South Charlotte

Home schooling ending on a lively step

I've always joked that my daughter, Jazlyn, 17, came out of the womb doing a time step. She has been passionate about movement and dance ever since.

I have spent countless hours taking her to lessons, performances and competitions since she was 5.

In May, she auditioned to attend Northwest School of the Arts, a visual and performing arts magnet school in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, and was accepted for her senior year.

Jazlyn left the public school system in her junior year to be home-schooled. Overcrowded classrooms, lack of individual attention and pressure to excel in Honors and Advanced Placement classes overwhelmed her.

Too much memorization and thinking inside the box and too little creativity left her unmotivated and stressed.

It wasn't that Jazlyn didn't like school; she needed a school that fit her needs for learning. For her, that means an educational environment where creativity is as important as literacy.

"I want to be surrounded by people who share a love for the arts versus focusing primarily on typical high school sports," she said.

With documentaries like "Waiting for Superman" and "The Race to Nowhere" exposing the pressure put on children to over-achieve and the lack critical thinking, creativity and problem-solving skills, many parents and education experts are advocating the need to rethink "one-size-fits" all school systems.

Sir Ken Robinson, Ph.D., is an internationally recognized leader in the development of education, creativity and innovation. He believes we're all born with immense natural talents but that our educational institutions tend to stifle many of them, instigating a human and economic disaster.

Author of the book "The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything," Robinson argues that organizations and people everywhere are dealing with problems that originate in schools and that many people leave education with no realization of their true creative abilities.

"Organizations across the globe are competing in a world that is changing faster than ever," said Robinson. "They say they need people who can think creatively, who are flexible and quick to adapt. Too often they say they can't find them.

"Education is about developing human beings, and human development is not mechanical or linear. It is organic and dynamic. Like all living forms, we flourish in certain conditions and shrivel in others. Great teachers, great parents and great leaders understand those conditions intuitively; poor ones don't. The answer is not to standardize education, but to personalize and customize it to the needs of each child and community. There is no alternative. There never was," he stated in a 2009 article he wrote for CNN.

While home-schooling has helped Jazlyn get her grades back up, she misses being around her friends and wants to "make my last year of high school one of the best years of my life, like I heard it was supposed to be."

Dancing is a large part of who Jazlyn is, and she feels it on a soul level.

"I love dance more than anything in the whole wide world. The movement and emotion intertwined makes me happy. It's a healthy way to release bad emotions and embrace good ones."

I completely understand how Jazlyn feels. I was a dancer too, and incorporate that training into my work as a yoga teacher and writer.

I consider every article I create a performance. Researching a topic is like listening to the music and defining what the theme is. Writing and editing become choreography and practice. Selecting pictures for an article is picking out costumes to show off my work.

And being published is show time - putting my work in front of the audience. Creativity is the ability to turn innovative ideas into reality and can be applied to any skill, trait or ability. Without it, our natural impulses become blocked.

Jazlyn feels she will be more accepted at Northwest, and less pressured. She doesn't plan to take Honors and AP classes again and is looking forward to being among peers who share her love for dance.

"It's going to be so exciting to go to school particularly for dance," said Jazlyn. "It will lead me down the right path to pursue it in the future."

Editor's note: In Lisa Moore's column, "Generations," she writes about the challenges and healing she experiences as a member of the Sandwich Generation: those caring for a parent and a child.