Some thoughts on schooling and the absence thereof

So it’s official. It’s final.

The boys will be staying home next year and Jim and I will be their educators-in-chief. (As well as their attorneys general, their courts-martial and their in loco parentis).

Our "school" has a name (you gotta have a name to get stuff like Borders discount cards). Would you like to hear it? It is: JEDI TEMPLE ACADEMY.

Rhys thought of it.

We arrived at this decision with lots of thinking, doubting, wondering, researching, cajoling (on my part) and eventual enthusiasm (on Jim’s part). Oddly enough (hee hee), we are not doing this for any religious reason. Rather, it’s because I don’t want the kids to get caught up in the teaching to the test, the cliques and rivalries, the uncool-to-be-smart, the lowest common denominator thinking that seems to go along with classroom education. Note that I am NOT trash-talking teachers in any way, shape or form (my mom’s been a teacher for 20 years; she’d kick my butt, and rightly so!). I just feel that we have been the boys’ teachers since birth; we understand and value their personalities; and we are best equipped to give each of them the time, attention and stimulation he needs to do the best he can in the areas that interest him most.

We’re leaning away (far away) from workbooks, textbooks, fill-in-the-blanks and scribble-in-the-bubbles. I figure, we’ve not been able to get them uninterested in learning yet; we can be facilitators, strewing experiences of every kind around for them and sometimes just hanging on for the ride. If we spend six months on "Calculus By and For Young People," that’s cool; if we spend a week just watching "The Most Extreme" and "Ancient Almanac," that’s cool too.

And there are piano lessons and drum lessons and Latin comic books and cookie baking and grocery budgeting and scrapbooking and hand sewing and eight billion other things for us to spend time doing, too–learning the real way, the way that doesn’t divide up "math" and "science" and "spelling" into tidy little boxes and never let them talk to each other. The kind of learning that you do when you want to learn, not the kind that you cram into your head just before the test and forget three days later.

So we’re starting out next year with two Big Ideas to sort of build our quasi-curriculum around: ancient history from prehistoric times to the Roman Empire, and evolution and prehistoric animals. Pretty swell, huh? I can’t wait to get started.

There’s a neato resource center for secular/non-religious homeschoolers in the Portland area; I’ve linked to it once before. Looks like it could be an awesome point of connection for our family. Lego robotics… Harry Potter book club… yoga and modern dance and train trips and pottery…

As I think I already said once, I can’t wait to get started.


About Molly Newman

Writer, cook and trivia/spelling bee hostess, living it up in North Portland.
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13 Responses to Some thoughts on schooling and the absence thereof

  1. Herm says:

    AWESOME! Can I be your substitute teacher? “Good morning class.” “Good morning Autie Herm.” I can teach How to Create a Backyard Wildlife Habitat (TM).

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Yay for your big decision! They’ve been talking about Village Home a lot on the Portland homeschool lists….I haven’t checked them out yet, but I hear good things.
    I thought your name was funny; I told my kids, and they responded with a respectful quietness. I think they’re jealous. In CA we had to have a name to register as a private school (one option for how to homeschool in CA) and we chose the much more boring The Learning Garden.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    And the kids want to know if you are accepting enrollment in your fine academy. 🙂

  4. Chris says:

    Wow, long time lurker, first time poster (always wanted to say that.) I, too, am going to be homeschooling, some of the reasons you mentioned, some you didn’t. Very excited about the opportunity also, good luck to you.

  5. Katie says:

    I am going to homeschool my son starting in the summer. We loved it but took some time off for him to attend a wonderful autism related school.
    It is an amazing experience and I’m sure that someone as creative as you are will have no trouble coming up with wonderful learining ideas!
    Best of luck to you,
    aka Katie the Scrapbook Lady

  6. Gwyn says:

    Good luck to you all. Love the school name, Rhys is smart! (But you already knew that). Fortunately I teach in a place where splitting up the disciplines and using worksheets are frowned upon, but I do know just what you mean.

  7. SOOOO cool. I was lucky enough to have a public school education in a G&T program that was very individualized (which kept me from getting bored MOST of the time but it was still difficult).
    I liked school enough that I wanted to be a teacher myself… I made it through all my course work for a minor in secondary education – and exactly three days of student teaching before I realized I would never survive or thrive in a world of “teaching the test”, nonsensical dress codes, spending more time writing curriculum than actually teaching, and history/civics/economic (my concentration) classes who never made it more than halfway through the textbook in any given year.
    I say bravo to you… I honestly think its rapidly becoming the ONLY way.

  8. heather in WA State says:

    One of the great things about homeschooling is the freedom to take off on road trips, where incredible learning can take place. There is nothing like experiencing or seeing something in person. For inspiration, check out this trip journal by a homeschooling family I know:

  9. Susan says:

    Hooray for you! We’ve been homeschooling for 12 years — and my oldest will graduate in June. It’s a wonderful life — full of fun, trials and happiness! Enjoy!

  10. Melissa says:

    Good luck! I think parents know best how their children learn. Congrats on making your decision!

  11. Lydia says:

    AWESOME DECISION. Fantastic. Your big ideas sound great. I’m slavering with jealousy over your secular homeschool resources — here in the South, reading Harry Potter or doing yoga is pretty much guaranteed to get you chastened. I’m sure you’re going to have a great year.

  12. christinew says:

    That is what we are strongly leaning toward for James next year. Best wishes Jedi Temple Academy. (makes me giggle)

  13. LOL – Love the school name! I’ve considered home schooling Bridget for most of the same reasons that you mentioned (and my mom’s a teacher too). But we’ve decided against it for now because she needs specialty treatment for her autism (and contact with other kids) that the school program for special needs kids provides.

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