Sailing with homeschoolers
Jamie and Brad Schmidt brought their twin girls and teenage son to Williamsburg on a learning vacation. They’re homeschooled by Mom in Westminster, Colorado.
“We lucked out because this is Homeschool Week at Colonial Williamsburg,” Jamie said, “and they offered a good discount that we weren’t aware of when we planned this trip. We want to get as much education in as possible at Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. This sailing expedition is to get them hands-on experience of something new.”
I went through the Battle of the Capes and Siege of Yorktown with the narrative and illustrative paintings. The kids were dutifully attentive but were more interested in sailing. Unlike most kids, they were not preoccupied with their smart phones.
I asked, Why homeschool? “We just weren’t satisfied with the local schools and their preoccupation with standardized testing. The teachers spend too much time teaching to the test. Things are too bureaucratic. When I was growing up in Montana there were 30 students in our entire school. My mother was the superintendent. I got used to specialized attention, and that’s what we do today.
“I’ll give you an analogy. Let’s say I’m made of denim and you’re made of denim. We’re both strong. But my kids are made of silk, which is stronger and better.”
She added, “By the time they finish high school they will have completed several college courses in math and English.”
Jamie admitted to being over her head with some classes. “So they take them online.” But don’t they lose out on the classroom dynamic where kids help other kids? “They help each other. Sometimes they’ll assemble at 200 strong in a local school auditorium for a special program or a joint class.” I was surprised the school would allow such a thing, since they disdain homeschooling. Brad said, “This way they can keep an eye on us, to see what we’re up to.”
It’s not often you encounter kids who are so bright, articulate and curious. I marveled at their ability to follow instructions and their concentration. As a result, they made excellent helmsmen. When I asked Jamie how home-schooling was going, she pointed to the three of them on the bow chatting and laughing. “You tell me.”
We sailed all afternoon in winds of 10-15 mph, which had the boat heeling just fine to 15 degrees. Everyone got a crack at the wheel and enjoyed it immensely. They asked me why the boat was named Deadline, so I told them why. The dinghy was named Past Deadline. That drew Brad, who’s an architect, to say, “I have a friend who’s a contractor with a big boat. It’s named Change Order in big type. His dinghy is named in smaller type Original Contract.”
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