Dispatch One - Revolution
Since we decided to pull Oliver from his public charter school and explore options, I've been reading a book called Deschooling Gently by Tammy Takahashi that has been enormously helpful in these early days. I realize that for the past year and a half, Oliver's experience at school has been increasingly stressful and that he broke down completely in the last month and a half of this school year when it appeared that things were not going to be an improvement over last year. I won't go into the reasons why here, but suffice it to say that it was a sort of perfect storm with no one person or institution to blame, but rather a confluence of factors (adolescence, dyslexia, unique personality) and a direction that our school is taking that I believe to be unfortunate. I looked at Sophie a few weeks ago, looked at Oliver and looked at Henry. If I'd been naked in a tub, I would have sat up and shouted, joyfully, Eureka! This is way too hard and life is too short and Oliver is too precious to go on like this! Literally. That's literally what I thought. So I put a stop to it.
Here are a couple of quotes from the book:
Deschooling is a process of getting used to learning as a family without the external control of a school system. Some call it a decompression time, or a vacation. Generally, it involves doing less schoolwork and more life work, less judging and more exploring, less have-tos and more want-tos. Deschooling is moving toward a life where everyone is happy and learning.
So, that's what Oliver and I are doing right now -- we're de-schooling. In the mornings, we sit down and listen to the Writer's Almanac. This morning we listened to some fascinating information about the history of Voyager I that led us to search for Carl Sagan's beautiful reading titled "The Pale Blue Dot." We watched a video on that, explored another website about Saturn and talked about what it means to be alive in the universe. We wrote in a journal online and set a goal for the rest of the day. The other day, Oliver particularly liked a poem by Anne Sexton that we heard on the Writer's Almanac, so we talked about metaphor and hidden meanings. That discussion went into the online journal, too. Oliver dictates and I type (remember how much I love to type and how good I am at it?).
Deschooling is learning how to live without being in school, to fend for ourselves, and to provide our children with an appropriate educational environment.
Yes, I have plans to explore other options -- even other schools that cater to the dyslexic child. I've done and continue to do lots of research on homeschooling, though, and I'm already making connections. There's math to think of and science, of course -- there's curriculum and field trips and get-togethers. Every now and then I think I've gone completely insane, but then I pick up the book and remind myself that we're "deschooling gently," that this didn't happen in a vacuum and that Oliver is happy and silly and light for the first time in well over a year. I'll repeat that:
Oliver is happy and silly and light for the first time in well over a year.
***The dispatches from the Schools of Humming and Tradition will follow in the next few days.