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Will school ever be the whole story?

Although she’s only equivalent to Grade 9 by age and this semester is taking three academic Grade 12 courses, school has ended up being fairly unchallenging for Fiona. She picked up a DL Spanish course in October to fill her days and that helped while it lasted. It’s not like she’s completely miserable; she enjoys her teachers and friends, and she is certainly learning something. But considering she finishes almost all of her work in class, and has a 99.5% average in courses that are among the most advanced the school offers, it’s safe to say that she will not be adequately challenged in the years to come. There is only one more math course (Calculus) available at her school, and she can’t enrol in it until January 2019 at the earliest since priority is given to Grade 12 students and it is over-subscribed this year. She’s got half the senior sciences completed already.

She’ll still have 24 credits (6 courses) left to do after this semester ends in order to meet the graduation requirements, and we were hoping she would stretch those out over a few more years. But I think she’s going to need higher level learning, and I’m not quite sure how to fill that need.

She learns wonderfully in a teacher-led classroom amongst older, enthusiastic students. She is very relationship-driven as a learner and she loves having personal connections with her teachers, particularly if the connections involve shared dry, dark senses of humour. So reverting to online solitary learning isn’t ideal, even though she’ll do it (as with Spanish) to serve a purpose. It just doesn’t light her fire, though.

Community college enrolment or cross-enrolment would be ideal, except that we don’t have a college nearby that offers academic courses. And being 14, she isn’t about to head off to university or to the city for work experience, nor can she do a work-travel gap year abroad. And she’s not particularly interested in a language exchange: she would likely have to drop dance, she is reticent about what would surely if only for liability reasons be a far more controlling environment than she enjoys here, and she’s not particularly interested in language immersion anyway.

She has more energy for dance, which now takes up between 17 and 20 hours a week. She arrives at the studio rested and eager for challenge, which is a lovely change from her over-stretched tired demeanor last year. And she still has enough time in her weekdays to practice violin for at least a few minutes a day. We’ve also got a couple of trips organized for her this year, a marine biology guided education trip to Baja in March and a three-week backpacking style trip to Ecuador and the Galapagos in January-February with some family friends. She’ll have some catching up to do at school as a result, which will create some short-term challenge. All of which is great for now, and generally she is happy. But … for how long will the current situation continue to meet her needs? Not long, I expect.

So we’re starting to look outside the box again.



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3 responses to “Will school ever be the whole story?”

  1. Jessi Avatar

    Hi Miranda,
    I don’t have any suggestions for Fiona’s challenges, but just wanted to say that I have been reading your blog off and on for years and I enjoy it so much. I have found so few on-line resources for inspiring parenting–especially since the boards sort of fell apart. So glad to see you here still plugging away on the blog.

  2. Gen Avatar

    In Alberta, several high schools have partnerships with post-secondary institutions to provide dual-credit courses; students get credit in both high school and post-secondary institutions.

    It may be something that the local high school may want to consider providing to their students, especially if they have some parents and students asking for it. I did a quick look and found this pdf on similar programs being offered in BC:

    1. Miranda Avatar

      Yes, I mentioned that in my second-last paragraph. But it just isn’t possible where we live: the nearest campus offering academic courses is 40 minutes away by car, longer by transit, and away from the “other” home where we are already dividing our lives. Furthermore, her high school doesn’t have a consistent week-to-week schedule, so her spare blocks only repeat once per month in the same time slot. This makes it almost impossible to use spare school blocks for university courses or other types of enrichment that are consistently scheduled. And as I say, she does not enjoy online courses, tolerating them only when they’re a quick and easy way to get a requirement out of the way so that she can get onto an appropriate level of challenge at school.

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