Snow Day…fall, blow, repeat!

A snow day today, another tomorrow.  I know I’m supposed to be thinking about how much I have to do in the seven days before winter break begins, but I’m happy.  Giddy, even.  I needed a break!

Today:

-I watched hours of t.v.  The show of choice was Grey’s Anatomy on DVD.  Hours.  I also watched the movie New In Town, two episodes of 18 Kids and Counting, and one episode of Deliver Me.

-The snow drifted about five inches up my windows.

-I made brownies.

-It was beautiful outside!  The only thing more beautiful will be the next sunny day.  A clear blue sunny sky, with fresh, clean, white, sparkly snow, is the most beautiful weather, in my opinion!  8)

-I talked to my sister while she was at work.  She was not happy being at work.  When we hung up, I said, “I’m free as a bird, as long as I’m here in my cage, so call back if you need to!”  🙂

-I feel relaxed and refreshed.

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I have given up on December Photo Project, I think.  I just don’t really care to do it.  It feels like another task, not something fun to do.  There are a lot of things I’m interested in, and photography just isn’t one of them, I think.

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These past couple of weeks, my little experiment that’s pushing me over the edge, has made me rediscover how much I love teaching.  I love it when I’m prepared, when materials are ready, when the classroom is organized.  I love listening to a kid read, figuring out what he needs and how to teach it to him.  I love motivating kids to care about their own learning.  I love motivating kids to care about each other.  I love classroom management.  I love assessment.  I love explicit instruction.

I love it…even though it doesn’t always fit with how I believe kids learn best.  As you probably have realized, reconciling how I believe kids learn best with what happens in my classroom has always caused no small amount of turmoil for me.  I like to say I’m a “closet homeschooling/unschooling junky,” but at this point, it’s probably not a closet issue at all.  🙂  The reason that I love unschooling is that I believe that when they experience the optimal environment, kids learn to read just like they learn to walk.  Kids learn like they breathe.  I love homeschooling because if you watch just one child in my classroom, whichever child you choose, he or she spends a lot of time during the school day not learning.  Waiting in line.  Sitting through instruction that is too low or too high.  Enduring classroom management moments instead of teaching moments.  Waiting while others finish the activity.  And of course, of course if I’m a good teacher I’m going to optimize each of those moments, as much as I can.  But I love homeschooling because each child has a much more efficient learning experience.  I would love to unschool or homeschool my own kids when the time comes, if that’s what’s right for my family.

But even though traditional school doesn’t always fit with what I believe, I think it’s important to remember that mostly, I’m working with kids who aren’t experiencing the optimal environment.  When nothing is damaged or broken in their lives, kids learn like they breathe.  But I am working with damage.  I am fixing things that are broken.  And even though it may turn out that my family won’t need traditional elementary school, these kids do.  Because we can’t go backwards and undo babies who had drugs in their body before they were born.  And we can’t undo experiences where nobody took care of them, or when the adults they needed to trust weren’t kind or trustworthy.  And we can’t fix it when they don’t get read to, or get held accountable for homework, or get asked about school.  And we can’t fix it when their parents’ main concern is what the kids will eat and where they will live, and there is no time or energy left for concerning themselves with how the kids are learning to treat other people.

So it’s okay to like teaching, even if I think something else would be better for their learning.  Because I don’t have control over that “something else,” and I can only do what I can do with the seven hours a day that I get them.  And it is pretty fun to do what I can do with those seven hours.  🙂

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And mostly, I can’t “fix” it when they aren’t learning the values that I learned.  And I probably shouldn’t want to “fix” that, because one of the defining factors of public education and plural society in general is that we don’t all have to value the same things.  I don’t get to tell you what to believe, unless you are my child.  The parents do get to teach their children what to believe, and I don’t get to interfere, and that’s why our society works.  (Or maybe why it doesn’t work, I don’t know.  That’s probably a discussion for another time.)  Even if the values they are being taught are harmful to their education.  Rock beats scissors, President beats mayor, ace beats king.  Family beats teachers.  That’s the way it’s supposed to be.

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I went to yoga last night, for the first time since spring.  And it’s really too bad that I sat around all day, because I am quite sore, and it would have been better for my soreness if I had moved around a little more.  Too bad I wasn’t thinking about that while I was bingeing on Grey’s Anatomy.  🙂

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5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Mom
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 11:26:05

    This sounds more like the Dawn I know. Are you sure you weren’t eating too much beef the last few weeks? It is about how your attitude was as a little kid with it.

    Reply

  2. Tara
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 19:46:36

    And now even another day. Can you believe it?!?!?!?! ENJOY!

    Reply

  3. Tara Wagner
    Dec 09, 2009 @ 23:05:44

    Interesting to read your thoughts on unschooling and public schooling. Such a tough situation! I do believe unschooling creates the optimal learning environment but I agree most families can’t – or won’t – create that for their kids (either for selfish reasons or reasons beyond their control or they feel are beyond their control). It’s creates a challenging paradigm however when public school is just reinforcing a negative home environment with a negative school environment. Taking them out of one and putting them into another… :sigh: We need *alternatives*. We need public education that is community-run and progresses with our culture. We need lawmakers that will pull their heads out of their rears and their noses out of your classroom and let teachers be creative and flexible.

    I’m torn between thinking we’re on the precipice of fantastic change or serious collapse. I just don’t know what to assume of the future but I am thankful we have the ability to do what fits our son best.

    P.S. Thanks for the birthday wishes. And Happy Birthday to a fellow December girl! 🙂

    Reply

    • Dawn
      Dec 09, 2009 @ 23:31:29

      Tara W.– Thanks so much for taking the time to read and respond! I’m always curious to know what unschooling parents think about what I think!

      We do need alternatives. Public school teaching feels “temporary” for me, because my dream life would be to be a stay-home mother. But the thought has crossed my mind, more than once, that maybe that life isn’t in my future. And if that’s the case, then what? What can I do to support what I believe about how kids learn best, if I can’t actually raise kids who are learning in that environment?

      If I really believe what I say I believe…shouldn’t I run far away from typical public schooling and work towards a different reality for those children who aren’t educated at home? But how? In what situation could I do that? I don’t know. Hopefully as long as I keep learning and thinking about all this, I can continue to move toward living what I believe.

      “We’re on the precipice of fantastic change or serious collapse”… I agree. And even if it is serious collapse, it will be collapsing because the status quo isn’t working, and hopefully it will lead to that fantastic change that kids need.

      Reply

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