Saturday, March 23, 2013


Since we've been talking about learning, I've been wanting for a while to talk about our real-life lesson in butterflies, and this post gave me the impetus to do it. Once again, this author is one of those completely down on public schooling; this line, particularly, "fill the void left in the child's heart after the state forcibly curtails the intellectual adventurousness of the wandering bug-studier, stargazer, or bookworm," made me think of our family's short adventure with Mona the Monarch.

It was early October of 2005. We were at one of the local outdoor malls on one of those days when winter is drawing closer to its appearance; it was cold and rainy. While we were walking, we saw a monarch butterfly on the sidewalk looking completely bedraggled. We found a cup in our car, and once the butterfly got into the dryness and warmth of our car, she immediately came back to life, fluttering around wildly. We decided we didn't want to turn her back out into the cold and damp, so we took her home and temporarily let her free in our bathroom, where she had room to fly. We had stopped on the way for a better temporary carrier for her, and some hummingbird food, the best thing we thought we could provide to nourish her. We did some research to discover that Mona was indeed a girl monarch, and that butterflies drink with their long tongues, and taste with their feet. Here you see Mona checking out the hummingbird food.

I contacted via email a group involved in tracking the yearly migration of the monarch butterfly, and was told that Mona could still make it to Mexico if she was released. So we simply waited a few days until the weather was sunny, and warm enough, and set her free, after a few pictures to remember her by.

She flew right up into the sky until she was over our house, and then headed almost due south. We like to think that she did indeed make it to Mexico, and that her descendants are still flying around somewhere.

What really brought her to mind was a comment that the Dancer made about a month ago. She is excelling in her math and science classes, and is taking Honors Geometry and Honors Biology in high school, next year, so we're not ruling out a STEM career of some sort in her future. She mentioned that she might want to have a job studying butterflies, because of her experience with Mona. That surprised me, because of how long ago our butterfly adventure took place, but it made me happy that it had left such an impression on her.

Tying it in to the article above, however, the author asserts that public school will kill the enthusiasm of the "wandering bug-studier." Granted, we were homeschooling when this all took place, but it was completely extra-curricular and spur of the moment. We could have done all of the above even if the girls were attending a public school, especially since we discovered Mona over a weekend. And the kids that my girls were friends with before we started homeschooling would at the very least not have shot down their interest. They might have thought it was interesting themselves, even if they would not have enjoyed the experience so much. The Dancer had even done a very simple "lesson" on butterflies in her preschool class.

I hate to see myself becoming an advocate for public schools, but the continuous stream of articles describing public school as nothing ever but a soul-sucking waste, make my contrarian nature want to respond that while public school is not perfect, it is in no way one hundred percent the same for everyone, everywhere. I'll probably respond more to this article in future posts, but this one was mostly to use as a jumping off point for another adventure in learning that I wanted to share.


Karen said...

Home school parents tend to be very opinionated. Unfortunately, some home school educators won't look at any positive aspect of any other educational choice. Is it their insecurity coming through? Do they feel so self-righteous that they can't look beyond their own life.

I always cringe when I read these types of articles. Some author wants to make blanket statements about education, without considering different situations and personalities. Not one person has all the answers for everyone. The "homeschool is the only way" educator is as detrimental to homeschooling as the "public school has all the answers" public school teacher or administrator.

Public schools deal with problems beyond the scope of most home schools. Public educators must work with children from all types of home situations...including one's where learning is not valued. There are some lousy public school teachers, just as there are some bad homeschool teachers.

My children have received a rich, full education at home. They have been exposed to situations and experiences that the public school could not offer. The public school also offers experiences that some of my children have not had.

Homeschooling has worked will for almost all of my children, but my youngest son is flourishing at the public school. He has gained more confidence, has been allowed to take engineering classes that I could not have provided, and carries a 4.0 grade average. It is the right decision for him at this time.

Ten years ago, it would have been the wrong choice for him. He was a thoughtful child who loved to do unconventional hobbies. Nothing that was bad or harmful, but hobbies that would have been sources of teasing. The public school children in our former area would have made him miserable.

Sorry that you're running into these types of articles. You're not alone in being antagonized by them.

Barb the Evil Genius said...

The funny thing is, this author never mentions homeschooling. Nor does he mention charter schools, parochial schools or private schools. It's all just about how public school is bad. I can only assume he means homeschool is the only way because he thinks that any exposure to other children in a classroom setting will destroy your child.