19 November 2010


My younger sister V is going to University for a biology course in order to keep her mind busy. Unlike both my sisters and my mom, I have no post secondary education at all and I have no idea what I'd even be interested in. So I decided to do what I remember V doing many, many years ago: she went through the course calendar (?) and circled all the courses that looked interesting. If my memory serves me correctly, most of the courses that interested her fell into the Anthropology category. She ended up getting her teaching degree with that background. I think.

I have also been thinking of upgrading or taking courses of interest, and while I was on the website for our local University I saw myself on a boat. A little rowboat. All the information about post secondary institutions from courses to registration to fees to degrees were also on rowboats. Each bit of information had it's own boat. Every boat was far away from me so I could only see the boat, not what specific information was on it, nor how much information. I had no oars or outboard motor on my boat so I had no idea how to get to the boats of information. In my past I just sat back in my boat and acknowledged that while the information was out there for post secondary education, it was out of reach for me. This time I used my hands to propel me to at least one boat. It took me a half hour from entering the University's website in the address field to me finding a listing of all the courses the University has to offer.

I wanted to print out the course listings because I find it easier to read paper than monitor but saw the document was in the 300 page range. Ok, not doing that. Instead I scanned each listing in alphabetical order to see what's interesting to me. I didn't read all of them (just too much info) but found that psychology and sociology are fascinating to me. Unfortunately, only the higher level courses are of any interest, not the entry level ones. Since I'm not willing to put the time, money, or energy into pursuing a degree yet, I just shelved my interest in post secondary for now. At least I have an oar for later.

T is also going to post secondary soonish. He's feeling a fair bit of pressure about what school to attend and what he can get out of each school. Luckily they have open houses throughout the year in the Computing Science department so we can see what's what in January. He also wants to pay for his education completely on his own. No scholarships, bursaries or loans. While I admire that I have been slowly getting him to see the benefits of having some help here and there. T is a black and white thinker (like me) and feels that if he can't pay for it himself he won't go to school. I hope to turn his thinking around a bit so he doesn't lose out on the opportunity to go and get a better job doing something he loves.

J is enrolled in a new school now. He hadn't been attending his junior high at all. Well, mostly not anyway. His last full day at the school was the first day of school. He is extremely attached to his girlfriend and they wanted to go to school together so they found a school right in between her place and ours and J asked if I could transfer him. The school is for teens who experience an interruption in their education (apparently skipping school is considered an interruption but also pregnancy, poor home environment and drug use qualify). J qualifies. I talked to the principal and set up a date for a tour and to get J on the waiting list.

We got to see the school this week and took Girlfriend with us. I got J registered, but Girlfriend's mother is a drug addict and was unable to get her registered, so Girlfriend got her probation officer to do it. Apparently your probation officer can sign papers as a guardian or some such thing. So now they both go to this school. It's a Charter school which means it's not run by the city but still needs to follow the province's education guidelines. Because of the nature of the school, the population is 88% Aboriginal. So while J is in the minority, his girlfriend fits right in. Instead of having classes, each student is required to learn at their own pace. They are given work to do in the subject block (Social, Math, etc) and they work independently of the other students. J and Girlfriend were very disappointed to only get in one block together - Foods - but I pointed out that the principal skipped the queue for J. There was a waiting list to get in but the principal felt that because J has support from home (almost all the kids in the school have a negative or damaging home life) he should get in sooner. And Girlfriend skipped the queue because J didn't want to go without her.

This learning style of going at your own pace should be better for J in the long run (I hope). The thing he hated most about school was waiting for the rest of the class to catch up when he already understood the material. I can relate to that. It's also the biggest problem I had in school. One of the biggest challenges J has now is catching up as he has officially skipped grade 9. This school begins at grade 10 and is supposed to be for teens 15+, J is 14 (Girlfriend is 15). I pointed out to the principal that if J doesn't get in based on his age or grade level, to keep in mind that if J keeps skipping he will be passed to grade 10 anyway by the city. He will then enter grade 10 unprepared, or he can join this school unprepared for grade 10 because he hasn't taken the grade 9 curriculum. That caused the principal to pause. He then admitted that some students have entered the school with literacy at grade 2 level when they should be at grade 10. J has started the testing to see what kind of lesson plan they need for him. Girlfriend as well. I am cautiously optimistic that J will actually attend this school. At least, more than he did his previous school.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you and J are finding a way around his lack of schooling! If I remember correctly, J and his girlfriend have been a couple for quite some time now which is unusual for his age and a very positive thing for him. Hope everything goes well :)
Love, Mom

Chantelle said...

I didn't know that J had been seeing his girlfriend for so long, but I'm thrilled that the principal and school are moving heaven and earth for him to be in school.

He's a very smart kid and I hope that by learning at his own pace, he'll be able to learn more quickly and go to school more often. Like ever :)

I've been talking to T about post-secondary education as well. I'm trying to convince him to go to university because a) I think college will bore him and b) he wants to work at companies that require a university education. I'll talk to him more about going with loans and stuff (and possibly a co-op education). He's also a smart kid.

Another option for him might be for you to set up an RESP so that his auntie and uncle and grandma can contribute to it for him.

BTW, I found that later university courses are way more interesting than earlier ones. I felt that I had to just get through the early ones before I could learn anything useful, you know?

Love you,

The Hyperlexian Aspie said...

yes, you did have my method of choosing courses correctly pinpointed. Anthropology coursework eventually translated into a minor in Intercultural/International Education... whatever that means.

and yes, the higher levels of courses did appear more interesting, but the entry-level ones were often more fun than they appeared to be in the listings.

chantelle, it's too late to set up the government-sponsored RESP for T (or my child). he would only qualify for any regular type of savings plan through any bank at this point. there is some kind of age limit on the Canadian RESP program. but i suppose T could have some other kind of savings plan instead.

if T is reluctant to accept financial help, maybe he could work full-time for a few years and save up for his education that way.