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This is a post by Gregory Wickham, a New York City student. He is the son of best-selling writer Alina Adams, who manages brightbeam’s blog, New York School Talk. Stuyvesant High School is one of NYC’s elite test-in schools, which last year admitted 10 Black students out of a freshman class of 760.
Two Mondays ago I began to homeschool myself in lieu of completing my tenure as a Stuyvesant High School student. There are many reasons I did this, including greater educational and temporal freedom, but it is important that I share not only why, but also how I homeschool, so that others may find it easier should they wish to do the same.
One of many reasons I chose to homeschool is that homeschooling allows me to pursue my interests. A plant that is permitted to grow towards sunlight will grow stronger than those which are prevented, and remain stronger even if they are later forced in a different direction. Being able to study subjects which I find intriguing allows me to do things that are interesting and simultaneously to improve my general studying skill because it gives me room to experiment with an endless variety of methods and styles of study.
Homeschooling also allows me to pace myself appropriately. To ensure a bright future, I must charge my battery in the present. To charge batteries more quickly, electrical current must be increased. I have chosen a path which I believe has a greater current to ensure I have more power when I encounter my next battery drain.
When one studies at their own pace, it is far more efficient than a teacher’s pacing for a class of 34. Studying at my own pace allows me to learn more in less time. When I realized, through conversations with my school counselor, that it would take more work to extract the education I wanted from Stuyvesant than to simply provide it to myself, I knew I had to homeschool.
I’ve now designed an environment where learning is the priority. Posing question after question, and going deeper into a subject beyond the scope of a designated lesson is the new standard. There are no more teachers to dismiss my queries in the interest of time. I don’t have to sit back and be taught anymore. I can actively learn.
Homeschooling allows me to balance my life. Spending less time solely on doing work I was assigned, I can spend more time computer programming, reading (and actually enjoying it), and sleeping. I can also delight in and truly appreciate my studies, because I like what I am learning. I can listen to my body and my mind. I can balance all my activities as I see fit, in order to maximize sustainability. I no longer make sacrifices by the DOE’s decree; I decide how much I sleep, as well as when and for how long I learn.
This new environment I’ve constructed allows me to draw from any source or resource. I have the option to follow any degree of structure or destructure that I see fit. I can calibrate myself for optimal performance, while still being able to (somewhat) objectively measure and showcase my performance on standardized tests, via AP exams. I can also subjectively showcase any additional skills with any project or creation I may conceive, without limitation from teachers or school schedules.
To be in control of one’s time is a great gift. I realize that there are many for whom circumstance would preclude their choosing the path I’ve embarked on. For those who have only surmountable barriers, however, I hope to share my story as it progresses, so that others might better be able to navigate a similar path for themselves.
In the coming weeks, I will share how I selected my courses, how I registered for AP exams, and much more, as I journey onward.