Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The Art of Homeschooling


The old, and persistent, view of homeschool is that of fundamental Christians sequestering their kids from the world - honing them with backward conspiracy theories. While there will always be an exception to every rule and condition, modern homeschooling is quietly, without awards or media coverage, teaching kids how to learn, how to be curious, how to zero in on their own learning strengths. How to excel beyond established state mandated educational standards.

Regardless how it used to be, modern homeschoolers opt out of traditional schooling for a plethora of reasons, including everything from bullying, lack of discipline in the school, overcrowding, to toxic teachers who are allowed to pour their personal philosophies into fertile minds. But for the most part, the primary reason for homeschooling comes down to the specific and individual needs of the child. Some kids cannot learn the way a subject is mandated to be taught. The rule of thumb is and actually must always be based on the commonality of learning ability. But not everyone learns the same way though. 

It is a specious argument that traditional school provides better education than homeschool - the truth of which depends on all the facts you can’t see - like the bulk of an iceberg. To tout that children cannot be taught by someone who is not ‘credentialed’ is also a smoke screen of disinformation. 

I took piano as a child for a year. My mother did not demand that my teacher show her diploma from Juilliard. And yet I learned in that one year so much about the structure and art of music. She knew music and she taught me. That my family moved and I did not take up playing an instrument again for 13 years did not erase that musical knowledge base. 

Credentials are a good start, for sure. You want certain professionals to at least provide the evidence that they did the work to get the credential. But, have you ever had a bad doctor, dentist, lawyer? Did you ever have a really really bad teacher? Or more than one?  Have you ever had an ordinary mentor teach you a valuable life lesson or skill that stayed with you into adulthood?

The point to be made is that knowledge is a fluid thing, it moves and changes with all that is constantly being discovered. In this age, given the access to unprecedented volumes of facts and information readily available in digital format, the task of teaching is not about instructing as much as it is about keeping up with the speed of what is available to learn.

Homeschooling in North Georgia, for the strength of all the community shared opportunities for kids to be exposed to unlimited educational experience, is producing highly credentialed adults. Scientists, engineers, teachers, medical professionals and, yes, even lawyers. Individuals who have learned how to learn and are imbued with the lifelong desire to continue learning.

Cling to the old ways, the fixed concepts, if you like - but homeschooling has more than proved itself and no longer must answer to the argument that traditional school is better. Homeschooling may be a different approach to how a child is educated, but it is in no way inferior. If the goal is the same - smart, thinking, life conscious individuals prepared to launch into the real world - if homeschooled children, according to statistics, fair better in their first year of college and go on to earn degrees - something good is happening. 

Just as traditional school is not the best option for some, homeschooling is not possible for most - if we’re just talking numbers here. But isn’t it wonderful to know there are options available? Isn’t it grand that the common goal of well-rounded, knowledge loaded kids is possible? 

Isn’t that ultimately what we all want? 

For Him,
Meema

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Now Would Be Good



Something is stirring. I’ve been around long enough to recognize the signals, the whispered prompts, to know how to notice the coincidences and connect the seemingly unrelated dots. 

I chose the word ENGAGE this year, as my standard, because... well, truth be told, I don’t know why actually. I certainly had a vague notion but I think it’s more accurate to say the word chose me. Therefore I now suspect a threshold has been met, a learning curve straightened out to a path to some place specific.  But what? Where? How to begin? 

Let me back up a bit.

I lunched with a friend yesterday. She is on the brink of experiencing the dreaded empty nest syndrome as her only child prepares to graduate and launch into her own future. My friend has been a stay at home mom for fifteen years. She has been trying to find work in anticipation of her looming life change but it seems her credentials aren’t official enough. She has no aged paper with a seal, no pay stubs to prove her worth. She has been rejected so many times of late, she admits to feeling as though she is not just a failure but a complete waste.

Those who know me also know that them there was fightin’ words that awakened the Meemanator. Hear me roar!

Since this is not the first, nor apparently will be the last time, I have been presented with this specific opportunity to speak a battalion of words that have been assembling together in me for the last seven decades, I gave my friend a well-practiced two hour lecture on her worth, both perceived and real. 

I also gave our server an extra $5 tip because we took up his table for so long.

Since I chose to be a stay-at-home mom long before the term was coined, I know the drill. I also know how this slippery slope began in the early seventies and I have written thousands of words about it. Cutting to the chase, it has been my experience that there is only one solution - that ever worked for me - for not fitting within a fixed criteria - is to identify your passion, what you can do and just do it anyway. Do it your way. 

But first, take all the negative criticisms swarming like angry wasps in your head and the long list of all the things you are not, put them in a box, seal the lid and kick it to the corner. 

In retrospect I might have overwhelmed the poor thing giving her both barrels at one sitting but I am, at the same time, charged up and weary of this rampant attitude that the only value someone has must be based on the current consensus of what success is. 

Here’s my conclusion - if something inspires you, gives you a reason to get up in the morning, charges your brain and energizes you, makes you think forward, creates and adds to you, is that not success in the doing? Where is it written that you are not qualified to apply yourself to that kind of success, use all those bits and pieces that make you uniquely you, those skills you have acquired by simply facing each life challenge as it came? 

We brain-stormed, discussed her real skill sets, her dreams. I gave her some options that I hope she will follow up on. When the mountain won’t come to you - go to the mountain. Then, when you can’t go over the mountain, go around or blast a tunnel through it. Frankly, in this digital age, the opportunities for entrepreneurial endeavors is staggering. Who needs credentials anymore? 

As we concluded, or should I say, as I wrapped up my rant, she seemed encouraged but she still felt her goal was about proving herself and she was fearful that if she failed she would be even worse off. 

I shook my head and interrupted her, no. No. NO. NO! The point is about stepping off focused only on calling upon all those undeclared, uncredentialed skills, for the sake of doing it - for no other reason than because you can! You can. You can. Just begin. Just do. At the point where you have nothing else to lose, there is no gamble. Sometimes you just have to free fall. If you are already at rock bottom - how can you crash?

This morning, I’m playing the reruns in my head. I’m thinking about the others I’ve given this same pep talk to lately. I’m frustrated that so many are so bogged down with myopic, pre-channeled thinking, that seems to be a rampant disabling societal condition. 

So... something is stirring. I recognize the signals, the whispered prompts, the coincidences and now I just need to connect those dots... 

For Him,

Meema


(Colossians 3:23) whatsoever ye do, work heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men;  


Sunday, January 21, 2018

Halt and Catch Fire



While I admit to loving serendipity, I do not have the same affection for being blind-sided. Therefore, I have developed the life-long habit of looking up and out, ever vigilant and attentive to the random details that have potential to come together as a force beyond my control. 

But real life is often full of surprises and therefore it’s a given that one simply cannot be prepared for every contingency. All that is to preface a story I am compelled to share.

Hubs and I recently completed our binge watch of a four season Tee Vee show re-aired on Netflicks - Halt and Catch Fire. A period piece carved out of a ten year period from 1983 to 1993 when personal computers went from ‘what is the point?’ to the life-altering emergence of the World Wide Web.

Both timeframe and storyline were totally relatable to us because we were so there. Full disclosure, Hubs was there first, always the visionary, he pulled me in not exactly kicking and screaming, but not entirely both feet in either. He bought his first Mac in 1984 and my first Mac, a redesigned Lisa, 128k, in 1988.  

We are nothing if not cutting edge.

The point of this ramble is not a review of the show, but an airing of what happened to me as my husband and I were re-immersed into that particular decade of our life story.

I was blind-sided. Days later, I’m still sorting my way out of it.

First of all, allow me to grumble that resorting to the label ‘period piece’ conjures up a reference to antiquity, the early American pioneers taming the wild west or the French Revolution. It’s something of a bitter pill to realize one is now old enough to be able to apply the term to one’s own personal middle-aged adult experience. 

Secondly, the essence of the show - not merely the unfolding of how digital technology, first played with like Legos in the hands of young, impetuous, dreamer/ visionaries - exposed the essence of how I have always had to do things. Seat of my pants, dive in to the middle and work my way out to both ends, now known in modern vernacular as fake it to make it. Until the last three episodes of season four, I could not decide whether I was being forced to relive my enormous failings or celebrate that I tried at all.

And there’s the crux of it - hindsight is indeed 20/20 but it’s also an opportunity to review all the good and bad, the many starts and restarts, the energy expended, the investment in spite of all the unknowns looming that ultimately resolved themselves in success or failure, either of which turns out to be much less significant than we are supposed to believe. 

We live in the moment in a constant state of ‘what ifs’ and that’s because, in the moment, we can’t trust ourselves to pick our options rightly. Only in hindsight can we see that we did choose wrongly sometimes but here we are - in the now, and it’s okay.

There’s an old saying - Everything turns out in the end. If it hasn’t turned out yet, it’s not the end.

Whew. I can move on now. 

For Him,

Meema