A Charlotte Mason Education in High School

Dear Reader,

I ran across this wonderful quote recently while rereading Susan Schaeffer Macaulay’s For the Children’s Sake:

“Also, it would be wrong not to equip our children with ‘passports’ to our society. There are exams to be passed if Johnny or Ann are to be allowed into the fraternity of our society’s demands. But let us try to keep the true spirit of education alive as long as possible.” (p. 68)

This quotation sums up so well my own take on homeschooling high school. As I consider my own children, two of whom are now high school age, I am not at all displeased with their educations, past or present (if anything, what I would change is to have done less in the earlier years). I like who they are and I am comfortable with what they are learning. Rather than abandoning a Charlotte Mason approach in high school, I find that it is in these later years that I am truly beginning to see the fruit of it. And the tools we have used thus far — the use of living books and narration in particular — are still the best ones I have found for inspiring interest and producing true learning.

My own view of homeschooling high school is that its true difficulty lies in the fact that one must now do two things: educate, as one always has, and prove that education to others. Of course, depending on the state you live in and the state of your relationship with your in-laws, you may already have been trying to prove yourself for years. But with college and/or employment looming on the horizon, high school becomes the time to really think about satisfying society’s expectations. While I do think many colleges are getting more homeschool friendly, it is hard to avoid things like standardized testing and grades at this point in our journey.

These, then, are the “passports” Macaulay speaks of. They are the legal paperwork we must have in order to move forward, and, as she says, we would be foolish to not help our children get those emblems that our society requires. The key, I think, is to satisfy those external requirements without abandoning everything we have done so far and, I should add, without essentially requiring a double load of our children as we have them meet both our demands and those of society.

So what is my high school advice? Don’t abandon what works for you. Learn to translate it into a language that the institutions of society will understand (grades, credits, etc.). Take those standardized tests. Consider a few outside classes, perhaps in subjects that are either less central to your education or easier to quantify anyway (eg. math, foreign language). But don’t feel like you have to give into the system completely. Remember that your goal is still about who and not what.


4 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by shonda on February 22, 2016 at 10:50 am

    This article is so timely for us. We have arrived at this same conclusion not without fear of “selling out.” We are trying to achieve that balance that will both continue to provide that rich education (Charlotte Mason style) and also prepare our boys for the world’s educational measures/standards. Our oldest son is a junior and has his sights set on an Ivy League school with a 10% admittance rate. Thus, opting out of standardized tests (which was our original plan) is not an option. He has decided he wants to learn to take standardized tests and take calculus outside of our home in preparation for all of this. He has also taken several college classes as a dual-enrollment option. It kind of breaks my heart to see the methods that are used and that he must use to get an “A”. It is how it is and I know it. I guess we should be so thankful we made it to second term of Junior year before we were influenced by this. Now, to not let it shape my 7th grader’s future as I am so happy and content with the education my older son has achieved. Lots to learn on this journey…totally have to be willing to re-look at things and adjust the path accordingly.


  2. Posted by Gina on February 23, 2016 at 1:48 pm

    I successfully (although I couldn’t confirm ‘success’ until all was said & done) homeschooled my children through high school using CM methodology. They did fine in college & now in life. I always erred on the side of being more CM than worldly when torn between an approach. Many decisions were made in faith, believing more in the journey than in the means to a specific outcome. It was very hard work.


  3. […] in for a lot of homeschooling moms. My own take on homeschooling high school (as I discussed in this post) is that we shouldn’t abandon our principles but we need to also consider the […]


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