Monday, August 2, 2021

I Wouldn’t Return to Regular High School for All the Extra Credit in the World

I left Stuyvesant during my junior year in November of 2020 in order to assemble my own educational path and begin homeschooling. Now, more than four months into this endeavor, I can share what exactly I do and why it works better than standard schooling.

I decided which courses and curricula I would use.

Before I started homeschooling, I decided which courses and curricula I would use. The only other restriction on my educational freedom is that I have to be ready for my chosen AP exams in May. Though, how I prepare for them is entirely up to me, so I’ve developed a daily routine that keeps my education consistently progressing and conserves my reservoir of time and energy.

When I start my studies for the day, I select whichever subject I feel like studying or the subject in which I’ve made the least progress recently. If I don’t want to study calculus, physics, or economics, I might read or listen to a book. Or, I might write a blog post about education, like the one you’re reading. This optimizes my studying so I spend less than half as much time on schoolwork as Stuyvesant required, while learning more.

However, I don’t do my work faster. Although I do watch Khan Academy videos at 2x speed, as anyone who’s listened to Sal Khan’s voice for more than a few minutes would, when I face an unusually challenging calculus or physics problem, I often take longer to solve the problem than I would if I were solving it for homework or in school. I make sure to take as much time as I need to understand each step, and I attempt to solve the problem using as many different methods as I care to.

Another benefit of schooling at home is that whenever a Khan Academy lesson fails to fully compute in my mind, I simply open another tab and search YouTube for whatever I didn’t understand. Invariably, I find a video with an explanation that makes more sense to me so I can continue problem-solving without needless suffering.

Now, every student doing distance learning can replace their teacher with a better one at their own discretion.

Before distance learning, the closest we might get to being able to choose our teachers might have been the occasional Crash Course video in history class. Now, every student doing distance learning can replace their teacher with a better one at their own discretion. Unlike most of my peers, I get to keep this perk when schools return to in-person schooling.

After my daily academics comes the only regularly structured part of my day. I attend dance class via Zoom Tuesday through Friday, and on Mondays, I participate in the Stuyvesant Linguistics club. I know from experience that if I were still attending Stuyvesant, I would barely have enough time for dance, much less to attend a club that meets every week.

The best thing about homeschooling, by far, is that when I’m exhausted after dance class, I have no homework to do. Being fully present in dance class is infinitely easier now that I don’t constantly worry about getting my homework done in time for class tomorrow.

I wouldn’t return to regular high school for all the extra credit in the world. The benefits I’ve experienced from homeschooling have been revolutionary.

Gregory Wickham
Gregory Wickham was a student at Stuyvesant High School, a 2013 2nd place winner of the Michael Perelstein Memorial Scholarship Discover Your Passion Competition, and a quarter-finalist in the 2014 Young Rewired State Festival of Code. You can find his website at gregorywickham.com.

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