Tuesday, March 20, 2012

As I Once Again Consider "Unschooling"

There is a reason for traditional education. People make judgements about you by the way you speak, the way you write, even the way you dress. I once got a job because I wore nice shoes to the interview.

There are also reasons to buck tradition and cultivate unique talents in individuals. It used to be that you could graduate from high school and get on-the-job training. It seems that is a thing of the past and I think it's sad.

I'm willing to bet there are several qualified people out there who couldn't go to college that would be perfect for on-the-job training, who would also happily work at that job for a lifetime. Many businesses are going to only hiring college graduates now. I think these are the people who will view any "starter job" as just that. Temporary. Then the company will be forced to train another person every 1-2 years instead of training one person for 30 years.

I went on this tangent of thought following my son's school conference. He has much work to do to catch up to his peers. Dyslexia sucks. (But I will take dyslexia if it means avoiding cancer and more craptastic obstacles in life.) He is trying SO HARD to learn and it is still falling short. I am trying with everything I have to make sure he knows he is SMART. Oh boy is this kid SMART!

I can't help but think of genius like Einstein.

Don't misunderstand. My son's IQ is not in the genius range. (And I'm happy that it isn't.) Super intelligence seems to beget super problems socially. My son is very social and very enthusiastic about life...most of the time.

But my son struggles in school. He's reading at about a first grade level near the end of second grade. His writing is sloppy (in Kindergarten it was remarkably neat...I don't know where it went wrong.) and his spelling is atrocious.

I wonder how much these things matter though. How often do you hand write something at your job? When do you not have access to a spell check? (Seems like spelling tests should focus on homophones.)

If you are going to be a cashier, learning to make change is still important. What if you type in the wrong thing to the register? Is it really necessary to call a manager to make change when someone has a bill of $12.06, gives you a $20 and 6 cents?

There is a disconnect with teaching children real life skills.

Things most people should know by the time they are adults:
  1. How to separate clothes before washing.
  2. How to run the washing machine.
  3. How to toast a slice of bread.
  4. How to make change.
  5. How to sew on a button.
  6. Basic manners: ie: holding a door open, letting a pregnant woman pee before you if there's a line, expressing gratitude when someone helps you, and for the love of God pick the thing up if someone drops it.
  7. How to make small talk and make someone feel special. (I have crapped out on this one.)
  8. Recognize that the world owes you nothing.
  9. Give your elders the respect they deserve. (Not if they are abusive or other non-respectful crap.)
  10. Know what to do if you are separated from your group.

My son is very intelligent. His niche is there, whatever he wants to do and to be.

Traditional school does not hold my heart.

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Anonymous said...

I am a preschool teacher currently. Growing up I was dyslexic and struggled with sensory integration disorder. Even being in the education field, the idea of putting my future children in mainstream school makes me cringe. I want them to get so much more out of childhood than 8 hours of the day at desk. There is enough of that later in life.

chelle said...

my daughter's writing went form awesome to yuck between primary and grade two as well. hang in there :)

Pale said...

My son was diagnosed with dyslexia and inattentive-type ADHD last June (he's in 3rd grade). He can read at what the school calls "grade level", which is why the diagnosis was late. (Check out Lindamood Bell, btw ... he did their program last summer and it was very good for him ... the price ... well ... that's another matter. >:() The handwriting and the spelling issues are the most obvious signs of his dyslexia. Maybe the change in your son's handwriting is due to the increased demands of composition. LD kids often have working memory issues (my son does) that are taxed during composition ... which requires doing a lot of things at once ... thinking about what they want to write, grammar, punctuation, spelling ... it's very demanding and sometimes there's not much left for forming letters. Ritalin helps, in our case. We continue to work on the handwriting (and do tae kwon do and swimming on the side, which are supposed to help with fine motor skills). And there are some inexpensive, great typing software games available at amazon.com ... it seems like learning to type early is a good idea. We have only begun to scratch the surface of adaptive software ... there are writing programs that combine spell checking and other supports designed specifically for dyslexics ... apparently a regular spell-checker is not quite enough. Also, do you do audio books? My son listens to them at bed time -- books that are more appropriate for his verbal expression level. Dyslexic kids tend to fall behind in vocabulary and exposure to text also contributes to writing skills. So the audio books help to offset that disadvantage. The diagnosis qualifies them for Recording For The Blind & Dyslexic (the $100 yearly fee can be written into their IEP). They will send them any title they want and if they don't have the title in stock, they will record it for them. So far, we just use the local library, but we will probably look into something like that as he gets older.

Good luck!

kherbert said...

I'm dyslexic and dysgraphic (I have trouble writing. Reading really isn't a problem at all.

I would look into if your son qualifies for OT or PT through the schools. I received PT in JH, because I was part of a study about kids who are not really left or right handed.

It helped as long as I was getting the PT. When the study stopped, things reverted to the "norm".

I have found some similar puzzles and as long as I do a few a day, my handwriting stays at the improved state. When I get lazy - I revert to the norm.

Also the computer is my friend. I honestly would rather give up my glasses than my computer. Technology can really level the playing field for those of us with LD's. I wrote a post about that this past summer.


Holly said...

Sometimes, don't you wonder who decides what kids need to learn in school? What they need to be good at doing? Very few kids can be naturally good at everything. It would be better to have school that starts with kids' individual strengths. Oops, I guess that's unschooling....

Michelle Pfingston said...

I'm unschooling my dyslexic child (and I suspect her siblings have varying degrees of dyslexia too) and am SO HAPPY with it!

For all the same reasons you listed, all the same thoughts. She was public schooled in Kindergarden, then home schooled and still - I would *drraaagg* her through her lessons and with tears do "curriculum" . . . *sigh*

The result was instant breakdown if I asked for the smallest writing sample.

I hated it. She hated it.

More and more evidence suggests that unschooling is a marvelous alternative to classic education, but even more so with a dyslexic . . . the problem of dyslexia all but disappears when unschooling.

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