Welcome to the dressage spot, a place for the young (or young at heart) dressage riders wanting to gain information on the sport of dressage, training tips, equine health care, maintenance and fun!

Monday, December 9, 2013


    It seems that a really hot button issue this year has been about education for riders.  This has probably been an issue for athletes from the beginning of sports!  We tell stories of the greats who dropped out of school to justify our decisions.  I mean even Bill Gates was a drop out at one time.  Over the last 6years this question has plagued me and my family.  I wanted to pursue my riding capabilities as far as I could.  Often public school regulations, like the number of days you could miss,interfered with my ability to participate in required qualifying events.  Even private school was often difficult because missed material meant always playing ‘catch-up’ to the class to stay in a group lecture format.  I found a great alternative in K12icademy.  This is a private international accredited school out of the state of Virginia.  
    Many older generations look at online or any type of ‘homeschool’ environment and think that attendees are put at a disadvantage.  Let’s look at some of the facts.  16 states have now licensed and accredited K12 for alternative education for current residents.  Many brick and mortar schools like LakeWashington HS in Kirkland, WA are themselves moving toward an online format with students working at an individual pace with a more one-on-one direction from teachers.  These students tend to be more independent workers, self-motivators and have deeply enriched educations.
    Furthermore, in a world of fast paced life where everyone tries to maximize their time an old fashioned education can becounterproductive.   For example, when I was in middle school the first class of the day was home room.  We spent 45 minutes discussing administrative housekeeping that rarely pertained to me.  Then we spent 10 minutes between each class (a total of 70 minutes a day) changing rooms.  The first 5-10 minutes in each class was used in taking roll.  The next 5-10 minutes were used to return or take up papers.  Then there would be a few minutes of some distractions from the joker of the class.  Then we would get about 20 minutes of instruction at best and then 5-10 minutes to get homework assignments, pack up books and head to the next class.  This meant in a 50 minute class we actually got about 20 minutes of class.  Now of the 7 periods, one was lunch and one was PE.  So we had 5 content classes.  That meant we had on average 100 minutes or less than two hours in a 7-8 hour day for actual work.  
    Furthermore, if we wanted to take a foreign language the limitations were set by the teachers that were available.  They taught Spanish, German, French and occasionally something random.  What if I wanted Latin and Chinese?  What if I wanted Paleontology or a hands-on Oceanography lab? A brick and mortar school has limitations of offerings.  An online school’s limitations are the limitless web.  You can also combine unique aspects to your education that you can’t do in a group class atmosphere. For example, when studying Renaissance artist you have the ability to go to museums regularly to experience the art which you are studying.  Field trips in today’s high school education are rare.  
    So here is my point.  Don’t be afraid of finding alternatives that complete many needs.  I come from a family of professors, doctors and lawyers.  There is no chance that I won’t pursue an education.  I understand the need for diverse learning and how an education has great value to me.  But there are alternative roots to education.  For example, after my often questioned“home schooled” educational route people wondered if I would ‘get in’ to a good university. Even my friends sometimes looked askance at my work and my future.   I was accepted at University of Washington, Washington State, Seattle University, and even Cornell.  One of the things my interview with the Cornell University administrator taught me was that they found my K12 education valuable!  She stated that they found these students to be highly successful in college, often because they had to be independent learners.   So I think we should quit thinking of higher education and athletics as a one or the other option.  If you are creative and willing to put in some time to work out unique alternatives you can have both!  It is just a matter of sometimes thinking outside the box and accepting ‘non -normal’ alternatives.  If you want to live a dream sometimes you have to be willing to accept challenges that others might think aren’t normal or average.  It doesn’t mean don’t go to school; it means find new ways to do so; be willing to adjust and compromise.  

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for the break-down, and well-said! Alternative educations have been around long enough, I was surprised at the misconceptions that still existed. I was livid to find people thoughtlessly telling my 10 year old that home-schoolers don't get socialized. Since this was while she was volunteering and keeping pace with the otherwise all adult crew, I felt it to be especially "not bright", as well. Hello? That kid is conversing with adults, caring and working hard, not silent and someone's shadow here. I am holding her back in school (she started algebra at 8, is advanced in science, is at a near high-school level just from our lifestyle, and reads tot he point where she has an alarm telling her when she has to put the book down and got o SLEEP) so that childhood is placed first. She could easily graduate at 13, but she loves to take her schoolwork (even in this cold snap) out to the hay and sit and do it near the horses, she has a lot more time to ride, sing, play and do other activities that make life valuable. This kid of confident walking up to a stranger to ask a question or thank a veteran, she is able to shop for me when I am struggling and is very independent and capable. My oldest niece, also home-schooled, has 2 acceptances, so far to med school and waiting on possibly going to Ireland for study, all while riding competitively and keeping a 4.0 at WSU in pre-med and earning the ER scribe of the year award at work. She graduated with her bachelor's at just a month past her 20th birthday. It's not the rout for everyone! But for those of us very driven, it offers great flexibility and quality of education. Ginger-Kathleen