It’s been a while.
Since I last blogged, I’ve finished the semester (which included grading hundreds–actually, more like over a thousand–pages, finishing up an independent study, advising, and the usual, frantic wrapping up of multiple committees), continued homeschooling M, prepped my summer course, begun teaching said course, submitted two proposals for next year’s CCCC, served as a Stage I reviewer for next year’s CCCC, and started work on my tenure dossier. Of course, there have been the usual run of the mill issues thrown in there, too–various illnesses, doctor’s appointments, plagiarism cases, etc.
I’m starting to feel like maybe I can pause for a second and catch my breath. Who knows how long that feeling will last, but at least I managed to read a book (for fun!) this weekend. That was my Mother’s Day gift to myself.
I’ve enjoyed homeschooling M. I will really miss it next year. I truly wish we could continue, but I just don’t see how I can swing it for an entire academic year. I was able to do it these last several weeks because it was an emergency situation, but long-term homeschooling simply is not a viable option. I know that, but that still doesn’t change the fact that I’ll miss being able to turn around during my office hours and see her engrossed in a book.
Homeschooling has been good for M in many ways. It’s helped her recover her emotional equilibrium; she is so much happier, and there have been virtually no issues with anxiety. Her love of learning has become evident again. Being able to pursue subjects she’s interested in but hasn’t had the opportunity to pursue to her liking has been enormously satisfying for her. She wanted to study rivers and wetlands, so that’s where we’ve been focusing our attention in science. Her class very briefly studied Native American culture last fall; she was in a group that had to learn about tools used for hunting and cooking. She wanted to learn far more, so in social studies we’re learning about Native American history. Given the fact that Fort Wayne was built on three rivers and that the rivers were extremely important to the Miami Nation who were the natives of this area, we’ve been able to blend science and social studies together quite nicely. That is one of the things I’ve loved the most–being able to show her how learning doesn’t have to be broken up into discrete subjects. Her interest in rivers/wetlands and Native Americans have carried us across science, history, political science, literature, writing, and art.
Academically, she has grown tremendously. I had to move her up to a fifth grade math book (we’re using Saxon 6/5), and she’s still breezing through it. Her confidence in her mathematical abilities has grown enormously. She has mastered multiplication and simple division (still working on long division), but most importantly, she knows she’s mastered it. She did not have that certainty before. It’s so nice to see her enjoy math and to not constantly second-guess herself. She’d never written a book report before we started homeschooling. Thanks to homeschooling, she has learned about the origins of our country. She had heard of the Declaration of Independence, but she didn’t know that the colonists were declaring their independence from England. She had never heard of the French-Indian War, the Boston Tea Party, the Revolutionary War/War of Independence, or the War of 1812. While she had heard of Paul Revere, she didn’t know what he did that made him famous.
If you’re wondering why she didn’t know these things, it’s because history is taught very sparingly in Indiana now, because the kids aren’t tested on it during the I-STEP (Indiana’s standardized test) until fifth grade. Everything is done with an eye to the test, and if a subject isn’t being tested that year, then very little of it will be taught. I can’t blame the schools, because they didn’t choose this lunacy, but IMHO, this is what is absolutely destroying public education in this country.
So, I’m proud of what M has accomplished. Although I have days where my patience runs out and I snap (like today), for the most part I’m happy with what I’ve been able to do for her education. I try to hang on to that, because I’ve had some bad days lately (emotionally/mentally). For various reasons, I feel very alone. Well, I don’t just feel alone–I am alone. During the past three weeks, the only time I’ve had a conversation with an adult that lasted longer than 10 minutes was when I was paying that person (i.e., my doctor and my therapist). I don’t see that situation changing much until fall semester begins.
One positive decision I’ve made lately is to deactivate my Facebook account. While FB can be beneficial in some ways, lately I think it has not been good for me. It made me feel even more isolated, which is not what I need right now. I realize the idea of FB making one feel more isolated rather than less so might sound counter-intuitive, but that has been my recent experience. I am sure my absence won’t last for long; I’ve discovered since deactivating just how much FB permeates modern life. It has been difficult to log into certain websites and applications without a FB account, and trying to communicate outside of FB with babysitters is arduous.
Given that, I don’t know how long I’ll be able to stay away, but I think even the short absence I’ve had so far has been beneficial.