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Or perhaps, less of them.

As homeschooling parents we want our kids to be successful, just like parents of children who go to private or public schools.  However rather than relying on a neatly organized presentation of what the child will learn, we have to make decisions on what to emphasize and how to accomplish it.  Enter guilt.  Lots and lots of guilt and uncertainty.  What if we do the wrong thing?  Nobody seems to question school systems about this.  But maybe they should.

Like this guy does.

I’ll reiterate that, like Professor Hacker, I’m not anti-math.  But what I am is perhaps more pragmatic or realistic.  If my kids are interested in a career field where advanced mathematics is required, I’ll make sure they get the resources they need to be as successful as possible.  But if they don’t envision such a trajectory, why force them to learn these things just because the school systems do?

I’ve stunk at math since they introduced the alphabet to it in 7th grade.  Up until then I loved it.  Once x and y got involved, I hated it.  Geometry was a bit more interesting, but only because it was a respite from algebra.  All my friends were jostling for seats in AP calculus class but I was satisfied with just completing the bare algebra requirements to graduate high school.  I took algebra again in college.  And again a few years later in college.  Some of it was a lot easier than it was in high school.  That’s nice, to think that the brain is growing and developing skills and all.

But I could probably count on one finger the number of times I’ve needed to know the quadratic equation.  Likewise, my life has never depended on the ability to correctly calculate the angle of one wedgie-thingy of a triangle.  It could be easily argued my aversion to mathematics is directly proportional to my dislike of it early on.  But I don’t think the reverse would be true – that if I had really liked math I would have gone into a math intensive career.

We send kids to school for years and years and then to college and they struggle  to interpret the nutritional information on a can of beans, and to know how to make sense of that data both in and of itself as well as when compared to another can of beans.  We have kids who apparently, despite completing math and college, aren’t able to realize just how much debt they’re getting into with student loans.  We have kids who don’t seem to understand the problems with routinely spending more than you make.  These are all critical life skills that somehow schools don’t have resources to require, but they will require everyone complete advanced algebra and geometry.

Not that this argument will make me worry less or feel less guilty for making decisions as a home-school parent, but it’s something to keep in mind to help me fall asleep at night.  Someday my kids may come back and criticize me for the decisions we made in their education, and we won’t be able (or inclined) to pass the buck.  Decisions were made.  Mistakes were undoubtedly made.  I’m pretty sure there is no one-size-fits-all perfect education model or schedule of classes, so we have to focus on what we think is important, identify where our kids strengths and gifts are, and encourage them to fly in the directions God plants in them.  They may not like that answer, in which case I’ll have to wait until they have kids, and then see if there is any understanding, or at least forgiveness.

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