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.