For months now I have been getting e-mails from Facebook, recommending I add as friends people I have never met. People whose first language is Spanish. People who don’t even live in the same country as me.
OK, I speak passable caveman Spanish. I can read and understand, but when I go to speak, all I can think is French. Or German. Or how to say “hello” in Thai. I think they call this tongue-tied.
Also, I do have some friends—as well as some “friends”—who speak Spanish. A few whose native language is Spanish. But when Facebook, a mindless machine made by men (and women, except they are not alliterative), keeps sending you recommendations for Spanish speakers you have no connection with, you’ve got to wonder.
What you wonder is up to you.
I am just about to start my first online teaching experience. Two (or is it three?) professions ago, I was a college English teacher. I could never decide what to get a PhD in, so I could never get a tenured position, so I eventually gave it up for graphic design. But I never loved graphic design, which paid the bills, the way I loved teaching, which didn’t.
Luckily, I became a homeschooler. The cool thing about homeschooling is that you get to be many of the things that no one would ever pay you to be. Like, once I did dissections of frogs with my kids. Let me assure you, no one would pay me to be a biology teacher. We had fun, though.
So now, into the sixth year of homeschooling, I get to go back to my original love, teaching English. But the cool thing is, I don’t have to find a bunch of people in my same area, find a place for us to meet, and hope that we’ll all get there every week. Instead, I’m renting an online classroom and we’ll see how it goes.
I just had a piece accepted by the wonderful Life Learning Magazine about how homeschoolers can use the Internet with an emphasis more on the HOME than on the SCHOOL. In no way am I going to run my online class like a high school lit class. In fact, high school lit classes were why I decided never to take a literature class as an undergrad. But the cool thing is, we’re all going to be HOME. It’s hopefully going to integrate fun conversation and thoughtful interaction with our home environment. Oh, yes, we’ll probably get together physically if we can once during the year, but the rest of the time, we’ll be able to find each other online.
OK, online class sounds great, but the other day my son had an experience that is completely new in this day and age. When we were kids, my husband and I had “snow days” when the snow hadn’t been plowed before it was time for the buses to go out. (Me more than him – I remember the thrill of listening to the radio station and hearing the name of my town in the list. Since it was a relatively wealthy town, we had a dismaying number of snow plows ready to get us to school.) Well, once in my son’s life there has been a snow day: when he was attending a school at the top of Mount Madonna in Santa Cruz County.
But now he’s got a claim his dad and I can’t match: He had an Internet Day yesterday! His algebra teacher’s Internet connection was down. Ten minutes after class should have started, I got a phone call (from “Wireless Caller”, doncha just love that caller I.D.?). His teacher asked if we could let all the students know what happened.
And I was brought back to the days of crowding around the radio at breakfast time.
“Yes!! Snow Day!” we’d all yell, and we’d put on our gear to go out sledding or grab a game to play with a sibling or grab that book we thought we were going to have to leave behind all day…
When I told my son, he didn’t react like that. Just a slow smile. “Bonus!” he was probably thinking. “Internet Day.”
Next time he’s waiting for his teacher and the phone rings, it’s going to be like when I was a kid and I woke to a newly quiet and snow-padded world. Fire up that radio. What’s a radio, Mom?
My husband has been initiating our daughter into the world of Dr. Who. Now, between our two kids, you’d probably peg my son as the potential Dr. Who fan. But like his mother, he has too little patience with sitting in front of an image he can’t manipulate. But my daughter is loving it. She and her father are starting to make Dr. Who puns to each other and give each other knowing looks when her brother and I don’t know what they’re talking about.
When my son was younger, a family member of mine accused me of making him a social misfit.
“If he doesn’t watch bad TV, what’s he going to talk to his friends about?” he asked.
I’m proud now to know that at least one of my children will be able to have a conversation about a TV show. Even if it is a TV show that happened before she was even ovulated.
Right now, I’m supposed to be balancing our financial records. This is not a task I relish, though each year, it gets easier and easier. Pieces of paper are only occasionally involved in this task nowadays. Magically, I download my credit card charges and they match the ones on the PDF I see on my screen. Magically, money that doesn’t actually exist moves from one account to another, from our account to PG&E.
Being a modern home engineer qualifies one for all sorts of jobs that didn’t exist when we were kids. Perhaps if I need to, I’ll be able to sell my skills for avoiding household accounts while running an online class when the weather report threatens a Comcast outage of extreme proportions.
It’s all in a day in the life.