Monday, June 09, 2008

Home science

Home science is definitely a trip. Of course we engaged in all of the normal planting seeds, caring for a classroom pet (a betta fish), weather, properties of matter, basic biology, chemistry and physics. Now we have successfully hatched butterflies and a Japanese quail chick.

I actually learned a lot from the butterflies - the caterpillar growth curve is alarming, and the emergence from chrysalids is messy and involves lots of red meconium. Also, butterflies are not graceful. They crash land. They also seem to communicate not only with wing flashing but by tapping their front legs (legs that are normally tucked up to their thorax). I greet them by tapping fingernails on the table next to their habitat.

The quail has been harder and involved a steep learning curve. We only had one hatch, but the eggs were a bit old. Now two weeks old, the quail appears to be a female, so it looks like we're in for some (infertile, tasty) eggs. The little thing is strangely friendly and comes over to cuddle my hand when I reach into the brooder cage. We have to tap on things with a finger to emulate pecking and it gets the idea that we are kindred behaviorally. She developed really, really fast. Within two weeks we went from the size of a fluffy quarter to the size of a baseball with comically large feet. The adult feathers are also nearly already in. I expect it will be able to fly and roost in the top of the brooder in a matter of days.

On a related note: I recently found out that several of the moms that deal with my daughter at extracurricular activities came to my defense at a PTA meeting. Someone on the staff made a derogatory comment about homeschooling. The parents had used me as an example on how the local curriculum does not in fact address the needs of all of the children in the community, and probably omits a fairly sizable number. The moms explained that I had managed to teach Fi and the school would not have been able to do it.

The parents of other children may not think to hire their own psychologist or experts. Then their children are tested by the school with exams that are well known to "normalize" them by having an exceptionally low ceiling of measurement. Even the IQ test the school uses has a maxiumum score of 130, which means that a child may only score borderline gifted. This sets up untold numbers of highly capable kids for boredom and under-performance (especially if they are girls).

I would be delighted if the school did develop a program that accommodated children with accelerated skills and asynchronous development. I would certainly enroll her. I would also love to see them use more foreign language (We're currently soaking up Mandarin, Spanish, French, Korean, Finnish and Papamiento).

It was nice to learn that of those moms that were most speculative about my choices for Fi, many have become supporters after interacting with her.


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