Saturday, November 23, 2013

4 things that make "school" a royal pain...

As I see my daughter get stressed and struggle with her distance learning high school credit work, there are truths that have come out about what makes "school" a royal pain:

  1. The government curriculum is so very often completely disconnected with student reality. Oh, sure, they try to get the kids to connect by creating questions that are supposed to make the link between their lives and the material they are thrusting upon the kids, but let's face it: if the material was actually connected to their lives and truly meaningful for most of them, the government wouldn't have to figure out ways to try to get kids to connect to it. And then there is the material that is there supposedly to get the students to develop their brain power, but when, at ages 15-17, what matters most is that they have a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives and they are spending 1-2 hours each day on math that has no practical, meaningful purpose to them (do you use the quadratic equation in your everyday life? didn't think so), is it any wonder so many kids drop out or just get completely stressed out and depressed?
  2. The government curriculum tries to be conceptual, to have kids think, but given they give students a whole whack of things to cover, let's face it: it's really about memorizing. My daughter said it even last year, multiple times: "They don't really want me to know and understand this, they just want me to memorize it." This is not education. And while she can do a whole bunch of things and get 80-100%, because she doesn't really understand what she's doing (like she could do when we were simply homeschooling and not doing government course), it leaves her feeling like she doesn't know and hasn't learned anything. Well, she's right, isn't she?
  3. The student who understands point 2 can struggle with areas where opinions can be shared because they know that so much of most answers depends on having the "right" answer and to snap themselves out of that way of thinking can be difficult. And then sometimes the things they want students to have opinions on are really somewhat "out there". Do students truly have opinions on some of these matters? Not very likely.
  4. Testing means so very little, yet counts for so much in marks. Especially the diploma exams we have here: 50% of your final mark in grade 12 core subjects. Ridiculous. And what difference does it make if a student has certain formulae memorized or not? Again, what are they looking for: memorization or understanding?
To touch back on 1, as I've seen my daughter struggle emotionally this semester, I have looked things up and read something on a page about depression that said, in my paraphrased wording, depression is our inner, authentic selves screaming that there is something wrong, that there is a disconnect between what honours our true selves and what we are doing. The work my daughter is doing to get this stupid (sorry) high school diploma is not in sync with what truly matters to her. She would much prefer doing art and working on digital media and learning how to design websites and playing her violin and perhaps reading and writing... That she has to spend time understanding "nationalism" and "identity" and memorize all kinds of dates and people and be able to write wordy papers on something that seems to straight forward and common-sensical to her and she has to spend hours and hours trying to figure out how to solve meaningless math questions...  It has taken its toll on her. Things that were fun aren't quite as fun anymore, especially since there is the constant knowledge in her mind that there is more school to be done. The diploma is important to her, however. And so, we will have to work together to help her deal the best with the 4 points above.

What other things do you find make school a royal pain?

Friday, November 22, 2013

How's it going?

I thought I would just post a little update. :)

CM-style schooling... hasn't progressed. lol. We had at least a few weeks of illness and busyness and I dropped the ball a bit. Have restarted a little and trying to push on with my son. One of his weak areas has always been explaining things well. He can have a hard time finding his words and really providing details. CM is good for working on this, but I've decided not to do nearly as much narration with him as I have had people say I should do. We can read several pages, but he does best narrating right now with just a few sentences or paragraph. After, at times, a whole page, he can't really tell you anything, even often with guided questions. It is completely disruptive to the flow to be asking him to narrate every paragraph as had been suggested to me. And annoys, understandably, the heck out of him. I've started having him narrate a part and, if I'm reading aloud, then I narrate a part and we just finish enjoying the selection. I hate to admit it, but we still have not really done much science. *sigh* The part he likes the best. *sigh again*

My 16yo has gotten super stressed, overstressed, borderline depressed the stress is so overwhelming. If she were an adult working, I would have been recommending she take a leave of absence. We've been having good talks which help take the edge off, and then I started her on supplements Wednesday evening--omega-3 and St. John's Wort. I've also started having her take vitamin C that has added vitamin D in it and am looking at foods high in B vitamins since I'd much prefer changing her diet than adding on yet another supplement. It's likely the St. John's Wort having the most effect but even by last night, there was a marked difference in her. I am not going to be surprised today if she gets hung up on the fact she's so far behind in her school work now but I will simply remind her that it's not absolutely terrible if she finishes the two courses a little late and that her well-being is far more important than whether she finishes the courses by the end of the first semester or not!

She has also started a part-time job, which has added to the stress level, unfortunately, but that first pay stub the other day helped ease up on the stress. ;)

How is your homeschooling going? I saw things in Facebook about "everybody wants to quit homeschooling in November." Yes, I admit it, we've all wanted to quit--not homeschooling, but *schoolwork*. What about you?