Graduation: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Finishing Strong (Part 7)

The two most difficult things with any project are starting and ending. No doubt you remember all the issues that you had to deal with at the beginning, although time does dull the memory, especially when it involves negative things! Now, it is looking like the job is done, but you may not know how to stop!

If you have been home educating from the start, you transitioned from the primary level to the secondary level as the children transitioned into adulthood through puberty.

Since then, you have transitioned out of being the teacher, delivering and/or directing the program, into being an overseer and personal mentor, as the children become more self-motivated and move into the post-secondary phase of learning, where they will start to specialize.

Generally speaking, these “metamorphic changes” occurred as the students assumed more responsibility for their education. The rate of learning accelerated, resulting in the completion of their secondary level of education, usually by age sixteen.

They have all they will need to move on in life. If there is anything missing, they, as adults, will do what they have to do in order to go where they want to go. We wanted our children to excel and they did.

It is now time to let them move on to the post-secondary phase of their education. However, since learning actually never ends, when do we consider the task of home educating done?

Most parents and students are fine with simply fading out of “doing school” into “living life.” Some like to have a point in time or a mark to distinguish the end of one, before fully embarking on the next step in life.

School calls this “graduation,” a point in time when the formal education of children is officially recognized as completed. There is nothing wrong with doing this, but one must ask why it is necessary. Even more important, does this have to be a community affair, or is a familial celebration enough?

As our home education industry has directed the community to become increasingly more associated with doing school at home, agencies have been making some sort of graduation exercise a part of their offerings.

I personally question the need for playing into any agency’s redirecting and normalizing a purely “school” based activity. Our determination to do things differently from the “school’s way” should not end with our doing things the “school’s way”.

Why not do something different, in keeping with our theme of being different from the rest, in the first place?

For starters, having inputted the children’s achievements into their cumulative transcripts, now is the time to wrap it up and submit it for “official” recognition that triggers the creation of the Certificate of Achievement, both of which are made available in the Student’s Documents.

Both serve well as indicators of completion for a home education, not to mention being invaluable for progressing to the post-secondary arena.

I am, of course, talking about the online cumulative transcripts parents associated with Education Unlimited have at their disposal. I am also assuming, against our collective experience, that parents were faithful in updating information as things were accomplished in a home education program, rather than having to panic due to the accumulated procrastination of this obligation!

Now that the “official” Transcript and Certificate of Achievement have been presented to the children, you can consider this part of their education as completed.

Another often used, although truly “unofficial” home education “diploma” is the Driver’s Licence! Since most students abandon the notion of doing more “school work” once they have obtained it, it is a good point at which to recognize that the job of secondary education is done.

This license truly frees the students to pursue life and so it is a good place to let them go with the confidence that it is now a job well done.

Some parents and students like to have an official “graduation.” As previously mentioned, this can be as part of a larger group, but my personal suggestion is that this be a familial rather than community event.

Young ladies especially like to do this as it gives them the chance to get a nice dress and to be the focus of attention for an evening.

Guys usually don’t get too excited about new “dresses,” unless of course they are on young ladies! Joking aside, fellows are not as likely to request a graduation exercise, but will accommodate the parents, who may wish to mark the completion of the formal learning process with an event to honour them.

Either way, whether it involves a gathering of extended family members and friends at home or another venue, with or without the presentation of documents, to celebrate a worthy accomplishment, is always a good thing.

Any opportunity for parents to make manifest their pleasure and pride in their child’s accomplishments is a good thing. Anytime a child gets a chance to express gratitude and appreciation for all that the parents have done, is not only a good thing, but a fitting end to this part of the learning journey.

Whatever course the parents and students take to mark the completion of the secondary phase of learning, the real celebration is not having accomplished certain proficiencies and skills, but the demonstrating of principled adult attitudes and responsibilities.

Oh, let’s not forget to be thankful for The One who made it all possible, in spite of the occasional lapse of faith we experienced while arriving at this place. THE END!

Who Says… We Need To Graduate?

Part of the series Who says…
Written by Léo Gaumont, published on 2015-05-18.

Graduation is best described as a school exercise celebrating mediocrity.

Building on a foundation that God is, that He created the universe and that He ultimately is responsible for our children’s being, should provide ample substance upon which to build our faith. This lengthy series will identify the secular thinking that has eroded that faith.

Bible Reference: Phil. 3:12-16

Being a high school teacher over a twenty-five year period provided me the privilege, more truthfully, the obligation, of attending a number of graduations. They were always referred to as graduation “exercises” and probably for good reason. It was a show that paraded a lot of school rhetoric and where students went through the motions, or exercise, of having accomplished something. I often asked myself what, exactly, were we celebrating as I knew that many of the graduates were not actually prepared for the real world they were about to enter. Those who were prepared were not really ready as a consequence of their experience in school, but in spite of it. If they had been able to apply the “home education philosophy” of taking the opportunities presented to teach themselves, they had a better chance of success. Some had the appearance of having succeeded, but I knew that often the best of the class were really only good puppets, adept at doing what they were told to do, but who would often flounder and fail when they no longer had others to “pull the strings”. These students often went on to college, but I questioned whether or not they were going to obtain a higher education or to continue in an environment in which they were comfortable.

One thing that struck me about these events, was the hoopla that went on in preparation for the big night. It was not uncommon to see students, girls especially, put more thought and effort into these preparations than what they were willing to give to their studies. The girls loved to get dressed and guys loved seeing the girls all dressed up, some even going to great lengths to also look good, another surprise for us teachers!

Some lip service was always given to having “completed” all those years of study and to thank the parents for the part they played in arriving at this juncture in life, which I well knew was usually minimal in school, now being credited with a “job well done”. But, there was always something far more important than the exercises to the vast majority of the students… the graduation party. Although I kept my distance from this event, I heard plenty about what went on. It can be said that it usually demonstrated a profound level of immaturity on the part of some of the “graduates”.

Why the party? What were they celebrating? What would you have heard, if you would have been able to spy on the festivities? You can be sure that in the commotion of celebration, you were not likely to hear “hurray for us, we have demonstrated proficiency in English”, or “finally, we have reached the required standard of education”, or “good on us for our academic achievements”! No, more likely, you have heard “hurrah, we are done with that… (bad word), or “no more pencils, no more books…”, or “now we can get a life”! The students would be obviously not celebrating the completion of their education as much as the fact that they were finished with school. The grad party became the parole party. The celebration was based on acquiring freedom from a twelve year sentence of school which most viewed as bondage. Now that was worth a celebration!

Graduations have always been tied to school. Home education providers that offer graduation exercises are simply manipulating parents and students by carrying school dogma into their home education “offerings”. It is mostly the girls who want a graduation “exercise” because they love the opportunity for a new dress! Few boys care and nearly nobody is actually looking for that piece of paper stating that their education is “over”.

Who says we need to have a graduation? Those who would have us believe that there is a point at which students are “qualified” to carry on with higher education; those who would use it as another marketing tool and girls who want a new dress. Home educated students are usually far more interested in taking their education and their lives to the next level when the time is most appropriate for the individual rather than with a “herd” known as the graduation class, who have all supposedly reached an undefined goal, all at the same time, all in the same place and all in the same way. If a graduation is required, invite you friends and family to a private celebration when the time is right. And don’t forget to buy your daughter a new dress!

Graduation?

Written by Léo & Faye Gaumont, published on 2014-05-26.

Graduation from what? Have we stopped learning? Time to rethink what we are celebrating.

We often refrain from being honest because we do not wish to offend those who need to hear the truth. Opinions expressed in this blog are intended to offend those who would advance anything, other than the truth, in order to benefit themselves.

Bible Reference: 1 Cor. 9:24

How quickly and easily do we accept things as normal. All that has to happen is for something to have occurred once and it can quickly become an unquestioned habit. Take graduation as an example. School graduation is a celebration, when a piece of paper of questionable value is given to students as a reward for having completed or endured the prescribed 12 years of programming. I attended over twenty such celebrations but I never really saw a celebration of accomplishments as much as an implication that the learning program was now over. Usually, the graduation took on more of a celebration of having been paroled! I cannot say with confidence that teachers and parents, who must have been questioning what, exactly, their children had learned in school, really liked these events, but girls generally liked it because they could get dressed up in nice gowns and be the center of attention for a day and guys generally liked it because the girls were attractive. I believe most of them were looking forward to the follow up graduation party at which time they could demonstrate the level of maturity they had reached after twelve years of preparation for the “real” world!

So why do home educators think they need to have a graduation? Did something come to an end? Certainly not learning, I hope. Since we are doing our own thing, why do we need to have the same conclusion as the world we left? Maybe it is something like Halloween. Instead of exposing it for what it is, we create a “Christian” version, which is then normalized because we celebrated with candy and gifts in the church rather than by going door to door. We do not have to do the same thing as the world! If we are doing something different, like home educating, lets do something different to mark the transition from learning at home to learning away from home. If it is necessary, why not simply have a family celebration when the child turns sixteen, at which time most home educated students have completed curricular work, are old enough to drive and go to work. Home educated students are better educated, more mature and adept at getting along in a real world, so if we are to celebrate, why not celebrate a coming of age? Something that includes the fact that God is part of every child’s future, even if they don’t know it. Something that celebrates life, independence and faithfulness, not just something stating the program is over and that you will now have to learn how to get along in world you were not really prepared for. There is only one graduation that counts and that is the day we graduate from this world into God’s world, unless, of course, there is no cause for celebration. Most of us kept our children home so could celebrate, in the end.