His blonde hair is trimmed clean and close. His glasses give the impression of a passionate math student. He teaches chess as part of a before and after school program for struggling students. "There's no way I can give each kid their $11 worth each hour," he admits. He shakes his head, a bit like a dog drying off, definitive.
What dominates our conversation, however, is not the limited time he has to teach the groups of a dozen or so children, the challenge of special needs, or even the hugs from students that "serve as my performance reviews" -- this he says with a giant grin. No. What he wants to talk about is how much time schools waste.
"This one school has an assembly every Thursday morning." He looks at me, inviting me to ask.
"What do they talk about every week?"
He produces a gorilla shrug. "Exactly!" He's as excited now as he was when talking about the affection his kids have for him. "I have no idea! In fact, in a school that large, it takes a ton of time just to file all the kids in and out. It's an hour of that, every week, for 36 weeks, for every single student. File in. File out. And when you have a mass of kids like that..." he pauses. "Large groups of children do not tend to propagate maturity."
"I'll have to blog that," I tell him.
This observation flies in the face of the "socialization" accusation leveled against homeschoolers. It reminds us, yet again, that kids do not learn how to behave from other children. Children learn maturity from adults. At best, kids learn conformity from one another; that is not a good trait, pushing us ever further from Neil deGrasse Tyson's goal of empathy in education.
Unlike my friends who are teachers, you are not beholden to a school system's schedule demands. You do not need to release your children for an assembly every Thursday so they can practice walking into and out of the gymnasium. You can work with your children and encourage them to grow in maturity.
And, if you want, you can get them involved in a chess club, either locally or online.
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad