Re: reflections...

swoodall@skipjack.bluecrab.org
Wed, 14 Jan 1998 11:51:36 -0600

Robin--

You spoke to my soul. I'm glad to know that there actually is an active
discussion site. Since I signed up, maybe 6 weeks ago, this is the
first time I've read any dialogue. I thought maybe I just didn't know
how to access it, since my computer skills/knowledge are still in their
infancy.

One of the things I consider to be most important in raising my own
children (now 28, 18, and 13) is that they know themselves--something
that was not even a part of my young life because I was so busy figuring
out what everybody else wanted me to do. Sounds like you know yourself!
Congratulations on hanging up your formal-schooling shoes.

Five years ago, I began trying to talk my 3rd-grader into dropping out
of school. Following a 2-week spring break, when he woke up with a
headache and stomach-ache, he stayed home. We used that week as a trial
run to see if being a home-schooler might work from his perspective.
He's been out of school ever since, and has had neither a headache of a
stomach-ache since that day. He's definitely an unschooler (John Holt's
term, I believe), and the more I see this process (it's really just
life) at work, the more I wonder why everybody doesn't live this way.
My 28-year-old daughter wants to start a school with me--opening in
1999--and it would be modeled on SVS--a model that resonates with me,
because that's how I tried to raise my children.

We work with kids in the same way and are drawn to the same ones--the
ones teachers would be glad to have OUT of their classrooms. The same is
also true for my 18-year-old: she is drawn to these same kids and works
with them in the same way--a way that empowers everyone. She's a
college freshman, and we're talking about having her join OUR SCHOOL
when she graduates. My 13-year-old is a technology wizard, so he would
also be involved in a working capacity as well as a "student."

Don't you love how opportunities present themselves? The Foundation
sounds very interesting. Keep me posted on its development and
direction. And follow up your newspaper/magazine idea. Sure,
alternative publications would be interested, but I think it's important
to put these ideas out in mainstream America, because that's where the
difference needs to be made. I have just had a homeschooling review
(twice a year, in MD, the Board of Ed. does these with h'schoolers) and
spent the hour talking with the reviewer about alternatives to the way
things are currently done in schools--and it was she who initiated this
focus! She taught kindergarted for 20+ years here, then took some
courses through Western Maryland College where she was encouraged to
give up being an autocratic teacher and share power with the children.
She was so excited by this idea that the 2 years she worked within this
paradigm were her best and happiest years in teaching. It's not the
first conversation I've had with someone working within the system who
feels that the system isn't working. But few are willing to risk losing
their jobs by speaking up and going for change within the system. They
continue to do what you could no longer do--work at something that
doesn't resonate with them.

Sara