I'd like to take this opportunity to elaborate on my home education. I realize that there are many different interpretations of the term "home school" and I feel obliged to explain my personal methods and philosophy. As copies of my curricula will be included in the Secondary School Report, I will not go into detail concerning the specific nature of my studies, but rather I will discuss my home schooling experience.
I left traditional schooling at age nine, until which point I had attended the local public schools. Although I did well in the school system, I was often bored and complained that I was unchallenged. My parents had researched into home schooling and after a family discussion we decided to try it following the winter vacation of fourth grade.
Our approach was very structured when we first began and has gradually evolved to the natural style we live by now. Throughout my high school years I have taken the majority of the responsibility for my education. Each August my mother and I plan a curriculum together, which is a combination of what I want to study and what she feels I ought to know. I study Latin using a text with accompanying audio tapes and a reader with passages to be translated into English. I complete a detailed research project on a subject of interest in the social sciences -- Australian aborigines, for example, or the Vietnam war. My mother forms a reading list with approximately eight works of literature which I must read and discuss. During the year I add many of my own selections, including science fiction, plays, non-fiction, and often novels which my friends recommend.
My parents are always available for help, yet they do not act as teachers and do not constantly monitor my progress. I have had to take responsibility for managing my own time, which gave me the freedom to explore my interests in depth and pursue them at great length. There is no need to finish a certain amount of work per day or to cram a bunch of meaningless facts in the night before an exam. I do not receive grades in any of the subjects I study at home, because I do not move on until I thoroughly understand the material. There is time to learn, time to make mistakes and to fix them, to figure out why and how something works.
There is nothing I love so much as a good experiment in the basement. My dad and I have built crystal radios and kites and circuits, all of which later helped me in college physics. I worked out of chemistry kits, testing our home for radon and building solar powered boats. Lab techniques evolved into detailed studies on our front lawn with different soils, water levels, and seeds, trying to figure out just why we could never get grass to grow. It's important to realize that my parents didn't teach me all of this; they provided me with grass seed and books and duct tape.
Perhaps the most traditional studying I've done at home was out of Saxon math texts. I've taught...