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Sunday, December 30, 2007

A small vere

For 14 years I have been pretty confident about my son and his education. Literally...since he's been little I have loved helping him learn, seeing the spark of interest, watching "the wheels spin" and watching him "get it".

I haven't had many bumps in our Unschooling journey, yet recently we hit a mom-made crater. I'll admit it, it was my fault.  I vered for a moment. I'm glad we're out of that hole now! It wasn't very pretty and cast all sorts of ugly doubts. of our homeschool groups offers teen co-op classes. This year I decided  (do you already see the problem?) to sign Brian up for 2 of them that sounded cool, photography and history.  Ok, he likes photography and he's always loved history..what could go wrong?!?!?

Before I go any further, both teachers are beyond excellent, and wonderful women, besides! This has nothing to do with them, nor their teaching styles. It has to do with the fact that I decided something and then didn't "listen" to my son....something he's not used to. class was more about art and art expression....poor Brian..he's not very artistic. He had to do an altered book, using various techniques shown in class. He would sit there for hours looking at all his "stuff" spread out over the table, try this and try that, and end up with NOTHING. It was driving me CRAZY!  I'm a scrapbooker. I love altered books. I admit, sometimes I get no vision, it takes some time to get going, but this poor kid sat there day after day staring at these things like they were vipers, and all the while MY frustration level was growing! Just slap something on and move on to the next page already!!!!

This struggle between him and his lack of ability to DO it, and between me and him for not JUST DOING IT became crazy!

Meanwhile he was simultaneously taking the history class, which is a fun, hands-on class, with tons of homework, papers and class presentations.

While I could get over the art thing, the history thing left me with doubts. AM I doing him wrong by not MAKING him do reports? He can't even handle doing this?!? Do I make him persevere and stick the class out because he's already in it? He did learn a lot. More, doubts, more doubts.

On his end, he was left feeling pretty stupid and with a quickly deteriorating relationship with me. No wonder we had awhile of tears and overly emotional behavior!

I pulled him from Art first, thinking "he doesn't really need this". A few more weeks of History went by and things were off and on again ugly.

Finally, one night my husband called me from work (Husband who has not always been supportive of homeschooling) and told me he thought I needed to pull Brian from the History class. He said, "This is not his interest, all these years you've let him go according to his interest, he's GREAT at computers, and now you're making him do something he doesn't want, why? He doesn't NEED history"  Why indeed?!?!  This is my husband speaking to me! This is a big deal!

Needless to say, I immediately drafted an email to his history teacher, thinking all the while, she's going to think "Those unschoolers...don't they know he NEEDS history?!?!"

Below are our emails:

It is with utmost sadness that my family has come to the conclusion that Brian needs to be taken out of History class. My husband and I had a long talk last night and it was the first time he's truly embraced my Unschooling Philosophy, encouraging Brian in the things he is interested in instead of conforming and taking classes "because he needs to".

While Brian loves the class, he doesn't love the topic. It's become somewhat a source of frustration between him and I that I'd started to move away from my convictions to unschool him, trusting God to lay interests on his heart, that I can then follow up on within the community or just within our own home.  Instead, I saw this class and thought it'd be reality it'd be cool for ME! Id love to take it! I'd ace it :) I'd learn and I'd love it..because it's of interest to me.

This is in no way a reflection on you. It's just our family returning to our ingrained beliefs.

Thanks for understanding..
Elissa Wahl

Dear Elissa,

While I am deeply saddened to be losing such a brilliant student, I do respect your decision and his interests. It is refreshing to see parents so concerned about their student and I know that this concern will show in his future endeavors. My hope is that what I was able to teach him will stick with him and maybe one day he'll find some part of history that interests him. Brian is a wonderful young man and it has been my utmost honor to teach him; please let him know that he will be truly missed.

Brian IS extremely intelligent, and given the reign over his education, he steers towards computers. All of my friends call him for tech support, he has torn apart and rebuilt 3 of our computers, he is SO knowledgable and always learning more....why did I question the need for history?!?!?! Why did I allow doubts into my beautiful son's head about his own intelligence?

If, at some later point, he decided he isn't going to enter a computer field (Fat chance) , he will then do what is necessary to learn what he needs.

While he "can't" do an altered book, he can run GIMP and play with his tablet pen and alter digital images using layer after layer and technique after technique until he creates these beautiful images.

While he struggled over writing a report on James Madison, he can research various operating systems, take notes on them (in whatever computer language it is...doesn't look like English to me!) and then install the alternative operating systems AND then make them work!

I had a brief moment of worry, but seeing the outcome of it was worse than the worry!  It's gone now, done, hopefully forever! Cast the fears and doubts aside and live happily!

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