—by Nathan on December 16, 2011—
Okay, I just want to dispel three common misconceptions regarding homeschoolers. 1. We do not sleep in until noon. I wish, but my mom makes me wake up at 7:00 in the morning. 2. We do not get to do our work in our pajamas, though I think I would feel very comfortable in my pink bunny slippers and tie-die Justin Bieber T-shirt. 3. We are sociable, despite what people say. You've probably seen the "WARNING: Unsocialized Homeschooler!" T-shirts. Not true. Why homeschoolers wear those, I don't know. They only serve to tarnish our good name. Oh, well. This third misconception is the one I want to focus on in this blog. Yes, we can be very sociable. For me, I have plenty of friends, but most of them do happen to be homeschooled as well. I have been homeschooled since first grade, and I have learned that isolation is not a requirement by any means. It has been a chance to make a whole bunch of friends who can relate with me on many levels.
All of that is to say that one of my main social realms is the Greenhouse. I would call the Greenhouse a private school for homeschoolers. It has a bit of a public school feel to it, but it's much smaller and has kids ranging from very young to seniors in high school. There's three days of main schooling, on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, with electives on Fridays. I go on Tuesdays, belonging to the Rhetoric group of kids. I get my science, history, and literature from there. While Greenhouse is fun and enjoyable, there is homework (which we all love, right?), plus a few things which makes the experience different from what I've had in my other years of schooling. I'm going to tell a bit about my world at the Greenhouse. And maybe change some of these misconceptions in the process.
THE SCHOOL: The Greenhouse is a place for growing...hence the name. A Christain-based school run by the headmaster, Mr. Tom Spacek, and kept in order by a plethora of workers, the Greenhouse serves kids of all grades. A typical day for me is like this: I arrive, put in the homework I completed that week, and look at the graded homework I get back (always a nail-biter there). There's a short time before the day starts with a routine called "Opening Doors," time which kids use to play games, talk, or say verses. Rhetoric students usually hang out together for a bit, but some of us have duties, such as listening to verses or hand-stamping some younger kids for their own responsibilities (like inspecting bathrooms and taking care of the lunch buckets). The day begins with Mr. Spacek's opening, which includes a short lesson and a time of prayer, then it's off to class. Class consists of history and literature, both taught by the awesome Mrs. Gottlieb (extra credit for every adjective I use? Huh?). History and part of lit take place before lunch, and the rest of lit is after. History schedule could be anything from a test (eck!), a disscussion on something we read that week, a lecture, or maybe a bit of everything. Usually, it's discussions that make up a big part of our day. Somewhere in the middle of this first portion of school, we Rhetoric students get a bit of a break and go down a hall where we can chat for a small time. Then it's back to work. After history, we do lit. Literature, in my opinion, is more fun than history, being the reading/writing nut that I am (and I have some friends who would disagree on that). Lit could have as much a variety as history, with a discussion, video, or maybe even a mini-lesson on something having to do with a book we read. Eventually, freedom (I didn't say that!) comes with lunch and recess. After both of those, literature is finished up before we say hello to our science teacher Mrs. Dinsmore, who is equally as awesome as Mrs. G. Under her tutelage, we explore the wondrous world of science. Now, science and math are not my forte, but it can still be an enjoyable class, especially when certain class clowns try their hardest to nit-pick every word for jokes and puns (no names, jokers; we're safe for now). Mostly, science is made up of going over the chapter we've read or problems we've done, plus an experiment every so often (and I seem to be the only one who enjoys writing up labs for said experiments...I just don't get it). After that's done, the whole school gathers for "Closing Doors." Mr. Spacek usually has a story to share, which could be a part of an epic-length masterpiece his mind crafted or an adaption of some story he thinks shows a good lesson. When that's finished, he dismisses the kids by saying, "Go forth into the world in peace, rejoicing in the power of the Spirit," to which the kids respond, "Thanks be to God."
THE FRIENDS: Quick message to all my Greenhouse companions. I apologize in advance for any misgiven information I may share or secrets I may accidentally reveal. Please don't kill me. Anyway, as I stated previously, Greenhouse is a big social part of my life. I have made a whole bunch of wonderful friends, and their camaraderie is enjoyed immensely. My first year at Greenhouse, I already knew a bunch of people in my class But I was also given the chance to make new friends. During sophomore and junior years, people have come and gone, but there seems to be a main group of about seven or eight of us who always seem willing to chat, hang out, and enjoy one another's company. My friends make up a wonderful variety of people. Some are funnier than others, some are smarter. And their interests are different. Writing. LEGOs. Dancing. Acting. Art. Video games. Sports. Music. Singing. Reading (and my Rhetoric pals know who likes what, too). Such a blend of personalities leads to some very interesting conversations, and we have been known to have our friendly debates and arguments. What's cooler is that our friendship extends beyond the walls of the Greenhouse. We email each other. We Facebook a ton. Some of us have been in other classes together. Some have been in shows with one another. One of my friends does a monthly get-together at her house where she invites, not just us, but kids from the other core days as well (though it is very apparent who is in what class). A whole bunch of us went to an informal dance in November. Greenhouse has opened the doors for me to make so many good friends, with whom I love spending time with. I only hope that our friendships will last even after high school is over.
THE WORK: Ah, and we come to this. I want to tread carefully on this subject. I don't want to make it sound like torture, but I don't want to sugar-coat it either. While homework from the Greenhouse isn't impossible to get done, there is a quite of a bit of it, even when we do take off for a six-week break! Most of my work comes from Mrs. G's class, but Mrs. D gives her fair share as well. Heck, most of the work I do during school days is for Greenhouse. We read things, we write papers, we answer questions. Freshman year was a little more difficult for me, due to having to adjust to a whole new and longer schedule (not that I'm complaining...okay, maybe I am). A lot of homework causes us to think, which is good for our brains. We can't just slap down a one word "Yes" or "No" answer and call it good. We have to argue our answers, or find examples, that kind of thing. A lot of reading material isn't all that bad; stories are easy, though I will admit science is a bit harder to understand (now if we turned science INTO a story...hey, Dr. Wile, got an idea for you!). Writing papers and labs are probably easier, for me at least. It usually depends a lot on the subject of the paper. Labs, for instance, are fairly easy to write, if you took good notes and aren't ashamed of "stealing" the author's conclusions. As said previously, I am (sadly) one of few who think this way. We have had the chance to write a few stories, assignments which I actually enjoy (don't you look at me that way!). Homework isn't exactly my favorite part of Greenhouse, but will be by no means be the death of me.
THE UNIQUENESS: Greenhouse is quite an enjoyable place to be, and for quite a few reasons. Mr. Spacek has developed ways to make sure the older students interact and serve as role models. He's divided all the kids (Grammar, Logic, and Rhetoric) into buddy groups. Rhetoric students are Buddy Leaders, Logic students are Big Buddies, and Grammar students are Little Buddies. About three times a year, we have "Buddy Days." Buddy Groups get together during lunch time and talk and share whatever treats or small notes they may have gotten for each other. It's a fun time for the three different levels to interact and mingle. Also, being the lover of reading that I am, I find the stories Mr. Spacek's read at the end of each day to be fun. He manages to incorporate some of the Rhetoric students into what he calls a "Readers' Theatre." We each get a part in the story and we read our lines. I have had the pleasure of even writing one story for him, and it was very amusing to hear how my friends filled their roles. This adds a variety to the story. Instead of Mr. Spacek reading all the parts, new voices are able to fill the imagination. Then there's the Play. Each year, the kids from the three days perform the same play, one play for each day. Grammar and Logic are involved in the acting and there are some behind-the-scenes opportunities for Rhetoric students, such as sword-making and makeup. Mr. Spacek works hard to get all the kids into roles; there are no auditions. Even adults from outside the Greenhouse staff help. The father of a family who goes to my church has helped with sets, and there are many adult who help set up and take down. It's a good way to participlate outside of the academic realm of Greenhouse and is a good opportunity to serve.
Christain comedian Thor Ramsey, when asked if he was worried about his homeschooled daughter's socialization, responded, "Yeah, that's why we homeschool." Yes, public schoolers, we have social lives, too. Greenhouse offers a range of that. I have met many great people from and have learned a whole bunch of great things. Memories have been made, stories I will tell my children's children. These are the best of years; these are the worst of years. Greenhuse just helps to add a little spoonful of sugar to the medicine.
(Dedicated to all the people who make Greenhouse a fun and incredible place to be...you know who you are!)