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Graduation is not the goal; it's the by-product.

Graduation is not the goal; it’s the by-product.

By Heather Sanders

My oldest child, Emelie, graduates in May. I have been asked on many occasions what constitutes graduation for Emelie; more specifically, does her transcript include a progression of classes and credits that parallel that of any student enrolled in our state’s public school system–the answer, “Yes” and “No.”

“Yes,” because, despite the fact that home schools are considered private schools within our state (Texas), and therefore remain unregulated, we chose to integrate the state’s high school diploma requirements into Emelie’s graduation plan. Since it is not her current desire to pursue a college degree, Emelie recognized that if her transcript aligned with the “Recommended” plan set by the state of Texas, if/when she decided to return to college at a later date, she would not have to waste time on any leveling courses to begin.

“No,” because, from the beginning, the goal was not for our children to graduate high school; graduation is simply a by-product of learning. Our homeschool focus is process-oriented not results-oriented; this is where our family’s educative philosophy stands polar opposite to our exposure of the local public and private school systems.

Our homeschool focus is process, not results, oriented.

When Emelie began her high school level coursework, we loosely divided it into a 4-year structure, but she always understood that the structure itself was malleable. Once she mastered a concept, she moved on–regardless of the semester or “year” that the subject matter was assigned to in the overall picture. The same could be said for areas where she required more time to grasp concepts, such as Algebra.

When, or how long our kids take to learn something is irrelevant. Our individual strengths and weaknesses play a large part in the movement of information to understanding. What matters is that when the kids do “get it,” they are able to use it; otherwise, it is a waste of time and can hardly be called “learning.”

For the record, I will have to state that although I am re-learning Algebra to facilitate Emelie’s (and eventually, her siblings) understanding of the subject, I am stumped for how it (generally or specifically) applies to life. In every other subject, I can make correlations between it and the real world, but I am honestly beginning to believe Algebra was created for the sole purpose of serving as an academic “stump the chump” rite of passage; which, in my opinion, makes me wonder if it should be part of any academic plan.

Our homeschool is not without standards.

Our homeschool is not without standards; in fact, we firmly believe standards are imperative, but because we involve the kids (our students) in the decision making regarding their individual, educational path, they learn how to set reasonable, attainable goals in order to reach the future they envision.

This discipline, in and of itself, is far more valuable than following a ubiquitous construct that serves no other purpose than saying, “Ha! I made it through four years and here is a diploma to prove it.”

To say the high school goal is to graduate is much like saying one’s career goal is to be successful; both are temporal. Graduation is a movement from one arena to another, and success gets redefined soon after it’s reached. We do not teach our kids to hang their hat on either one.

The outcome (graduation/success) is fleeting, but the tangible knowledge and skills gained in the process is where the focus must stay because THAT is what will make the most difference in our kids’ lives way beyond their school years.

About the Author

Heather Sanders

About the Author: Heather Sanders is a freelance writer living in Huntsville, a smallish town on the...

About the Author: Heather Sanders is a freelance writer living in Huntsville, a smallish town on the tail-end of the East Texas Pineywoods. She and her husband Jeff have three kids: Emelie, Meredith, and Kenny.

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