- I loved kindergarten. Ms. Scott was an angel who loved me and cried when I was kidnapped. I learned to make my 4’s forward instead of backward, and I learned to cross the monkey bars all by myself. Tammy Craddock and Dena Ciccarello were among my best friends. My mother drove the pickup/dropoff route, and she pulled everyone’s teeth because they wouldn’t let anyone but her do it.
- I loved first grade and my beautiful “Miss Honey” teacher, Ms. MacBrayer. She spent time with me, and scolded me gently that I would choke (which I did) if I held water in my mouth too long, and didn’t get mad at me for throwing up in the middle of reading group because I was nervous to read out loud. Johnny somebody liked me, but Donald Pearman was my true love, and his sister Angela was one of my best friends.
- I got moved into second grade midway through first, and I was devastated. My sweet Miss Honey turned into Mean Ms. Daniels, who seemed to hate me from the start. I was tiny and smart and scared to death of her and all my classmates, who were significantly bigger than me. I don’t remember having a best friend in my class.
- Third grade was a drink of cool water in the desert with Ms. Glover. She loved kids and it showed. She gave everyone birthday spankings on their birthdays (which made us feel totally special), and she drew stair-steps on the board to teach us multiplication facts. She screamed out “Hallelujah!” and hugged me tightly in front of everybody when I made a 100 on a test. Robin Barfield Sumner was my best friend, and I was envious of her beautiful blue eyes and long, black lashes.
- I got beat up nearly every day in fourth grade by Linda Lawrence, but I loved sweet Ms. Mills and our Bible class. I also loved my best friend, Leigh French, who picked me up and brushed the dirt off my face every time I got knocked down.
- Fifth grade was a challenge, mostly due to family prejudice against my teacher’s race, but there were some memorably lovely moments…one being “Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea”, a five-page story I wrote for a writing contest that won me First Place and the treat of standing with the teacher at recess and drinking an ice cold Coke in front of everybody. I think that is when I truly fell in love with writing. Cindy Denny was my best friend, but Annah Young was my inspiration.
- Sixth was certainly memorable, but much more due to boys and social dealings than with education. I liked Michael Dean, Steve Langdale, and Jeffrey Roach. Jeffrey teeter-tottered with me (which was like being married), then left me in the playground dust the moment that lovely new girl, Jasmine came to our school. Patty Smith was my bud, and she hugged me when I cried over boys or whatever. Jason and I wrote a play about Paul Revere, and I was placed in an independent learning program for the gifted (although some of my classmates said ILP stood for Ignorant Little Punk). Two friends and I dressed up as hobos and sang “I Ain’t Got a Barrel o’ Money” and made Ms. Smith laugh.
- Seventh grade was made a little scary with daily torturing from Demaris Lawhorn. I liked Jeff Miles (several times) and took up playing the trumpet. I was poor as dirt, and was reminded of it pretty often by others, but I met a wonderful girl named Laura Varnadoe and our friendship made life pretty happy.
- Eighth grade was clouded over by my father’s death, and I can’t remember what I learned that year, save for how to lock people out of my heart so they wouldn’t see how much I was hurting or how angry I was inside.
- Can’t remember much educationally about ninth, other than Mr. Brown’s antics in civics class and typing love-notes to a boy named Mike in typing class instead of doing my assignments (the only ‘D’ I ever received in school). I mostly remember skating and moving to Minnesota (and meeting my dear Karrie) and then moving back here and liking Mike and winning the Outstanding Bandsman award.
- In tenth, what stands out is that Mike and I broke up and I ended up dating (much too young) a guy who took more from me than my heart. As for education, it was purely music; it was all my young cluttered mind could absorb that year. I think Mr. Acosta probably saved my life, although he never knew it.
- Just before my junior year, I met my sweet Steve. He was all I could think about (some things never change…hee hee), so academics were pretty far down on my priority list. The exceptions are MamaNich’s AP English class (where my love for writing was cemented), Ms. Fales’ American history class, and of course my music classes.
- The summer before my senior year I found out I was pregnant. Steve and I got married in July and I started my senior year a mommy-to-be. Plans got changed rather abruptly. I resigned as Band Captain, left my beloved music classes, and decided to take advantage of the fact that I had enough credits to finish school in January. My last class was Jan. 14 and our son was born three weeks later. I walked the stage with my class in June to receive my diploma, then posed for pictures with “Jeffy” wearing my graduation cap. Academics? Oh, yeah, those. I remember getting good grades, but not much about how or what I learned. The one class I remember is Child Development, which I pretty much taught while the teacher looked on with interest as she sat there spaced out on some kind of little white pills.
“I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education. They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that every child is a kind of idiot who must be taught to think. Whereas, if the child is left to himself, he will think more and better, if less showily. Let him go and come freely, let him touch real things and combine his impressions for himself, instead of sitting indoors at a little round table, while a sweet-voiced teacher suggests that he build a stone wall with his wooden blocks, or make a rainbow out of strips of coloured paper, or plant straw trees in bead flower-pots. Such teaching fills the mind with artificial associations that must be got rid of, before the child can develop independent ideas out of actual experience.” — Anne Sullivan
“What we want to see is the child in pursuit of knowledge, not knowledge in pursuit of the child.”— George Bernard Shaw
The traditional curriculum is based on the assumption that children must be pursued by knowledge because they will never pursue it themselves. It was no doubt noticed that, when given a choice, most children prefer not to do school work. Since, in a school, knowledge is defined as schoolwork, it is easy for educators to conclude that children don’t like to acquire knowledge. Thus schooling came to be a method of controlling children and forcing them to do whatever educators decided was beneficial for them. Most children don’t like textbooks, workbooks, quizzes, rote memorization, subject schedules, and lengthy periods of physical inactivity. One can discover this – even with polite and cooperative children – by asking them if they would like to add more time to their daily schedule. I feel certain that most will decline the offer.
The work of a schoolteacher is not the same as that of a homeschooling parent. In most schools, a teacher is hired to deliver a ready-made, standardized, year-long curriculum to 25 or more age-segregated children who are confined in a building all day. The teacher must use a standard curriculum – not because it is the best approach for encouraging an individual child to learn the things that need to be known – but because it is a convenient way to handle and track large numbers of children. The school curriculum is understandable only in the context of bringing administrative order out of daily chaos, of giving direction to frustrated children and unpredictable teachers. It is a system that staggers ever onward but never upward, and every morning we read about the results in our newspapers.
School planning is going well. Everything seems to be coming together, and I am doing a lot of great reading on teaching approaches. You’d think I’d know and have tried them all by now, which I probably actually have, but it’s really interesting to explore them all every so often. I’m also reading up on learning styles to make sure I am meeting each of the children’s needs to the utmost. They deserve nothing but the most devoted attention. I love my kids.
I bought some chalkboard paint yesterday and painted a chalkboard surface onto the front of the wardrobe in the school room. Then on a whim I asked the boys if they’d like one in their room. They were enthusiastic, so I painted the door of the upright freezer, which is in the laundry room but faces inward toward their bedroom. Now they have this huge chalkboard there instead of just “the freezer”. Today I plan to paint the inside of Rosie’s bedroom door with it so she can doodle chalk art in various colors all over the back of her door. Just another way to bring art into our home, plus it’s downright functional. Just might paint the back of the school room door, too. Hm. Wonder if there are any other unsuspecting surfaces around…
I ordered a few more learning-related books from Amazon. Just more great stuff for our home library. I really should start purging books and streamlining our collection, come to think of it. There’s no telling how many books we have that we could easily pitch or donate. Right now we have…let’s see…nine bookcases in the house (if I counted right), only four of which are actually in the library.