Friday, September 01, 2006

Why I Keep Reading Homeschool Blogs -- A Play in Three Acts

"Jennifer, excuse me, you don't have kids. Why the interest in home school?"

This is a reasonable question. I don't home school because I don't have kids. But I find the concept enchanting, and I've been reading a lot of home school blogs. And here's why:

Act I: Scene... the curtain rises to reveal the bedroom of a bright, imaginative kid, decorated in a way that let's you know, hey, this is 1971! Groovy! On the bed is a kid reading a big book. Let's say it's a treasury of Greek myths, or maybe a collection of folk tales. Possibly a book on the history of archaeology or how to identify snakes or the architectural styles of the cathedrals of Europe. Maybe all those books are there. There are also puzzle books and novels and collections of Peanuts comics. Maybe a copy of Ranger Rick magazine (and surely there is a centerfold from Ranger Rick taped to the wall -- lion cubs yawning, or possibly a tiny tree frog on a broad green leaf). On the big desk are art supplies and a microscope, a gerbil tank, and a flute. From somewhere in the house we hear a Bach cantata. We see the kid as the hub of a complex web of ideas, information, inspiration. This kid is learning, learning, learning, connecting the flute to the myth of Pan, the gerbil to the fable of the mice and the lion, the art supplies to the beautiful snakes and the ruined frescoes of ancient Greece, the microscope to the texture of paper, the cathedrals to the cantata... as the curtain falls.

Act II: Scene...Lights up, and a student (age unimportant) is crossing the stage slowly, examining the schedule for first day of school (fifth grade, seventh grade, whatever). The subjects are lined up like ducks in a shooting gallery, disconnected, disintegrated. Sure, the student can hit them all, but so what? At the end of the day it's just a pile of dead ducks and a prize for marksmanship. The student regards this list with a sigh and walks off stage as the lights dim.

Act III: Scene... The office of a children's book author. Papers strewn about. Books piled haphazardly. The author is writing, trying to recreate the rich web of associated ideas for some kid out there, somewhere, a kid like the one from Act I. This idea is connected to this one, see? And look, doesn't it sort of remind you of this over here, too? And I see a pattern here, do you? This author has spent a lot of time visiting schools on 'author day' and has seen many teachers trying hard to do many things for many children while simultaneously trying to hit a moving target called "standards." The author is sympathetic to these teachers, and sympethetic to those students. But the real reader of this author's books is the kid who is free to learn. The author looks out the window for a moment and wonders, where is that kid? How do I find that kid?

Curtain falls.

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Becky said...

Lovely post, and great picture :).

I'm tempted to tell you to look in the homes, but so many homeschoolers spend a lot of time outside of the home too lol. At art, music, and theater classes, and museums. Pond dipping or bird watching. Or like the three here who, wearing their Davy Crocket coonskin caps, spent most of the evening playing with the covered wagon they had made out of my wheeled hose reel and an old sheet. Or

Anonymous said...

The picture you painted is what sounds enchanting! Sometimes I feel like we appear more like the Herdman's from "The Best Christmas Pageant Ever" but I keep my sense of humor on those days as best I can! I like the scene you've created, it is inspiring!