Passing the test
Posted by DAVID BC TAN under: Examinations on 30 Mar 2010.
On 22 March, we began our series on college-bound homeschoolers with observations by a homeschooling mom Swee Bin on her son’s experience with public exams. In this post her 17-year old son Jian Eu shares how he made the transition to formal education at a tuition centre in preparation for IGCSE O Level exams.
AFTER BEING HOMESCHOOLED FOR FIVE AND A HALF YEARS I left home and enrolled in a centre to do my IGCSE. I went to two centres, the first one through the latter half of 2008 and the second one throughout 2009.
I am seventeen this year. I took my exams last November at age sixteen. I did quite well too.
The two centres I went to were very different. The first centre was much more relaxed and much smaller, only about 15 students most of whom were homeschoolers. The second centre I went to had more than 130 students, only two of whom were homeschoolers, and was run much more like a school. This is the centre that I will be writing about.
Being a homeschooler in such an environment made me different. I came from a different background and I was unused to being in a school. There was quite a lot of pressure. Not only was there the pressure of the exams, but some of the moms of other school kids were constantly comparing and sizing me up! One of the moms gossiped about the only two homeschoolers at the school, my friend and I: “They may have done well in their mid-year exams but success in life is only 30% academic and 70% social.”
There is a popular conception that homeschoolers are social misfits. I may have been different from my classmates but we got along fine. One of my classmates told me, “Eh, I thought homeschoolers are supposed to be like weird.” On a side note, I have learned from my experience that weird people, people who don’t quite fit in, can be found among both homeschoolers and schoolers.
Going to school was a very different experience for me. My homeschool had been very relaxed. We didn’t follow any curriculum and we were left to pursue whatever we were interested in. Now I had to study according to a timetable, from a pre-set syllabus!
Getting used to the school hours was hell; I never quite got used to it. Every day I would try to escape home early. School hours were ridiculous, eight hours per day. The worst part was that half of the time we didn’t have any classes on!
I was one of the top students in class but I never got along very well with the teachers. I think homeschooling had given me a confidence to speak out if I felt something was wrong. As a result, over the year, I have had a one-on-one discussion of my behaviour with one of my teachers three times.
Homeschooling had given me the backbone to discuss my differences with teachers and not shrink away. I may not have been chummy with the teachers but I respect them. They are good teachers. The quality of their teaching is good.
Looking back, I think my IGCSE experience was the baptism of fire for my homeschool. All the rhetoric about me having time to develop was tested. The test was not just a test in academics but in character. My exam results came out in January this year. I passed. Not just with C’s and B’s but with 4 A*’s and one A.
Photo: Jian Eu (pictured with sister Jian Lin) is happy that he can have his, uhm, chocolate ice-cream and eat it too!
If you want to know how other homeschoolers moved on from home to formal education, read their stories here: