Sunday, December 21, 2008

Homeschooling Alone Won't Work

Here are the first few paragraphs of the next chapter of D's history book. I read it and honestly can't imagine him learning anything from it. Not history anyway. I'm still debating with myself whether or not he should continue in this book - reading it to increase his reading skills would be okay but I'm not sure if this should count as history.

The Gilded Age was a phrase coined by two authors of the period - Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner - in a novel about the corruption of the Grant administration. In the years following the Civil War, the quality of American government left much to be desired. Politicians were irresponsible, loyalties were shallow, and money was tainted.
In this post-Civil War period, the most ambitious and talented people were no longer attracted to politics but to business. Indeed, politics itself became something of a business. The goal of political entrepreneurs was to achieve power and position through political office. Often politicians were able to line their pockets with money. Corruption seemed to flourish at every level of government. At first the corruption was not apparent. Material progress had produced a society that appeared to be bright and attractive. Society and government were not what they appeared to be on the surface, however.

This doesn't seem difficult to read. BUT... as I imagined reading it to him, or having him read it aloud to me, I realized there are a lot of stumbling blocks.

1. What is Gilded?
2. How does Gilded apply to corruption, to an age?
(Just these will be a pain, telling him he will understand the point of the phrase after he reads the paragraphs. He wants to understand all before he continues and it's still difficult for him to believe waiting for more information is a good idea.
3. He'll have to think for a moment to put the idea of "quality" and government together. He'll likely be thinking of how a quality product is not easy to break, it will take a bit to think of it as applied to an abstract idea. Shouldn't take long, but it will make him stop.
4. How can a loyalty be shallow?
5. What is tainted?
6. longer attracted to politics but to business... is phrased oddly for him. Once again, he'll get it quickly enough, but it will make him stop.
7. What's an entrepreneur?
8. How can someone line their pockets with money and how can it stay in a line?
9. What is flourish? He may know, I'm not sure.
10. This sentence, Material progress had produced a society that appeared to be bright and attractive. he'll most likely read and ignore, not knowing what it means.
11. The last sentence, he'll probably wonder how society and government have surfaces.

None of this is insurmountable, if we read and discuss it as he goes, he will be able to understand it. The problem is if he has to read and answer questions about it on his own. That's not happening and I may be working. If I'm not working, he will have worse problems than history, he'll still be worrying about how to get food to eat. If I am working, I won't be here to do this with him. This is one of the reasons I put him in school before but that didn't work at all. I really need to work from home. Anyway, the above is just the first two paragraphs of that chapter! If I read ahead and write a short summary for him, he may be okay but that just gives him more to read; besides, will I have time to do that through every lesson?

He needs to get to a level where he can read things like this but how can he do it? If I put him in something easier, he won't see this sort of thing and how will he ever learn it if he doesn't see it? There will be things that confuse him that I won't catch, things he will take wrong that he doesn't KNOW he's taken wrong and will leave him frustrated, and (hopefully) things he understands that I thought he wouldn't. He dreads history completely.

I've found videos at the library that have helped, he doesn't like them all that much but seeing, reading subtitles, hearing, and being able to pause helps a lot. He makes comments that show he gets it but he can only keep his attention on it for short periods. An hour of history is nothing like an hour of science. It certainly doesn't bring the expression of interest and absolute joy that the announcement of "Experiment Time" does!