A Charlotte Mason education focuses on who. The child is treated as a person; their whole personality is taken into account and must not be violated; and the goal of their education is not to produce a worker or to enable them to get into college or earn money but to shape their character and personality. It is all about who they will be, not what they will be.
Unforunately, we live in a time and a place when society is most concerned with the what. What college will they go to? What job will they get? How much money is involved? Will there be fame? Fortune?
I think the conflict comes to a height in the high school years. Up until that point one can blissfully ignore the world’s expectations. But after high school comes, for many, college. And in order to get into colleges one needs to play the game and produce results in the forms that the world likes and understands.
I have never struggled very much with homeschooling. We started when our kids were young (they have never been to school) and our approach grew and developed as they did. I never doubted whether we should be homeschooling and I have come to love the approach (Charlotte Mason) that we have taken and to appreciate it and to like who it is turning my kids into.
But now we are faced with having two high schoolers in the upcoming year and there are more struggles than previously. Not because I doubt what we are doing — I am happy with what my kids are learning and think they are well-rounded people. But they will likely want to go to college so I need at the same time to make sure that what we are dong is translatable into the world’s terms. And that is the hard part.
My oldest is a science and math type guy. For his 9th grade science this year we have combined a curriculum and labs with living books. But I have found that the living books are the real treasure here. He learns so much from them and they are truly interesting. But will a science curriculum based solely on living books be acceptable to a university? My older daughter struggles with math. She has always been an artist at heart (and already has here own business; see here) and I really, really doubt she will ever need any math beyond algebra. I am hard pressed to think of times I have ever needed more than this. But can she get into college without at least algebra 2 beneath her belt?
These are the sorts of questions I have but I don’t have the answers yet. And it feels awfully risky to experiment on my kids in the hopes that they will be able to do what they want if I don’t comform to what is expected.
What do you think? Have you used a truly CM education throughout high school? What areas did you compromise in, if any?