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Monday, January 24, 2011

The Day the Teacher Threw Us Out

The black plastic recorder contrasted nicely with the sheet music in front of me. I was at a weekly homeschool group. We were doing our music lesson. Well, we were supposed to be doing our music lesson.

Come to think of it, I wasn't thinking about my recorder or the music. I was goofing off. So where the handful of other kids. I don't remember what had us so amped. I can't recall why we were giddy. I don't even remember being that abnormally off the wall. But we mindlessly brought our teacher--a sweet homeschool mom--to the end of her rope.

"That's it!" she finally bellowed. "If you're not interested in learning, just take your games outside."

The room fell silent. What were we supposed to do?

"Go," she commanded.

We went.

I placed my recorder on the railing of the back deck. The joy had left our game. We tried to play, but it was half-hearted. We had failed. We had broken the system. And, I learned that day, there comes a point where being a rebel isn't fun anymore.

I realized I needed to share this story after Susan blogged about her unmotivated son. I am definitely one of those bloggers who extols the benefits of homeschooling when it comes to the love of learning. I mean, I'm blogging for a company that guarantees you'll love homeschooling. Even so, there are times and there are subjects that simply require putting your nose to the grindstone. There are days when it may be better to just go outside and play. Effort isn't always equated with joy.

But when you see progress because of your effort?
When you begin to gain mastery?
When you use tools that resonate with you?
When you've got a system that works for you and your family?

Then--then--homeschooling is a joy. Not always. Not in everything. But in general. Overall you and your children will love learning together. And it could be that you need to find those resources that inspire your students. I had to switch math programs one year because the one I had was boring me to death. After we moved to a math program that was more in line with my personality, I again rocked in math.

When do you notice your students are unmotivated? What do you do when you feel like you're constantly reminding them to keep working? Have you ever kicked your kids out of class?

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester


Michelle said...

yes, I have kicked my kids out of class. Not at the same time, but individually; and not often.

My oldest is smart, but tends to be lazy. Last year, I was pulling my hair out. This year, he's in 7th grade and wanted to go to three evening events a week.

I said, "Yes, but I'm going to start grading your work. The number of events you may attend depends upon your weekly GPA."

It took about three weeks for him to figure out that doing his work was better than not doing it. He's had a hard time coming back after Christmas break, but I'm not pulling my hair out. I'm giving him lower grades, and he's staying home more.

I think we'll be having another talk soon about finishing schoolwork means higher grades; paying attention to what you're doing means higher grades and more fun.

But meanwhile, I'm cool, calm & collected. Well, most of the time. :)


Catherine (Alecat Music) said...

My Nana used to have a good expression when we were mucking up too much. She'd say "go and have a funny run!" and quickly shoo us out to play.

Nana didn't homeschool us, but she did often help mind us when Mum needed a break.

I watch for signs in my children now when they're not getting it, looking around the room, fidgeting and the like ... and I'll usually send them for 10 mins outside to break the blank thought patterns.

When we're all back again, it's either easier to focus, or there's another issue. Sometimes we've had to put pens down for that subject for the day, and we come back to it another day with more success. Sometimes I need to think about another approach. Most of the time, their brains are too distracted and they just need time out.

Monica said...

I'm struggling with this right now.. I know part of it is my fault. due to financial issues and the birth of a baby, we had a very extended "vacation" in which they did some school, but not much. Now, I'm trying to get back at it, and my oldest is completely slacking off. He won't do his memory work, won't read his readers.. he's 14, and it's high time he gets in gear. He's not a scholar, and I don't expect him to be, but I do expect him to get his school and chores done. All he wants to do is play. I know it's normal to a point, but it's very discouraging when everyone just looks at you and laughs, saying it'll get worse. I can't handle worse! And laughing at me only makes me feel worse, doesn't give me any constructive help at all! I'm nearly to the point of just wanting to be away from them all, and I know deep down, I don't want that truly. But the daily fight is just so hard...
Any suggestions? We don't have a tv or video games, so removing those is out. His only "extra curricular" is music, and I don't consider that extra. I know boys get wild in their teens, but I really need some loving, Helpful advice. He hasn't figures out that sometimes goofing off just isn't appropriate... :( I feel like such a failure...

Susan said...

Thank you for linking to my post.

I think it's important to find the right balance between study and play. Boys have energy they need to literally run off and sitting and studying doesn't engage all the muscles:-)

I try to keep that in mind, but it seems they also know how to take advantage of any little thing to run off and play. Like when the baby decides to clean the potty with someone's toothbrush. True story.

It takes a lot of prayer and determination. A teacher in a school might give up on them, but I won't.

se7en said...

I am loving your blog right now!!! Reading away and not a whole lot to say... Except today I can say we have a lot of restless boys in our school and one in particular that dashes away every time I turn my head... I have often said - just go and play and get it out of your system... I have never managed to drip mountains of guilt into it... so to be honest they dash away with glee!!!

The funny thing is they really love school, I know really weird homeschool kids, and they do eventually come back and finish... they know it must be done before the day is out. Way before or just before is just wide acceptance the "when -ness" of it.

Luke Holzmann said...

That's great to hear, Michelle! Glad you found a system that's working for you <smile>.

Good ideas, Alecat. Your Nana was a smart one <smile>.

Monica, has your son been involved with sports or some consistent program (Awana or Boy Scouts)? It sounds like part of the issue here could be a lack of discipline on his part. Sports and groups that require regular participation can be good at developing discipline.

I'd be happy to get you in touch with someone who can offer you some advice based on personal experience. If you're interested in that, drop me and email and I'll get them to email you:

Thanks for sharing your experiences, Susan. You've clearly touched on a very important issue.

<smile> Good stuff, Se7en.



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