The Freedom From a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Education: Apollos
HA note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Apollos” is a pseudonym.
I loved being homeschooled.
Homeschooling gave me freedom. The freedom to explore my interests. The freedom to follow my heart’s passions. The freedom to study the things that I wanted to study.
It was an overwhelmingly positive experience that I would never trade for anything.
I was homeschooled all the way through. Starting in kindergarten through highschool graduation. Religion was a factor and I don’t mind that. My parents are Christians, we were in a Christian homeschool co-op, and I am still a Christian. I am not ashamed to say I love Christianity and I love homeschooling.
But what I love about my homeschooling experience was the lack of structure.
It’s not that there was zero structure. I had to learn the basics. Ya know, math, science, history, language arts. But there was no per se “curriculum.” We’d start with some general outline: read this book, or that book. My parents would assign me a book on U.S. history, for example. And when I read something interesting about William Jennings Bryan, I was allowed to focus on Bryan and progressive Christian politics. I wasn’t forced to only study the side of history (or the ideas on that side) that a particular group of people liked.
This freedom really fostered my creativity and my innate desire to explore new ways of thinking.
In a very true, deep way I was not taught what to think, but how to learn.
And again, my family was Christian.
But they didn’t let their ideas about religion get in the way of my education. In fact, their willingness to let me look at ideas they personally disagreed with ultimately led me to see that Christianity doesn’t have to be believed from a fearful, reactionary stance.
In the last few years, I’ve noticed a big push in homeschooling towards “Classical Christian Education.” (I’m just going to call that “CCE” for short.) Which is funny, in itself, because that push comes from Mr. Slavery Apologist himself, Doug Wilson; which, insofar as slavery is truly a classical institution, demonstrates that “classical” isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. Wilson’s books, Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning and The Case for Classical Christian Education, have been credited by many people in the CCE movement as being inspirational. Lots of Christian homeschoolers I know are now moving in this direction; Classical Conversations is one such manifestation.
I find this odd. Key to the CCE movement is the radical integration of one particular worldview into all subjects and a reliance on Middle Ages pedagogy. Is everyone forgetting that these are the very things that Protestants did when they created the public school systems in the first place — the systems that us homeschoolers have tried so hard to break free from?
I don’t see much difference between the public school mentality and what CCE homeschoolers are now doing.
They’re both using the same top-down techniques and one-size-fits-all pedagogies which — when I was being homeschooled — were explicitly rejected by the homeschooling movement.
But I digress.
The main thing I wanted to say was how thankful I am that homeschooling, for me, freed me from a one-size-fits-all approach to education. It liberated me from a one-size-fits-all curriculum, too.
That freedom made me an enthusiastic student, as well as strengthened my relationship with Christ.
Did your parents use a curriculum as a base or did they make one up? I agree with you about CCE:-)
We never used one core curriculum. It was very mix-and-match. I mean, I remember we used some of the more traditional things — BJU, Abeka, Pathway, etc. — but just for specific things. We used Saxon for math for a few years, but then it got too tedious (Saxon can really take the joy out of math!!!). Then we did math in a co-op, taught by a math teacher. And then we just switched to math classes at a community college. My mom liked science and we’d just pick books out of catalogs. Same with literature. And there was always open dialogue. If something intrigued us, we could just say, “Hey, I want to study blah blah blah now for a while,” and that was ok. It was very unschooling-like.
I’m almost certain that this “story” is fake. It sounds like it was written by a parent.
If by “parent” you mean I sound pro-homeschool and pro-Christian, sure. I’m sorry if that somehow rubs you the wrong way. I don’t really have anything bad to say about homeschooling myself, because I had a fantastic experience. But I read this site and I know people who didn’t have fantastic experiences. I’m not trying to make homeschooling sound perfect or anything.
I really liked the carefree and unstructured environment I had. I know it’s different from a lot of what I read on here. I think my experience was more “liberal” or “libertarian” than other Christian homeschoolers. But not in a neglectful way. I do believe structure is important still. Like, my parents didn’t just let me read comics all day, even if I really loved comics. I still had to learn math!! 🙂
But I still liked the freedom and carefreeness. And I wasn’t trying to just attack public schools. I see the same kind of “un-freedom” in CCE, too. And private schools. I wasn’t trying to toe any particular line.
I had a very similar experience with homeschooling and trust me I was the student.
Ah, but this time the Top Down Techniques and One Size Fits All Pedagogy will be used to Teach Correct Doctrine/Purity of Ideology.
“This time the RIGHT people will be in charge;
this time we WILL achieve True Communism!”
You know many of the abusive situations in homeschooling also are more rigid when it comes to curriculum I have noticed. Any family and any situation can become abusive my personal experience of seeing abuse and neglect were all kids attending public school. If a parent wants to homeschool they need to realize that the form of education they have chosen works best tailored to each child’s needs. Some kids do best in a relaxed unschooling style while others need more structure, know your kid.
Gayle, Your post reminds me of something I’d like to ask homeschooled people in general: It’s regarding the quality of your writing skills: I note in many posts that punctuation and grammar seem to be optional. For example, by not placing a period at the end of one sentence and not capitalizing the beginning of the next, you produce run-on sentences difficult to read smoothly without re-reading for accuracy. Did homeschooling teach you correct punctuation and grammar and you’re just being casual, or do you actually not know traditional rules of grammar, etc.? I’m not trying to be critical: Perhaps the Internet is changing written English profoundly, and I’d better adjust to it. (I’m a retired editor with a Liberal Arts Degree in old-fashioned journalism, so I’m sensitive to the subject.)
Am I missing something, Gayle’s writing looks fine to me and I wasn’t homeschooled!