Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Schooling Choices

OK, this posting is for my cousin, Janelle, who blogs here.  Sunday I was visiting with my niece about schooling options.  Her oldest child will be turning four in a little while, while she's also got a girl who's about 18 months old, and one on the way.  She's considering all the options, and homeschooling is one of those options.  Her husband was homeschooled for a large part of his schooling, but his mom's a teacher.  She was expressing her feelings of inadequacy, and wondering what the best options would be.

During the discussion, we agreed that there is no one right answer for all kids.  Some kids thrive in a public school setting; other kids really shouldn't be there but their parents don't have another option for them.  The same thing could be said for private schools and for homeschooling.  For most kids, it doesn't make a whole lot of difference - they'll muddle along, regardless of what you choose.  For some kids, it makes a huge difference.  However, no decision is set in stone - you can change your mind at pretty much any time along the journey.

We also agreed, that most kids who are home schooled end up with a bit of a hole in one area or another - where the parent doing the homeschooling disliked, or skipped, or didn't feel the importance, or for whatever reason.  (It's entirely possible that kids in the school system end up with holes as well.)

I have a bit of a unique perspective.  I am a teacher - have taught all ages and grades from preschool through  to adult education; including all the grades between.  I have taught in public, Catholic and private schools, and I home schooled my son for a year.

Having said all that, Janelle homeschools her three boys, and I really enjoy reading her blog and her reflections on that journey with them.  She has talked several times about "the evil math" - the area of schooling where she feels most inadequate.  I have a son, however, who is wired for math and science - and has always been!  Before he was of school age he could already count in base 2 on his fingers.  He's always experimented with different math concepts, he finished Math 30 (grade 12 math) in Grade 10, did Calculus 30 as an independent study in Grade 11, and is now taking Electrical Engineering Technology at SIAST, because that's the engineering technology that requires the most math.

Last night was The Party.  We had around 35 kids, and Bram was a group leader for one small group as usual.  When they were at the story centre (the Bible story was about the centurion who had great faith) and the kids were doing a word find, he started doodling - math.  He came out and tried to borrow a pen or pencil from me, because he was trying to remember the proof for how the derivative of e to the x (sorry, can't figure out how to do superscript) is e to the x.  About the time it was time to come home, he had an aha moment as he figured it out.  When he came home, he wanted to explain it to me, but had to do homework first (work before play) - and then he he had to teach me a whole bunch of background calculus first.

Now you have to realize, that among other things, I teach math (or have taught math).  I prefer to teach remedial math; math for the kids (or adults) who embrace the concept of "the evil math" - and Bram's surpassed my math abilities some time ago.  However, he was able to explain it to me, and I was (momentarily?) enlightened.  I you also wish to be enlightened - here's the explanation below.

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