Welcome to my World

Welcome to the domain different--to paraphrase from New Mexico's capital city of Santa Fe which bills itself "The City Different." Perhaps this space is not completely unique but my world shapes what I write as well as many other facets of my life. The four Ds figure prominently but there are many other things as well. Here you will learn what makes me tick, what thrills and inspires me, experiences that impact my life and many other antidotes, vignettes and journal notes that set the paradigm for Dierdre O'Dare and her alter ego Gwynn Morgan and the fiction and poetry they write. I sell nothing here--just share with friends and others who may wander in. There will be pictures, poems, observations, rants on occasion and sometimes even jokes. Welcome to our world!

Saturday, July 16, 2016

A Tribute to Unconventional Education

In general as my kids and now grandkids have done through it, I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with the American education system. Since the Dewey and similar influences began eighty years ago or more, we’ve seen our institutions of higher learning shift to crank out “teachers” who are now chiefly a miserable mating of baby-sitters and brain-washers. They have been so indoctrinated in the politically correct and essentially liberal socialist views that more and more is deemed unsuitable and not needed to create complacent and obedient young workers or in some cases, non-workers, who will go meekly along and support the party line, whatever it be, kept happy with professional sports and feel-good talk shows!
Home schooling has become a major force as more and more troubled parents choose to take their offspring out of the sausage factory—er, I mean  the public school system—and give them real experiences, wide reading opportunities and in some cases less exposure to the pervasive “peer pressure” for sex, drugs and rock n’ roll activities or again in some cases, whatever religious teachings they feel suitable.  Others are seeking charter schools, alternative schools, parochial schools and similar variations. 
I do suspect that in some instances this diverse and semi-uncontrolled education may have negative results where children are not exposed to a wide range of material, opportunities, culture and the like, but only in a few instances. In the long run, I have generally found most home or alternatively schooled children grow into well educated, independent and useful adults, good citizens and definitely not “sheeplike” in blindly following what the media tells them or the politicians orate with fingers crossed behind their backs!
Student body at Camp Wood AZ
first row, 2nd from left
I cite myself as one example. I did attend public schools but in may ways I was home schooled for all practical purposes since I attended  small, rural schools of one or two classrooms and my father was my teacher for five of the eight grades of grammar school and what is now often called middle school. Then I attended eighth grade and high school in a semi-rural and somewhat insular community. Strangely though, despite a seemingly ‘underprivileged’ background, I managed to make honor roll grades through high school and was valedictorian of my class of about sixty two students. Enrolling in college a few years later, I maintained a 1.5 average and obtained two degrees in four years. I still say much of my education came from HKU and the life experiences I had outside and apart from the formal schooling, but I did not stumble or suffer seriously as I went through the normal channels.
As another example, I put forth my friend, Helen Hegener. Now in middle age, she has a list of accomplishments that borders on amazing. She and a former husband were pioneers in getting home schooling accepted first in their home state of Washington and later nation-wide. She edited and published a magazine for home schoolers for twenty four years and during and afterwards has continued to be active in journalism, working with several Alaskan newspapers after a move to the north 49th.,  More recently, she formed a publishing company and has written almost a score of books on Alaskan historical subjects, all impeccably researched, painstakingly edited and thoroughly professional in every aspect. Of course she also home schooled her children and all of them are successful, productive citizens as adults in a variety of fields.
As a military brat, she traveled widely with her family but missed many years of formal or official schooling to become self-educated by visiting many places in Europe to include museums and historical sites, and reading constantly from early childhood.  This was the basis from which she turned to home schooling her own family and became an advocate for the movement.
Here and there I see subtle shifts in scattered districts–including a gardening project in the grade school curriculum, adding more field trips and outdoor activities, supporting science and technological experiments and projects outside the normal curriculum.  Best of all, allowing more independent pursuit of subjects, reading material and activities to which the child or young person turns of his or her own desire and interest. Perhaps in time we will return to a system whereby the entire classroom is not dragged down to the lowest common denominator, ostensibly so that no one feels belittled or left out.  That is “nice” but not practical or progressive!
Instead, we should provide more leeway for students to develop to their fullest potential, giving more attention to the gifted or talented students who are now often bored to tears and thus become discipline problems, disruptive or drop-outs. If they are challenged and given free rein to progress, they will do so and those special abilities or intellects will not be suppressed and lost! We need all the bright and inquiring minds, the initiative and entrepreneurial spirit and independent thinking we can foster! We have way more than enough under-achievers so we surely do not need to foster and encourage that behavior.

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