A Homeschool Exploration: Interview II

In the last interview, Lucy—a home-schooled student in the St. Louis area—offered a significant amount of insight into the homeschooling community. However, a large aspect of homeschooling is that, typically, no two-homeschooling experiences are alike. This week, a student who has gone to St. Louis Community College since the age of 15 gave me an entirely different set of perspectives. Liyu, who is graduating this semester, will have 49 college credits by the time she graduates. She says, “Currently, I just go to Meramec, I do all my classes at Meramec, and it’s for both high school and college credit—I’ve been here for three years.”

During the interview, Liyu had a lot of things to say that were similar to those of Lucy. She talked about some benefits of homeschooling that she has noticed: “I have learned different ways to learn, I have learned to look at things in a different way, and I’ve learned to teach myself things.” In addition to that, Liyu also described the ways in which her experiences as a child influenced her education now. She explained to me that not only has she been home-schooled all her life, so have a few of her siblings, “[When I was a child] we did a lot of learning from textbooks, and we would do co-op classes. But another thing was—and this might be a bad example—but, say, I was learning about photosynthesis, plants, or biology. [My family and I] would go to the zoo, go to the science center, or grow a garden. At that time, you’re then really in the process of learning what it is and how it works, and you’re more in depth with it. It sticks with you more.”

Although Liyu shared some of the same insights to homeschooling as Lucy, their views on the social aspect of homeschooling really provide a contrast to the different homeschooling practices in St. Louis—as Lucy and Liyu attended very different “home-school groups.” While Lucy noted that sometimes it has been hard for her to find people who differ from herself, Liyu said the opposite: “Because of homeschooling, I’ve met people who are very different. I’ve never been in a room full of people that are all the same.” Liyu also notes that she feels that she has received many negative reactions from people who find out she’s home-schooled. She expresses her frustration with the assumptions she has been faced with in the past. She presents these assumptions with a series of questions that she might likely encounter. She said, “[people wonder] ‘Do you have social skills? Do you have friends? Are you dumb? Or are you really smart?’ There really isn’t an in between—you’re either assumed to be stupid or a genius.” Conversely, Liyu has many positive things to say about her social life as a home-schooler as well—she talks lovingly about some of the social aspects of homeschooling that she enjoys. She said, “Socially, I do think that my friends and I were allowed to do more things. If we wanted to go out during the day while other kids were at school, we can go do stuff. I have made closer friendships.”

In the end, Liyu talked briefly about the way that homeschooling has impacted her learning experiences. Liyu is planning to go to University of Kansas in the fall, and elaborated upon the process of applying to colleges. “Another thing is transcripts—because you have credits, and they are real credits—but colleges take it differently [than traditional transcripts]. You can totally go to college, but it’s going to take more effort.” She said this while also noting that a few colleges she applied to had different standards for home-schoolers—many of which were higher than those of public-schooled kids.

Ultimately, Liyu appeared to think very highly of her educational experiences—as well as her robust volunteer and work experience, both which have been more accessible thanks to homeschooling. Liyu says, “I’ve always liked school, and I’ve always been interested in it.” An undeniable love for learning is something that Liyu and Lucy both share, and while their social encounters might differ; their ideas about the learning aspect of homeschooling compliment each other heavily.

The next interview will be posted on March 24th, 2017.

A Homeschool Exploration: Interview I

In the St. Louis area, there resides over one thousand home-schoolers. While one might think each of these students respectively learns within the walls of their own homes, around 500 of these students attend a local co-op known as HomeLink—which includes certified teachers, classrooms, curriculum, and social activities. One student, Lucy, explains to me the ups and downs of life as a home-schooler and attendee of this co-op.

Lucy says she is about the age of a junior or senior in high school, but credit-wise, is unsure. She said to me, “You know—homeschooling,” which is an exchange of mutual understanding that is common between many home-schooled students. We all understand the different paces each student maintains in their curriculum. Lucy continues: “Basically, I do a lot of my classes online, since my mom can’t really do all of them. I do pre-calculus online, I do physics at Homelink, literature at Homelink, and then I do some history classes online as well.” Lucy explained that her mom is British, and previously taught/worked at a homeschool-oriented educational organization. “It only made sense that I become home-schooled,” said Lucy. “It was a very intense kind of learning.”

As the conversation lengthened, Lucy began to elaborate upon her experiences as a home-schooled student. “I love homeschooling because I like to go deep into things. I like to research topics that interest me, and it goes with my learning style better. It has helped me get better grades.” Lucy mentions that homeschooling is hard in some ways, like keeping up with school and less opportunity to mingle with diverse students. She says, “You have to go out of your way sometimes to experience lots of different people and things when you’re homeschooling.” However, she mentions the benefit of personal development briefly, “It has made me more original and I love learning. It’s tailored more towards me, so I have learned who I am.”

Although the topic of high school is exciting, Lucy became very animated and passionate when she began talking about the future, as well as opportunities that homeschooling has provided her. She says, “I’m hoping to go to Princeton for an internship and I’m excited about that. I don’t know what I want to do exactly, but I want to do something in the humanities for sure.” Just then, the topic turned a different shade. Lucy explained that she wants to help people understand each other: “There are so many polar opinions. I was watching this documentary—The Talk—it was about the race relations and how so many African Americans have to tell their children, especially boys, what to do when police stop them. I was crying.” She mentioned the existence of both good police and bad police—police who want to help people. “There’s a history between race and police that people don’t often look at,” says Lucy. She wants to help better the understanding of how race, police officers, and other polar opinions you see in the media are interconnected.

In addition to Homelink, online classes, and uniquely paced curriculum, Lucy notes that there are other components of homeschooling that not everyone may know about. “I have a lot of friends in different places [distance wise], so that can be hard for home-schoolers as well.” She continues to note some reactions from people who lie outside of the home-school community. “Honestly, over the past few years I have gotten less questions, and I feel like that could mean it’s becoming more acceptable to be home-schooled. But, I have gotten a lot of questions like, ‘Do you do school at home?’ and ‘How do you make friends?’ in the past. One of my friends was actually really surprised that I went to prom.” Lucy said this with a mixture of amusement and exasperation.

In summary, Lucy’s experiences as a home-schooler are both incredibly unique and impressive, but also quite common in other respects. Lucy is gifted in lots of different things—such as musical ability, photography, writing, dance, and art—which she says her homeschooling schedule allows time for. For many home-schoolers, this rings true as well. Both flexible, tailored curriculum and unique social, extracurricular, and work opportunities allow many home-schoolers to be profoundly successful in today’s society.

Lucy is the first of six interviews to be conducted, and in the next interview, other home-school practices and organizations will be assessed.

 

 

2017 Project: A Homeschool Exploration

Starting next Friday and ending the 5th of May, I will be initiating a very special project. This project stems directly from my educational experiences, as well as the educational experiences of half a dozen others.

To elaborate, let me begin by explaining the inspiration and objectives of this project.

Inspiration: As a freshman in high school, I left the public school system in the spring semester to become homeschooled. While being homeschooled has been very beneficial to me, it has also allowed me to join the ranks of between 800-1,000+ homeschoolers in the St. Louis area. Despite there being so many of these students, I have met very few public-schooled individuals—specifically over the past three years—who also possess even general knowledge/experience of the homeschool community. I quite often get questions like, “Do you have friends?” and things like, “How do you go to college?”

These questions are very telling of the general public’s experience with homeschoolers—and perhaps some stereotypes they may hold as well.

Objectives: Over the next few months I will be using interviews in the form of descriptive essays to give insight to what the lives of different homeschoolers are like. Things such as homeschool co-ops, dual-credit classes at community colleges, and the alternative methods to “parent teachers” will all be explored and presented in a fun, interesting way.

By the end of the project, those who have read the series should have a better understanding of the sheer diversity of homeschooling students, practices, and methods. In addition to that, the project may convey some of the reasoning and benefits behind homeschooling in a way that challenges major stereotypes you see in the media.

My first essay will be posted next Friday. February 24, 2017.

Stay tuned!

 

 

 

Understanding The Spectrum

Dear student,

If you’re reading this, you’ve probably received a ‘Call to Action’ following my presentation in Keith Oliver’s Oral Communication class at Meramec from 12:00-12:50, M W F.

If you click on this link, it will lead you to an illustration about ‘high-functioning’ autism, in the form of Archie—a child cartoon character who will teach you about Autism Spectrum disorder in far more depth than I am able to. It’s a cute illustration, and I hope you enjoy it.

Once you finish, feel free to look around this site. I am doing an honors project for this class involving interviews from local homeschoolers—many of which dual-enroll at Meramec.

I hope you learn something new today!

ABOUT THE ARTIST

Kyah Probst, 17, is a multi-disciplinary artist from St. Louis, Missouri. Kyah’s primary mediums are ink, watercolor, and acrylic—however, many of her pictures have been altered digitally in order to achieve a fresh perspective on the more classical mediums. For the past three years, she has been home schooled, and, although she is merely junior-aged, she in enrolled at St. Louis Community College where she hopes to acquire an Associate’s in Teaching by the end of 2018. In addition to studio art, Kyah is also proficient in DSLR photography, voice, writing, and is currently learning instruments such as guitar, ukulele, and piano. Here, you can find information on all of her creative endeavors, as well as portfolios for her visual art. Coming in September of 2017, Kyah will be launching her business in which she will use Probstinista.com, Bucketfeet.com, and Redbubble as her platforms of choice.