that high school thing

Recently, I’ve sensed a shift in my thinking about this. A shift deeper in the direction I was already going rather than a major change in direction.

Things have become MORE unschoolish. In particular, I have become less concerned about how what F. is doing would translate into a transcript. (In Ontario, I can’t award her a high school diploma anyway though I know I could use a transcript-style format to summarize what she’s done.)

I think this is a sign of how deschooled we’ve all become. This seems a bit strange since Mat is a university professor. But in many ways is consistent with the ways in which both of us have been frustrated over the years with the way undergraduate students approach university learning. Not that they are unprepared. But the ways in which what they are prepared for and what we think education is or should be are not really the same thing. That’s a whole other debate.

The upshot is that in our home(schooling) life, we are less and less concerned if F has something that looks roughly like what other kids her age have in terms of a record of learning or scope and sequence of specific subjects or whatever. She plans to go on to post-secondary education of some sort but not until she is at least 21. She has other plans before that.

I think the main change that I’ve noticed is that I don’t want everything to be judged based on some future state or future need that is not at all clearly defined. What is the purpose of high school if it is not, or not merely, to prepare one for entry into post-secondary education of some sort? What does it mean to be 16? Surely it means more than preparing to be something older than 16.

The occasional concern that I am failing her by not caring about this stuff is assuaged by 2 things. A friend telling me that she has the same worries sometimes about her son, who is in school. And Mat reminding me that if she doesn’t have what she needs to get into whatever it is she wants to do, the worst case scenario is a year of adult high school to get her Grade 12. As worst case scenarios, that’s not so bad. F. agrees.

I still make her do math. And she still does it. She doesn’t hate it. She doesn’t love it. She is competent and see’s the point. She does a lot of what she loves — music and art — much of which involves a lot of challenging and difficult stuff.

When I stop and think about it, especially when she goes away for a bit, I see that she is already not a child. If we were to die in a horrific car accident tomorrow (heaven forbid), she would be perfectly capable of independent living. We need to change the wills to reflect that, actually. At the same time, she will benefit from a couple more years at home with a focus on learning for a significant portion of her time.

We find ourselves increasingly referring to her not as “homeschooled” but as a “grade 3 drop out”. And she’s doing just fine.


2 thoughts on “that high school thing

  1. Brava and bravo to you and Mat! F sounds like she has the thing she needs the most – your support.

    In Britain, we have the term ‘home education’, which I have never heard from a north America. It captures what you are talking about here. (You may be interested in Education Otherwise, an English organisation for home educators: )

    Deschooling can be a long process, applying the gut knowledge that education is not grades, but learning, and most importantly learning to learn – including learning to do things that you’re not terribly keen on in order to be able to do other things that you are keen on that rely on that stuff. But also, learning to be a human being, amongst other human beings, and to be capable and resilient. It sounds like you are doing a great job on all counts.

    (Sorry, I’m not very coherent – it’s 5am here and I’ve been awake for 2.5 hours already.)


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