I’ll never forget the first time I was asked that question as a home educating dad. I fumbled my way through a rambling response that didn’t really answer anything, and all I could think about was getting out of there before I dug myself any deeper. The truth was, I had no idea.
We’d pulled our children out of school and started down the home education path, but hadn’t yet crystallised the position that would eventually become central to our lives:
We would not standardise our children, and we would not standardise ourselves. Through tests, grades, benchmarks, social expectations…nothing. We would define our own standards and measures, both as a family and as individuals within that family, and they would not be swayed by any typical definitions of progress for a person. They would be driven from within us.
Once that idea had strengthened, answering the question became easy:
We can’t be sure where our children sit against those standards because they are inconsequential to us. We’re not living in a world where they even exist, so there is no such concept as being ahead of them, behind them, or anything else related to them.
The question, whenever I heard it again, was no longer one that flustered me. Instead, it felt like being asked if we were sure our cat was capable of performing car repairs. Different worlds that make no sense when put together.
It took us a while after leaving the school system to realise we were straddling two conflicting paradigms, but our lives changed forever when we finally did. Shaking off the expected standards and defining our own…the day we did that was the day we set our children free.