Challenges great and small…

I have been facing some interesting challenges of late. I don’t just have the challenge of trying to find a job. I have other challenges.

After being laid off my job, I was faced with having to cut back on expenses. As with most everyone, one of the larger bills is internet and cable, so I decided to cut out cable and just have the internet. I was spurred into action to do this when another company tried to win me over as a customer.

I had signed up to switch over because the new company had unlimited data for their internet solution. When my provider at the time found out I was switching they called and convinced me to stay as their customer. They did this by telling me I could reduce my plan and not worry about my data usage since they don’t charge their customers if they go over their data usage for their plan. I was reassured to not worry about it.

Since then, I have received two calls. One last month, trying to get me to switch plans due to exceeding my data usage. When I chose not to change my plan, they sent me an email with guidelines on what I could do to possibly reduce my data usage. I told them I would try but in fact, there wasn’t anything I could do.

I was called again today because they said my data usage had gone up. This is not surprising since my daughter is now doing all her school work from home and I am also taking classes, all involving a lot of video downloads. This time however when I asked what would happen if I didn’t lower my usage, I was told they may suspend my services for three days in an attempt to try and get me to comply. I told them, no problem, I’ll find another provider that has unlimited data usage. There are a few in Canada now that do provide this. In fact, the one I was going to switch to would provide it and the cost would be the same that I am now paying and being harassed about my data usage from my current provider.

Of course, when I told him I would find another provider, his response was the other providers would cost more. This is always their response and then when I find one that doesn’t cost more, then they offer me special cost reductions for a year, then we go through this all again. (yes, I’ve been through similar situations with this same company but for other reasons) My year will be up in August for this special pricing. I am sure I will find another provider and I won’t have to be bullied any more. So my work is ahead of me to research and have discussions with other internet providers.

The other challenge I am facing is trying to find my daughter an educational program that will fit her style of learning and her current situation. My daughter has missed a lot of school the first two semester due to a severe hormone imbalance that ends up with her out of school two weeks out of every four weeks. We finally transferred her to a distance education program recommended by her school counselor. However, the transition was not smooth.

The transition though quick, had problems. The work she completed in her classes in the public school was not transferred well to the new school. Her course schedule included a lot of repeating work she had already completed INCLUDING courses she learned in previous elementary grade levels. She had progressive teachers in her elementary school who included teaching modules that were in higher grade levels.

Inspiration and motivation to take the modules in her course curriculum was severely lacking. I can’t blame her. Especially when some of the modules were from her current year as well which she had completed. We sat down together and went through her science curriculum and by just looking at the titles of the modules my daughter was able to tell me all about the course and what she knew and when she had learned it and from which teacher.

The other challenge was, in essence, the distance education program she transferred into was nothing more than all the public school classes converted to online modules, videos, and reading materials. Very dry and boring stuff. Her assignments were the same only instead of handwritten assignments they were now typed and emailed to her teachers for grading or downloaded into a special folder for her teachers to access.

The first month to two months was fraught with issues. One assignment she turned in couldn’t be accessed by her teacher, it took three times and almost a week for her teacher to get it. Another teacher had assigned her to grade 9 math and she was supposed to be in grade 8 math. They were supposed to omit her from a portion of the modules that she had already completed from her previous school and yet looking at her curriculum it looked like she had all four semesters to complete and no idea of where to start except at the beginning. She ended up getting almost through one whole module before finding out she didn’t have to do that module.

This just added frustration upon frustration for her and her motivation ceased almost entirely. In the process, I, as her home facilitator, am supposed to monitor her progress. However, the tools to do so are completely non-existent. In order for me to see what she has done, I log onto her account, and can only look at the report where they log her grades. The only progress they show is when her grades are submitted and then the report is upgraded to show a percentage completed. I am unable to see her progress on a day-to-day level unless I’m sitting watching over her shoulder or she shows me what she has completed. Anyone having a fourteen year old will know that doesn’t happen.

Consequently, because of missed attendance and inability to keep up with her school work, she is facing the possibility of failing grade 8. Anyone who knows how smart my daughter is would be immensely shocked at this. I have been at a loss as to what to do.

Just walking by her the other day, I heard her exclaim, “Why can’t I just write my own story?” I asked her what that was all about and she said, the assignment was to write the next chapter to the book they had been assigned to read. In her opinion, the way the book had ended, there was nothing to write about for the next chapter.

I can understand her frustration. English is about learning the tools. It isn’t about whether you can continue writing a story someone else wrote. It isn’t even about whether you have the imagination to write a story. It is about learning the tools, can you put the words together to form a sentence, sentences together to form a cohesive paragraph, and then yes at least the understanding of how to formulate a story. Does it make sense. Did you leave out punctuation that can cause someone to understand the sentence, or paragraph differently from what you meant?

I agree that children should attempt to write a story, or poetry or other forms of writing because if they don’t then they will never know if it is something they would really enjoy doing. But teachers and sometimes those agencies who administer the requirements for education miss the point completely. If my daughter wants to write her own story then why not let her instead of writing a sequel to a story someone else wrote? Either one would provide the proof of my daughter’s knowledge in writing to satisfy educational requirements.

After hearing her exclamation and the frustration in her voice and body language, I realized I needed to find another solution. When she was having the issue with public school I considered home schooling and started researching it. Finding out she would not qualify for a graduate certificate if she is home schooled I spoke with her counselor about other options which is why she ended up in the distance education program.

With finally accepting that this particular distance education program isn’t a fit for her, I reconsidered home schooling and started researching it. I came across a Home Educators’ Association and found other resources which led me to other distance education programs and ultimately to SelfDesign.

SelfDesign is an education program which allows parents and students to have a say in how and what they learn. They still adhere to the education requirements and will qualify for a graduate certificate but in a much more fluid way. If it works as I hope it will and as it has been described to me, my daughter will be able to choose how she learns math, or what she will do for English and so forth. For instance, it was described to me this way, if a student loves art, then there are ways in which they can learn math through their art. Students are given an education counselor, these are certified teachers who will discuss with my daughter what she loves to do, and how she likes to learn, then with the cooperation of the student they create an education plan together and they offer resources or help her find resources she can use in her learning. They can use real life experiences as proof of her knowledge on a subject and any other various ways to provide proof of her knowledge to earn her graduate certificate.

I made the comment that this seemed so different from public school and the distance education program she was in that I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around how it would all work. I was told to throw away everything I knew about public school and the way they administer education. SelfDesign was founded in 1990, so they have been doing this for a long time. They are having more and more families enroll their children because the regular school system no longer meets the needs of their children.

I am excited about this for my daughter. She is also excited about it. It melds very well with what I have been teaching her since she was born. I have shown her how she can learn anything she wants to on her own with the right resources. Finding this school now, I feel, is a blessing and a confirmation of what I have tried to do with my daughter since day one.

It is my belief this will free her to grow in leaps and bounds and no longer feel restricted or confined or controlled by a governing system that in my opinion is becoming outdated. I think too it will help her build confidence and belief in herself and her abilities.

The first challenge I mentioned is really just a nagging pain in the ass type of challenge and a confirmation that corporations can’t be trusted to stand by their word. Integrity in large corporations seems to be lacking these days.

This second challenge, I feel, is a major life changing event for my daughter, as well as myself. It is my hope this will free us both up to become more than we ever expected to be.




About Kate Spyder

I'm a creative individual finding her way in her writing. I enjoy expressing my deep thoughts through poetry and stories. I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoy writing them.
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