Welcome to my life. It's a whirlwind of kids, chaos, pets, people, family, art, and being home (most of the time; I like to get out here and there). We unschool, so the unexpected is, well, expected...

Thursday, March 22, 2007

To school or not to school...

It's been a while since I've posted anything. I guess we've been busy! In response to the needs of my kids, mostly Chamille, we've been doing things and meeting people.

Chamille is going through this phase where she keeps going back and forth about going to school. Largely this is due to wanting to meet people, not just any sort of people, but like minded people. We haven't been enormously successful with other homeschoolers, although, we have met a few people we really do like and that has been nice.

Lately Chamille has been walking the neighbor girl to or from school, for the sake of getting out by herself and being around other kids. I've been encouraging her to do this because we live in an ideal neighborhood for this with all of the schools within 4 blocks of our house, as well as neat trails and parks along the way. The neighbor girl is putting a lot of pressure on Chamille to go to school, which I find oddly ironic since this child hates school. Chamille is feeling swayed a little with the idea of being around other kids.

I have mixed feelings about this because I don't want her to go to school. I also want it to be her decision, and I will support her decision. I, personally don't think that she will like school, even if it has cool kids to hang out with. While it would be good for her to experience the unpleasantness of school first hand, I know that by going to school, she will then have to be compliant with testing and the like from here on out, assuming she comes back home, and I don't see her being ready for that.

Yesterday, Chamille walked over to the school with the neighbor girl after school to accompany her while she picked up homework she had missed because she was absent that day. It was that time of day when most kids were still at school, but school was out and kids were starting to leave. Chamille and her friend were confronted by an adult at the school, who, after finding out that Chamille wasn't a student there, made her leave the school grounds and told her that she wasn't allowed anywhere on campus and had to wait for her friend at the curb or the other side of the street, and then proceeded to watch and make sure that Chamille left.

To be honest, I never expected such a thing to happen. Chamille was helping her friend out by using the buddy system walking the distance to her school. While the school may have a policy of not having visitors, it was clearly after school hours, and she was clearly not staying or there without reason. Chamille came home mad at this person and mad that she couldn't just accompany her friend while she picked up some school work. After delving deeper, it seemed that it wasn't so much the reasoning this person had, but the attitude this person had towards her. I know everyone who has been to school has experienced this sort of person. The kind of adult who feels somehow bigger and better than the students, and therefore feels compelled to treat the students in a disrespectful and demeaning manner.

In our conversations about the pros and cons of going to school, I hadn't even considered this aspect. We've talked about the time consuming nature of school, the lack of opportunity to actually socialize with kids even if you happen to find a few that you like or even see thoughout the day, and the large amount of homework involved, the going to bed early and getting up early, and just about anything else relating to how school would affect her life.

Nothing could have prepared Chamille for the reality of going to school as that person did. There is nothing that Chamille despises more in life than adults who treat kids with disrespect simply because they are kids. After she came home with this bit of enlightenment, I looked up some of the school rules, and shared a bit about them to Chamille. Needless to say, she was appalled at the lack of freedom kids have in schools. As a child who has been given freedom, simply because she is a person who is respected as a person, she has no tolerance of others, regardless of who they are, that infringe upon her freedom.

Many years ago, I had this thought about schools and freedom, and the terrible irony they portray by teaching freedom, and not actually allowing it. Freedom is seen as an intangible concept, not something you can taste and breathe and feel. Our entire country is based on freedom, the tangible kind that the pioneers were seeking. Our freedoms are slowly eroding away, little by little, and it is no wonder really, when for 12 plus years of our formative lives, we are taught that freedom is an intangible concept, not something we can feel for our own selves. As long a kid has to ask permission to meet their most personal needs, such as using the bathroom and eating and drinking and getting a bit of fresh air, they won't know what freedom actually is. By the time they are out of school, and graduate to move on to "real" life, all they can think is "I'm finally free!" and go crazy and do stupid and irresponsible things because they don't know what it means to be free and be personally responsible for their own freedom.

It's a sad condition! I am truly grateful that Chamille understands freedom. She can feel it in every cell of her body. She knows the natural constraints of the world and accepts them because she is free. She may not be able to pass a 7th grade test, but she knows what it means to follow her passions and treat others respectfully, and know when others are not doing the same. No test ever will show how smart and wonderful Chamille is or what she knows that is important to her and her life. Testing might show her what she doesn't know, but I want her to know that she knows what she needs right now in this moment, and that it is still a small fraction of what one could know in life.

So, for now, Chamille has yet again decided that school isn't for her. Perhaps one day it will be, perhaps not! Most important is that she knows without a doubt that she is making the best decision for herself at that particular moment in life and is free to change it any time she sees a necessity to do so. If only everyone could feel so empowered!