Thursday, December 27, 2007

Everything They Need to Know

Another question I often get about homeschooling is "How do you make sure they're learning everything they need to know?" I find this question fascinating, because it involves some interesting underlying assumptions. When you ask this question, you are at the very least assuming:
  • that there is a defined body of knowledge necessary for a person to learn in order to be "educated".
  • that this body of knowledge is the same for each person.
  • that a degree in education makes a person an expert on this body of knowledge.
  • that it is possible to know and list the elements of this body of knowledge.
  • that a government-sponsored or private school, with its degree-holding educators, has access to that list and always follows it.
  • that, in order to educate his or her child "correctly", a homeschooling parent must gain access to and follow the same list.
Many people who ask this question also assume:
  • that certain things must be learned by all children at a certain age or in a certain order.
  • that children can't or won't learn things unless they are explicitly taught.
  • that children must be tested in order to prove they have learned something.
I find it difficult to answer the "everything they need to know" question because I don't agree with any of these underlying assumptions! This is a problem, since most people who ask the question aren't prepared to rethink these ideas that have been so deeply ingrained by our culture. I plan to use the next several posts to discuss each of these assumptions and why I disagree with it.

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