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We pulled our son Eric out of school in February 2000 at age 14 because it had become clear that he hated going to school every morning and had a profound incompatibility with the conventional instructional academic environment.  We had been considering doing it for a while, and Eric’s mom had done a fair amount of research on homeschooling on the Internet.  After pulling Eric out, which removed the most acute of his issues, Sally and I had tried initially to build a home curriculum that included the four standard academic areas – English, social studies, science and math. Eric, as it turns out, had other ideas.

Prior to our radical decision, we researched alternative schools in our area (which were all private) but we could not afford the tuition, which was comparable to sending a kid to college.  Particularly because Eric was so burnt out and at his root such an “autodidact” (self-learner), we weren’t confident any academic environment would work for him at this point, particularly not now in the condition he was in.  

Not quite really understanding yet that he was truly an autodidact, I initially thought I could build a better curriculum for him in the four standard subjects than the State of California could, then get him to follow it.  Now that he could set his own schedule and not have to get up early every morning (with never enough sleep) and be dragged off to school, my wise, creative and cleaver 45-year-old mind could come up with a curriculum that would entice Eric to learn the things I put in front of him.

So for English, I suggested great sci-fi books for him to read.  They were all ones I had read, so we could have discussions about the story, characters, and underlying issues of the human condition they addressed.  For social studies, since he had an interest in 20th Century history, I looked for historical movies to rent (like “Doctor Zhivago” and “Shindler’s List”) and scanned the TV listings for applicable History Channel shows.  Again, since I was pretty knowledgeable and interested in history, we could have great discussions about the themes and great figures.  For science, which I was not so into myself and not as inspired; I bought him one of those computer programs at Costco that claimed to cover all of middle-school science.  

Math was the biggest challenge!  I knew he had become basically “math-phobic”, evidenced by several years of not doing any math homework and in utter frustration writing “F___ Math” on his eighth-grade state math assessment test as his one and only answer on the Scantron form ready for a large number of multiple-choice answers, rather than his single, definitive “short answer”.  Again, the optimist in me thought that if I got him computer software that covered the math topics of algebra and geometry, and I made myself available as a tutor (since math had been my best subject in high school), that he would somehow do it.

Well... getting Eric out of the school environment did not change the fact that he wanted to learn what he was interested in, not what the State of California or his very cleaver and “esteemed parent” (as he sometimes addressed me when he had a favor to ask) thought he should and even might like to learn.  Eric basically holed up in his room all day on his computer, playing computer games.  It is what most parents think that their kids are intrinsically motivated to do rather than the much more worthwhile school work, lessons and other activities programmed for them.  And now here was our kid, left to his own devices, doing just that, day in and day out.

So still not getting it, I would pester him to read, watch the historical movies I rented and spend just a half-hour each day on his math and science software.  “Come on Eric!” I would say to him over and over, and he would look at me with that profound look he has and roll his eyes, then tell me he would try to do some work “a little later”.  I tried at first to think up rewards for doing some math and science work, but he would always choose to forgo it and grudgingly forfeit the reward, reframing the withheld reward as a punishment.  It seemed he would suffer any indignity to be able to make his own choices.

It did not take too long before I felt that I was just substituting myself for his teachers and principal trying to coax, coerce and cajole him to learn things he had not chosen to learn.  

This was a very frustrating and anxiety-producing period for his mom and I. Was our son just going to hole up in his room for the rest of his life? Was he doomed to working at minimum wage jobs or being dependent of us? Had we totally failed as parents by not successfully practicing “tough love” (like Bill Cosby always adeptly managed to do on his sit-com) and force him to stay in school?

That all said... he did in fact read and enjoy the sci-fi books I suggested, watched with me a lot of those epic big-screen tellings of the tumultuous wars and other 20th Century events, and we had some of those great discussions I had imagined.

After starting to fight with him again every day about doing his schoolwork, like I had done before about homework when he was still going to school, I finally decided to give it up.  We had pulled him out of school to avoid this adversarial relationship (with its constant confrontations, stress and stalemate) and not just change its venue.

Luckily, Sally in her Internet research had read about an unorthodox form of learner-directed homeschooling referred to as “unschooling”.  It involved giving the kid an “enriched environment”, making suggestions and being available to facilitate, but essentially letting them pursue and learn what they wanted.  She and I discussed it and we both had reservations.  How would he learn what he needed to learn to eventually pass the high school equivalency test?  How would he ever be able to go to college, and if not, how would he make a living?  But what choice did we have, short of sending him off to some sort of “boot camp” type place if he resisted every other option?

Convinced that we lacked any other viable or affordable path, we finally decided to give it up, and we told Eric he could basically use his time as he saw fit.  We would suggest things that we thought would be of interest to him and facilitate his access to the information and activities that were.  When we laid out this new plan to him, I can just imagine him saying to himself, “Yeah, right”.

Sally had also read in her Internet research that kids transitioning from schooling to unschooling sometimes need a year or more to “deprogram”.  And sure enough, during that first year of “unschooling”, Eric spent most of his time alone in his room with the door closed playing games on his computer, decompressing and deprogramming, and testing us to make sure we didn’t have other schemes in store to get him to learn what he was supposed to.  Ten years later when I talk to him about that period, his memory of it is fuzzy.

Eric got to a point, somewhere in that transitional year, where he was complaining to us that he was bored, which initially scared us that maybe we had made a big mistake, and inspired us to again try to suggest “curriculum” for him, which he again resisted.  But now I see it as an important threshold, when he realized that he was ultimately responsible for his path forward.  When he was still in school he actively resisted “the man”, and at home initially it was more of a passive resistance to his parents’ curriculum.  Finally it was just him, and his choice.

At my suggestion, he got involved in the Unitarian-Universalist high school youth YRUU program and met a lot of wonderful unique kids like himself.  He also got deeply involved in several online youth communities on the Internet, even getting on the volunteer governance “Board” of one.  He wrote a virtual play that was performed online by all the avatars of the people participating in this particular Dungeons & Dragons type fantasy community.  He also participated in a yearly drama camp and made a circle of friends there as well.

Within three years of “opting out” Eric had built at least three circles of community – YRUU, drama/theater, and online gaming – where he had friends all over Southern California and literally all over the world.  He rediscovered (or at least his parents rediscovered) that he was a very social person who was developing very acute social skills.

Through those years of unschooling, basically through the time when he would have otherwise graduated from high school, he got his feet back under him.  He recovered his self-esteem and started to morph into one of the most charming, centered, caring, and well-spoken young persons you could ever care to meet.  At the same time, our relationship with him was no longer adversarial and instead becoming one of mutual trust.  It all happened slowly, but in the end it was pretty shocking.   We gave Eric his space, gave him love, just a little bit of advice here and there and he somehow found his own way forward to blossom.

His young adult years have been no easy path forward for him, but then it has been no less of a challenge for his friends that have stayed in school.  Eric has peers who graduated from four-year colleges who are working as baristas at Starbucks.  In this very difficult economy we have had for the past couple years, it has been a tough slog for all young adults entering the workforce.

For a couple years Eric managed to get jobs as a video game tester in that burgeoning industry.  If he had wanted to stick with it, he could have “moved up the ladder” and become a lead tester and then a testing team manager.  

Four years ago, Eric pulled three other partners together and started a business called “Techies” setting up computer systems for video editing businesses in Hollywood and also repairing Apple computers.  Eric was in charge of operations, handling all the personnel, logistical and financial issues, and was depended on to be the cool head that would hold the other partners (with the more “uber-geek” technical skills) together.  Though I feel their business was well conceived and executed, after two years it succumbed to the tide of the Great Recession.  

Twelve years from the date we pulled him out of school in eighth grade, it is amazing how much he has developed and how far he has come.  Though he has had much love and support from parents, grandparents, an extended family and a large circle of friends, he has been responsible for charting his own course and steering his own ship.  And to continue the metaphor, there have been plenty of rough seas and dangerous shoals along the way.  But he has made it through, and I now think I can finally exhale, and realize that this seemingly crazy unschooling idea really worked, at least for one kid, and probably would be a good path for others as well.

The whole experience turned Eric’s mom (my partner Sally) and I into supporters of unschooling, certainly a very unorthodox educational path and not for everyone, but one that works very well, particularly for kids who like to march to their own drum beat.  While our son recovered his sense of self and took full responsibility for his path forward, we saw other strongly self-directed kids like Eric who were getting brutalized and beaten down trying to fit into the standard instructional routine of school.  That said... there were plenty other of Eric’s peers who navigated those same schools quite well and went off to and graduated from various colleges and universities around the country.

But that path was not the one for Eric, and his mom and I are grateful we figured it out when we did, and did what we did.  It was not pretty, but it seems to have been the right thing to do.


Thanks for reading Education Alternative's Series on Homeschooling!

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Sun Jul 08, 2012 at  5:54 AM PT: Please check out Tomster's comment below - he has three great additions to the list:

http://www.dailykos.com/...


Originally posted to leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 09:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by Education Alternatives.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Interesting Story (5+ / 0-)

    But I did have a question about this:

    So still not getting it, I would pester him to read, watch the historical movies I rented and spend just a half-hour each day on his math and science software.  “Come on Eric!” I would say to him over and over, and he would look at me with that profound look he has and roll his eyes, then tell me he would try to do some work “a little later”.  I tried at first to think up rewards for doing some math and science work, but he would always choose to forgo it and grudgingly forfeit the reward, reframing the withheld reward as a punishment.  It seemed he would suffer any indignity to be able to make his own choices.

    It did not take too long before I felt that I was just substituting myself for his teachers and principal trying to coax, coerce and cajole him to learn things he had not chosen to learn.  

    This was a very frustrating and anxiety-producing period for his mom and I. Was our son just going to hole up in his room for the rest of his life? Was he doomed to working at minimum wage jobs or being dependent of us? Had we totally failed as parents by not successfully practicing “tough love” (like Bill Cosby always adeptly managed to do on his sit-com) and force him to stay in school?

    Why didn't you simply tell him to do his homework?

    I feel a bit strange about being so blunt about it. But as parents, you have the authority and responsibility to compel your child to do things like this.

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 09:53:50 AM PDT

    •  I had a similar reaction to this line (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      earicicle, marykk, raster44

      "..become clear that he hated going to school every morning.."

      •  BDA... say more about how you would... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ferment, marykk, raster44

        approach things when you realize your kid hates going to school every morning.  How do you see the responsibility of the parent at that point?

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:21:01 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hell! what kid doesn't hate going to school every (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          bruised toes, earicicle, raster44

          morning. I hated doing just that, those many decades ago. I went, I overcame, I went to University and I like to think myself somewhat successful from doing it. Would that have happened if my parents hadn't kicked my lazy ass out of the bed every morning...I doubt it.

          "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

          by Mr SeeMore on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:35:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But isn't that saying something?... (5+ / 0-)

            You hate going to school, but you go.  You graduate, get a job, hate going to work every day, but you go.  You marry have a family, hate that, but you do it.  You retire, get put out to pasture, resent it.  Then you die.

            Is that the best we can do?

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

            by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:43:02 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Pets, some Populars, Jocks, and Normals nt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raster44

            "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

            by Stude Dude on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:46:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Not getting your terse comment... say more! nt (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              raster44

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:55:53 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  More said (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                marykk, rosabw, raster44, congenitalefty

                Pets, and some etc. don't hate going to school because they're so much more coddled or special than us weirdo oddballs with "worthless" mechanical or artistic skills.

                Okay, I'll 'fess up: I hated school! From the bad peer pressure "I gonna battleball you to 'blivion for being such a weirdo spaz!" to the bad adult authority "It's not Sports, it's not Spelling, it's not normal, and it's not a real talent that we encourage here"....

                (That last bit is a paraphrase conflating quotes from a grade school remedial reading teacher and a psycho bat junior high home room teacher.)

                "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

                by Stude Dude on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:06:38 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

          •  Public school exposes kids to others (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            earicicle, raster44

            in a way that self selected communities can't.  If your socialization is only with your church group, or your extended family, or your own clubs, you do not learn that the world is bigger than your own back yard.

            Homeschooling is a good alternative if the parents have the education, resources and time to invest in giving the child all the experiences and skills that they will need to live in this complex world. There are probably very few parents who can actually do this well.

            Although not the case of the diarist, many people pull their kids out because they do not want the kids exposed to religions other than their own.  Public school serves a purpose in exposing us to other cultures and beliefs, and learning to live in harmony with people we would otherwise not know. It is not easy to live with others who are different, but compromise is an essential life skill.

            We have nowhere else to go... this is all we have. (Margaret Mead)

            by bruised toes on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:42:21 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Agree that public school can expose kids... (3+ / 0-)

              to other kids in particular they might not otherwise meet.

              But it does so in what IMO is such an unnatural environment of age segregation and dis-empowerment that makes those relationships often "us and them" and dysfunctional rather than real respectful peer interactions of "only us".

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:46:09 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  For some kids (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                SoCalSal, rosabw, earicicle

                public school is the only time they meet people who are not part of the group they belong to.  It was not dysfunctional for my son to have a Chinese friend, and a friend with gay parents, and a biracial Black/Mexican friend, and a Jewish friend.  One of his friends had a mother in the Episcopalian Seminary, and another friend's parent was militantly agnostic. Most of the kids came from middle class educated families, but one of the best friends for a time was an undocumented Mexican boy whose dad was arrested. It was through school that we became acquainted with an Indian family and went to the Hindu temple for the festival of Holi.  It is too easy to discount the value of a public school experience that takes all comers.  This is not something that is learned on-line.

                We have nowhere else to go... this is all we have. (Margaret Mead)

                by bruised toes on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 12:13:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  do you really believe that public (4+ / 0-)

              schools teach kids to live in harmony with others?  

              seriously?  been in a public high school lately or talked to any kid who attends one?

              they are not singing kum-bay-ah my friend.

              If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

              by k8dd8d on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 09:14:11 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Some people remember high school as the (6+ / 0-)

            best years of their lives.

            Some enjoy each day of learning ... no really.

            When we were dealing with the first reactions to our decision to home school our daughter for high school it was interesting the reactions we got.  

            One group, the "high school was great!" group, told us we would be depriving her of the most fun she could have, the best years of her life, better than college even, not as much pressure.

            Another group, the "I hated high school" group, told us that everyone hates high school and that if we didn't force her to attend, she'd never learn how to deal with things she has to do but hates.  With a little taste of I had to live through it, so should everyone else.

            I often wondered if the two groups had even known each other in high school.

            There are culturally normative experiences that you miss by opting out of public schools -- this is true whether it is for a private religious, private secular, or home schooling alternative.  But there are also fabulous experiences that become available.

            It really does depend on why high school is hated.  If it really is "just" a lazy ass needing kicking that is one thing.  If the bullying is leading to clinical depression, if the peer pressure is leading to loss of self, if the lack of challenge/boredom is leading to loss of love of learning, sending the kid back for more is not necessarily the best choice.  In my opinion.  Your mileage may vary.

            •  Your mileage definitely may vary, thus the need... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              EclecticCrafter, FloridaSNMOM

              for very different educational vehicles available for folks who want to have the best possible opportunity to fully flower.

              Also like the "hybrid" idea... maybe a year or two of going to school or to classes and then a year or two on some project, community service in the real world.  All perhaps before adolescence.  That could produce some very high-functioning ten-year-olds!

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 02:03:36 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

        •  I'm sure it rankles (9+ / 0-)

          Because kids are supposed to hate going to school (though the why of this deserves more consideration), and you're supposed to make them go anyway.  Builds character.

          On the other hand, maybe yours didn't hate school because he hated the waking up and hard work.  They used to write off dyslexics as being lazy or having bad attitudes, too.  I wish people wouldn't underestimate what the "one size fits all" club of public schooling does to a kid who doesn't fit it, who is made to feel like a failure for years by peers, teachers, and parents for not fitting it, and I think you made the right call.

          •  Agreed, OSFA is a huge problem... (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ferment, jan4insight, FloridaSNMOM

            If we as a society supported many profoundly different educational paths then a lot more kids like my son could find their path forward more easily.  

            Tho once we pulled him out of school, after a year of "deprogramming" he amazingly did figure out his own, very effective it turns out, path forward.

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

            by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:45:39 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Agree (5+ / 0-)

      one of the most important lessons that school teaches us is that, in life, we often have to spend time doing stuff when we would rather be doing other stuff.

      Anyone deprived of this lesson is at a huge disadvantage.

      •  I don't think school gives that exact message... (5+ / 0-)

        tho I agree that life often does.  School often gives the message that other people control the world, the deck is stacked against you, and as the Borg say in Star Trek, "Resistance if futile!".  

        I resisted school growing up, kept going and graduated from high school, but learned more and better ways to resist, assert myself and try and make it work for me, rather than for the adults running the school.  In retrospect I would have been better off out of school and developing in a more real world environment where I could learn those lessons about the real world.

        IMO, school is nowhere near the real world.... it is about as artificial as place can get.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:27:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  While I don't agree with the following: (3+ / 0-)
          School often gives the message that other people control the world, the deck is stacked against you, and as the Borg say in Star Trek, "Resistance if futile!"
          as a blanket critique of school, I, sadly, agree that this is a message that is daily ground into 99% of inhabitants of this planet.

          Other people do control the world. The deck is stacked against you. However, resistance is not only not futile, it is required.

          Where that lesson is best learnt depends, I think, on the individual. I did not have the experience your children did in school; I actually sort of liked it (not necessarily my peers, but the work). I loved college.

          Clearly there were many reasons that traditional school and "top down" learning didn't work for your kid. Schools get blamed for a lot of society's sins, and I think that is unfortunate. They aren't the solution to the world's problems on their own, but our society could sure do a better job with them.

          •  Agree society could do a lot better job... (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            congenitalefty, FloridaSNMOM

            conceiving its education venues for youth.  IMO we need to move away from the control model for education - prescribing what you learn, when, where, how and from whom - toward the facilitation model of providing all our kids with enriched environments, hopefully more connected with the real world, where they can have more of a role directing their own development.

            My bottom line is "many educational paths", so every kid can find an effective path forward into adulthood and fully realize who they can be.

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

            by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:25:43 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Life gives us plenty of chances to learn (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k8dd8d, congenitalefty, FloridaSNMOM

        that lesson, and taking the opportunity to learn, early on, that if you really hate something it is possible, through hard work and creativity, to find an alternative is a good thing.

        I have never stayed at a job I hated more than a year after deciding I hate it ... and that was during an economic down turn.

        I'm in favor of people not learning to go along with stupid authority making stupid rules for no reason.  If more people questioned authority we wouldn't have the security theater we have at airports today.

        •  My own take on questioning authority... (4+ / 0-)

          If we had more people doing it we would not have such a passive consumerist society with so much control exercised by the economic elite.

          I'm concerned that an OSFA public school system, managed for the most part by corporate interests, is a result of that failure to question authority, and perpetuates our passiveness.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 02:47:02 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Good question... (7+ / 0-)

      Eric's nature, like my own, was to resist authority, and try to figure things out for himself.  He would simply resist and then we would have to go to the next step of punishing him for resisting.  He would accept the punishment in favor of sticking to his principals.

      That was not the kind of relationship I was comfortable having with my kids.  I am more egalitarian in my thinking.  Since I have a stewardship responsibility with my kids, I am comfortable exercising that through facilitation, whenever possible, rather than directing their behavior.  

      I developed into an adult person with a strong belief that people are ultimately responsible for themselves and need to be given the freedom, within the context of a functioning community, to do so.  For the most part I have applied that principal to kids as well, treating them as basically functional human beings like I treat adults, acknowledging that we all (youth and adults) continue to grow and evolve.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:05:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My nature was to resist authority, as well. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dave in Northridge

        And to try to figure things out for myself. My mom simply figured out when she needed to put her parental big foot firmly down. And when to ignore stupid battles so as not to give her rebel-without-a-clue teen that satisfaction of escalating a resistance-punishment cycle.

        Of course, parental authority has to be established from the start. Amazing that with all my rebelliousness, I never thought to shirk basic household chores. Chores were a part of daily life around our house since each kid was old enough to walk. And homework? Getting bad grades or good grades didn't mean a thing to our parents. My mom never commented either way. Did I want to stay in school with all my friends? Did I want to go to a cool, fun college? It was all up to me.

        What concerns me most in this post, beyond the content, is the alarming level of the grammar and spelling. Had I needed to leave high school because of a severe health crisis, for example, my parents would have been qualified to teach me at home. Both have PhDs; one was a college professor and author, the other a high school teacher.

        My parents treated me 'like an adult' also. In that if I wanted to forfeit getting a good education because acting like an idiot at 13 seemed cooler than behaving, then that was my choice. But dropping out of school? They would have laughed in my face.

        I learned that I was only hurting myself. And laughed all the way to having an awesome time doing it my way in high school, at a superfun college (complete with Ivy!) and grad school, too.

        Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

        by earicicle on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:28:20 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm glad you found a path forward to adulthood... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          earicicle

          that worked for you.  I finally found mine and Eric found his.

          You say...

          My mom simply figured out when she needed to put her parental big foot firmly down. And when to ignore stupid battles so as not to give her rebel-without-a-clue teen that satisfaction of escalating a resistance-punishment cycle.
          My own mom was very unorthodox and egalitarian as a parent.  She was very facilitative rather than directive in her parenting (for example, I was never punished), but she would "put her foot down" when she thought I was not behaving well, not properly acknowledging the people I was in relationship with. That was not about punishment, it was about calling out my bad behavior and her dismay with it.  It was always important to me what she thought of me, so I heeded her (eventually) as a respected mentor.

          I eventually tried to follow my mom's approach.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:53:50 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  What was your "superfun college?" (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          earicicle, FloridaSNMOM

          One of my critiques of education as my kids have experienced it is that it is a sort of "most reasonable common denominator" environment. My son in particular needs more engagement at a personal level; otherwise he just sort of floats away.

          •  Yale. (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            leftyparent, PinHole, badscience, rosabw

            I had a blast. Plenty of 'engagement on a personal level.' I could take small seminars or large lecture courses--my choice, no prerequisites other than how hard I wanted to challenge myself--all taught by professors, not grad students or TAs.

            Great social environment, which was my principal reason for choosing Yale. The undergrad student body of 5000 is divided into 12 residential colleges--you get a sense of belonging to a tight-knit community within the larger student population without the hierarchical, exclusionary cultural of fraternities and sororities. Colleges are physical residences with their own dining halls, and they compete against each other in intramural athletics (and back in my day, drinking competitions).

            God, it was fun. I made so many great friends who remain in my life all these years later. Oh, I learned a lot, too. Going to college 5000 miles from home is educational on many levels.

            The "common denominator element" (I call it 'false egalitarianism") of American education is a big problem. Parents of bright kids often have to encourage their kids to seek out additional challenges, to supplement the normal curriculum.

            For example, in high school I took AP courses without having taken the prerequisite. I did the 5 year Spanish program in 2 1/2 years. I popped up to the local university to take German, b/c the high school teachers weren't very good. I volunteered (in a State leadership position) in a Presidential campaign when I was 17. Bright kids get bored (and can get into trouble, as I did) when they're not challenged. But they're not going to get the opportunity to go to a challenging and superfun college if they don't have the mininum entry requirements: Stellar grades in the toughest courses they can tackle, and a GREAT attitude about embracing challenge in spite of circumstances.

            Much love and luck to you and your son, badscience. Parenting is the toughest--and best--job in the world!

            Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

            by earicicle on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 12:36:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Your Yale experience sounds great... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              earicicle, rosabw

              I think i would have enjoyed that sort of college experience as well.  I like being around people that aren't so much interested in talking about the mundane world of "stuff" and are more interested in talking about ideas more in the abstract.

              Does sound fun! Jealous I guess!

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 12:48:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Does sound fun! (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              earicicle

              I am a Smithie myself and absolutely had a blast. I would do some things differently with hindsight (there was no interwebz in 1980 and a little more background in math/programming would make my life a little easier) and I didn't discover rowing until after college.

              Daughter is there now and loves it.

              ELITEELITEELITEELITE. Yes, I know how lucky I was and how fortunate daughter is.

              •  Glad to see you acknowledging the privilege here.. (3+ / 0-)

                The opportunity for some of us to go to the schools of the elite, which I guess are generally designed to be fun while giving you the experiences and connections you need to function well in positions of power.  A key part of "Tier 1" or our three-tiered American education system.

                http://www.leftyparent.com/...

                Tier One – The elite private schools for the kids of our economic elite (the so called “One Percent”), where they have the opportunity to develop skills of leadership, entrepreneurship, and creative outside-the-box thinking and develop the necessary connections to people in power to become the next generation of corporate and political leaders.

                Tier Two – The “good” public schools (and comparable religious and secular private schools) that train the kids of middle-class families to become part of the what Gatto calls the “professional proletariat” – the doctors, lawyers, scientists, engineers, and other “knowledge workers” – that staff the corporate enterprises financed, launched and led by the kids from the tier one schools.

                Tier Three – The “bad” or “failed” public schools for the economically disadvantage communities, which according to Gatto and other radical education activists are designed to “fail” and maintain an underclass of “them” to anchor the hierarchical pyramid of a country that continues to be comfortable with being economically stratified. These schools basically warehouse the kids of the poorest among us who, if they can find jobs at all, are hopefully grateful to take the service and other menial jobs along with filling the ranks of our large volunteer military.

                Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 01:32:38 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  'Elite' schools are NOT just for 'The Elite.' (0+ / 0-)

                  And 'elite' colleges are open to everyone, based on merit. If your familiy income is under $60-100,000 (the cut off varies by school), tuition is completely free and your child isn't even asked to take out ANY student loans.

                  I went to a private K-12 school for free--the same one the president did, at the same time he was there on scholarship. We were among the MANY middle & working class kids there. My college tuition was covered more than 90% by need-based scholarship from Yale; my middle class parents were required to make a small contribution every year (divided in half when my brother arrived a year later); I had to take out a student loan. I had a 100% tuition scholarship to grad school.

                  Yes: You have to find a way to get a good K-12 education, and I was incredibly fortunate (ironically) to live in a state where lots of great private & parochial options existed to supplement the rocky quality of the public school system. We CANNOT continue to let public education crumble. But abandoning the public system only lets the wingers win.

                  Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                  by earicicle on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 01:49:16 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Agreed... but would you agree they are designed... (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rosabw

                    to prepare people for positions of power in society, not just to be high-powered "clerks" (as John Taylor Gatto would say) for those in power.

                    Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                    by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 01:53:16 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Nope. Not the main thing anymore. (0+ / 0-)

                      My best friend from college is a UCC minister. A BOATLOAD of my classmates (moi included) are writers. Actresses, dancers, teachers, non-profit founders & fundraisers, happy hausfraus...there are just as many of us 'non-power' peeps as the lawyers, doctors, bankers, etc.

                      One classmate did just become an Episcopal bishop. But he's one of my wild singing group buddies, and wears his progressive credentials proudly.

                      Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                      by earicicle on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 02:45:04 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Ok... Maybe I'm wrong there! (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        earicicle

                        Good to hear!

                        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 02:48:43 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Guess you didn't need to take Bragging 101 (0+ / 0-)

                        either, earicicle.  Sheesh.

                        If the plutocrats begin the program, we will end it. -- Eugene Debs.

                        by livjack on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 06:11:53 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  ??? (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          rosabw

                          What's to brag about? The only 'power' position I mentioned was 'bishop,' and you can't get much more down-to-earth and un-authoritarian than my old singing group buddy S. And we Episcopals are pretty progressive, thank you very much.

                          My 'elite' education was fun, but it was no magic ticket to membership in 'The Elite.' Peruse a few of my diaries if you care to guess what socio-economic strata I've landed in. Middle class looks might fancy from down here!

                          Doesn't mean I choose to be bitter. I still celebrate the lives my friends live. And fight every day to get better so I can communicate to a wider audience--especially the Power Peeps--just exactly what it means to struggle in this America.

                          My life is nothing to brag about. So far, I've survived...just barely. I only even mentioned Yale b/c I was directly asked. Search my 25k comments for how many times it's come up. [I 'fess up that I will trade digs w/a Hahvahd person when provoked. Old habits...] Amazing how prickly the Ivies make those who don't know how different they are now.

                          I hope you're doing much better than I have. Poverty sucks.

                          Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                          by earicicle on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 07:04:11 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                  •  Free college? (0+ / 0-)

                    In what year did that miracle occur?

                    •  The "miracle" would be consensus among citizens... (0+ / 0-)

                      that tax dollars should be collected and spent for people's college expenses.  Actually in CA enrolled high school students can take community college classes at no cost.  Registered teen homeschoolers in CA are considered enrolled in high school so they can take advantage of this program.

                      That said, the rising cost of college points out the rising cost of conventional education generally with its plethora of teachers in classrooms and labs, "brick and mortar" buildings sequestered on campus real estate.  A structure that is really archaic given our 21st century information technology, and therefore IMO not delivering real learning value for all the billions spent.

                      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                      by leftyparent on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 07:08:23 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  It's wonderful that high school & homeschooled (0+ / 0-)

                        kids in CA can attend community college classes at no cost. (This is NOT the case in Vermont, as far as I know.) This is a tremendous idea--should be the case in all 50 states.

                        It's another discussion for another day, but I disagree with prioritizing online education over the in-person classroom. I learned more from the intangibles of interacting with the PEOPLE I met--teachers, professors, fellow students--not only in classroooms, but in libraries and dining halls and on athletic fields and in bars and singing group rehearsals...etc.

                        A small seminar with Fred Friendly on the Constitution? Priceless. And just one example of hundreds. I went to college a naive girl who had grown up on an island. I left an adult who had lived and learned and broke bread with people from all over the world.

                        No computer experience can ever replace that.

                        Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                        by earicicle on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 10:43:26 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                          •  Nance... thanks for sharing that link! (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            earicicle

                            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                            by leftyparent on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:23:30 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Glad the state has changed policy. (0+ / 0-)

                            Under 8 years of R governorship, this was not the case. A few years ago, my friend whose son had exhausted all the HS math courses had to pay the tuition for him to take advanced calculus at community college.

                            We have a good D governor now, and solid majorities (Dem-Prog coalitions) in both houses. Elections matter!

                            Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                            by earicicle on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 11:56:40 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Maybe picking & choosing is the best path... (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          earicicle

                          Taking an in-person class with the likes of Fred Friendly but taking any and all of those "cattle classes 101" online.

                          I think if we start looking at education as something managed by the learner then picking from a variety of educational paths and venues seems like a very effective path forward.  Choosing just to be in a classroom all the time or just to be at home is a thin broth.

                          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                          by leftyparent on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:23:01 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  It's been the case at the Ivies for quite some (0+ / 0-)

                      time now. The cut offs vary by school--usually there is one income level where a family pays no tuition, and another higher family income level where a student still is not asked to take out any loans even when the family has to make a small contribution towards tuition. For example, at Brown families with income below $60,000/year pay $0 tuition/room/board, which is now about $50,000/year. All financial aid has been exclusively need-based at the Ivies for 3-4 decades.

                      The image of the Ivies as bastions of the wealthy elite is hopelessly outdated. I have faced this false assumption all my life, even though I attended on 90%+ scholarship many years ago. Even then, some of my fellow students not only attended for free, but received modest stipends for expenses like books & travel b/c their families had zero resources to pay for anything.

                      Yes it is a miracle: You can go to the best colleges in the country FOR FREE (without taking ANY loans) if you work hard enough to get in and your family has modest or low income.

                      Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                      by earicicle on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 10:34:45 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  "Work hard enough" (0+ / 0-)

                        means that you test high enough, I'd imagine...is that right?

                        If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

                        by rosabw on Mon Jul 16, 2012 at 04:44:46 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  What does "work hard enough" mean? (0+ / 0-)

                          Goodness knows we are well below the $60,000 income figure. Several times over. And yet when I visit a website to see if my DD is going to be able to go to some college or other that she's interested in, the worksheet always assumes she will take out at least the $5500 Stafford Loan http://www.staffordloan.com/.... And usually this is only part of the loan package.

                          Let me go see if Brown has one of those calculators.

                          •  I'm not saying it's outrageous (0+ / 0-)

                            but the worksheet shows

                            "My Estimated Net Price for Academic Year 2011-12 is $ 5,050"

                            So we're still looking at a $5500 Stafford Loan for the first year.

                            Maybe that's nothing. Maybe after 4 years of $5500 X 4 plus whatever and you get a degree from Brown with $22,000 owed. Maybe that's a good deal. Maybe you even have a Master's because, like DD, you have earned an AA during high school (thanks to the dual enrollment mentioned above).

                            And maybe they work an even better deal for you if you have perfect this or that.

                            Is that what you were expecting, earicicle? Does that sound like a good deal to you?

                          •  NO LOANS. (0+ / 0-)

                            Jeebus. What part of 'NO LOANS' was hard to understand?

                            I have a family member at Brown right now. No tuition, no room, no board, NO LOANS for him or for his family. He will graduate with ZERO debt. In fact, Brown requires NO LOANS if your family income is under $100,000. LINK to Brown's press release explaining this policy.

                            Many other schools have adopted similar policies. They recognize that student loans are a crippling burden and that economic diversity is vital to building a healthy student body.

                            I don't know why you have a chip on your shoulder. We have serious issues we need to address in American education--among them, the insane costs of college & post-graduate programs. But dogging on 'name' schools is senseless. Why the resentment? Jeebus. Now you see why I rarely mention the Big Bad Name.

                            Read some of my diaries if you'd like to see how fancypants book learnin' has given me super-elite protection from all the bad things in life. Ha!

                            Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                            by earicicle on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 12:32:28 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  So why does everyone end up with loans... (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Nance

                            these days and a mountain of debt?  Because they have made a huge mistake on charting their academic path?

                            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                            by leftyparent on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:26:03 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  No, not at all. Our system is broken. (0+ / 0-)

                            But a growing number of schools with big enough endowments, in recent years, have been raising the income threshold that allow students to get a $50,000/year education for FREE. These limits for free tuition, or modest contributions and zero loans, now extend well into the middle class. (For example, Brown's cut offs are at $60,000 for free tuition and $100,000 for no loans. Which I know first hand from a current family member attending there, despite whatever 'Nance' says he/she found online.) I worry that not enough people know about this unique opportunity. Not enough parents or students even think of applying, and instead limit themselves to what they perceive as 'cheaper' options, such as their local state university, where tuitions are skyrocketing and financial aid is becoming scarcer b/c of state & federal budget cutbacks. Why bankrupt the family and burden a child with loans--or worse, skip college--when there are opportunities (albeit limited) to get massive financial aid?

                            There really is a lingering misperception (witness the nasty tone of some commenters--not you!--towards me re: Y__e) that the Ivies are for Teh Evil 1%. Even back in my day, the majority of students were on financial aid.

                            I just want people to have less despair, and know about an option that is out there. And give up this silly resentment towards perceived 'elite' schools, many of whom are at least doing something in the midst of this American education nightmare to atone for their past and open their doors (and wallets) to EVERYONE regardless of financial status.

                            Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                            by earicicle on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 11:29:01 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh, bite me. (0+ / 0-)

                            I'm trying to follow up on what you said and the calculator at Brown's website gave me the figures I posted. The 2008 press release says something different. Do you suppose I give a rat's ass where you went to school decades ago? I'm trying to find accurate information now. I went to the Brown website hoping you were right. I ran the numbers. I posted what I got. Feel all the outrage you want. It's not helpful to students in today's reality.

                            And if you thought college was going to protect you from life's vicissitudes. . . sorry.

                          •  Bitter much? (0+ / 0-)

                            You can believe what you want: Some online tool that you're obviously using wrong, or our real life family member who is about to graduate having paid only for his books (with his term-time & summer jobs). $200,000 in tuition/room/board via Brown scholarship, ZERO in loans, completely based on financial need.

                            I don't have any outrage; just sorrow at parents who let their bitterness and bias interfere with giving their kids the best opportunities. One small detail that might have given my family member an extra point or so on his application: Schools like Brown always want to have kids from every state. And an Ivy admissions officer admitted to us that the number of applicants from that fairly large state (which has some very strong public and private high schools) is surprisingly low. Because the parents and college counselors are very narrow minded and usually don't think about out-of-state opportunities for their children. Makes me sad. Why wouldn't parents want only the best for their kids?

                            As for this:

                            And if you thought college was going to protect you from life's vicissitudes. . . sorry.
                            Wow. What a disgusting thing to say. It is the opposite of what I think. I don't believe I'm 'entitled' to anything, other than basic human dignity & respect, which apparently you don't feel is important to give.

                            I just wanted to debunk your underlying assumption--a pathetic movie I have seen before--that the blessing of a privileged education equals a sense of entitlement. ON THE CONTRARY, it leads to a sense of burden: to give back, to make a difference. As Luke says in the parable of the servants, "To whom much is given, of him much shall be required." Luke 12:48

                            I have been forced to stop working and give up all volunteering during my difficult recovery from cancer. Your ignorance makes me want to put admissions interviewing back on the top of my volunteer priority list. So I can be a small part, if possible, of giving a kid a chance. A kid whose parents allow him to dream.

                            Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                            by earicicle on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 11:49:52 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Oh, and "work hard enough" means the same (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            rosabw

                            thing it has always meant: Hard work. Initiative. Tackling challenges, not manipulating someone (especially your parents) to get out of them. Taking on leadership roles in community, school, athletic organizations. Showing tenacity. Showing character. Applying your smarts. Making a difference.

                            Not whining that "life's not fair" or "the system is stacked against me." (Messages that kids would most likely absorb from their parents, sadly.) Because of course these things are true, but good families raise strong-willed, creative children determined to overcome whatever obstacles stand in their way.

                            Right?

                            Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                            by earicicle on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 12:43:14 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  My understanding is that what really... (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            earicicle, rosabw

                            makes you a hot prospect for a top school is not so much your grades and test scores but the sort of outside the box real-life things that you have managed to do in your youth.  Every applicant considered has the obligatory grades and test scores, but it is the real-life you've led that makes the difference.

                            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                            by leftyparent on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:29:01 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Absolutely. "Outside the box real-life things that (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            rosabw

                            ...you have managed to do in your youth." Well said, leftyparent. Who you are, in three dimensions, is far more important than two dimensional scores and grades. College admissions committees realize that standardized tests are DEEPLY flawed indicators of academic ability. They also look at grades with a giant grain of salt.

                            And every year, top colleges get more applicants with perfect SAT scores and 4.0 GPAs than they have available slots for admission. But what would a class comprised of only grade- and test score-chasing kids mean to a school? Not the vibrancy, creativity and vitality that make up a dynamic environment for living and learning.

                            Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                            by earicicle on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 11:03:26 AM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                        •  Um...no. (1+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          rosabw

                          Test scores play less and less of a role in college admissions today. Some colleges don't even require them anymore.

                          You might be surprised how much colleges--even the top colleges--are really looking to bring an interesting mix of kids to their schools. I've done admissions interviewing, in case you're interested. So I'm not just imagining things...

                          Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                          by earicicle on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 12:35:40 AM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Yeah, (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            earicicle

                            That might be interesting!!

                            I have a friend who probably is a little more aware of that than most.  She  home schooled and had her kids taking part in many math, science, and history competitions--sometimes they did really well, too!  They were in athletic activities as runners, they were in 4-H, and they also did a lot of community service.

                            Her oldest son was really smart, but he got into MIT based a lot on his "portfolio" that showed he was a very well rounded young man.

                            I'm guessing that is what you mean.  Her kids are so used to being a part of the larger world, of following their own paths, but working very hard and doing the best they can. It used to be just test scores...I'm kind of relieved it isn't that way anymore.

                            My son is pretty dyslexic, and would like to go to Georgia Tech (they love people who think "outside the box" from what I've heard)   I'll look at the press release from Brown, and see if we can't get a little more creative regarding college.  He already has a professor at Georgia Tech who has asked him to call on him when he is ready...

                            Thank you for helping me to think big.  Have you done a diary on this that I could look at?

                            If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

                            by rosabw on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 06:03:24 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  The 'role model' that inspired me, in part, to go (0+ / 0-)

                            Yale was also dyslexic--a classmate & family friend, three years older, who I'd grown up with. He had a blast there, and told me I would, too.

                            The reading load was EXTREMELY heavy there--so heavy in subjects like history that even super-fast readers (like me) could never really make it through every assigned word. [You learn how to prioritize, and divided and conquer with your classmates!] Colleges have become SO much more aware of learning disabilities these days, and I think EVERY college has an office dedicated to students with special needs.

                            It's an excellent idea to get to know or work with a professor when you're still in high school. [Is there a class your son could take with him, or an independent study project they could devise together?] You never know: That prof could certainly write a key letter of recommendation for college--something that counts VERY highly in admissions--and even specifically advocate for your child if he seeks admission at that prof's university.

                            Well-rounded, creative kids are EXACTLY what schools seek. I haven't diaried on any of this because it's not my direct area of expertise per se. But this is the world I grew up in, worked in and still know intimately and directly. Trust me when I say: Go for it, rosabw! Don't be discouraged! All the things that feel like disadvantages--dire finances, minority status, learning challenges--can all be turned into opportunities. Even being a boy is a plus these days: Girls make up the stronger applicant pool today, so qualified boys are slightly harder to find.

                            Of course you don't have to tell your son the fact that women are smarter is gonna help him get into a better college! ;-)

                            Good luck to your family!

                            Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                            by earicicle on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:29:18 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  this is kind of a diary...thanks. (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            earicicle

                            If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

                            by rosabw on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 06:12:45 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  I apologize for the testy tone of some of my (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            rosabw

                            comments. Over the years I've been through a lot of unnecessary hostility [although 'bite me' from someone in this thread is a new one!] about having gone to private schools. Even when I'm trying to share the great, good, amazing news that they are now FREE, FREE, FREE even to middle class families, and loan-free to upper middle class families.

                            Glad that you found some info to help you and your son. I wish you every success!

                            Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                            by earicicle on Tue Jul 17, 2012 at 07:37:12 PM PDT

                            [ Parent ]

                •  the underclass schools (4+ / 0-)

                  are indeed very challenging.  I can only speak to my own experience, but in Texas where my husband is a kindergarten teacher, the poor kids are in high percentage either Black or "Bilingual" (meaning 100% poor Mexican, Honduran or Guatemalan immigrant children). There is little to no diversity, and the class size is large. The teaching is directed towards the standardized tests that they must pass or be held back. Few resources, and parents too poor to contribute the huge amounts to the PTA that the schools in the wealthier parts of town have.

                  My own child attended a public school that was like the Tier II in your description above.  The parents provided wonderful tutors, and gobs of money for the PTA.  
                  The standardized tests were passed by 95% of the kids with ease, so they were free to explore music, art and extras that were not available to the other schools. A tragedy that this kind of experience is not available for all.

                  We have nowhere else to go... this is all we have. (Margaret Mead)

                  by bruised toes on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:21:47 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  You point out the hypocracy of std testing... (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    EclecticCrafter, rosabw, FloridaSNMOM

                    Middle class kids of some economic and racial privilege learn so much of their std tested learning outside of schools in their more enriched lives.  The poor kids have to rely on school for a lot more of their overall learning so they are focused on testable learning rather than really exploring their talents and interests.  They are groomed for failure and the economic underclass, and set up to be seen as their own fault.

                    Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                    by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:32:57 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  Heh. (0+ / 0-)

                I skipped math, too. I did give computer science the literal college try, but couldn't hack it [cheesy pun intended]. Thank God for idiot-proof Macs!

                I just took up Dragonboating last summer, with a breast cancer survivors team! Not paddling right now as I juggle more complications, but hope to get back in the water soon. My Concept 2 is my BFF! ;-)

                Rowing in college? Weren't the practices sometime before noon? ;-)

                Ho'oponopono. To make things right; restore harmony; heal.

                by earicicle on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 01:53:16 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

    •  It is not possible to compel behavior. (8+ / 0-)

      It is possible to stop behavior by applying physical restraints to stop all behavior.
      One can use threats of more severe deprivations to compel behavior, but that's not really consistent with a commitment to liberty.

      Yes, the culture of obedience makes it hard for people to be individuals and free, especially since we are programmed to believe that obedience is a virtue.  And it is, but like poverty, it is only a virtue if it is freely chosen.  Compelled obedience is abuse.
      The problem with abuse is that people who get used to it, pass it on. They go into "if I could take it, you can too."

      Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage"

      People to Wall Street, "let our money go."

      by hannah on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:07:01 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There Is Probably Some Truth to This (0+ / 0-)

        In the same way that it is probably true that every law has at its root an injustice, because it represents an authority taking away the rights of one in favor of another.

        But in the bigger picture, we don't always consider such laws to be necessarily unjust, because we see how this functions toward the greater good.

        Yes -- forcing a child to do something against his or her can be unpleasant, both for the parent and the child. No, "obedience" is not the natural state of man.

        But when we talk about "people" instead of "humans," we are talking about socialized creatures -- beings that have largely accepted a state of obedience to society's laws and norms.

        It's possible to raise a child to physically functioning adulthood without socialization, but I don't think I'd want to.

        I'm not ascribing this philosophy to the original diarist, by the way. This is my musing on the comments of the above.

        "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

        by bink on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:13:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I struggle with your statement that socialized... (4+ / 0-)

          human beings have largely...

          accepted a state of obedience to society's laws and norms
          I react negatively to the word "obedience", which to me means accepting be controlled by others.  Maybe its just semantics here.  I would say that I have "agreed to participate in society and follow its laws".  Maybe just two ways of saying the same thing.

          But again, the rules of the real world, and the rules of an artificial environment like most schools, are very different things.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:35:03 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  The law, as it applies to individuals, is (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          marykk, reconnected

          prohibitive.  That is, it prohibits bad or injurious behavior and properly so.
          The law as it applies to agents of government is prescriptive.  That is, agents of government are mandated to carry out certain duties and we pay them to do so.
          There are some people who would like the law as it applies to individuals to be prescriptive -- to tell people what to do.  That it's not, is a testament to the wisdom of the founders, who appreciated that making people do things is a hopeless cause.

          Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage"

          People to Wall Street, "let our money go."

          by hannah on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:49:37 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not Hopeless at All (0+ / 0-)

            In fact, making people do things is essential for almost every function of society. This can be beneficial, benign or pernicious. We live all live inside coercive power relations of various sorts. Without them, we would be savages. Or, more likely, we'd simply generate new ones.

            Just for fun, this diarist and other commenters might want to read this book:

            http://www.amazon.com/...

            I'm sure hannah has already read it and has a rebuttal ready. :)

            "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

            by bink on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:54:56 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  IMO... making people do things... (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              reconnected, hannah, k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

              Is the outmoded conventional wisdom of our culture, as we move away from kings, tyrants and authoritarian governance towards republics, democracy and egalitarian governance.

              Other than in legit times of "martial law", I see control as mostly pernicious, limiting human development, particularly at this point in time in our species' history.

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:29:32 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I Gathered This from Your Post (0+ / 0-)

                Please understand that my comments here are not intended as an indictment of your viewpoint.

                Control is indeed the right word. Michel Foucault referred to industrial societies as "Societies of Control" in fact because of the way they disciplined human behavior using surveillance and other control mechanisms. The manifest product of societies of control are institutions. It does not surprise me that you ended up rejecting conventional public schools for your child, given what you have said here about control.

                The philosopher Deleuze believed that we were exiting this period of human history:

                http://www.n5m.org/...

                We might indeed be doing so.

                But I'm not sure that what we are about to discover, as we set fire to our institutions, is an altogether better world.

                "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

                by bink on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:36:46 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Who knows what will happen next... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  bink, k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

                  in the development of your species.  But in my mind our path forward is to move away from hierarchy towards a "circle of equals".  There may well be a lot of bumps in the road in that process including two steps backward.  But I'm at least convinced that we will eventually take those three steps forward.

                  19th century America, as you say, was all about a society of control, in the work world and in the "reforming" institutions, including compulsory schooling, that grew out of that industrial OSFA model.  Like Henry Ford said...

                  People can have the Model T in any color – so long as it’s black.

                  Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                  by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:51:45 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  But education law as applied to kids & parents... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            FloridaSNMOM

            is prescriptive!  It tells kids what they must learn, when they must learn it, where, pretty much how and from whom.  The "why" is often unfortunately left out, other than "because we say so".

            Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

            by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:58:47 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, parents, having obligations to the next (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              rosabw

              generation by virtue of having procreated, are mandated to educate their off-spring.  To that end, the community provides "free" public education, so as not to make this obligations unduly burdensome.
              Efforts to renege on the communal obligation to educate the next generation are prima facie evidence for why there has to be a mandate in the first place. Some people are inclined to exploit other people, even their own kin, or, perhaps, especially their own kin. Children are a convenient source of labor, since they, at least initially, consume little and have lots of extra energy.  Also, their small hands are likely to have an agility that's missing in the arthritic fingers of the old. Some children are particularly adept at performing repetitive actions, which adults find boring and enervating.

              Unfortunately, American public education has always been bedeviled by the rationalization that the off-spring of immigrants, who had themselves learned skills in their homeland, were in need of being turned into "good" Americans, docile citizens and obedient workers.  So, the culture of obedience took hold in our public schools in a pattern that's fairly consistent -- i.e. things being done for ulterior motives.  Somehow, religious education directed towards glorifying the Creator was less detrimental to the pursuit of science and real knowledge.  Much time is wasted in public schools trying to gain compliance with directives and children soon learn that speech and other human functions (association, mobility, creativity) can not be carried out freely.

              Willard's forte = "catch 'n' cage"

              People to Wall Street, "let our money go."

              by hannah on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 03:20:25 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Agree, "Compelled obediance is abuse"... (0+ / 0-)

        Unless it is a circumstance of safety where "martial law" of sorts needs to be declared to keep people safe.  But in our world of first-world privilege, that is a rare occurrence.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:29:19 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  That would make sense, yes... (5+ / 0-)

      But having worked on both sides of the aisle, teacher and parent of kids who learn outside the lines, there is just a particular brand of kid who just doesn't fit school.  I like to call them right-brainers.  It's the way they are born, and it is no different than being left handed versus the "normal" right-handed kids.  Do you know it used to be considered evil to be left handed, and they would tie kids left hands behind their backs so that they would learn the "right" way?  It hasn't been that long ago they quit doing that to kids.

      It's no different with our kiddo's.  

      They are often given labels, told they are lazy,crazy, or stupid.  Maybe they are the drugged kids. Most of us find school rewarding.

      They are not alone, and some think some very great visionaries would be among them...Einstein, Edison, Walt Disney, Bobbie and John Kennedy all were poor students in ways.  

      If you've got enough money to send your child to a school that teaches right-brainers, you are lucky, and your child won't suffer the failure they do in the public schools.  

      I couldn't afford to send my son to a special school started by a parent, $14,000 a year, so we home schooled.  I don't know if I'm making any sense or more importantly making myself understood.

      There are reasons why some kids fail in our schools, and it is NOT because they are failures, or they are stupid.

      If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

      by rosabw on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:24:42 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Doubly weird.... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rosabw, FloridaSNMOM

        Since I'm a right-brained right-hander....

        I was really frustrated and miserable in school that tried to brow-beat being a visual creative out of me and try to force me to be another verbal "speller".

        Going to a dying and dyfunctional school district that later ended up going through dissolution didn't help things either.

        "If this Studebaker had anymore Atomic Space-Age Style, you'd have to be an astronaut with a geiger counter!"

        by Stude Dude on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:54:17 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Have you heard of visual-spatial learners? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          leftyparent, marykk

          Does it fit you?  The first time I saw it I thought, hot-dang, that 's Ben!  I have since met online and "spoke" with 2 cartoonists and one artist who fit the mold. It's kind of fascinating.

           This links to a blogpost  I did about one of the cartoonists, Buck Jones. It's worth checking out the link just to see his visual of the visual-spatial learner.  Good stuff.

          If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

          by rosabw on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:59:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Makes a lot of sense to me!... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marykk, rosabw, FloridaSNMOM

        Tho I'm part of the "choir" here... grin

        Good analogy about that outmoded conventional wisdom that left-handers were evil and needed to be corrected by a sort of enforced "schooling".  

        Interesting in the sports world the term "schooled" is generally used when the opposing player so outplays you in a particular instance that you are humiliated and forced to understand how superior their skill is to your own.

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:02:58 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Bink, do you have kids? (9+ / 0-)

      and if so, do you have any who are not conventional learners?  Because I have one that I could have beaten half to death, removed every toy, privilege, used every imaginable carrot or stick, and he would not do his homework.  And his ability to not do it was greater than my ability to make him, plain and simple.  I could stand over him from dawn to dusk and it would not happen, because his brain was not wired to undertake any task not of his choosing.

      I feel a bit strange about being so blunt about it, but there 'tis.

      If you think you're too small to be effective, you've never been in the dark with a mosquito.

      by marykk on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:06:40 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  marykk... that's our son Eric as well... (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marykk, rosabw, k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

        Thanks for sharing your story.

        Each human being is different and responds differently in their interactions with the world.  The more we learn to honor those differences and let people direct their own development, the more all the talents of our species will flower and benefit us all!

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:32:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  Funny comment, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        marykk, FloridaSNMOM

        I understand exactly where you are coming from.

        Ben's first grade teacher said, "He's not the kind of kid you can get under your thumb." They used to refer to them as "strong-willed".  Each are understatements.

        If you starve the middle class, whose gonna pay for your crap?

        by rosabw on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:44:36 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Schooling to offen is about succumbing... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          reconnected, k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

          to "The Man" and agents of "The Man".

          And since public education has been mostly run by business people since the beginning of the 20th century, with IMO some serious conflict of interest in how they see human development, I say we should think about that more before we just pack our kids off to those schools.

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:56:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Are you a parent? (8+ / 0-)

      I don't intend that to be mean or flippant, but kids don't always do what they are told, especially teens.  Some children do ... my daughter could be "compelled" to do something just by a disapproving look.  My son, on the other hand, would take any punishment I was willing to dole out (I refused to beat him as my parents did me) rather than do something he felt was stupid or wrong or a waste of time, or an insult to his intelligence.  As adults, my son is in some ways better off than my daughter -- she still struggles with finding the strength to do what she wants to do in the face of familial or societal disapproval.  (Now, she does win the struggle, my support gave her that, but it isn't as easy as it is for her brother, or me.)

      Leftyparent has written elsewhere of (and I'm not going to say this right) partnership vs. hierarchical relationships and how they might successfully apply to adult/child as well as work and other environs.  I wish I remembered enough of the right words to find the link.  Very interesting discussion.

      I actually flinched at the word 'compel'.  As a parent, I had (my children are all adults now) the right to prohibit behaviours that were harmful, to create and expect an attitude of mutual respect, to encourage growth.  I'm not sure that compelling a child to do something, except out of a protection from danger is ever really good.  It breeds resentment, low self-esteem, dependency, rebellion ...

      I'm not sure how to go about compelling a child to do something he/she is determined not to do without going to lengths I find unacceptable.  But perhaps your children are more like my daughter, and you haven't experienced the difficulties of raising other personality types.  Or maybe you have secrets to share with us.  What do you do when you have compelled the child to sit at the desk with the work on it.  How do you compel them to think?

      •  Thanks for that "second"... (4+ / 0-)

        and calling out that transition from hierarchies of control to circles of equals that I am all about cheerleading for.

        If interested, here's a previous piece I wrote on the way I see the world moving and what I want to be a part of facilitating...

        http://www.leftyparent.com/...

        Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

        by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:39:00 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I knew I hadn't remembered the right words. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          FloridaSNMOM

          Loved that piece.  I mostly read, rarely comment.  It comes from early usenet training against "me too" type comments.  If I don't feel I have something substantive to add, I just rec and move on.  I know that I'm not supposed to do that, I'm told that on DailyKos "me too" type comments are not just okay, but appreciated by the author, but early training is hard to overcome.

          So you probably don't know that I think you (and Sally) and I would be in agreement about many, many things.  Including the incredible growth available to teens at YRUU (when allowed to be teen-led).

          Hat tip to you sir.

  •  No objections, your honor. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    stevej, marykk

    It's what he wanted and what you wanted.  I was sorely tempted to skip to the end because my hobby horse is when students and their parents reject conventional K-12 schooling but want a conventional and high-prestige college at the end of it.  I was happy not to see that when I did get to the end :)

    Romney '12: Bully for America!

    by Rich in PA on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 09:55:07 AM PDT

    •  That is a legitimate path too... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rosabw, angelajean, k8dd8d, Nance

      And more colleges are acknowledging that and creating mechanisms to review homeschooled and unschooled youth by non-traditional means to decide whether to admit them to college programs.

      Also in California and other states I believe, teens can take community college classes without graduating from high school.  Our daughter Emma did.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:39:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My oldest is about to start college classes here (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

        in DC... he is 16. He can do this because of their dual enrollment program. Though, honestly, he would be better off just to take the GED and start college classes as a Freshman. Time is not on his side for this semester.

        •  Say more about time not "being on his side"! (0+ / 0-)

          Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

          by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 12:38:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Because we just moved back to the States, (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            EclecticCrafter, rosabw, FloridaSNMOM

            he doesn't have a lot of time to schedule the GED before college starts at the end of August. My fault for planning a vacation to visit his grandparents but we haven't seen them for over a year. If we lived in one location, he would have had more flexibility in planning a time to take his GED but living overseas you have to be 17 to take it, not 16. Sometimes being a military kid can be tough.

            •  Is he eager to start in to college work?... (3+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              EclecticCrafter, rosabw, FloridaSNMOM

              Maybe he could start taking community college classes (which at least in CA don't require a high school diploma or GED to take) covering some of the basics he would have to take at the four-year schools he might be interested in.

              IMO a lot of kids would benefit from more real world experience between K-12 and college, like getting a job or doing some sort of extensive community service to get some more "real world" under their belts before they launch into expensive college tracks.  Your kids with their periods of homeschooling/unschooling may have already had those sorts of experiences.

              Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

              by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 04:26:22 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  that's what she means by dual enrollment (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                angelajean

                mine will start it in a year.  In Washington, he can go to Community College for free for two years that line up to Junior and Senior year of high school.  He will earn both high school and college credits for those two years.

                Then when applying to college, he will apply as a freshman and his credits will be backfilled so he'll really enter somewhere between Sophomore and Junior depending on which of his credits are acceptable (different schools take different CC credits).

                I think Angie was saying she just wanted hers to skip that whole process and start college outright.

                For us, it's a financial help, the more college credits, test outs like AP, Clep or SAT Subject tests we can get done before college, the fewer credits we will ultimately have to pay for!

                If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

                by k8dd8d on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 09:25:56 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks for clarifying, I know its a challenge... (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  FloridaSNMOM, angelajean

                  to try and sort out the whole college thing with your kids.  We did not have to do that with ours, because they have totally parted company with the whole academic world and stake their development in the real world.  Guess I may be slowly losing my connection with the whole academic education thing.

                  Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                  by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:31:19 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  well, mine wants to be a theoretical physicist (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    angelajean, EclecticCrafter

                    so the option of not doing college really doesn't exist, and in fact, he may end up in academia in the long run because he believes that will give him the ability to do "cool research".

                    I think he was internally disappointed in the Higgs Bosun finding because he didn't get to find it!

                    If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

                    by k8dd8d on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 08:10:49 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                •  If it were free here, it would be an easier (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  EclecticCrafter

                  decision. We have to pay for the classes. Bummer, that.

                  Also, I'm noticing as we look at 4 year schools that some of them are not accepting all dual enrollment classes. Might mean testing out of some college level classes come Freshman year instead of getting the credit for them.

                  •  From my experience appealing classes... (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    rosabw, angelajean

                    can be very successful.  When I went to college for the second time to get my BS in Computer Science, they wanted me to take 12 general studies classes since none of GS classes from my first BA mapped exactly to their GS reqs.  So I got the appeal forms and wrote up 12 appeals, one for each class, based on past course work I had taken and out-of-classroom experience.  I ended up being successful on 10 of 12 appeals and only ended up having to take two GS classes towards getting my BS.

                    Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

                    by leftyparent on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 01:45:31 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  yeah, Washington's program is pretty cool (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    angelajean

                    it's available to every High School Junior & Senior in the state, and basically about 95% of the money the high school would get goes to the Community College.  The High School gets just enough to cover their issuing a transcript I think.  The kids have to pass the entrance exam for the CC.

                    They limit it to 15 credits per quarter, 6 consecutive quarters (excepting summer), with a use or lose it provision.  We pay fees, books and transportation/parking, but no tuition.

                    For kids in school, the district determines when they are a junior.  For homeschoolers, the parents determine when they are a junior, although the school district has to agree and I think they have to be 16, not sure about that piece.

                    I know that all credits won't backfill, but I think the experience of doing college classes, along with learning the ropes of college are well worth it.  They can get an AA in the two years, but it is really hard, and transferring in to university as a junior is not as easy (and there isn't as much money available) as applying as a freshman.

                    We've been on a path to this for the past several years.  My oldest is a sophomore in the coming school year, and my middle is a freshman.  The more credits and test-outs we can do, the better as far as I am concerned.  

                    If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

                    by k8dd8d on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 05:48:52 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

  •  Update on Eric... (9+ / 0-)

    I wrote this piece maybe three years ago now.

    Today Eric is 26.  He works as a video specialist supervisor for a small business that captures, archives, reformats and manages video for their customers in the music industry. He is also involved in new business development for them.  He lives with his girlfriend of five years in Los Angeles across the valley from us in Alta Dena.

    Eric continues to be a community builder with a large circle of friends and taking leadership roles in various community building projects.  He is involved in helping build a Unitarian-Universalist young-adult community.  He also is one of the organizers of a yearly venue at "Wasteland Weekend" (kind of like a Renaissance Fair, but set in a post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" epoch rather than medieval Europe) that was very popular the first time out.  In general he continues a sort of "ministry" with a number of friends, helping them with hurdles in their own development.

    Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

    by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:19:12 AM PDT

  •  Did Eric go to University? Specifically, did Eric (0+ / 0-)

    apply to a University or Technical School?

    "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

    by Mr SeeMore on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:43:35 AM PDT

    •  He did not... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      marykk, rosabw, FloridaSNMOM

      After the middle of eighth grade when we pulled him out of school, he has had no desire since to set foot in a classroom.  He has been involved in organizing conferences and workshops, and participated in others, but never back in a classroom, either as teacher or student.

      I think of him as having had an "un-college", college-like experience, one of a group of friends who launched a small business, which eventually failed in the Great Recession.

      More on that if you're interested... http://www.leftyparent.com/...

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:08:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You must have the patience of a saint (0+ / 0-)
    And sure enough, during that first year of “unschooling”, Eric spent most of his time alone in his room with the door closed playing games on his computer, decompressing and deprogramming, and testing us to make sure we didn’t have other schemes in store to get him to learn what he was supposed to.  
    I am glad you had a happy outcome, and are satisfied. But, if he did not want to go to school, he should have had a job. There is a lot of educational value in working at a job when you have no qualifications or experience.  

    My experience with most video games that the young men play are pretending to shoot and kill others for fun.  I know you can't choose for someone else what they like, but a parent can at least make the games a tradeoff for either work or school.

    We have nowhere else to go... this is all we have. (Margaret Mead)

    by bruised toes on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:45:53 AM PDT

    •  We did learn patience, but had great anxiety... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM

      as well during that period, as you can well imagine.

      Eric did go on to have those "salt mine" job experiences.  His were as a video game tester within the burgeoning video game development industry out here in Los Angeles.

      But as to computer games, they turned out to be very developmental for both he and his sister.  They both got into the multiplayer online roleplaying games and had some amazing developmental experiences that I would never have known were possible.

      More on that if you are interested in my previous pieces...

      http://www.leftyparent.com/...

      http://www.leftyparent.com/...

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:13:19 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I did crappy in High School (6+ / 0-)

    preferred to play with rock bands and just hang out in the 60's.

    I still remember, some 40+ years later, begging my Latin teacher for one point on my grade so I could graduate with my senior class. She eventually did, and I did.

    I went to college from there .... was Dean's list every semester .. graduated at the top of my class ... took engineering ... joined a high tech (well going from tubes to transistors period) company ... in general, a great life as I worked my way up the ladder, family, and all the other stuff that life has to offer.

    At one of my HS reunions, many years later, one of my old counselors at school pulled me aside and said, "I knew you were just bored with HS and once you could pick your path you'd be ok". He was the one behind helping me get that one point in Latin rather than staying back.

    You just never know, and I still play in rock bands....

    One size does NOT fit all.....

  •  Good job!! (9+ / 0-)

       We  pulled our son out of school in second grade. He could not read or do basic math.  We got nothing but criticism for the decision.
      I let him decide what to study and we would go to the library and get an armload of books on that subject, then I would include math, geography etc in the study of it.  In a very short time he was reading way above grade level.

       He decided himself to go back to school in eighth grade. He did great.  Today he is an airline pilot- his lifelong goal.    
       Home school is the best solution for some kids.

  •  I will say the Education system in the USA is (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    marykk

    broken. I do not, currently, know how far down the line the USA is compared to other countries in education. But when I last looked it was pathetic...especially in math and the sciences.

    "We are a Plutocracy, we ought to face it. We need, desperately, to find new ways to hear independent voices & points of view" Ramsey Clark, U.S. Attorney General.

    by Mr SeeMore on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:00:24 AM PDT

  •  I wish my mother (7+ / 0-)

    had had the temperament to homeschool, or at least the willingness to spend the money for alternate schooling.

    I did not do well in school; I loved, loved, loved the actual learning part but then around fifth grade everything became too easy and I was bored to death. After that there was nothing to like about school because I wasn't being challenged and the kids who weren't actively bullying me still hated me for being a 'teacher's pet' (a role I never sought). My mother wanted to skip me two grades but the school administration convinced her I needed to stay with my own peer group for 'socialization', ha!

    Need I add I am a very strong autodidact, like Eric? I've taught myself everything from crochet to sailing/navigation and all points between. Spark my interest in something and it will be devoured and mastered within a few years.

    Unfortunately my mother is an extreme authoritarian (children seen not heard) and was not willing that I should do anything but obey, so she sent me off to an eight-year long series of 'boot camps' (institutions) at the age of ten. I often wonder what paths my life would have taken if I'd had a parent like you.

    I find it horrifying that people think children MUST be made miserable to prepare them for life. I commend you for having the wisdom to follow your instincts as to what was best for YOUR child and I am so glad to hear it was successful.

    When we remember we are all mad, the mysteries disappear and life stands explained. - Mark Twain

    by Late Again on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:33:39 AM PDT

    •  Thanks for sharing & making the point here... (7+ / 0-)

      And I agree when you write...

      I find it horrifying that people think children MUST be made miserable to prepare them for life. I commend you for having the wisdom to follow your instincts as to what was best for YOUR child and I am so glad to hear it was successful.
      Youthful misery, particularly justified as preparatory for continuing misery as an adult, is not IMO a good path forward for human society.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 11:42:24 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Whew! First I thought I was an Aspy… (7+ / 0-)

    …which I figured out I'm really not. Now I find out I'm an autodidact. Sounds a hell of a lot cooler. Although I had been unaware of some of my gifts most of my life, and confused about my social shortfalls, I discovered early on that I had the ability to teach myself, although I never knew there was a name for that.

    I've frequently rationalized that the reason I wasn't a Top Ten Percenter in high school (despite old classmates frequently describing me as "the smartest person they ever knew") was because of the repetitive homework in math and some other subjects that drove me to distraction. College wasn't a lot better.

    I know now that almost regardless of the activity, I'll attack it, study it, and practice it until I master it to the level that's important to me, which may only be to satisfy my curiosity. There's your recipe for never attaining a college degree, which I haven't.

    I applaud all involved for the path taken and the lessons learned—Eric especially. I wish I'd understood more of it when I was 14…or 60.

  •  Congrats on taking action on your son's (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    reconnected, rosabw, k8dd8d, FloridaSNMOM

    needs.  We are a homeschool family in Tenessee and have a lot of local support, but it still comes down to making individual decisions for every individual child.  We have one easy child who required no extra thought or effort.  The choices in the Sonlight curriculum were perfect for him.   But our nine year old has been a challenge and has required extra research and effort.  In fact, we punted to a small private (affordable here in TN, sorry about the realities in CA...) for two years.  He became a voracious reader in those two years and he himself made the case for coming home this coming year.  Good luck to you!!   My oldest son just came home from a church work camp (a roofing job for a family w/o resources to have it done professionally).  He commented on the gentleness, considerateness, and practical skills of a boy who I know to have been "unschooled" in the manner you describe.   Talking with his mother about their experience, I can offer you some assurance that it can turn out very, very well.  

    •  Thanks for your encouragement and support... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      rosabw

      Eric is now 26 and it did turn out well for him. I wrote this piece maybe three years ago now.

      Today Eric is 26.  He works as a video specialist supervisor for a small business that captures, archives, reformats and manages video for their customers in the music industry. He is also involved in new business development for them.  He lives with his girlfriend of five years in Los Angeles across the valley from us in Alta Dena.

      Eric continues to be a community builder with a large circle of friends and taking leadership roles in various community building projects.  He is involved in helping build a Unitarian-Universalist young-adult community.  He also is one of the organizers of a yearly venue at "Wasteland Weekend" (kind of like a Renaissance Fair, but set in a post-apocalyptic "Mad Max" epoch rather than medieval Europe) that was very popular the first time out.  In general he continues a sort of "ministry" with a number of friends, helping them with hurdles in their own development.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 12:51:24 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Hey Coop, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    FloridaSNMOM, EclecticCrafter

    As usual, I am late to the party, but I really enjoyed the diary.

    One of the things that caught my attention is the fact that you and Sally worked together to decide to unschool.  

    When I mentor new homeschoolers, or when people ask me how to get started, one of the first things I tell them is to find the balance and the baggage that exists between the two parents.

    In our home, I would probably tend to a more unschooled environment, but my husband's background of growing up in South America in a very structured school setting that he was successful in, makes it hard for him to let go of certain things.

    And so we have had to find our balance between structure and not, between how much to require, and how much to let them find their own paths, between how much we give them and how much we let them find for themselves.

    It's worked for us.  Our oldest is somewhat autodidactic, but he's also very co-operative and willing to trade-off and compromise, if he does some/most of what we ask, then we don't ask as much, and he's allowed to pursue his interests.  We are continually balancing.  And since he is interested in learning absolutely EVERYTHING, he is very easy.

    My younger two are not very self motivated, and there my husband needs/wants to see more structured learning, making sure, kind of like you put it, the basic subjects are getting covered.

    Anyway, my point was that one thing that has to be present for unschooling is the buy in from BOTH parents (assuming they both live in the home and/or have educational authority)

    If you took the greed out of Wall Street all you’d have left is pavement ~Robert Reich

    by k8dd8d on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 09:37:22 PM PDT

    •  Definitely needs to be both parents... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FloridaSNMOM, EclecticCrafter

      because with the mountain of conventional wisdom behind sending kids to school, that urge is always going to trump the urge to let the auto-didact go.

      Our son Eric always resisted things that did not initiate from him.  Our daughter Emma was kind of the opposite, learning to do what adults wanted for their approval, kind of like a trained seal for awhile.  Both ended up gravitating to the unschooling as auto-didacts, though Emma has been big on finding various teachers and mentors to assist her, while Eric continues to learn things really mostly without the ongoing teachers or mentors.  

      Interesting similarities and differences between the two of them, and I am so awed by both as they continue to develop themselves.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 10:46:54 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  How did Jesus learn? (0+ / 0-)

    Dear Lefty parents: Eric is didactic because life needs to change in order to continue. We believe individuals are drawn to the information and knowledge which identifies their place and role in the world. The state ignores this and enforces education which serves the government, not the person.
    Jesus tapped into the power of prayer to inform Him of his choices and chose to follow the Cross to its destiny. We too tried to emulate that learning curve and found the following quoted analysis of reality which identifies the self but does so in the context of the divine SELF.

    Quote from THE GOD PARTICLE - NOT!

    We analysed the relationship between matter and thought in our early Diary back in 2009 but the moderators kicked us off Daily Kos as excessively Spiritual based on the fact that Daily Kos is intended to serve the American Political public, which public apparently denies any role to Jesus Christ in world affairs.

    The diary at http://www.dailykos.com/...
    ends with our offer to continue the analysis by explaining how "Numbers make the Universe" but we couldn't continue until we recently discovered the Site had admitted us back.

    Are you comfortable discussing Religion and Science as related topics?

    Modernity as a cultural context positions these lines of reasoning as opposites leaving one either a pragmatist convinced that matter is all there is or, whimsically happy to imagine there is a Heaven.

    Would you be willing to consider that the Garden of Eden was exactly such a Garden of Paradise because the Pre-Flood population lived within a totally spiritual reality which comprehended something that was lost under the water and never recovered?

    On these caveats let me describe an Einsteinian thought experiment in which Egyptian (or Babylonian) Scientist-Priests MEASURED THE LIGHT. Why would they do that? Because they lived in climates where they could do so and they sought the same elusive truth as we do, to answer the same questions: who are we and is there anybody out there who is with us?

    If matter precedes consciousness then the a' priori question is, how does consciousness arise therein? The struggle to find the smallest (God) particle of matter follows that line of analysis but even should anyone identify the very next sized piece of matter that is next to absolute space they would not have proved that consciousness is, or is not present in that MATTER-SPACE dyad.

    If you follow us to the alternative, that Consciousness exists within space and is never within matter, then it is feasible to draft a consistent model of reality in which our Universe operates as we find it operating. As other commentators argue, the languages of arithmetic, mathematics and the calculus will display the correct information about our model, or if we are wrong, will tell us so. The a' posteriori experience will either confirm or refute the a'priori position.

    ARITHMETIC was discovered a' posteriori when the sun's light was MEASURED.

    SPIRIT was confirmed when the numbers produced by said measuring formed the CLOCK and the COMPASS (by compass we mean the experience of directions which exceed Planet Earth and extend to Infinity). You understand that light has no material reality in our elementary sense (even though it is proved that light responds to matter). You may have concluded that light is a phenomenon which is also a nuomenon, it is the nuomenon known as light but also a phenomenon measured as another class of 'thing' within Quantum Mechanics.    

    Light impresses humans because it produces our experience of matter by the obvious contrast between light and non-light, or shade. In the beginning of the clock it was the shade which identified Time. Night and Day only differ by the degrees of light that we sense in our minds so what makes light?

    We will 'speak' in arithmetic after providing a 'Rosetta Stone' by which to translate Number Language to English. To translate the Noosphere (abstract knowledge) to the Physiosphere (material knowledge) merely replace the elements with their atomic number. Hydrogen is number 1 (one), Helium is #2 and so on upto some 81 elements. As you know and can confirm the light we see as the Sun is produced by the nuclear reaction of Hydrogen and Helium, so it can merely be said that number One and Two are reacting and their reaction delivers information to us on the surface of Planet Earth as light and darkness because of the orbits which infer Night and Day. We say infer because night and day are only apparent to us, not actual Nuomenon.

    Now draw a 24 hour clock and notice the four cardinal directions found at the locations of the 6 and the multiples of 6's, which are 6, 12, 18 and 24 (1 again). On each side of each of the 6 multiples a distinct pattern occurs which signals something overlooked by Materialists, that there are pairs of prime Numbers adjacent to each 6. If you understand the Primes you know that they are Infinite by always existing as themselves or as ONE (1) which means they are both real and are not limited by our reality.

    This fact establishes something radical about the common numbers, that they are not real but only exist in our experience of how the Sun interacts with the Earth and in our lives. Common numbers are temporary or temporal because they begin and end in our consciousness.

    #'s 1, 2 and 3 are Prime and 4 is the first common number. 5 and 7 are Prime and they hold 6 within their power. By that statement we mean that the common or ordinary numbers depend on the power of the Primes for their existence. You will SEE this when you draw lines connecting the Primes through the center of the clock. This act depicts a (Maltese or St. John's) Cross with arms extending forever outwardly and inwardly into Infinite space. Not only that but when one moves from the 24 hour experience of one day to a second day, and identifies the hours in a second circle of 24 hours, the arms of the Cross invariably still fall on Prime Numbers.

    This produces the a'priori fact that we inhabit Infinity before we arrive in our materialized world. The World we live in is found to be both Infinite and temporary when one IMAGINES these facts.

    Here is an oddity about the relation of the languages of Numbers and our language of words: every word that can be constructed out of letters will when those letters are counted and converted to the word we use in English (or any written language on the same or other translator values) reduce back to the number four (4). To test this take a word, count the letters then count the letters in the name of that number, and repeat until you arrive at FOUR which has the same number of letters as the name.

    Why is this a law? It has to do with the power of the six (6). We cannot sense Infinity directly but can know it in our minds. If Consciousness emerges from matter then because the Prime Number Cross exists as the actualized Phenomenon here described there would have to be an Infinite source of matter which is able to create Infinite space but that is not so, by our direct experience. Space exceeds Matter but Numbers exceed all of these.

    Infinity is neither material nor phenomenal but spatial because of the power in numbers that produces information and of course, consciousness consists of the ability to receive and to process and then to transmit such information.

    Consider 6 in this experiment: draw a dot for number 1 and below that draw two more ones side by side and repeat by drawing 3 dots, all in a triangle down to a line of 6 dots. On the first 'plane' you have Number One by itself within an Infinite space with no further information. Once you have the second plane you have drawn the model that Science calls the Big Bang, 1 (one dot) separated from 2 (two dots). When we do this on a page we see information which must have initiated our reality because of the identity complex forcing two to exist in distinction from One but simultaneously trying to destroy the second number in order to continue the reality of the 1 and Infinity. The Big Bang was either One escaping Infinity or Two (ones) escaping from One (one) and these Numbers must exert energy or power to remain in existence. Elements then develop out of more combinations of Number/Atoms until reaching the point of self-destruction as radioactivity. Radio active means passing back into infinity, or material death.

    Six, 6, and 666 are stars in the drama of creation because 1+2+3=6=1x2x3. If Prime Numbers deliver power to us then 6 provides the threshold between the Divine and the Mundane.  

    As soon as Two (Helium remember) exists 3 automatically comes into existence because the model depicts that 1 plus 2, or 1 versus 2, equals +3 or -3. [versus also produces a nuomenon as a negative number since in an Infinite model numbers are both positive and negative].
    Since the first three primes create 6 as the primary building block of the Universe then it can be concluded that the number and the word 6 constitutes the engine of the Universe.

    The existence of our Sun demonstrates that the model is valid up to this point.

    The Number 3 produces directions extending from Number 1 since the model we have drawn is only partially accurate by being a three dimensional form drawn on a flat 2-dimensional plane. There are actually 6 directions but we drop two in order to visualize and think about a multidimensional reality in only 3 dimensions.

    Going to the next plane of the 4 (four), you enter the potentially false reality of Human existence which is always merely temporary and a matter of what our words mean when our words can be either true or false (Numbers are always only true).

    The 5th plane is empowered by Infinity (Number 5 being prime) so you can accept the scripture that says: "heaven and Earth may pass away but MY (true) words never pass away."      

    And this brings us back to number six(6). Ahh 6, the fellow feared as 666.

    Now shade in your Triangle/pyramid and lo! you create the letter A.

    This bridges the gap between Nousphere and Physiosphere, resulting in history by empowering words with measures of energy according to their truthfulness in terms of Christ's story.

    Cybernetics studies the energy or power of words. Nicely you understand that your computer converts your letters to number values and back again at an almost infinite speed to convey complex imaginary information. Why do you think the Universe does this? How is it achieved?

    Simple. Every letter in the alphabet has a value relative to the model you just drew and in fact, the name for the letter "A" (6) is derived from this triangle/pyramid. B is valued at 12 and so on. The word for integers as a group is derived from the number/word which comes down to us as Atom.

    This experiment establishes that the Universe we inhabit is both Conscious and Infinite, while we occupy Planet Earth as a temporary chapter in the Adaawk (Tsalmsian for Story) of Christ. Being the idealized Human who is both Infinite and mortal and by dying on the (Prime Number) Cross, Christ informs us that we are all SPIRIT albeit free to choose any other belief.

    Go back now to the Clock with the PNCross and understand this, that the radials of that Cross proceed both to the Infinitely large and to the Infinitely small.

    This establishes the point made in the quoted sentence: that the center of that clock, for our experience, is located at ZERO (0). Therefore Consciousness exists within the space, not in the material which numbers can produce.

    Infinity and Zero are virtually identical so there will be no God Particle but there is the Divine Mind.

    I/WE (mortal me and Eternal S/HE) appreciate your perceptive question and hope the above essay answers you. If not, let us know and please tell us more about your own ideas as it helps to visualize those we admire."

    Leftyparent this ends the quoted essay

    Once a person knows their place in Heaven and on Earth they crave the knowledge they were born to possess in terms of that DRAMA and will be competent to face the Universe. They would be able to teach that knowledge to others without demanding submission to any position.

    Didactics cannot help resisting ideas which contradict their soul.

    We love that you as parents would never give up on Eric.

    You kept true to your own souls.

    Thank you

    Jj

    •  Yours is a whole diary behind the "hook"... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      EclecticCrafter, rosabw

      of an initial comment.  I don't know if trying to post your whole diary as a comment is an effective way to get around the DKOS "censors", but I can at least respond to your initial germane comment...

      Eric is didactic because life needs to change in order to continue. We believe individuals are drawn to the information and knowledge which identifies their place and role in the world. The state ignores this and enforces education which serves the government, not the person.
      I agree with you that there is a developmental imperative to life, that at least eventually, it needs to "change to continue".  The ability to learn on one's own, that is being an "auto-didact", is a critical human capability particularly in those times when human beings need to "change to continue".  Conventional wisdom, often driving the actions of our government, is generally not about change, but about continuity and inertia.  As Ken Robinson would say, an effective education these days prepares people to navigate in a very uncertain future, and it diminishes that navigation capability to have education be mostly conventional and just about what we know already.

      Like recorded accounts of Jesus' life document, he challenged the hierarchical authority and conventional wisdom of his time.  Whether you believe in his divinity or not, we maybe can agree that he pushed the human developmental envelope, and we can emulate this practice by continuing to encourage each other to do so today by not totally giving over control of learning process to the direction of the state and conventional wisdom.

      Cooper Zale Los Angeles http://www.leftyparent.com

      by leftyparent on Sun Jul 15, 2012 at 11:47:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Excellent, helpful, honest... (0+ / 0-)

    I share a lot of your thoughts/experience.  As a father of young children, I'm seriously considering "unschooling" as an option.  Also, you've handled the comments on this post very patiently.

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