Part of what made yesterday a good day was getting another real-world experience of why homeschooling is working for us. [I’m sure nonhomeschoolers must wonder why so many homeschool-bloggers write on this subject. Well, swimming against the tide isn’t easy!]
There was a very interesting study in contrasts among the kids—all girls, mostly ages 7-9. A few kids were very eager to share, had very imaginative observations. Violet and a girl she chose to buddy up with hung in the back, wrote notes to each other, and drew a lot of pictures. The thing is, the two girls are among the best artists of the bunch, and they really were taking it all in. They just weren’t really inclined to share their thoughts or feelings with the group—although Violet did share several of her drawings, and made a very cool one as a thank you for the tour leader when we had to leave.
What struck me was that in a regular classroom setting, Violet and her friend’s style of participating would typically not be valued as highly as the more vocal kids’ participation. Violet was really excited to be there and share her excitement with her one friend, she drew her own stuff as well as interpretations of the pieces they looked at, but she also totally turned her back to the group at times, and when she did have something to say she sometimes wrote it down rather than speaking it aloud. Both the other girl’s dad (a professional artist) and I commented, observing the girls’ actions, that we were glad that homeschooling allowed them to learn in their own ways. (OK, I just have to add that I was really pleased when the dad mentioned that he though V. drew really really well. Moms need a little maternal pride now and then.)
I also reflected on our experience with school, and teachers’ expectations of gifted students. I would be the first to acknowledge that the kids who were speaking up today are very bright kids. In school I would guess that most teachers would be happy to identify them as gifted. The problem is that my very bright kid doesn’t act like that. She wants to wear a black dress to First Communion, she loves Tim Burton-style art (her friend was drawing “Corpse Bride,” which we have not seen), she’ll speak out if she thinks she can make everyone laugh but won’t raise her hand to answer questions even if she’s sure of the answer. She doesn’t like to be instructed, and she doesn’t ever like to think out loud. This is not a kid destined to be a teacher’s pet.
For a more academic discussion of this stuff, see the article Small Poppies on the Davidson website. It was a great article that really helped us understand what Violet was going through as we tried to make school work for her, and when we decided that it probably wouldn’t, at least not now.