The U.S. Education System - Time to Reboot

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Over the weekend, my husband brought the video, below, on changing the U.S. education system to my attention. I'm sharing it with the hope that you'll pass it on to friends, family members and neighbors. Do you believe the U.S. education system needs a reboot? I do.

Homeschooling as an alternative

Like many families who become frustrated with traditional schooling, we pulled our son out of school about two and a half years ago to homeschool. Granted, school seems to work out fine for some kids. But it wasn't working for us. And just to clarify, this wasn't my first time to homeschool a child, either.

I  homeschooled my 3rd child because I wanted to read great works of literature to him and take spiders through their complete life cycles.

We did both. One morning shortly after waking, I passed through the living room and witnessed what seemed like hundreds of baby jumping spiders crawling out of the jar that contained a supposedly defunct egg sack. We scooped them up as quickly as we could and deposited them outside on our patio.

We read Mark Twain, tons of books on spiders, all about the everyday life of Vikings, books on ancient Egypt, and too many others to count. His idea of playing pretend games for a while was to play Viking and go on raids. In reality, our family isn't particularly Viking-like, though.

But homeschooling also had some practical advantages. I was a single mom with three kids at three different schools. How was I supposed to do that? One car. One parent. Three kids. Three schools. Maybe I was tired of the rat race. In retrospect, though, pulling this child out of school may or may not have been the best choice - for him. We'll talk about that later - maybe when he's thirty.

Too much stress and too many tummy aches made homeschooling seem like our only choice.

But with my fourth child, I didn't feel I had much of a choice. When he was in the first grade, his teacher expressed concern over his inability to focus. And he was distracting other kids during lessons. True to form, he preferred to sort and graph rocks he'd collected during recess over doing his math. It was actually painful for him to pay attention.

His teacher saw this, and it was her compassion that started us on the road to having him tested and the eventual educational diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. If it's OK with you, though, I like to simply call it autism or being on the spectrum. After all, I don't know anyone who doesn't have a disorder. Do you?

The diagnosis actually helped him get through his first three years of school. Now, teachers understood the situation and worked with him. I feel a great deal of gratitude to the teacher who led us in this direction.

Fast forward to fourth grade, and everything began to change. He'd been holding it together fairly well up to this point, but we noticed that he was beginning to feel anxious. And he seemed to be getting worse. Schoolwork became more difficult, and he simply couldn't stay focused. Also, teachers now expected him to stay organized without much input from them.

What's that you say, a truancy officer?

As a result, he had a stomach ache every morning - during the week. He wanted to go to school 30 minutes late, after his tummy settled down. And this was in addition to missed school for being legitimately sick with a fever.

For those of you who know how today's attendance laws work in the U.S. education system, this didn't bode well for success. Ultimately, I freaked out. November arrived, and we'd already received a second truancy letter from the school district. The next letter would require meeting with a truancy officer along with the principal.

Just to give you a heads up about me, I've never been in trouble with the law. I know. You're shocked. I have two parking tickets on my record. One was for parking more than 18" from the curb, when I was 19. And the second one was the obligatory ticket for exceeding the two-hour parking time limit. I was having lunch with someone I had a crush on. Nothing more needs to be said.

Moi, meet with a police officer and the principal? I don't think so. I signed our son up with a homeschooling program over Christmas break before we reached any kind of critical mass point. But he would have preferred, at the time, to stay in school. He may be on the spectrum, but he's extremely social and enjoys his friendships with peers. We maintained a connection with the most important ones for the longest time.

Even though we homeschool, I would like to change the U.S. education system.

It's been two and a half years, now, and we're going strong. Our son writes code in several different computer languages, thrives on C. S. Lewis and Harry Potter, and devours knowledge like there's no tomorrow. He attends a couple of classes here and there for enrichment, too. But even given all of that, I think he wishes he were still in school - but not just any old school.

For him to be willing or comfortable to be back in public school, the U.S. education system would have to change. I can't tell you how many times I've painted pictures in my mind of the perfect school - one that catered to his strengths while gently working on his deficiencies. I've seen some programs for homeschoolers that might be a fit, but these aren't free. And as far as I'm aware, none like these exist in our community.

So, I'm sharing this video with you while hoping one day the U.S. education system WILL change. No standardized tests. No teaching to the masses. No tummy aches. No extreme truancy laws. But in the school of my imagination, who'd need them?

Enjoy the video,

Laura

P.S. This video is a collaboration between Prince Ea and a refining/marketing company, Neste. Is this surprising? Well, they're different from your everyday run of the mill refining company. For more information, take a look at the Neste website.