Around here, we don't like to use the "h" word - "homeschool". We are fully aware of the stigma surrounding certain "h" kids concerning their sense of fashion regarding knee high sport socks and brown loafers, highwaisted pants and pocket protectors. We're not even going to mention the cliche of introverted navel gazing children that can name all the presidents of the United States and their mottos or the solar system in Latin or even worse, the extroverted version that participates in adult conversations with condescending arrogance at his elders apparent lack of intelligence in regards to the gestational period of the guinea fowl. So, when we decided to venture out to Africa, we could well have planned it over the summer break, but what would the fun in that be? And so the questions began about the boys' educational needs and what would it mean to be out of school for so long. Thankfully, we are fortunate to have very supportive teachers (Shout out to Ecole Lakeview!) and a principal who believes that travel is education in itself. Aidan's teacher has given him a lot of leeway in researching and journalling along the way and reporting back to the classroom via a class blog that has been established. How cool is that? So, Aidan has taken on the role of roving reporter and generally is self motivated and has been faithfully journalling and blogging. (We know who he takes after...ahem.) Easton, my dear youngest, was handed a math book the size of an encyclopedia with chapters for him to work on "at his own pace". Now, I love Easton's teacher (Bonjour, Monsieur Martel!) but that was a critical error in instruction. Easton's "own pace" means that he's scribbled two pages of illegible math work into the textbook since we've arrived. I know I'm not the person to analyze mathematical equations with any form of accuracy, but I'm pretty sure that Easton has figured out that his grade five math textbook would be beyond my comprehension even if it were in English - which it's not - it's en Francais. (Merci beaucoup, Monsieur Martel!) Not for the first time, have I wondered the lack of common sense shown by Jason and myself in enrolling our children into a french school knowing full well that our grasp of the language is so rudimentary. Not only have we equipped our boys with a second language with which to plot against us, now we have rendered ourselves useless to tutor our boys in their schoolwork. Ah well, for now, we just coach Easton to make it legible, keep it neat, put in time and effort...all the basics. We've always said we'll save up for therapy instead of college for the boys so at this point, it looks like that may be our best investment return.
In the realm of education, Africa is a great teacher. We don't have to be on top of it all for the boys are learning all sorts of things that don't fall in line with the Saskatoon School Board's accepted curriculum. They're seeing all sorts of examples of biology and entymology all around us in addition to all the various realms of sociological lessons they've been learning in the communities. This weeks' highlight was a science lesson on the "Spitting Cobra". This little guy was creeping around the driveway yesterday when our friend, Bentley, took the shovel and put him to rest. Incredibly beautiful, a dead snake is. This one when startled will rise up, flare out his head and spit venom in your eyes. We were assured that if you stand still upon meeting one and close your eyes, it will back down and scurry off. Remind me that as I run screaming in the opposite direction abandoning my offspring to fend for themselves. I have no delusions about my courage in the face of danger - I've walked between a brown bear and her cub and outran her. There will be no standing and closing my eyes. At best, I won't push my children in said snake's reach while fleeing the scene. Regardless, I have other good qualities. Math and self sacrifice just don't make the top ten. However, I was the reigning leg wrestling champion of Pier One 2012 Inaugural Leg Wrestling Match. I've made myself a sash and tiara and wear it proudly.