Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Homework angst

School is proving to be a mixed blessing. I am enjoying long hours of time to myself, but the payoff is questionable. My 8th grader was warned that his math homework alone would be an hour each night. Until 6th grade he was unschooled so he loves his freedom and has a long list of things he wants to do with that precious free time. He had homework in three classes last night.

After the homework was done he just vegged out. He couldn't get himself going for anything more than music practice, and then he migrated between the tv and the computer. He talked with me about it later. He said when he gets home he has all these things he wants to do, but he is determined to do his homework first. The problem is that the homework takes away all his motivation and when he finishes it, he is bored and restless and nothing sounds interesting anymore.

The school choice is his choice. He likes being around people. But he would like more choice and less busy work and unnecessary homework. He wishes there was time for quiz bowl, but with homework and music it seems impossible. I chafe at this. Quiz bowl would be just as valuable learning as the other stuff. Why can't all learning count as education? Including homework, bus and practice, school is taking 9-11 hours of his day. This is without sports. When can he participate in real life, or even do his share of the chores around here?

At night he wants to catch as much public television as he can to learn for himself about the world. He is still curious and motivated to find his own answers. Yesterday he was talking about one of his classes, and how he realized that even with the correct answers he would not get a good grade unless the answers were worded in a way that pleased the teacher. This teacher likes long answers, so he has learned to be wordy in that class---and it works.

I have to remind myself that this is his life and he knows both options are available to him.


In the last three days two teenagers have come to our door after wrecking their cars nearby. We live on a sand road and it is easy to loose control in a patch of thicker sand, especially at higher speeds. The first teenager flipped the car twice and broke all the windows in her car. She ran a quarter mile to our house, very shaken and sparkling with tiny bits of glass, but otherwise unharmed. She had her seatbelt on. The second hit a telephone pole (I haven't seen the car yet so I don't know how bad it was).

This morning my son had wanted to ride his bike to school, and I love that he wants to bike and is willing to carry a heavy backpack six miles on a bike. But I worry about the local teenage (and older) drivers who fly over these sand roads late to work/school in the mornings. He rode the bus today.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Starting out

I've already been working on this blog for over an hour because my indecision has me paralysed. I will have to live forever with the title of the blog and the username and the name that I sign my posts with and what if I don't like them after only a short while and...well, I don't really know. Meanwhile my son sits beside me and makes helpful suggestions while hoping that his laundry will do itself magically and be folded neatly in his drawer when he wakes up tomorrow morning. He is an optimist. I like that about him.