In the High School Graduation Program, students are given the flexibility to choose their own schedule and learning materials; some choose a curriculum-based approach and others choose an interest-based approach. This way, they are able to decide what is most important for them to learn in order to succeed in this rapidly changing world.
In this monthly report our prospective graduate, Makena Brumm, describes what she has learned and what a month looks like in her life as an unschooler.
My name is Makena Brumm and I am so excited to be a part of West River Academy! The flexibility between choosing classes and scheduling them caught my attention, but more importantly I will be able to do all the work to graduate and that responsibility will be put in my own hands. Challenging, valuable, and interesting schoolwork has been important to me for a very long time but art has always been my passion, no matter the media. Creativity is something I’ll never lose; it will always be with me.
The subjects I’ve been studying this past month are: algebra, U.S. government, chemistry, economics, personal finance, Japanese, nutritional science, physical fitness, language arts, home economics, guitar, drawing and multimedia art.
I have used the lessons from The Learning Odyssey for many of my subjects, as I find them very thorough and informative. For example, in Algebra I’ve been learning about functions. I now know how to graph much more complex equations than I did before, as well as effectively put them in an input output chart. Sometimes, it can be a bit difficult but I enjoy the challenge. Functions are really good to know because it is very commonly used in business and economics. In U.S. government, I’ve been learning about The Ideals of Government, Foundations of US Government, and The United States Constitution. I really enjoy the way I am taught this class because there are many visual notes for me to copy down, and it is not just lecturing me.
In chemistry, I’ve been learning a lot about atoms. Specifically, I’ve been learning how and why they are organized on the periodic table of elements, as well as what forms an atom, and how molecules form. I love how in depth the lessons are, they go as specific as teaching me electron configurations and covalent, ionic, and metallic bonding. It seems a bit nerdy for an art student to be fascinated by molecular science, but I love being able to understand how our physical world works.
In economics, I’ve been learning basic fundamental information about how the system works. I will be continuing with macroeconomic and microeconomics as well as international economics. Personal finance is honestly one of my favorite classes. I study the material I’m provided with very meticulously because it is essential to know to keep my future running smoothly. So far, I have read the chapters: Avoiding or Eliminating Credit Card Debt, Managing Money for Home Ownership, Responsible Renting or Home Ownership, and Starting a Small Business. The links that are included with the lessons are very informative and useful to my understanding of the lesson.
In Japanese, I am learning the “language basics” which is how to use verbs, nouns and pronouns effectively while reading, writing, listening and speaking the language. Flash cards have been a huge help in learning everything, as well as randomly saying words or sentences that pertain to everyday life. I am also teaching everything I learn to my younger sister Jolene, who also loves the Japanese culture like I do!
The following classes are self-taught. In Nutritional Science, I watch Thomas Delauer’s YouTube channel and take many notes. The videos are so packed with information about how our body processes everything, and it’s shocking how many people think the food you put in your body has little effect on well-being. This is something I feel very passionate about and I am always hoping to learn more. It’s just so amazing how our body works and how important it is to give it the nutrients it needs.
In Physical Fitness, I work 15-20 minutes of ground exercises such as sit ups, squats, and pushups in the early morning. I also run /walk or jog a mile in the evening, and occasionally do a workout with my mom in the middle of the day. I like to keep my body in tip top condition so I feel better physically and mentally.
In learning my language arts, I focus a lot on reading and writing. Every other year since the fourth grade, I have read the Harry Potter series, and my tradition hasn’t stopped. As for the writing portion, I have been writing essays about things I’d love to know more about. So far I’ve wrote about Japanese mythology, Wiccan ideology, and how to make a good resume for when the time comes. I also am putting handwriting under this category. I love cursive writing and try to perfect mine by copying song lyrics in a notebook using my best penmanship.
For home economics, I sew a lot of my own clothes and modify old clothes as well. I make both cosplay items and just everyday wear. I currently am sewing a Harley Quinn costume for the Denver Comic Con coming up this summer. I also meal plan for my family and on occasion prepare and cook it as well. Before I started cooking as my home economics lesson, I could only make very simple food so I’m super excited that now I have the time to learn real recipes. I just learned how to make Golden Milk, which is a healthy turmeric drink.
In guitar I’ve been learning songs at a much faster rate and I have been improving drastically. Being able to pick up my guitar whenever I want and just play is a really good way to simmer down if I’m ever feeling overwhelmed.
Now onto my very favorite class, drawing! I try to put about an hour of work into my drawings per day. I have attached a couple of my drawings that I scanned onto my computer about a month ago just so you can see my art style. Since I want to be a tattoo artist, they reflect my taste in tattoos. I’m also learning about multimedia which includes painting and graphic design.
All in all, I have had a very productive month and have really enjoyed my learning experiences. I look forward to what I will learn next month!
~ Makena Brumm