the concept of what public school has become.

The problem here, is that I have never been one to "accept things as they are" and be happy.  I want better for my child.  I don't like Math Investigations and feel like it's wasting his time.  I don't like touchy-feely educationalist movements and the lack of accountability they allow (for teachers, students, and parents alike). And honestly, I volunteer in the school.  I don't like how much of my kid's day is wasted time.  I went to school in the same county we now live in, and I feel like I got a good education, or at least that's what I've always said.  I loved school.  Or, rather, I loved the idea of school.  I loved going somewhere that I was going to learn be better than everyone else.  I actually rather hated "school".  I hated the group work where I was inevitably paired with the "problem" kids so that I could help out by teaching them and getting them to do their work.  I hated people's questions.  I hated listening to people read aloud in 4th and 5th grade who clearly hadn't mastered it.  I really REALLY wanted to learn! I was curious! High School was fantastic, because I could take AP and Humanities classes and do clubs and projects and extra work in subjects that interested me, but before that, really, when I think about it and I'm honest, I really only liked school because my teachers kept telling me how smart I was.

I'm very externally motivated.  It's a problem.

So now when I hear my kid complaining about many of the same issues, I want to fix it.  We've looked at public magnet schools and applied for 1 spot in 2nd Grade that there are 80 some applications for.  (Dear School System: If there are so many parents desperately seeking something else for their children, why, praytell, don't we apply the same concepts to all of our schools?) We've checked private schools, but hubby is uncomfortable with both the price and conservatism.  So, we've moved on to homeschooling.

Homeschooling makes me nervous.  I don't want my kids to be "unsocialized" and I don't know if I can be "on" all day every day for them.  But, at the same time, I feel like me caring so very much would help me get through it.  Plus, our area has numerous cooperatives and support groups in place.  It looks like there isn't a day without a field trip, class, or playgroup. In Middle School, our kids could take 2 classes from the public school in addition to their homeschool curriculum.  They can play sports and attend church, just like the very socialized and educated homeschoolers I've met in my search.

I'm still not sure what we'll end up doing.  I want to believe in public education, I really do.  But looking at the scores internationally, our experience personally, and what I feel children are capable of learning, right now, I just can't.  So, do I stay in and fight tooth and nail to fix it? (Note that parents at our school face signs that say "It's after 8:35 parents may not enter educational hallways" despite the fact that our school board policy is that parents are welcome anytime in classrooms to volunteer or observe) Or do I opt to take another path for our family and give my children the type of educational experience I wish I could have had?

I'll take prayers for discernment, because I really don't know how to make this choice.
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