One reason Aidan is glad he left traditional school? Too many rules. He’s an old soul and, while he’s no trouble maker, he has little patience with ridiculous rules. We’ve promised him this post for over a year…
Imagine you are 10 years old. You’ve returned to 4th grade after touring around the UK for three weeks with just a backpack. While away, you’ve traveled via plane, bus, train, subway, ferry, and foot. You navigated the London Tube on your own, initiated an unscheduled meeting with an intern at the Scottish Parliament, and scaled the centuries-old castle walls in Conwy, Wales. After returning to school and showing your class a comprehensive PowerPoint summary of your travels, you go to your first recess and see…
The Geodome! The Geodome has arrived!
You’d been awaiting the arrival of the new playground equipment, which was purchased with money raised through cookie dough, frozen pizza, and McDonald’s fundraisers. Despite being a kid, the irony in this fact doesn’t escape you.
Just as you attempt to tackle the hemispherical-shaped climbing structure, your best friend says, “Oh, sorry Aidan, our class can’t play on it yet. We haven’t been trained.”
Gulp. Trained? To play?
Two weeks later, and four weeks after the equipment has arrived, you receive the necessary Geodome “training”, which is actually a list of “do’s” and “do not’s”, a.k.a. Rules. For example:
- Three body parts (arms or legs) must be touching the equipment at all times.
- No hanging upside down or flipping/swinging on it.
- No going under the Geodome.
These rules were in addition to the general playground rules including, but not limited to:
- No balls on the playground.
- No playing tag.
- No twisting on the swings.
- No pushing on the swings.
- No getting on top of the bars.
- No hanging your rear end through the tire swing.
- No going under the monkey bars/swings.
- No standing on the swings.
- No swinging from the bars holding the swing set.
- No climbing up the corkscrew, or sliding down the support poles.
- No climbing up, or jumping from, the slide.
Other than that…have a great time!
Later that summer, while at the school for a local farmer’s market, Aidan saw the playground and said, “Awesome! We can actually play on the playground since school isn’t in session!” After a few minutes of luscious rebellion, Aidan asked me to photograph his escapades and do a blog post on it. So, here you are. These are all pictures of what NOT to do at his former school. Hopefully the statute of limitations has run for these infractions.
Warning – While no children were harmed in the creation of this blog post, the following photos are not for the faint of heart. VIEWER DISCRETION IS ADVISED!
In all seriousness, we started homeschooling, in part, because we felt both boys losing their zest for learning. In conferences, teachers lauded the fact they boys we so “easy to have in class” and seemed surprised by, and unprepared to answer, our questions about how the boys were progressing academically. It seemed the school’s purpose was to spread conformity through the imposition of rules – learning was secondary.
Though we planned on homeschooling, we decided to attend the middle school orientation to make sure we were making the right decision. At the orientation, we were dismayed to see that the facility was proudly run more like a prison than a school, with strict schedules meant to minimize any free-time which might lead to…I guess…bad stuff? Meanwhile, I don’t recall the word “learn” mentioned – not even once. School was becoming a place for our children to be deposited – not developed.
Homeschooling is not perfect; we’re figuring it out as we go. But the boys actually seem to function better, and learn more efficiently, in this setting. They appreciate the independence and flexibility homeschooling brings and have shown that they do not need rules directing their every activity. While it’s possible Aidan will encounter some playground equipment that he’s unable to play on without training, for now, we’re willing to take the risk.