What Does SCHOOL Mean to YOU?

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I just had the most interesting discussion with three neighbor boys this morning.

The snow is deep, schools are canceled, including our co-op classes at LEARN, so when I noticed the neighborhood boys out, I urged Emily to go join them and have some fun outside after a full day inside yesterday.

Before long, all four kids were inside our house and Emily announced that she needed help making hot chocolate for everyone. Like us, she is eager to feed and entertain others. I put the water on to boil, got the cups, chocolate packets and marshmallows ready and we went to look at the egg in the incubator.

As I attempted to candle the egg, Anthony said, “Every time I visit, I feel so slow, you guys know EVERYTHING!”

“Well, we know a lot, that’s for sure. But hardly everything.”

Caleb followed it up with the THE QUESTION, “Why doesn’t Emily go to a REAL school?”

I smiled and tilted my head, “She does go to a real school…here at home…through co-ops, at friend’s houses, her school is everywhere.”

He looked confused. So I asked him, “Caleb, I have a question for you. What does SCHOOL mean to YOU?”

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There were three voices talking in unison within seconds.

“Prison.”
“Juvie.”
“I hate it.”
“My teachers hate me.”
“I never learn anything useful.”

I explained to them that I was an auto-didact and asked them if they knew what it meant. There were plenty of guesses around homeschooling your kid and being a parent, but none of them knew. “It means I am a self-learner, a lifetime learner. I love to learn, and I hope you do to.”

We talked about the difference between ‘going to school’ and ‘getting an education.’ And the boys told me things they liked (science) and didn’t (math and history). David, Anthony’s younger brother said, “Why do I have to learn about the Civil War? It’s stupid!”

“I’ll have to disagree with you on that, David.” I smiled, “Ever hear the saying, ‘Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it?’” He frowned thoughtfully.

As we drank hot chocolate we played Mad Libs. At first they weren’t excited about coming up with nouns, verbs and adjectives, but once I read the first one they enjoyed it and wanted to do more.

Later the talk drifted to the metric system (Anthony had noticed the different measurements written on the blackboard wall in the homeschool room) and we also discussed Farenheit and Celsius.

We discussed tests (or as I called them – regurgitation) and Caleb said, “Tests tell us what we learned.”

“Do they?” I asked in return, “Or do they simply tell you what you have temporarily memorized?”

He looked thoughtful, “Huh, I never thought of it like that.”

Above all, I kept it low-key, relaxed and fun. I told them that they were in charge of their education. That they needed to keep that as important, above or separate from school if need be.

And then they were off, to shovel driveways for cash, with Emily in tow.

I was reminded that, no matter how frustrated I get with them, these are good kids. They are kind, curious, and WANT to learn.

I am fascinated by them.

(This post was originally published on Bubblews at: http://www.bubblews.com/news/2254159-what-does-school-mean-to-you)

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