This would be the opposite of a school-at-home, textbook, or classical style of education.
I am not here to criticize people who choose a more rigorous method. My focus is to defend gentle homeschooling against the opponents who demand that everyone fit the mold of traditional learning styles.
In my experience, the criticisms of gentle learning aren’t direct attacks but subtle statements that create doubt and fear.
A child can’t get into college if…..
Xyz curriculum is not enough….
You have to …..
Usually the homeschool mom who says these things is honestly trying to help. She sincerely believes that her way of rigorous school at home is the best way and the only way to success. While I support her freedom to choose her own style of education for her children, I disagree that it is the only way to success.
First of all, I think that our definitions of success may vary greatly. Most critics of the gentle style of learning value college admission over any other criteria. Pre-requisites to college admission are an outstanding high school transcript, so making high grades and taking AP or dual enrollment classes are important to them.
I understand that mindset. But I don’t espouse it.
My thinking is that high school is for high school. College is for college. We will take each step at a time, not worrying about college credit or advanced level courses during the high school years. Just like I was in no rush to teach Emma to read, I am not in any hurry for her to take college level courses. There will be a season for that, and I’m not rushing those seasons.
You actually can get into college without any previous college credits or AP classes. In fact, you can get into college without an amazing GPA as long as your transcript and potfolio reflects passions and skills that set you apart from the norm.
Colleges are not looking only at grades and test scores. They actually care about the human they are admitting. At least, that is the case at the colleges that have studies Emma wants to major in.
For me, success in homeschool is not college admission. It includes these things:
- a grasp of basic academics
- a natural curiosity
- the ability to write and speak well
- mastery of life skills
- an awareness of personal strengths and passions (whatever they may be)
- development of those personal passions to a higher than average level of proficiency
- the ability to research, evaluate arguments, and make good decisions
I do want my daughter to go to college, but that is not my measure of success. If she gets into college and lacks the characteristics above, I would feel like a failure.
Honestly, I don’t think getting admitted to college is that big of a hurdle. I think finishing college is a huge accomplishment.
I was one of those almost perfect academic students — very bookish, highly verbal, and always finished quickly on tests and make excellent scores. So what? What difference does it make now? No one cares about my GPA or college scholarships. So why invest so much energy into those things?
My skills of writing, speaking, and reading are essential to my success as an adult. Those were worthy of investing in. But school failed miserably at teaching me people skills (despite all the cooperative groups I was forced to participate in), foreign language, technology, and how to foster creativity. I wish some of my academic time had been diverted to those life skills that I had to learn the hard way on my own.
When a critic tells me that gentle homeschool doesn’t work, that it isn’t enough, she is saying there is a single path to success.
I have established that my critic’s meaning of success and my meaning of success may be at odds. But besides semantics, I disagree that there is a single path.
We are all unique. God loves variety. Just look at the world he made! Why so many insects, fish, and plants? Wouldn’t a handful of species been adequate? God glories in variety! Why are there so many names of God? Because God is a multi-faceted Creator who cannot be summed up in a single descriptive label.
We, created in his image, are like that. We are complex and varied from one another. Why channel us down a single path to education especially when the possibility for individualization is so real in a homeschool setting?
I’ve always thought it a huge waste to chose to homeschool and then copy school at home when you could forge your own path and suck the very marrow out of learning — in your own style.
Gentle learning embraces this reality that we are all uniquely varied in the image of God. He had given to each of us a very unique set of abilities and skills and more importantly, a calling.
That single path of rigid and traditional homeschool success does work for some people. But it does not work for everyone. The gentle approach, whether it be Charlotte Mason, unschooling, or delight directed, does work to get students through college and into a productive life as adults. The gentle approach makes room for individual differences and unique callings.
This is the path I have chosen. This path is right for us.
This post is just one in the iHomeschool Network link-up: Answering the Homeschool Critics. Click to read more answers to objections about homeschooling.