Friday, February 27, 2009

Shaken Up

We have a pretty good talk radio station around these parts. We get our Dave Ramsey fix each evening at that place on the dial. And, the man in the afternoon in Neal Boortz. I just started catching his show occassionally since the Vikings have given up afternoon naps and we're often out and about now that time of day.

Boortz could give Rush Limbaugh a run for his money and make him feel like a softie! LOL Critical. Opinionated. Smart as a whip. Knows his history and his Constitution. Unlike Limbaugh, Boortz leans more towards the libertarian side of the political boat.

He has *really* strong feelings about pretty much anything political but saves some of his strongest rants for his complete disappointment in "government schools". He feels they're a complete waste and are producing sub-standard minds unprepared for any participation in the democratic process.

Boortz often refers to books on education written by John Taylor Gatto. Gatto is another "radical" who is WAY out of the mainstream educational thought. Among a ton of other things, Gatto taught school for 30 years in NYC, winning several awards. But, he walked away disgusted with all that he saw.

You'd have to read his books to get the general gist of his theory. I'm reading my first, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling. And, it is rocking my world. It touches on all the things DaHubby and I are been working on seeing clearly for ourselves the last few years: finances, our society's drive for consumption, education, homeschooling, self-reliance, and parenting.

But, one part of the book hit me to the core...and, unfortunately, I read it right before going to kindergarten roundup last night! LOL

In the chapter entitled "The Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher", he lists the seven things public/government schools REALLY teach...and with a teaching certificate from the State of Michigan and few years of classroom experience under my belt, it's hard to argue against.

"Teaching means different things in different places, but seven lessons are universally taught from Harlem to Hollywood Hills. They constitute a national curriculum you pay for in more ways than you can imagine...believe me when I say I intend no irony in this presentation. These are the thing I teach; these are the things you pay me to teach. Make of them what you will."

And the ten pages refer to the those "lessons" with lengthy and powerful examples:

1. confusion
2. class position
3. indifference
4. emotional dependency
5. intellectual dependency
6. provisional self-esteem
7. that one can't hide

So, when I attended round up last night, well-meaning administrators and teachers are explaining how their classrooms work, what the kids will learn, and the expectations of the parents. And, all I can hear are old rusty metal gears of bureaucracy beginning to moan and squeal as the prepare to pull in Flicka in this educational machinery.

And, it breaks my heart.

And, the school handed out a large packet with several pages of forms needing unheard of amounts of verification, signatures, and authorization. They're asking for a ridiculous amount of information that lets them into the up-to-this-point private matters of our family. And, I feel a sense of suffocation, of opening the door to something that could completely take over. You want to see my mortgage paperwork to prove I live here? I don't think so!

And, I get angry.

So much of this is a gut reaction that I can't rationally explain - and that's frustrating to me. And, I know that the school-of-choice option we're also looking at is still a public school. But, the best way I can explain it is this:

DaHubby and I walked into our current church home without knowing a single soul. We'd met the pastor in passing through my in-laws. There were no children in the congregation yet we had been trying for years to conceive. We knew nothing about the denomination and its history other than knowing it was of the Pentecostal strain. And, 2 weeks after starting there, that pastor - the only person we really knew - accepted a call out of state. BUT! We sensed immediately that this was "home," where we needed to be despite all the outward indications that is wasn't a great fit.

And, that how we've felt about this school-of-choice option.

We walked in and felt like family. Flicka walked in and appeared to feel right at home. The school is small so it's like getting an expensive private school education for free! LOL

But, I still have my momma defenses up. After reading Gatto's book (and I hope to read others), I'm reminded that I don't want "good little sheep." I want kids with strong convictions, strong minds, and exceptional critical thinking.

Despite the outward indications, I think we're making the best choice for Flicka and this family.


Shannon said...

Nicely put! I read Dumbing... also and it sure is scary! So hard to know if we are making the right choices for our children! I guess all we can really do is keep a watchful eye and a prayer in our hearts.

Ethelapple said...

That book is really fantastic...and I felt completely blown away at our "kindergarten round up" (that's why we're homeschooling now) -- and literally signs from God have kept us homeschooling this past 3 years. BUT each family must decide what's best for each kid with God's help, and follow that path. That may mean that even in a family, two kids get two very different types of education. I know one family who homeschools one, sends one to charter school, and sends one to public school for special needs. Gotta do what you gotta do!
*Hugs* and *Blessings* to you!

sara said...

You might find this blog post encouraging.

Christina said...

Oh how I can totally relate to the worries about sending your precious little one out there to school.

Emily will not start Kindergarten next year, partly because of missing the cut-off date, mostly because I think she will benefit from an extra year to prepare.

Just yesterday, Andrew and I were talking about how very reluctant we are to put her in one of the local public schools. I think more and more, we are leaning to a Christian school...even though those options are so limited here, as are some of the extra curricular options. However, I am strongly convinced that if we're simply sending her to a public school because of the extra stuff they can offer, it's not worth it.

It scary and sad.

GiBee said...

Wait -- WHAT? You have to show mortgage papers to prove residency? Ridiculous...