My kids are in there somewhere...
So I'm baaaaack!
It took us 10 hours to drive back from Ohio on Friday - ain't nothing like hitting New York City at rush hour (5:40 pm) on a Friday night at the end of a long drive! Recall last week my family attended a homeschooling, er...UNSCHOOLING convention.
Unschooling is a subset of parentally-directed education where the parents, well, don't do much if anything at all. And this is particularly the case if these people self-identify, usually within a minute of meeting you(!), as radical unschoolers.
These lucky(?) kids are allowed to do whatever they please. WHATEVER.
They can and do watch color TV all day; they generally play video games to an excess; in fact many have never been told *no* in their entire lives - lest their self-esteem be irretrievably damaged - or something.
I met one proud unschooling mom who told me that her son, while almost 10, can't read yet. Though she comforts herself with the belief that he's really adept at some extraordinarily complex video games.
"He really wants to learn how to read too..."
Well, have you helped him at all?
"No. I want him to learn naturally, on his own."
Then, eager to mercifully change subjects I inquired if she ever had him tested for dyslexia and whatnot. To that she replied in the negative, and maintained, "I don't think that's the case....I really know my son well." I did point her toward that great book on illiteracy but I'd be shocked if she took action on my suggestion.
It's all about allowing these precious kids to have a *carefree childhood*, or so I was told, over and over again.
Whatever. I maintain that they are just hippy kids of hippy parents. Tied-dye is pretty common among this set. Although I must say that I'll still take *parents* screwing up their broods over *institutions* any day of the week.
There were 300 families there and many of them, in hushed tones, admitted that they were more like myself and prone to utilizing workbooks and at least occasional reading instruction.
Overall I would say that our trip, once I stopped talking to people(!), was a tremendous success. What I've learned, now that I've been involved with homeschooling groups in Boston, on Long Island, and now that I've met a bunch more homeschooling families in Ohio....I've learned that homeschooling parents generally DO NOT want to discuss how they are educating their children EVEN WITH OTHER HOMESCHOOLING PARENTS. And why should they? After all, the manner in which parents raise their children really isn't, or should be, anyone else's business.
Last week we enjoyed some great and much-needed family time. The kids had a blast. After all the hotel sports *the largest indoor water park*. When the rain stopped we also made it to Cedar Point which is ranked, I think, the number one amusement park in the world(?). They have something crazy like ten rollercoasters.
Now we went there mostly for the kids and mostly to get out of the hotel for a day. But after spending $100 to get in I felt obligated to ride at least a few of these supposedly famous rollercoasters. I had previously asked my wife's cousins and they told me to ride the Millennium Force - that it was the best.
I had to wait 15 minutes in line (apparently it's usually an hour!) amongst a few hundred geeked-up kids from government junior and high schools. They were all scared to death and talking like, yeah....you get the point.
I'm just about 37 years old and haven't been on a rollercoaster in exactly 20 years (Hershey Park). Guess what, by the time I got close to the front of the line I too was scared out of my wits. The initial descent is FREAKIN' 310 FEET HIGH. "Why the (bleep) am I doing this?", I wondered.
And in all seriousness, I told myself to constrict my anus once the ride started. I didn't need to be departing the ride with two-toned trousers. The last thing I wanted was to have 10 kids whip out their cordless cell phone cameras and make me a 7-digit hit YouTube sensation!
Here's the ride. Remember to squeeze:
Guess what - it wasn't that bad. I remember as a kid being more scared on regular rollercoasters like the behemoth at Riverside Park in Agawam, Massachusetts. There weren't even any loops on it but back in the day all these rides were wooden and you REALLY DID THINK they would break or you'd fly off the tracks.
But the Millennium Force is new and the ride was relatively smooth. In fact it felt like riding in a BMW and so I left the track with my scat contained...
I had to do at least one more rollercoaster and some guy, an employee there, recommended that I do the Maverick next. So I got in that 30 minute line.
(BTW, Cedar Point has no less than a jillion employees there staffing the rides and maintaining the grounds. It seems to me mostly college kids; they earn $7.40 an hour and live in dorm-like buildings for $20 a week.)
It doesn't look intimidating at all since it is so relatively low to the ground. And after conquering the Millennium Force I wasn't worried, or squeezing, at all.
But I should have!
This one made me sick - not all the way sick, but sick enough to delay lunch for another hour and sick enough to keep me off ANY MORE rides the rest of the day.
I do have a bit of a weak stomach for these things. The zero-gravity spinning rides killed me years ago a few times. BUT I've never been whipped like this from a non-rotational ride before.
It just goes so damn fast - like there's a rocket booster on the back of the coaster. I couldn't walk when I de-trained and my hands,...are still numb!
Since I was *done*....I didn't get to brave this one - the 420 foot high Top-Thrill Dragster:
Apparently there have been some issues with this one. It occasionally stalls out at the top or something. And get this...just before one group of Morons were launched, they paused the ride while a technician went under the train with a wrench in full view. I started taunted the kids on the ride; I told them I could see brackets dangling off; etc. They didn't laugh. And they didn't laugh either when the mechanic guy left and hollered, "IT SHOULD BE OKAY". Should? Seriously.
BTW, less than an hour after I rode the Maverick it malfunctioned - stalling out with people on the track.
Y'all go ahead there and have fun now!
Getting back to the unschooling event...
I'm going to have my kids blog this on some of the activities.
The real highlights for me were that I got 20 minutes of one-on-one time at the bar with James Marcus Bach - a very successful (Apple product tester) school dropout...
AND I also got 20 minutes of quality time with author and blog-buddy Laura Grace Weldon!
She didn't recognize me at first....because I had a shirt on.
Of the countless people CaptiousNut has become acquainted with online over the past 6+ years....Laura is the first I've had the pleasure to meet. So she knows I'm real and she knows I'm even more hilarious in person! Who's next?
Taylor stood me up once in NYC. WestCoastTom has threatened to come visit but apparently doesn't leave California, EVER...
For more on unschooling see - Sudbury Valley Empiricism.