From Homeschool to Cyber-Cell-Phone School

Personal Notes

Noah, our oldest, college freshman at University of Cincinnati, has been working like a fiend (26 hours to pay for food and rent and the more important Road Runner connection for his computer) and suddenly had his Very First Essay due.

Jon teaches at the same university where Noah attends and knows what the department wants in these essays. But brave young freshman that he is, Noah didn’t want help… until, like, the eleventh hour. At that point, Jon couldn’t give it—he was teaching and sleeping!

So the task fell to me. After Noah’s late shift at work, he drove from school back to our house and we sat until the wee hours piecing together the opening paragraphs of his draft. Bleary-eyed from work and writing, I sent him to bed upstairs (after feeding him real food) where he slept the full seven hours. We rose early and did a bit more work until Noah headed out the door to make it in time to his first class.

After class, he called me from the library. We worked some more via phone. Alas, he had to leave for work again (another eight hour shift into the night). That night he called me at midnight. We chatted on the phone while he emailed the drafts. I read and made comments while he typed them in. He added material and read it to me. We both had copies of the book open in front of us. Exhausted but happy with where the essay was going, we collapsed into our respective beds.

Morning dawned and the phone blared. I rousted myself out of bed and read his draft impatiently waiting in my in-box. The paper was looking good, but alas, not finished.

So we got to work. Unfortunately, Noah had to finish the paper, get dressed and hoof it to class while grabbing food on the way. Panic set in. How would he get it all done? He still had to get to the library to print it, too. Disaster seemed inevitable. And then….

That’s when I remembered we are in the 21st century! No more electric typewriters! No more phones glued to a wall (how inconvenient). Time for mobile essay writing! I can see the TV ads now. So I said:

Noah, put on your clothes and start walking. You dictate, I type and then I’ll send the finished draft to your email.

So he walked out the door, cars and deisel buses whizzing by. First he couldn’t hear me, then I couldn’t hear him, but all the while, the final paragraphs of the paper poured out of him as he waited at the “Don’t walk” sign, as he thrust his freezing hands into his deep pockets, as he waved to girls who know him (he has fans!). He arrived at the on-campus Starbucks as I typed the last line.

We laughed. Could we really have just written an essay over the phone on the way to class? I clicked the send button and the now completed essay zinged to his yahoo account in milliseconds. Noah picked up his java and headed to the library where all he had to do was hit the print button.

Made it to class with two seconds to spare.

Wow! Do I love cell phones and the Internet?

Now some people might think this is an absurd amount of help to give a college student. But not me. This is a kid who is working 26 hours a week to pay for his life while going to school fulltime… someone who didn’t go to traditional school for the last two and a half years. Yet he’s doing it… he’s hanging in there, wants to succeed, wants to make it work, is making it work.

I felt glad that I could help at all. It’s a pleasure to watch his mind grow and unfold—a continuation of all those years together.

I heard from Noah yesterday. His professor loves his writing style! He’s got some improvements to make structurally (issues I could see as I typed), but what tickled him the most is that someone other than me enjoyed his writing, saw the person that Noah is, the style of him, the insight of his thoughts—all in his writing.

And to think I get to see it happen… Have I mentioned lately that I love homeschooling?

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