A few things have happened recently in our home. Once of them you may know is that Willow LOVES Sego Lily School but you may not know that she has inspired Josh and Mara to give it a try. They of course love it too and are doing a "trial week" this week. Josh is only going to go a few days a week if he chooses to attend but Mara and Willow will be full timers. Josh has gotta have his D and D days :)
Willow called me from school yesterday (yes, the kids can call whenever they want) and she said "Guess What!" I said "what?" ..she said..."I got voted into the school today!"
Sego Lily is a working democracy where all the kids have an equal vote. One of the things they vote on is new students. They have a school meeting every Tuesday to discuss issues and cast their votes. She was so happy! She also got it approved to take her hamsters to school today :) I am not sure the hamsters will enjoy the school experience as much as Willow but she was so excited to take them! They have the right to vote kids and facilitators out of the school. They have only had one kid that did not get voted in but apparently he was a bully and spent his visiting week bullying all the little kids.
Mara also got a letter of acceptance from the Salt Lake School for the Performing Arts. If you drive anywhere in Salt Lake you have seen the advertisement on billboards. Well, I was a little hesitant just because it is a charter school within a regular high school. We went ahead and applied thinking it would be another good opportunity for Mara. I was not completely sure how it all worked until she got the letter yesterday. I was kind of hoping that she might be able to duel enroll as a homeschooler ..meaning only take the classes at the school that she wanted.
Basically, it was not a letter of "welcome to this incredible school of gifted performers"....it was "welcome to the school that was designed to beat the love of performing arts right out of you!" Seriously, I have never read something more appalling than that letter. I didn't say anything to Mara after I read it, I just handed it to her while I was on the phone and waited for the scream of "are you kidding me"? Well, she comes back upstairs with the most hilarious look on her face. She was horrified and rightfully so. I got off the phone and she said "NO WAY" I will ever go there.
It was pretty horrible...but what I realized later is that it is probably no different than just your regular old public high school. The things that most shocked me was that school is 7 hours a day and it said in the letter to expect 1-2 hours of homework daily....REALLY? are they serious? This was not performing arts homework.,,that was listed in the next paragraph under "we expect you to be outgoing and perform for us every semester." and to expect 10-20 hours a week out of school practice time. Ok, well, when is my child going to sleep? Eat? do anything she actually loves? 9 hours of icky regular school plus your required performances? Ok, I do not think so. How is that really fostering a passion for performing arts. I can guarantee the majority of those kids at practice are totally freaking out about the 2 hours of homework they have waiting for them that will keep them up till midnight and then they have to be at school again at 7 am. Not for us at all.
So, this got me to thinking about several conversations I have had recently with friends and experiences. It is really interesting to me what warrants an education to some people. It is also funny to me that people would actually say to me "well, if they don't go to high school they will never get into college"
Hmmm, now I know I had a daughter named Aspen....where is she again?? Oh, yeah COLLEGE?? Are you people really that insane to say that to me? Hello?? Aspen was unschooled her entire life...yeah, ok she spent almost a year in an alternative charter school. Just go research unschooling if you are so worried about college.
I know it is hard to wrap your head around unschooling. It is not the norm in our society to trust our children. That makes me very sad actually. I see so many kids struggling under the weight of their parents baggage. Struggling to force their kids to fit into a mold of someones else's expectations. In the process they are losing their kids :( You can have all the expectations you want for my kids but all that matters is that they are happy and they are pursuing that things that bring them joy. I wish that these people could take a step back and look at the bigger picture. I hear all the time "well if they don"t go to high school and then to college, how are they ever going to be successful" Well, my kids are successful now.
I wish that these well meaning people could see that my kids are learning all those things they think they should be learning. It is just not forced into their heads daily. They aren't rushed from one class to the next with that school bell and timer going off. GOD! do you know how long it took for me to turn off that stupid school bell??? I swear that thing drove me to ADHD!
So, I am just going to use Mara as an example here.....
Mara called me today from school to tell me about a math class that she did with a guy that volunteers there on Wednesdays :) (my kids are terrible with names!) Anyway, she did real math. They did some games where she had to pay bills(addition/subtraction/multiplication/division/algebra) and at the end she bought an Ipod ;)
Wow? I wonder how she did that? Maybe because Mara has her own checking account with debit card? Maybe because she is involved in the family bills? Maybe because this guy explained to her why you would need these processes in life. She didn't spend an hour sitting in a classroom doing busy work designed for kids to pass the "no child left behind" testing.
Right now, Mara is a musical prodigy. She has been studying the piano, voice, songwriting and guitar for about a year now. She is completely wrapped up in everything music. You won't find her without her guitar.
Mara also loves to sketch. She has the most amazing sketches going on in her sketchbook. She is writing a story (one of many she has written) She is learning to cook, even making up he own recipes. She is the queen of organization. She is in a play, one of many community plays. It is a small part but she is learning the value of working your way up to something bigger.
Through all of those activities, plus the hundreds of others I have not listed Mara is learning all that "stuff" that these other people deem necessary to be called "an education". She is just learning it without realizing it most of the time and she is learning it through the things that she is passionate about. Not being forced to fill out silly workbook pages, do hours of homework, be rushed from class to class and never have down time.
For the last week Mara has been at Sego Lily. It is an extension of our home. I told Willow before she went that it was like our home, minus the bedrooms, add about 20 other kids and 3 other me's :) I in no way expect Mara to go to Sego Lily to "get an education" I see this as just another path in her journey of her education.
So, as my dear friend Kathy said to me once, "when people look at me like I have lost my mind, when the judge my kids because they don't fit their mold" I just proudly wave my freak flag higher!
So, I am waving my freak flag and it's getting higher!