Wednesday, March 5, 2014

My Practically-Perfect-In-Every-Way Public Schooler, is Why I Homeschool.

I have a valedictorian, college-graduated, successful daughter who is a shining example of public school system success.  She excelled in the top ten percent.  My darling, wonder child led an exemplary high school life and surrounded herself with a social group of great kids with diverse interests that also were dedicated to “achievement.” 

She is my impetus for home schooling her sibling. 

 I admit, it was very heady to watch her success and to claim a little of that accolade for being “the good parent.”    From the top looking down, it does look like the challenge of scaling the lofty peaks is preferable to the trials of the underachiever. 

Her life adventure was well rounded, not only in academia, but in sports as a swimmer, with community service,  involved in the arts; a classically trained pianist, she wrote for the city paper, learned four years of French, traveled to Europe, excelled in vocal music in honor, state, and national choirs and was even a soloist.  

 In her climb to excel, she took five AP courses every year, graduated valedictorian from one of the state’s best high schools, and missed a perfect ACT score by only two points.  

She attended and graduated college on a full scholarship as an English major with excellent grades--finishing in five years, in spite of spending two years abroad, living in Hong Kong and learning Cantonese.

What a success right?    

She is why I home school her sibling. 

It’s senior year in college, the very last semester and she calls home, “Mom, I am an excellent student and a great tutor.  My professors love me, they write accolades to me and they beg me to join their graduate programs.  What now?”  She had reached it, the apex—the highest point and the view from that precipice can be daunting.  Where does one go from the top?

I saw it coming—this cliff.  When counselors in high school viewed her transcripts, they brushed aside her concerns about the future and said, “You can do anything.”  What they neglected to say was, “But, you can’t do everything.”  

No one ever offered her the vision that successful scholarship is not about momentary academia, but about finding your lifelong passion and pursuing it.   

She clarified her dilemma, “Mom, I’ve lived life to excel at the test, and when I’m no longer being graded, how will I gauge my worth?" She anguished, "Is my only choice more school, and if so in what?”   

So the Masters degree search began and time and time again she was told by wise professors, “If this is what you want to do,  go do it and don’t waste two more years in class preparing to do it.”  

Finally, one wise professor said, “Today’s assignment is to skip school and dedicate the time to something you really enjoy. Then return and report.”  That event sent her down a new path.  When I called the next week to see how class went she responded, “Oh, I skipped this week too.  There was this idea that I’m interested in exploring …” 

She got it, finally, and she began to search for the vision, her passion, her mission.  Tutored by mentors, she dived into the study of achievement vs. education in America.  It was her exploration of the fallacies of academia that opened my eyes to the real problem in education. 

It is in part through her tutelage, that I began to understand the other“FAILING 90 PERCENT” in a educational system that stifles creativity, discourages imagination and promotes a false sense of achievement.  What if her path had lead directly to her passion before four (no, eight) years were wasted in a fruitless search for false achievement in the guise of conformity.  How far could she have excelled?  

Admittedly it prepared her well for her college success—that of learning how to please professors.  She will be able to please bosses too, but what else could she have accomplished if creativity not conformity were her goal?  What could America be with youth like that? 

All this happened, just in time for my last child, a boy who was finally succeeding at education by sitting down, shutting up and shutting off.  He had become proficient at the test and by middle school, his early passion for creativity, ingenuity and thinking outside the universe was gone.   He was finally excelling at learning what-- not how-- to think. 

 I saw the vision of a couple more years of this fruitless trek and then he would be forced to opt out for his own sanity.   With the Oklahoma public school drop-out rate doubling this year from last, when I do the math, that is a public-school fail.   

With our daughter’s encouragement, my husband and I are working with our son to craft an alternative education—the kind that identifies personal genius, encourages ultimate creativity and inspires greatness.  

Our son now seeks purpose, which promotes the passion to pursue his interests and that encourages a true scholar education.

*  *  *

Just yesterday, I received a note from a young doppelganger of my daughter.  She is offended by my comments on social media about the public schooling failings in America.  She has done as most youth do and personalized my comments about the public school reform. ("It’s all about me," is a typical teen thought process.)    

Let me clarify.  I engage in civil dialogue, never once do I disdain a student, teachers nor their dedication to teaching.  But I cannot stand back knowing what I know and seeing the failure from every angle, top to bottom and from both sides.  

We must have a broader vision for the good of America; we must become better at a brighter educational experience for everyone. 

1 comment:

Edward Guidry said...

Still thinking about our conversation on Saturday night, trying to decide how these ideas can/should impact my own family.