Category Archives: school

My Feelings About My Education Program


I started my education program last week. I’m now finishing my second week and thought it would be a good time to discuss my thoughts so far.

I have to say that I’m really excited with how things are going. I was a bit worried that my classes would basically be somebody lecturing us on how to teach properly, but that is not what’s happening at all. To start with, I have learned that my province (and eventually all of Canada) is trying to phase out standardized testing. That makes me very happy. I don’t think tests are necessarily a bad thing, but I also don’t think they show a child’s true understanding. I look forward to being able to see my students grow without feeling like I have to grade them unfairly. I’m also happy that my classes are very theory based. No, this doesn’t mean they lack any “practical” aspect. As one of my professors stated, all knowledge is theoretical. What it means is I’m gaining ideas. A ton of them. I’m able to see how I can use things that I never would have considered in an educational manner. I’m actually able to picture myself as a teacher, and I’m growing with my classmates.

So far we’ve been doing a lot of group discussions and projects. I have already facilitated a discussion with one of my groups. I am very happy with how well that went, because it got as thinking deeply about how to teach students with different cultural and language backgrounds from our own. I have also started to work with a group on deconstructing a math concept. We aren’t learning the math we’ll be teaching, but we are learning how to teach the math in a way that the students can understand it. And we are doing this by figuring out how to actually deconstruct a problem to teach our classmates. Later in the same class we will be doing something similar with programming. We are learning how to learn so that we can understand how to teach. We’re also learning various theories of education, basically how teaching has changed over time and various ideas about how to bring education into the 21st century (my teachers are all quite critical of the current education system and are very interested in helping us be the teachers that make the system evolve). My last class has us thinking about student-centered learning and creating an engaged classroom. Again, we’re doing this through group discussions, all of which have been very lively so far.

Soon I will enter my first practicum. This semester I will simply be observing a teacher, but I will eventually be given control of a classroom. I’m nervous about that, but I’m far more excited. Given how impressed I am so far, I see no reason to not think the rest of my program won’t go as well. I’m now looking forward to teaching even more than I was before, and I’m able to see what’s happening in the public school system today with a new light. Things aren’t perfect, and I still want to homeschool, but maybe I’ll change my mind when I enter the system and am able to help lead the change that I and many others feel is necessary.


Is Homeschooling for the Parent or the Child?


School has started back up again, so I’ve been quite busy. However, I will discuss my thoughts on becoming a teacher in my next post.

As many of you now know, Withteeth and I are considering homeschooling. But we tend not to fall in with the mainstream homeschoolers. Simply being atheists makes that obvious, but there is an even deeper issue we disagree with. As we have looked into homeschooling, we came to learn that we will need to have somebody come and ensure that our children are progressing as they should in order to be allowed to continue to homeschool. It doesn’t sound like this is new, but a number of homeschoolers in our area seem to be angry with changes that are being made. Many seem convinced that our government is trying to get rid of homeschooling. Personally, I don’t see that happening, but I’m still learning so I guess I could be wrong (though I also support our government, so maybe I’m biased :P).

I’ve seen similar complaints from American homeschoolers, which has me thinking: who is homeschooling for? I want to homeschool for my children, if that is the best option for them. I’m not dead set on homeschooling, because I don’t yet know what will be best for my children. But that is what all homeschoolers say. I’ve yet to here a parent say that they homeschool for their own benefit, but the complaints I hear make me wonder. For example, many parents want the government to just let them do whatever they want. They don’t want regulations, they don’t want monitoring, they just want to be allowed to do as they will with their children. And many want all that while they receive funding from the government. To a certain degree, I can understand that (well, not the funding part). It seems like the government doesn’t trust parents to raise their own kids. It seems like an intrusion. But only if homeschooling is for the parent. Think about it: it’s the parent who is being monitored. It’s their teaching that is being graded. If the child doesn’t do well, then the parent is told to find a more effective solution. Parents don’t want to be told that somebody can educate their child better than they can, but sometimes somebody can educate the child better. This isn’t saying the parent is incompetent, or a bad teacher. It’s simply saying that the child needs to learn differently. And how is that a bad thing? We’re trying to prepare that child for the future. They are the ones who suffer if they are educated badly. They are the ones who will take over when we leave the workforce. We want them to be as well prepared as possible. We want them to do well, both personally and as a group. That’s why education is supposed to be about them. So why are parents so angry that the government wants that as well?

I’m sure a number of people will assume I’m being naive. I know a lot of people mistrust the government. I don’t think the government is perfect. But it’s also not a single living entity that could possibly come after me. The government is a non-living entity built up of hundreds of thousands of ever-changing people. Maybe some of them are spying on me. One might be doing so right now. I don’t know. I don’t really care. If the government does something I disagree with, I’ll find a way to fight back. I can protest, I can send e-mails, I can vote. I have a voice, and I make use of it. I’ll continue to make use of it when I find myself confronted by awful things in the future. But the government trying to protect my children is not one of those awful things. Even if they are trying to protect them from me. After all, I am the biggest threat against my child. All parents are their own child’s biggest threat. As awful as it sounds, that’s the simple truth. I might know that I won’t abuse my own children, and I might know that I fully intend to educate them, but nobody else can know that. Nobody else can read my mind. So why wouldn’t I be okay with a certain amount of monitoring. After all, who is homechooling for? Me? Or my child?


Our First Homeschool Conference


Ugh, today has not been our day. Withteeth and I went to a homeschool conference today and I have to say I was not impressed. I should start by saying it was the first secular conference in our area, the rest are all fairly fundamentalist Christian. As such, I do think they need to be given some slack. It really just wasn’t what I was expecting.

The conference wasn’t really very well organized. It was supposed to start at 9am, but they weren’t set up and ready to go until 9:30. They didn’t really have anyone to round up all the people either, so every lecture/discussion began late. It was smaller than I thought it would be, but that was a positive thing. I would have preferred two sets of lectures, one for those just learning about homeschooling and one for those who already had an understanding of what they were doing, because, despite not actually homeschooling yet, I found the information to be too basic. There also wasn’t really any time set aside to network. I find it difficult to network at the best of times, but Withteeth find networking the best part of conferences. While he isn’t as into the whole homeschooling thing as I am yet (he wants to wait until it’s actually time to start homeschooling before he thinks about it), I know that he would have felt better about the conference had  we talked to people. I might have been more inclined to talk to people had I felt that networking had been intended, and had things been set up in such a way to make networking more comfortable. I was, however, impressed with the resources available. They had some workbooks and curricula available to purchase, but they also had a ton of catalogues available that offered various types of homeschooling-esk products available. Everything from classroom furniture to play stuff and games to art supplies and workbooks. I probably could have been happy spending the entire conference looking through the catalogues. I also enjoyed the documentary, Class Dismissed, that they showed after the lunch break.It definitely made me feel more confident about our wish to homeschool.

Have any of you been to a homeschool conference before? What did it look like? Was it worth attending? Why or why not?


Real or Not?


It is really easy to dismiss anything we cannot see. It’s something we as humans do often, whether we realise it or not. As an atheist, one of my biggest reasons for not believing in any gods is that I can’t see them. But that alone isn’t enough. I also can’t sense them in any other way. No piece of equipment will allow me to sense a god. But what about the things we can sense with the help of technology? Mental illnesses and developmental disabilities are often dismissed because we can’t see them. At least, we can’t see them without the help of technology or other processes. Those of us who live with the issues notice them. We can see them in the way that others respond to things that are so normal to most people yet so strange to us. But the average person seems blind to the things that are so obvious to me.

Take ADHD for example: so many people argue that ADHD isn’t real. That it’s just adults not letting kids be kids. This is probably true in some cases. Many adults do seem to be under the impression that children are to be sen and not heard. But that doesn’t mean that ADHD doesn’t exist. I wasn’t even diagnosed until shortly after my 27th birthday. But I can see, and have always seen, how my hyper-activity level is higher than most. Anybody who has seen someone with ADHD knows how their behaviour is different from most. The problem is, the average person doesn’t know what they are seeing. I’m hyper-active, but not all people with ADHD are. For those who are interested in learning more about ADHD, here is a great link that lists the common symptoms: http://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/guide/adhd-symptoms.

For me, I’m pretty stereotypical as far as ADHD goes. Like I said, I’m hyper-active. I struggle to sit still for long periods of time, I like to move, heck, I still like to climb things. I pretty much have the activity level of the average 10 year old rather than someone who is nearly middle age. I also struggle to pay attention and often lose focus and daydream. Basically, the “Squirrel!” joke is aimed at people with my type of ADHD. But I still didn’t even consider ADHD as a possibility until about a year ago. I knew three boys with different types and degrees of ADHD. Two of them were a lot like me. But they were boys. I may be genderqueer, but most people still read me as a girl (or a woman depending on how proper they want to be). To most people, that means I can’t have ADHD, or, at least, I have a low chance of having it. It didn’t matter that my teacher saw how I behaved next to the kid that already had the ADHD diagnosis. It didn’t matter that I struggled to sit still and pay attention. It didn’t matter that all of my books were covered in doodles and I spent more time looking out the window than at the board. I was a girl. Girls can’t have ADHD. So I never considered it for myself. After all, if I had ADHD, wouldn’t somebody have noticed?

But people don’t notice. I had to be the one to pay attention, because I was the one who was struggling. I had to notice that my anxiety didn’t seem to fit the patterns of anxiety of those around me. I’m socially awkward, but don’t have the symptoms of social anxiety. I had to be the one who thought that may mean autism. Even my doctor and therapist thought I must “just” have social anxiety. It didn’t matter that my “social anxiety” didn’t fit with how social anxiety tends to work. I don’t like being surrounded by people, I get uncomfortable, but I don’t seem to feel the need to socialize that people with social anxiety tend to feel. I don’t desire human company very often. In fact, I rarely ever think about it. But nobody took notice of that. They labelled me as shy without noticing my lack of interest. They also tend not to notice the actual symptoms of my anxiety. They don’t notice when I shut down. They don’t notice when the noise gets too much. They assume I’m just quiet or disinterested, they assume I’m being rude. In short, they ignored the symptoms in order to see what they wanted to see. And that makes it so much easier to deny the existence of something a person doesn’t experience themself. They can just say I’m rude or lazy, or simply shy, rather than accepting what I struggle with.

All of the things that nobody saw drive me towards wanting to teach. It is so difficult for kids to describe what is bothering them. They throw fits because they don’t necessarily have the words to describe how they feel. But adults often just assume that the fits are a result of a lack of discipline or from the child being spoiled. They tend not to consider other factors. I don’t know how good a teacher I’ll be. I certainly don’t fit the type of person who goes into teaching. But I want to see what others won’t bother looking for. I want to prevent kids from falling through the cracks like I did. Because life is much easier when you can identify the things you struggle with. Once you can identify those things, it becomes possible to find ways to cope, however that tends to look for that person.


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