March 6, 2006
Monday Memories: Kindergarten
Why do you homeschool? I answer this question often. I just had to explain my choice before a jury of 13, literally, last week as we sat in the deliberation room on our break. I really hate answering the question because I have so many answers to the question, I usually don't know where to start. It's just not easy to explain why people make the life choices they do, I guess, there's a myriad of reasons for all of us. The memory I share today is one tiny reason I peeked down the homeschooling path.
The picture is me, home from my first day in Kindergarten. (Anyone who's ever seen my little artist Luke's drawings are now intently staring at my "house". Ha Ha. He is my son, I can prove it ...by...other ways.) Anyway, it's not like I ever said, "I remember what happened one day in Kindergarten and I'm homeschooling my kids, dag nabbit!" But when I did remember this small drop in the bucket, I had to chuckle and say, "Yeah, chalk that up as one of the subconscious reasons I homeschool."
I had a grape vine in my yard. It grew among three poles, almost like gymnastic parallel bars, that we could climb up and swing from while chomping on grapes right off the vine. We had green grapes, a red variety and a variety that was round and bluish. I can taste them now. One day in Kindergarten my teacher, beautiful Mrs. Nogel, asked us what color grapes were. Someone raised his hand and said purple and she agreed. Someone else raised her hand and said green and she agreed. And I raised my hand and said blue. "No, not blue," she said sweetly, scanning the room for more hands. At 5, I was not one to argue so I probably just sat there and felt embarassed.
I remember this very clearly, for some reason. Isn't that crazy, of all things? I remember very little from Kindergarten, but I remember the day my teacher told me that those things I had growing in my own yard were not blue! (I also remember wanting to play with the blocks, but there only seemed to be boys there...the toy kitchen looked so boring!) I experienced this glaring truth of school, as I imagine most do, before I even knew there were glaring truths about the institution to be discovered. I wonder, I just have to wonder, what that day did in forming my opinions.
Fast forward to today. My son Seth, homeschooled from the start, went to school this year. His 8th grade health teacher was explaining the food pyramid, or whatever they use at the moment, and told the class how much meat they needed to eat per day. Seth raised his hand and offered that one can actually get adequate protein from other things besides animal products. The teacher said yes, but that one would have to eat so many vegetables and grains to get the protein offered in a smaller amount of meat it wouldn't be worth it. Seth raised his hand again and said, yes, but there's no harm in eating more vegetable and grain products, in fact they have health benefits, whereas meat and other animal products are actually disease-causing in certain quantities, so why not choose to get protein from the healthiest source?
Before he went to school I reminded him that sometimes we hear information that has been packaged as the truth, that there are just some things that are simply accepted, like grape color and government food charts (influenced by lobbyists) and that we must educate ourselves to find truth or at least balance...whether that be by picking up other books not provided or required within the institution, or simply going out in the backyard and seeing a grape for ourselves.