by Larla Dey Maloney submitted to Sarah Lawrence
I'd like to take this opportunity to elaborate on my home education. I realize that there are many different interpretations of the term "home school" and I feel obliged to explain my personal methods and philosophy. As copies of my curricula will be included in the Secondary School Report, I will not go into detail concerning the specific nature of my studies, but rather I will discuss my home schooling experience.
I left traditional schooling at age nine, until which point I had attended the local public schools. Although I did well in the school system, I was often bored and complained that I was unchallenged. My ...view middle of the document...
There is no need to finish a certain amount of work per day or to cram a bunch of meaningless facts in the night before an exam. I do not receive grades in any of the subjects I study at home, because I do not move on until I thoroughly understand the material. There is time to learn, time to make mistakes and to fix them, to figure out why and how something works.
There is nothing I love so much as a good experiment in the basement. My dad and I have built crystal radios and kites and circuits, all of which later helped me in college physics. I worked out of chemistry kits, testing our home for radon and building solar powered boats. Lab techniques evolved into detailed studies on our front lawn with different soils, water levels, and seeds, trying to figure out just why we could never get grass to grow. It's important to realize that my parents didn't teach me all of this; they provided me with grass seed and books and duct tape.
Perhaps the most traditional studying I've done at home was out of Saxon math texts. I've taught myself from Algebra 1/2 through to Calculus, and when I was younger I'd go to my dad for help. Often he would just ask me to explain the problem to him, and as I was explaining it I'd suddenly realize my trouble and thank him and go off to work some more. Sometimes he'd help me with a concept or two, or catch a simple arithmetic error I had overlooked. Gradually my problems became more complicated and I found other places to get help: friends who were good in math, teachers, other math books. I received help at the National Honor Society tutoring center in exchange for working there, and I tutored a high school student through Algebra II. When I needed more, my parents called a math tutor. I accumulated several specific problems which we worked on until I was on my way again.
One of the misconceptions about home education is that all learning takes place at the kitchen table. This could not be farther from the truth. My education has stretched beyond the boundaries of my home and into my community. I have volunteered at the public library reading stories at programs for children, which led to my current job there working as a page. I often will seek assistance in academics from professionals in the field, whether they be teachers or Rutgers professors or a downtown mechanic or gallery owner. I've taken dance, voice, and art lessons with members of the community. I read several newspapers daily and have written many letters to the editor. I discuss literature and current events both with my parents around the dinner table, and over a game of cards with other adults at the coffee shop. I've been in musicals at a local community theater, and studied during the past two summers at McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. My parents own three hair salons where I have worked as a receptionist, learning the economics of running a business as well as a cash register. We regularly visit New York City to see a show or visit a...