Thursday, 15 December 2005

The Middle Years -- JUNIOR HIGH

Many people are surprised to hear that I consider middle school or junior high to be the worst years of my life. 'If I could turn back time' and wipe out my life during ages 10-13, I would be a much more balanced, healthy person today. Unfortunately, I can't, and I have to live with the repercussions. When people hear that I, like most people, abhored those years of my life (who didn't hate puberty?!), they usually make naive comments like, 'But you were homeschooled!! You shouldn't have had any problems!' HA. Well, guess what. I, too, had horrible 'friends' that taunted me and made fun of my baby fat. I had a group of girl friends who were my age, and they delighted in teasing and tormenting me. I shudder to think that I thought these girls were my best friends. I was so disillusioned and ignorant and BLIND. UGH.
As for the educational side of things, during middle school my family became even more active in the homeschool community, and we started attending 2-3 'co-ops' (co-operational education with other homeschooling families) a week, for science (I did Chemistry in 8th grade, & then repeated it in 11th grade because most kids don't do Chemistry so early!!), math, English (I read 2 'classics' a month for 'Book Discussion'), American Government and Economics, Politics, History, Geography, and more. Around 6th grade I started to become more and more independent and started planning my own education: selecting my own textbooks, planning out what I would do each year to achieve the next grade, studying for tests on my own, teaching myself, etc. I budgeted my time and figured out what I would need to do each day to complete the year's worth of schoolwork: experience that became invaluable when I entered higher education. By this time, I was a voracious reader, usually reading upwards of 75 books a year. I went to libraries and checked out entire oeuvre of authors (my favourites were Roald Dahl, Lois Lowry, Douglas Adams, Katherine Paterson, C.S. Lewis and AVI), usually taking home 15 books at a time to finish in two weeks. My parents made a rule that I wasn't allowed to read non-textbooks or non-school-related material (except for enough to realistically complete an English assignment) between 8-4pm, because I could easily read ALL day if left alone (all right, so my time-management skills weren't perfect, but hey, I was ten!!). My love for reading and insatiable thirst for knowledge are two other reasons why I loved homeschooling: I took charge of my education, was EXCITED to begin each school year, and had more time to read a LOT of wonderful books!! :)

Tuesday, 6 December 2005

The Early Years, Part Deux

As I said in a previous post, homeschooling wasn't actually legal in Pennsylvania until 1988. I was six years old, and I remember going with my family to the state capital building as a field trip to learn about the government. My parents took my sister and I on a lot of field trips, which is a side effect of having your mom as your teacher... any excuse for learning is exploited to its fullest potential. I have photos of myself touring the 'home of the Republican party' in Wisconsin and looking *very* grumpy and annoyed. But, I digress...
After homeschooling was legalised in PA, my parents jumped into it with a lot of excitement. They bought curriculums, joined homeschooler support groups, and invested in many, many books. The law in Pennsylvania requires homeschooled children to complete a certain number of days of logged schoolwork, keep a 'portfolio' of assignments completed or any other examples of schoolwork, and meet with a certified teacher who would evaluate the student's progress and decide whether or not she could pass the grade. We were also required to take achievement tests in 3rd, 5th, and 7th grades. My mother made us take these tests twice *every* year, and each time we scored off the charts. After my 6th-grade test, I scored as a 12th grader (last year of high school) in all subjects.
Our early years of homeschooling (my 1st-6th grades) my parents ran what could really be described as a 'homeschool'. Although my mother worked part-time, she gave us assignments to complete with our babysitters while she was at work, and when she got home we would have 4 hours of school in a mock schoolroom in the basement. We were also active in homeschool co-ops during elementary school, completing science fair and history fair projects (I dressed up as Anne Boleyn, 'pre-beheading' one year), spelling bees, geography bees, MathCounts, Math Olympiad, etc. I played soccer, the piano, the violin, sang in choir, participated in church activities, drama, Girl Scouts, took horseback-riding lessons, did 4-H clubs, etc. Elementary school was really fun, and I learned a lot.

Problems with!

Anyone else having problems trying to access certain friends' blogs and posting on your own?! How annoying... I'm going to have to update later, though, Monteverdi seminar work is calling...

Currently Listening...

  • Pearl and the Beard
  • The Dodos
  • Andrew Bird: Armchair Apocrypha
  • Anna Ternheim
  • NOFX
  • Fairiborz Lachini
  • The Clash
  • Rufus Wainwright: Rufus Does Judy
  • Radiohead: In Rainbows

Currently Watching...

  • Curb Your Enthusiasm
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation
  • Big Bang Theory
  • Mad Men
  • South Park
  • Zach Galifinakis

Currently Reading...

  • Bill Bryson: A History of Nearly Everything
  • Gabriel Garcia-Marquez: One Hundred Years of Solitude
  • The House of Leaves
  • Robertson Davies: The Rebel Angels

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