|Olympic Blvd. Los Angeles 2014|
- Writing - we're using a textbook called Wordsmith by Janie B. Cheaney. I got this recommendation from a homeschool mentor, and it's a great, simple program, albeit a bit old-fashioned. I believe it's from a Christian homeschool source, but so far I've not encountered anything objectionable (we did a lower level book under the same title last year).
- Grammar - Oliver is taking a high school grammar course at a very cool secular homeschool place called Urban Homeschool. He took a science class there last year, and while he has reservations about the kids that go (I think kids that have been homeschooled all their lives are different than the kids Oliver hangs out with), he appreciates having someone other than moi to work with him.
- Reading - Can you believe that Oliver read three books on his own this summer? That is definitely more books than he's probably read in all the years that came before this summer. They were close to grade level, and he listened to the audible story as he read on his Kindle with the words magnified. Let's hear it again for technology! We'll hopefully continue with this and supplement his study of American history (see below) with novels and poetry geared toward it.
- American History -- I'm so excited about the history book that we're reading. It's Howard Zinn's A Young People's History of the United States. It's adapted from Zinn's adult history book and basically tells history from the point of view of the people -- the farmers, the slaves, the Native Americans -- as opposed to what Zinn calls the leaders and the conquerors. This historical perspective is upsetting to many conservatives, and I believe it's part of the basis for that polemic of a movie America: Imagine the World Without Her. Since I have some family members who rhapsodize about that film, I'm not going to go into it here, but I'm as likely to go see it as I am to see a triple-x porn flick. Come to think of it, Michael Moore's movies, from the other side of the spectrum irritate the hell out of me, too. Here's an excerpt from Zinn's book: People who write and read history have gotten used to seeing terrible things such as conquest and murder as the price of progress. This is because many of them think that history is the story of governments, conquerors and leaders. In this way of looking at the past, history is what happens to states, or nations. The actors in history are kings, presidents, and generals. But what about factory workers, farmers, people of color, women, and children? They make history, too. I could probably type out the whole introduction for you -- it's that interesting.
- Math - I don't do math and won't do math. Oliver goes two to three times a week up the street to a math tutoring place and works at his own pace. As far as I'm concerned, unless he expresses some over-riding interest in the subject, I hope he'll learn algebra and geometry, as well as functional math and then call it a day. I really don't understand why people are forced to take math well into high school, particularly if they abhor it. Oliver actually likes a lot of it, though, so who knows where he'll end up?
- Science - Next week, Oliver will be starting at a school that provides one-to-one teaching and will be taking a Life Sciences course twice a week. The class is expensive, but it's a novel idea (originally used for kids who are professional actors or athletes or who just can't hack ordinary school) and really excited both of us when we toured the place. Options for high school abound -- you can basically take any high school requirement, AP classes and electives, art and music. When the proverbial ship comes in, I might transfer him there full-time and return to Bora Bora on that same ship. You know Bora Bora is my true home.
- Electives - We've started with this free, cool program called OnInnovation that builds on Oliver's natural entrepreneurial instincts and have downloaded the lesson plans, watched videos and worked through the discussion sheets. Again, let's hear it for technology! I've signed Oliver up for free science classes once a month at the Science Museum of Los Angeles County, and we'll take advantage of field trips organized by the homeschooling group that we joined again.
Speaking of technology, I had the best exchange with my dear friend Marie Ange, whom I wrote of here the other day. We instant messaged one another for a half an hour early this morning -- a half an hour of heartfelt words and memories and laughter. I know many of you think technology is a burden, a time suck, and a destroyer of community, and I might be one of the world's biggest contrarians, but I am grateful for it every single day. I'm not just grateful that it's provided a way out of crippling isolation for the legion of persons with disabilities, but for me in particular to keep in touch with people I love who I ordinarily might have let slip away into fond memory.