January 5, 2011

What Works For One

This morning it occurred to me that my last post about unschooling might indicate a disdain for the more typical homeschool format involving structure and curriculum. For any that might be reading this blog and might think that is how I feel about home school as most of us know it, I would like to set the record straight.
My personal vantage point on children, school and life in general includes 4 children, 5 step children (only one legally at this time and forever more), a family home daycare, public school, homeschool, more than one marriage and a variety of disorders. I've been on both sides of a couple of fences and I've known a lot of children who were growing and learning in a variety of circumstances. Mine has not been a singular kind of experience. However, I will only speak of the children that I grew.
Both of my sons are ADD / ADHD, as well as myself. Both of my daughters are not. It's interesting to me to look back and see the parallel experiences of my children. The public school experience of the attention disordered persons (both sons and myself) basically ran the same track - difficult struggle marked by underachievement, despite above average intelligence. The attention functional persons (both daughters) had positive experiences, at least on an academic level. They went to class, studied the material and passed the tests. They did their homework all on their own. Not so with the ADDs.
There are a variety of opinions in the public vs. home school debate. I've heard it said that public schools are failing our children. I think that public schools are failing some of our children. On the other hand, some of our children are failing public school all on their own. The same can be said for homeschool. I choose not to get into the debate. Public school worked for two of my children and not for the other two. Didn't work so hot for me either. What works for one... works for one.
Public school didn't work for the last child that I have to get educated by one means or another. School at home - a structured, curriculum based format - wasn't working either. At least not at this time. But, here's the thing. I know that people can learn ANYTHING when motivated by a desire to do a thing. For several years, I was a regular eBay seller. I learned a basic working knowledge of HTML with a little help from my software engineer husband and a lot by researching the internet, hanging around the eBay discussion boards and viewing the source code on my own (I had sooo much fun!) Homer Hickam, a softie in math, learned advanced calculus on his own in high school so he could build rockets. (See the movie October Sky for an inspiring, true story of the power of motivation.)
And, then, there's Shawn Hornbeck. He is the young man that was found in Missouri four years after he had been abducted by an evil man. He made up four years years of school in two and a half years. Here is an excerpt from Shawnhornbeck.com
"Shawn has made spectacular progress with his schooling and only lacks a couple of 1/2 credit courses to graduate. It's simply amazing that he has been able to make up the four years of school he missed in such short order, all the while maintaining a GPA around 3.5. He is all set to finish up his required credits by going to school half of his senior year and continuing to work at the job he recently started. He will graduate with his class right on time, just as if nothing had happened!" What an amazing testimony to the ability of the human mind and heart when powered by motivation.
What's the point of all of this? Just to say that I personally have no fast and hard opinions of the best way to educate a child. The connection between education and motivation is one that I personally cannot separate. I have strong opinions on the best way to educate (motivate) my child. And, no matter what path a homeschool educator chooses to take, I have the utmost respect for all of us who volunteer to commit to such an important job that consumes so much of our time and heart.
Best regards,


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