High school is a little more intimidating for me though. True, my oldest three have all graduated or are dually enrolled in the community college and the two without learning difficulties are getting the grades we dream of as parents, but I still end up questioning myself.
With these insecurities as the driving force, so far this spring I have looked into three charter schools and visited a Classical Conversations campus in an effort to explore other ways of doing high school, ways that might offer more structure to my 12 and 14 year old boys. As I was researching my options, I pulled out some of my favorite homeschool books and was very encouraged by the writing of John Taylor Gatto.
"Schools train individuals to respond as a mass. Boys and girls are drilled in being bored, frightened, envious, emotionally needy, generally incomplete. A successful mass production economy requires such a clientele. A small business, small farm economy like that of the Amish requires individual competence, thoughtfulness, compassion, and universal participation; our own requires a managed mass of leveled, spiritless, anxious, familyless, friendless, godless, and obedient people who believe the difference between Cheers and Seinfeld is a subject worth arguing about.” ― John Taylor Gatto, The Underground History of American Education: An Intimate Investigation Into the Prison of Modern Schooling
This completely resonated with me. Looking into the charter schools was enlightening. In high school, they load the students up with six hours a day of their compulsory, state standards based schoolbooks. This leaves no time for personal projects, such as the ones my boys have been working on. My boys are writing books, programming games, creating ecosystems, writing blogs, milking goats, raising pigs, building wooden toys, designing solar systems and reading lots of books from our home library. As well, my 14 year old was able to take his first college class last semester online. If we were enrolled in a charter school, none of this would have been possible. Their time would have been completely absorbed in keeping up with recommended classes.
However, there are still subjects which we struggle with and which are necessary for them to learn. Algebra is one of them. With my first three students, we tried several different programs, struggling with each one, and when the two normal learners got into their college algebra class, it finally clicked. What had been painfully obscure with the programs we were using, suddenly became clear. My son, in his first semester of algebra at the community college (as a high school student) was recommended as a math tutor, my daughter was told she should be a math teacher by her professor. Ironic and funny when I reflect on how little I still know about algebra. Thankfully, even the areas that we have real struggles with are not hopeless.
I don't think I have to be their only teacher, and high school is a good time to outsource some subjects. If your state allows dual enrollment, this is a fabulous way of getting a head start on college credits. Also, there are online schools such as Potter's School and Veritas which offer high school classes. There may even be a local homeschool mom who would teach your child a difficult subject, in exchange for help in a different area.
Homeschooling high school is an opportunity for our children, who have learned such good basic skills to really take off in independent learning and interest led projects. It is not necessarily the time to suddenly put your freedom educated teen into a social construct that has far reaching, soul killing effects on our country and culture.
“I've noticed a fascinating phenomenon in my thirty years of teaching: schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes. The truth is that schools don't really teach anything except how to obey orders. This is a great mystery to me because thousands of humane, caring people work in schools as teachers and aides and administrators, but the abstract logic of the institution overwhelms their individual contributions. Although teachers to care and do work very, very hard, the institution is psychopathic -- it has no conscience. It rings a bell and the young man in the middle of writing a poem must close his notebook and move to a different cell where he must memorize that humans and monkeys derive from a common ancestor.” ― John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling