Every year, about this time, I get tired. Weary. Blown.
I’m going to be honest. I am no big fan of the educational system we have here in America.
Sir Walter Scott once said, “All men who have turned out worth anything have had the chief hand in their own education.”
I don’t think the classroom allows this to happen.
I have been in the classroom for nearly twenty years now. Over the years, I have gotten quite used to some common questions.
“May I go to the restroom?”
“Is this going to be on the test?”
“What is my grade?”
Rarely, and by rarely, I mean never, do I hear the questions I would like to hear.
“Where can I go to learn more about this?”
“Can we read this again?”
“How can I do this on my own?”
I have a student this year who is almost driving me crazy. He wants to know how I learned Latin. He wants to know how he can do the same thing. He wants me to show him how I taught myself Latin, and how I teach myself languages. He is driving me crazy because he will not stop asking.
I have had one or two students like him before. They are rare. I wrote about one in my ebook, Via. The student, whose story I told in the book, went on to skip Latin in high school so that he could learn other languages. By seventh grade, he was reading the New Testament in Latin. While the other high schoolers were just starting Latin, he was finishing up. He was moving on to other languages.
These rare students have one thing in common. They teach themselves.
They do not wait for me to spoon feed them. They self-start. They self-educate.
My online homeschool students are different.
I spend ten to fifteen hours a week answering their emails. These students are required to send weekly homework assignments to me. In my online Lingua Latina class, for example, they are to respond to Latin questions, in Latin. This forces them to think in the language.
Here is a question from chapter 17: Quid pueri discunt in ludo?
Here are some student responses:
- Numeras et litteras.
- Pueri multas res in ludo discunt.
- In ludo numeros et litteras discunt.
- Pueri discunt numeros et litteras in ludo.
- In ludo puerī numeros et litteras discunt.
I am tired at this point in the year. But, it is not the ten to fifteen hours of emails that wear me out. The emails I get from my online students energize me. The emails I get from these kids remind me that, perhaps, the self-starters are not as rare as I think they are. The emails I get from these kids give me hope again.
The classroom wears me out. The current educational system herds children into boxes. It forces them to learn things they do not want to learn, and would never choose to learn. They don’t want to be there. I should not be surprised when they demonstrate that they do not want to be there.
I will let them go to the bathroom. I don’t mind.
What truly drains me is the emphasis on grades. So many students do not care what they are learning. They just want a good grade.
Meanwhile, my online students write to me in Latin.
It’s back to school this morning.
Can’t wait to answer emails tonight.