Do leopards change their spots? No? Thanks for all the fish….

by Yule Heibel on August 27, 2003

If you’re reading this and don’t know me, you might not know that I am a homeschooling parent. Shudder. Lunatic fringe. We — spouse & I — pulled our kids out of a “one-room school house” school in Salem, Massachusetts in June 2000 when he was 9 and she was 6. Then, last year was of course a chaotic business, what with moving to BC and settling into an oldish house that needed lots of renovation. …And I have to say that it was really really great to have that excuse: sorry, can’t put nose to grindstone, have the electrician in; sorry, haven’t cracked that material yet — the painters were in; sorry, the general contractor turned out to be a sorry crook who fired all the good crew and hired idiots, and we just can’t get to that math module at this time: sorry, sorry, sorry. Yet somehow we got a lot of work done, even though I wasn’t standing there like Dominatrix Docent, making them assume the position.

But this year is supposed to be “better” (more organized) which of course worries me. Aside from physical improvements, I’m pretty sure that there is no “better.” For example, right now she is voting against watching A Fish Called Wanda for the umpteenth time by singing/ reciting the entire repertoire of this Smiths album. She wants to see Black Adder instead. As you can see, my parenting style is immensely serious and it has coloured the offspring. Actually, it is of course perpetually insane around here and there is no better. Repeat.

It’s almost September, and it’s time to think about yet another school year, even if you wouldn’t be caught dead in an actual school.

One of the benefits of now living in Victoria, however, is access to South Island Distance Education School, S.I.D.E.S., one of 9 public distance ed. schools in BC, and probably the best of the lot. We began taking courses with S.I.D.E.S. last October, albeit part-time (all that renovation, remember?), which was fine since we’re slightly anarchistic types who don’t want to do “school at home.”

There are different homeschooling approaches — unschoolers, school-at-homers, the religious ones, the ideological ones, etc. We’ve been typically unschoolish, with occasional forays into fixed curricula. S.I.D.E.S. lets us keep some of the flexibility of unschooling, even as we pursue B.C. Ministry of Education curricula identical to the ones taught in the regular schools. With one major exception: the kids get to take courses appropriate to their level, regardless of chronological or “grade” age. She can take Math 7, Socials 8, and English 9 or 10; he can take Math 8, Socials 11, English 9; they both can take Science 8 and German 10. It doesn’t matter what age they are. But make no mistake about it; in just one week I’ll be back in harness as surely as if I were teaching courses somewhere. It will change my blogging, when I shift attention next week to their stuff. This might become the homeschooler’s blog.

But then again, it might not.

After all, there are always funny lines like “I’ve worn dresses with higher IQs than yours” (Wanda Gershowitz of the Fish movie, see above). “Aristotle was not Belgian”: ibid. Thanks Wanda, that’s an education.


Wendy August 28, 2003 at 2:30 pm

When I think of “Fish Called Wanda”, I hear “It’s K-K-K-Kenny K-K-K-Coming to K-K-K-Kill me!” So completely offensive, yet I can’t NOT laugh at Kevin Kline.

Betsy Burke August 28, 2003 at 5:04 pm

Well, I for one am waiting, like a seal off the fish-cleaning dock at the Oak Bay Marina, for any home-schooling morsels or offal that fall my way. So fire away.

Yule Heibel August 28, 2003 at 6:46 pm

Wendy: I agree, Kevin Kline is a scream in this movie, and making fun of Ken’s stuttering might be politically incorrect, but hilarious. (Besides, Otto, Klein’s character, subsequently gets run over by a steam roller driven by Ken, heh-heh.) The entire movie is a hoot, but the best lines go to Jamie Lee Curtis & Kevin Kline, 2 American crooks let loose among the Brits.

Betsy: I was thinking of hitchhiking off to another galaxy, but I’ll keep you posted. It’s an adventure, but it beats showing up at their school 3x per week because of some “problem.”

Joel August 29, 2003 at 2:54 am

I thought Ken’s stuttering made him more sympathetic: the rage I felt when Otto ate Wanda! I still want to hold his head down in the wet concrete and keep him there until he blew his last bubble.


Joel August 29, 2003 at 2:54 am

Oh, and I’ve heard that since Otto lost his job in South Africa, he’s become director of security for Halliburton’s Iraq operations.

Yule Heibel August 29, 2003 at 3:07 am

I agree, Joel: Ken was quite sympathetic. Otto I found remarkable because he was one of the only blatantly stupid and nasty characters in movies who was also very likeable. Says something for the screenplay, the quality of the writing, I guess. I loved how he told Archie’s wife (Wendy) off for being so Britishly stuck up when she questioned his CIA “cover,” and then, to trump his American superiority, huffily exits, singing “Deutschland, Deutschland oober alles.” And as for that animal-loving Ken, don’t forget his hypocritical attitude toward bumping off the (human) old lady. No qualms there for our PETA friend. Heh-heh. They were rogues, all. Lots of fun.

Joel August 30, 2003 at 5:39 am

I think Kevin Kline’s acting helped, too, Yule.

My favorite scene was when Otto had John Cleese’s character apologizing.

Yes, I have fun with PETA people, too. Too bad we don’t have the rabbit skin coat, still.

Joel August 30, 2003 at 5:40 am

Incidentally, I’ve been compared in real life to John Cleese….except I don’t have the accent.

Tonight we were discussing Monty Python films. I felt that the scene in Meaning of Life where John Cleese is teaching sex education by fornicating with his wife in front of a very bored looking class was a classic.

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