Homeschool Essentials

Whether unschooled or highly structured, religious or secular, all homeschools encounter the same challenges. All successful homeschools exhibit the same essential qualities. This weblog will help you understand and apply those qualities, minimize frustration, and enjoy more success sooner.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Curriculum

"Wherever two or three homeschoolers are gathered together, they will discuss curriculum."
--your humble servant

After leaving grad school, I served on curriculum committees, even designed several different specific curricula which were then put into service. Yet I never had such sustained discussions of curriculum until I left teaching, and began working with homeschool families.

Homeschool conferences and convocations, magazines and support groups seem obsessed with curriculum. Of the many calls, letters, and e-mails addressed to me, fully 75% concern curriculum.

If you've been following this blog, or have read the last couple of entries, you know what I'm going to say next. This is nothing less than putting the curriculum in the center of the learning system. It's been tried for centuries, and it never works.

I'm always amused by the homeschoolers, some of whom I know well, who think themselves tremendously independent thinkers, but who can't resist the siren song of "curriculum." I'm particularly amused by those claiming the purest Christianity, who have nonetheless adopted the curriculum of ancient Greece. Since my graduate degree is in Religious Education, one of the central contrasts of history is 'Jerusalem vs. Athens.'

Curriculum should be tailored to the student, not the other way around. We'll get to that more in the second essential quality. Putting the curriculum in the center means we'll try to force the student's mind to fit an arbitrary set of information, an approach to that information, a method of learning that information-- all of which were designed by someone who never met your child. More than that, they didn't have your child, or any real child, in mind.

Yet so often, this is the first question parents ask. What curriculum should I use?

Any real teacher, anyone who really understands the learning process, will respond to the curriculum question by asking questions about the one being taught.


Your child, your particular treasure, with his/her own way of seeing the world, expressing thoughts, and with a unique set of abilities. No one, no matter how educated or brilliant, can devise a course of study for your child without knowing your child.

The fact that you know your child better than any teacher can is one of your chief advantages in helping your child learn. Don't throw it away.

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