Transitioning into 8th grade

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This was last week at the Vail Library.
Eighth grade.  It sounds old to me.  The end of “middle school.”  It feels very much like a middle year– I am patching together partial solutions right and left.

For the most part, Jonah will remain at home.  He likes it; he teaches himself well; he is a self-motivated learner and has good work skills.  But he will go to the community college for math (intro to statistics) and we hope to hire a Latin tutor for him.

We met with two more administrators at the community college, including the dean of students.  I understand their concern: our son will be the youngest student on their campus.  I get it.  But seriously… Their instructions were that he couldn’t date any of the other students, and that he shouldn’t go to off-campus study groups at the bar down the road.  His response: “Why would I want to do that?”

Their concern for me was what he was going to do afterwards.  “If he finishes this math now, what will he do next year?”  It’s such a life-in-the-box mentality.  We don’t ask toddlers who walk under the age of one not to walk because we don’t want them to progress to running.  Math is a skill.  He masters A, let’s move him on to B.  Let’s not worry about where the top of the box is.  Maybe he will discover a new top the box.  Or he’ll open the box of “college math” and find he’s really more interested in philosophy.

My dad took him to the library to volunteer.  My son loves books: it should have been the perfect fit.  My dad had checked, and volunteers under the age of 16 had to have an adult volunteer with them: he was willing to do that.   There was a box on the application “Check if you are under 14.”  [There was also a box to check if you were older than 70.]  They met with the volunteer coordinator, who told them that state law says no one can volunteer younger than 14 years old but they make an exception for Webelos.  What?  But they would be happy to make room for my father.  [He was no longer interested.]

We have run into this policy several times at different organizations: no volunteers younger than _________.  The age seems to be different everywhere.  (For the Colorado Springs food bank, it’s 6 if they come with a parent.  For the Children’s Hospital, it’s 13.  Clearly the state law doesn’t say 14.)   What’s up with this?  Are we a society flooded with volunteers?  Hardly.  I don’t dispute an organization’s right to decide who volunteers for them, but I think it’s another sign of society’s ageism- in both directions.

I would love to live in a society where we didn’t decide what a person is capable of based solely on their age.  I’m not suggesting my children date second-career 50 year-olds at the community college, but I think making a blanket statement that all 13 year-olds are too irresponsible to shelve books with a parent’s supervision is ridiculous.  Is the library so well-funded that they can’t use a young book-lover?  [Or an old one, for that matter?]

Anyway, after all that… we will keep schooling Jonah at home for this year.  And for the record, he won’t be volunteering at the library or go to study session at the bar.

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4 thoughts on “Transitioning into 8th grade

  1. This fall when Ben turns 16, he’ll be old enough to use the family pass to the city zoo without a parent. He’s been babysitting while I go swimming for half a year, but who knows? At the zoo he might decide to pet the snow leopard and get himself killed?

  2. Our p-chem prof actually discouraged us from taking stats as one of our math electives least we fall in love with it and use it inappropriately. When I finally did take it, it was like I was sneaking a chocolate bar or something.

    I hope J enjoys statistics! When I finally took it at community college after Houghton, it was so fun. Then they switched text books and tutoring the next batch of stat students was no fun.

    I guess the most important part is figuring out if you have a large enough, random enough sample size that you get to use statistics on it at all. Sort of like insisting that the uncertainty remain with your result if you are giving testimony in court about analytical chem – and picking a good text book.

  3. This was such a fun post to read! I am just now reading it-after hearing it from you the other day. I like hearing you rant-and you are a very good written ranter, too (and it’s more fun to say : )

    Love you!

  4. Pingback: Homeschooling Gaps | Learning As We Go

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