What’s more important to you, education or schooling? There is a difference, you know. My parents always said they wouldn’t sacrifice our education for our schooling. And they never did. If there was an educational opportunity available and it involved pulling us out of school, they did it. That included vacations. Our vacations always ended up being educational anyway, simply because we liked going to museums and science centers.
But that was 30 years ago; what about now, in this age of incessant testing? This time of money being directly connected to how well a child performs (because it is a performance) on state testing? If you had an incredible educational opportunity arise for your child, and it was only available mid-March during the testing dates, would you pull your child out for that opportunity or send him in to fill in the Scantron?
Purely hypothetical here, we have no such opportunity lined up for J this spring. Pity.
But education vs. schooling has been on my mind a lot lately because of A. He’s been homeschooled now for 11 months. Part of that was deschooling, part of that was summer break (we have to follow the school schedule for our own sanity), and part of that has been me freaking the freak out. That last part has been this fall. See, The Most Complex Child on the Planet™ makes homeschooling…interesting. A is 11 now. Sixth grade. Spitting distance to high school (hold me), counting down to the teen years (hold me tightly). He is a sponge…but only under certain circumstances. The information to be slurped up must be 1) inherently interesting, 2) provided in visual form (like a video or interactive experience…he is such a visual-spatial learner), and 3) directed by no one but himself. I can more or less handle this part. But I also need to know how much slurping the sponge did, and this is where we run into problems. The sponge does not wish to be wrung out. I have no idea if the sponge slurped up Kool-Aid, bourbon, or water. I don’t know if what was slurped up will be retained or dribbled out a hidden pore. I don’t know if the slurped is mixing well with previous slurp. And any endeavor to weigh, monitor, or otherwise measure the sponge is met with great resistance.
So he’s getting an education…I think. I want to school him (teach and evaluate), and he wants the exact opposite of that (learn and learn and learn and not produce anything to indicate comprehension). Left to his own devices he’d watch Nova or astrophysics documentaries all day, design and build intricate creations with Legos (to date he’s made a working candy machine, tinkered with building a playing card shuffler, and had to abandon building an ATM when he didn’t have the correct parts), or continue to teach himself code at Codecademy. I’m fully aware he’s learning here, but it’s not how I was educated, and I’m terrified about his future. And it doesn’t help when well meaning folk ask what he’s learning, or if homeschooling was the right idea, or “when is he going back to school?” He absolutely is learning, homeschooling likely saved his mind, and he’s not going back anytime in the foreseeable future.
It’s a delicate balance right now. I insist on daily math and copywork (so his handwriting doesn’t descend further into illegible chaos), and other subjects rotate in and out with time and interest. Our co-op is on break right now, so he’s missing that as well. Can you tell that I’m a little too high-strung for the eclectic homeschooling we’re doing? It’s good for him, crazy-making for me. Many days I just want someone to come teach me how to homeschool him, but I’ve also been wishing in vain for someone to come teach me how to parent him for the last 11 1/2 years, so it appears I’m on my own here.
Education or schooling. Where do you stand? Where do you want to stand?