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Location: Fairbanks, Alaska, United States

Friday, January 06, 2006

Late night philosophical discussions

T's most insightful observations and discussions inevitably occur once he is tucked into bed for the night. Last night was no different, and I found myself leaving his room at 2:30AM!

At first it was just general small talk, and he all of a sudden got this incredibly excited look in his eyes and said "It's 2006! That means new state quarters!!" (He's been collecting the state quarters for about a year now) This revelation led us to pulling out the globe since he wanted to know the exact location of Philadelphia (location of one of the mints), which led us to comparing the distances between Fairbanks and Denver and Fairbanks and Philadelphia and why it is so much more common to see Denver mint quarters in our neck of the woods.

Since we had the globe out, T then said "Let me find where Dad is. I know it's near Egypt so I need to find Egypt!" So he takes a bit of time to find Egypt and quickly finds Iraq and Mosul, which led us to the route Jody's plane took to get to Iraq, and the possibility of us visiting Egypt while Jody is on R&R leave. T then shifted the conversation to Iraq....why we went to war, was it right/wrong, protesting the war, Saddam's trial, whether he would be executed if found guilty or would be given a life sentence, what types of executions are used, and our own creative execution styles (like using the flesh-eating scarabs in "The Mummy").

Ah, yes, we also briefly talked about the Battle of Normandy (and the strategy behind it) and Stonehenge. T happened to have the DVD "Valiant" quietly playing in his room during our conversation which led us to this.

When T was in school he was having problems sleeping and would often be grumpy and difficult to deal with during the school day. While in school, most of the conversations, unfortunately, revolved around all the bad things that had happened that day --- injustices, punishments, teasing, worries about the next day. One day the principal approached me, and I told her about T's tendency to these bedtime discussions. Her response? Only allow him to talk for 5 minutes and then leave the room for the night. This type of attitude is yet another reason why we left the school system behind.

What if I had left his bedroom after only a few minutes? What kind of impression would that have left on T? That his views are neither important or valid? That his parents could really not care less about his troubles at school? Those nightly talks gave T a safe outlet to vent his feelings and frustrations. Ugh. Every time I think of that principal's comment it just makes my blood boil.

One thing that T did mention several times last night was that finding the various locations on the globe was like school, and he seemed quite excited about that. I tried -- in a round about way -- to suggest that he can learn about anything (and mentioned several things he has learned in just the past few days) without it needing to feel like school. For the most part, I think he is settling in well to an unschooling lifestyle, but it's almost unbelievable at how ingrained the school mindset can be. I do worry a bit about him feeling that he isn't learning anything because we don't model school at home, and he may feel pressured to head back to school to "keep up" with his schooling friends. A few weeks back, one of T's friends asked him what he is learning at "homeschool." T replied, "nothing yet." *sigh* He doesn't see that he is indeed learning in his daily activities....playing on the computer, his reading, watching documentaries, taking apart electronics, etc. I believe he thinks he must be doing the constant and tedious worksheets, speed drills, and tests.


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