Sunday, October 08, 2006

General Thoughts on Sunday

Typing away on an old novel of mine - words coming easily. I listen to the house. I hear a television. I hear the dog barking outside. Cars driving past. The front yard is decorated with stuck-in-the-grass signs, pumpkins with our names on them, witches, black, arched cats, spiders, Boo! Halloween hasn't hit the inside of our house fully yet. I hear the neighbors laughing.

What I don't hear are J's tics. He's not done a single one all day and it's been days now of quiet. The final say will be when he sees his teacher. If he's quiet then, and quiet for a week, he'll be in a position to go back to school.

I'm torn about sending him back right away. He likes being at home. He likes not having to comply with dull, mindless rules, getting to bypass the tedium of running from class to class to be on time, standing on numbers for roll, tying shoes, acting in accordance with a vague standard of proper conduct. He doesn't have to sit in a seat for designated time periods without doing anything "productive". Doesn't have to do the work specifically when told to do so during the day.

He sleeps until eight in the morning. Drums a little, runs a little. Comes in and works on some homework unless he'd been ambitious and decided to do it all the night before. We'll talk throughout the day. He'll get on the computer and play with music. He'll read for a half hour and write in his notebook some thoughts on the reading. He'll skateboard. We'll have lunch. Sometimes he and I will go to the doctor or visit my grandmother or my sister. We'll pick up the siblings. He'll wait for the teacher by doing chores around the house. He'll drum for a longer while. He'll meet with the teacher and then go out and skateboard, sometimes with friends.

Am I cheating him by keeping him out of the system longer than necessary? He's gotten A's and B's on his exams - I think when he goes back, we'll see once again the low grades and the failed responsibilities. This works. That doesn't. Should I work harder at indoctrinating him to the ways of Verizon? Or should I bite the bullet and try home-schooling which does scare the hell out of me? I don't know. I really don't.

I think of new words to describe a world run by machines with no heart, no brain. Verizonous. Verizoniac. Verizonish. We're being trained to function in such a world and the first place we learn that is in our schools, public and private alike. But is that such a bad thing?

M cried on Friday when I had to leave her classroom. She does it every time but it doesn't stop me from volunteering in her class every Friday morning. I love it - her tears though make me weep. I won't stop though. I won't stop to save the extra pain. I didn't get to do volunteer with the boys (other than in A's second grade class) because I always had to take care of a baby. So this is wonderful. A special opportunity. Our special time. The mornings there are sweet. I sit at a table and help the kids paint pictures with the smooth, drippy yellows, reds, blues and blacks. The children all have to paint a picture following the picture the teacher drew - not a lot of creativity necessarily, but it does help them. They don't struggle with the how-to. I do notice though with each attempt, the paint strokes differ, the sizes, the exact shapes. Everyone is different, yet the same. They're identifying themselves within the sea of sameness.

They sing songs together. They march in place together. They do everything as a group. Obviously it makes for organized education of a large number of children. Any less than that opens the door for unfathomable chaos.

I love the independence within the system. When the children are all listening to the teacher talk about body parts, their skull, spine and falanges, Mary sticks her hands in her back pockets and shouts with complete delight, "My hands are on my butt!"

The whole class laughs and the teacher does too, commenting that her hands are on her glutteous maximus. There is a lot of joy in the class and I suck it in. Yes, they're learning a sense of sameness and yet they rebel against it constantly. They don't just retreat to a corner to read when they're done, they chat and lie on their bellies and backs as they flip through the pages of various books. Each child that comes to me to do their painting tells me something about themselves.

"I cut myself, look."

"My cat is red."

"Yesterday, my daddy came over and stayed while Mommy went to work."

"I like spiders."

"I threw up on my birthday."

"You're M's mommy."

"I like to paint."

M cries when I leave and I hold her. She's got to follow the rules and buck up. I kiss her and assure her I'll be right back. She'll be just fine. And she is. She will be. But it's hard to walk away from her. I often feel like just grabbing her up and taking her with me, except I can't.

It's against the rules. This is something she's learning early.


Dale said...

Well, you probably know what I think about keeping him home. I think it's a terrific idea, that he'll learn more, be calmer and more self-directed, develop better social skills. (I have never understood why learning the barbarities of ordinary public highschool interaction is supposed to make you better at handling civilized interaction: someone will have to explain that to me someday.) The only questions to me are -- can you deal with having him around all the time? And what does he want to do?

By the way, I haven't seen numbers lately, but back when I was paying attention, homeschooled kids averaged, in standardized tests, well above public-schooled kids. So just by the numbers, the right thing to do for academic achievement is to keep him home.

narrator said...

schools are about learning the rules. They only "share knowledge" as a way of impressing the rules more deeply. A social reproduction machine designed to insure that society neither advances nor changes too much.

maybe I'm just bitter

Lori said...

I don't envy you, bud, having to make these tough choices. I liked school as a kid, but I had the same social problems that most other geeks have. But I guess I just got used to it. LOL! The homeschooled kids that I taught were all great...very disciplined, focused and polite...but they were still kids and when the task was done they'd run around and chat with each other about video games. I remember telling some of the parents that I didn't think I could ever homeschool myself, but they all said it really wasn't THAT big of a deal. Of course, you already have a job outside the home, so it would be more difficult for you & D to juggle it. I guess it's also a question of what you guys want to do, too.

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