Welcome back to my Blog. It’s been a while.
I have a couple projects on the go, but they’ve been on the go for a while. So, to fill in the space between those, I’ve decided to write this piece on my personal experience with home learning.
I’ve always been a little bit of a home learner. When I was in elementary school in Vancouver, we had an arrangement with the school that every Wednesday I would spend with my mom, and do stuff with her. This could mean a lot of things, from drawing, to going for a walk, to gardening; the time I spent with her was always educational in a way that school couldn’t deliver to me. This time I spent with her was also where I wrote my first blog posts, including this one. Make sure to read the comments, because some are absolutely hilarious, such as me demanding MORE COMMENTS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! with all my classmates typing like they had just discovered caps lock and exclamation marks, which, to be fair, they probably just had.
So fast forward to a little bit less than a year ago. Our lease ran out, and we made a decision. Mom’s contracts could be could be done remotely, so after much fantasizing and talking it over we decided on this plan: over the next school year, I would go into a homeschooling program and we would travel around, staying with friends and family. At that time, school was being quite stressful, on top of a couple of really stressful years personally so I was ready for a change. And I definitely am happy I went for it.
The program I went with was called SelfDesign. It’s fully accredited with the BC Ministry of Education. At the beginning of the year, I worked with my mom and Chris, the learning consultant we chose, to plan how I was going to learn for each subject area. For instance, I choose to read a graphic novel called Climate Changed for my science. And at the end of each week, I wrote a reflection on what I did each week and sent it to Chris. It was a correspondence because she would reply and ask questions or give me suggestions of how I might dig deeper. The learning consultant offers guidance on what to do for the subjects and also relates what you do to the Ministry requirements for your grade. Basically, they are the people stopping you from playing video games for science or whatever.
But the thing I really like about the program was that I really could choose what I wanted to learn. In my entire time there, no idea I proposed was ever denied. I ended up reading a book on indigenous history and rights for social studies. I did Photoshop and FL studio for music and art. I listened to a Spanish podcast for second language. In this way, I was really able to learn in the way I do best. So hell, if I had picked the right game and made a good enough case for it, I likely could have been playing video games for science.
The program also let me have a lot of freedom as well. One of my concerns going in would be focus. How good would I be able to do work without a Teacher’s assistant breathing down my neck? Well, surprisingly good. I think that because the system was tailored to me, by me, I always felt very engaged. But it gave me freedom in other ways.
So let’s start with the travel. I went to a total of six destinations: Toronto, Vancouver, New York city, Mexico city, and Guanajuato, and a small town in Nova Scotia called Kingsburg. I’d been to Vancouver and Toronto before, and I wrote respective blog posts about New York city and Mexico. As for Nova Scotia, well, the reason I didn’t write about it would be a little boring to read about that time. It was very beautiful, and I loved the tranquility of it. Doesn’t make great writing, though.
Easily the worst bit of high school, more than the handful of bad and mediocre teachers, more than the tests, is the mornings. At least to me. Last year, they were brutal. And it wasn’t like I was going to bed at one in the morning or anything, but it was just too early and I was getting too little sleep. But, now I’m in charge of my school, I choose the start time. And even those two extra hours made a world of difference. I was able to get up in the mornings without my mom having to drag me out of bed. And if I did sleep in, there was no frenzied rush. It just meant that school would go a bit later than usual. It meant I was more productive too because I was able to go into my day with passion and energy, instead of the first one or two classes just being places to stare at a whiteboard, barely taking in anything the teachers saying, no matter how important.
However, despite the benefits of home learning, I still am going back to school in Kamloops next year for two simple reasons.
One, it’s easier to graduate high school if you are, you know, in a high school. And two, honestly the bigger reason for me, is friends. I’ve missed the people in high school a lot this year, and while social media and the internet, in general, has done a lot for keeping in touch with friends, it’s still lonely when your daily contacts go from a classroom of people down to just about four or five close friends.
But, overall, I’m very glad I choose to do this year. It’s been a great adventure, and, if you’re sick of school and want a change, and any of the benefits I listed (or all of them) sound compelling than I would suggest thinking it over. Just know about the potential downsides.
Thanks for reading.