28 June 2007

Throwing her to the wolves

Originally posted 4/3/07

Moira and I have reached a compromise. She believes that public school is so great, so awesome, and homeschooling sucks. After all, she has *no one* to play with, and her sisters are "annoying." Public school is all about coloring and workbooks, and playing in the playground. So I agreed to enroll her in public school for two weeks. Then I take her out again. I had hoped to be able to do it like a class audit, but the teachers and principal aren't really agreeing with me. They only want her there for a couple of hours, but that is not long enough to give her a good idea of the public school culture. So I am enrolling her in the other elementary school here. We have a choice of two schools to pick from here - both are about 1/4 mile from us.

I am so scared. Part of me is scared that she will be miserable since she obviously forgets the misery she had in kindergarten. Part of me is scared that she will love it and hate me when I take her out again. But I am afraid of school violence (the local high school has a full time police officer there), I disapprove of their teaching methods, and I remember how ostracized I was in public school. I feel as strongly about public school as I do about nuclear radiation. How much is safe? None! But I hope that two weeks will not cause any irreparable harm, and should hopefully give her enough time to understand the public school culture, which I think is what she craves. She seems to think that simply joining a class will instantly give her friends, that she won't have to work at making friends. But she has a hard time making friends because she is mean to other kids. She is very bossy and other kids don't like that about her. I fear she will come home miserable after just a couple of days. It is ironic that to make her a happy, well-adjusted adult, she will be an unhappy child because she thinks I am stifling her. I want to make her long-term happy, not short-term happy, and I am afraid I won't succeed.

I remember when I was homeschooled, I begged my parents to let me go to school. Just like Moira does to me. Why? I had no friends. But I had no friends because we moved all the time and lived in the middle of nowhere. Moira has lots of kids around here to play with if she treats them nicely. She also goes to Brownies on a regular basis, and church every week, so she does have access to other kids, as I did with 4-H and church when I was young. When I did go to public school, I was tormented by the other kids and completely miserable. In four years and three high schools, there is only one person that I still keep in touch with regularly. One out of 1300. I am now glad that my parents homeschooled me because I learned how to learn. School doesn't teach how to learn, it teaches how to obey. Children don't remember jack that they learn in class. I remember very little from the academic part of school. Which is interesting since I am such an overachiever and graduated 5th in my class of roughly 100.

School isn't about learning the three R's anymore. It is about learning to survive in a cruel world. I was hoping to shelter her from that cruel world until she is psychologically old enough to roll with the punches instead of taking everything deeply personally. Enrolling her in public school feels like I am throwing her to the wolves. I told her that I will not force her to do her homework, but if she doesn't do it, she will get in trouble with her teacher. I will not strain our relationship for anything as stupid and pointless as homework. I'm probably the only parent who wants her child to fail at school.

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