Monday, October 26, 2009

Not Everyone Can Write Right

Why is it that whenever I make fun of other people, it always comes back and bites me in the butt? It really takes the fun out of mockery and any form of smugness.

My latest slice of humble pie started with the classes I've been taking online through my local community college. They've really made me feel secure about our family homeschooling for the long haul. This isn't because I am suddenly feeling more well educated and capable of teaching than I was a few months ago. Although I am certainly learning some interesting things, and enjoying the process, what has boosted my confidence is seeing first hand the wide variety of abilities from people who have had a typical education. To think that we can probably accomplish something in this range is not really all that intimidating, at all. A person can graduate high school, and probably even pass college classes with really bad spelling and grammar. Lots of people don't follow written instructions, or work within timelines well. While these skills would certainly be helpful to them, and they will hopefully be attaining them in college, there are plenty of people over the age of 18 who never learned them in traditional schools. While I'm definitely shooting for my offspring to be equipped to be academically competitive before they reach college, if there is an area that they struggle in, they surely won't be the only ones.

As homeschoolers, we always get the question, “How long are you planning on homeschooling? What about high school?” People act like it's rocket science or something that we should be terrified to even consider attempting. I feel like if I really learned anything while I was in high school, I should be somewhat capable of passing it on to my kids. Actually, there are plenty of things I learned in high school that I don't want to pass on to my kids, but that's another story. There's always the “What about chemistry?” type of questions too- as if most people really need to know chemistry in everyday life- as if most people who took chemistry didn't forget all of it within a year anyway. I think if my kids want or need chemistry, or any other class I am not “qualified” to teach, that is what the local college is for.

Back to my humble moment... when I started noticing chronic errors in other college students' work- errors that my 6th grader was able to find, and correct- I got a bit cocky, and may have even made a few jokes about it (being the cynical and sarcastic person that I am, it is hard for me not to joke about things.) Well, within a very short time, I found myself making embarrassing typos in public forums. They were all mistakes that I could glaringly see were wrong after I hit “enter,” but had missed in my hurry to go on with my life. I did this on multiple occasions too; I actually considered that I might be losing my mind, getting some form of early dementia in my 30's. Then, I realized that it was probably just one of life's little lessons teaching me humility. I am just hoping I won't have 5,000,000 more public typos here to reinforce the lesson. So, in order to not jinx myself any further, I want to be clear that I'm not making fun of anyone here. I'm just noting that the idea that everyone comes away from their formal (and in many cases forced) education with the same abilities and knowledge is false. Maybe most of them were exposed to similar ideas, but what they absorbed and retained varies a great deal.

As my husband pointed out, writing is not everyone's strong point, and it doesn't need to be. I agree completely. I may be good at spotting other people's typos, but I am painfully remedial when it comes to mechanical things. In real life, the ability to fix a broken car or washer might actually be more useful than the ability to spell well. In the end, everyone has their own gifts. I am just very glad that my kids have the opportunity and time to explore and develop their own strengths, as well as their weaknesses, on their own timeline. They can bloom into what they are meant to be, when they are ready, and that is something to be grateful for.