Many times we have heard a distraught mother ask “am I doing enough?” or saying “my children are behind!” or “I am not sure they are where they are supposed to be!” Even more disturbing is that we have heard fathers ask such questions of their wives in their sincere desire to make sure the children are best prepared for their future. These are questions and concerns that unduly and unfairly pressure moms to perform. But how can this be measured? By comparing ourselves and the children to a standard, of course!
We are constantly reminded that there is a standard of expected achievement and outcomes. Educators strive to attain to these standards. The funny thing is that I have yet to meet a teacher who can define or describe what a standard actually is!
A standard is typically defined as “a level of quality or attainment” or as “an idea or thing used as a measure, norm or model in comparative evaluations”. These definitions are somewhat easy to understand when applied to industry, such as comparing computers or cars, where “standards” can be applied to thousands of units of similar inanimate objects. However, they lose their application when we attempt to make them fit human beings. Why is this so? Because there is no standard human being!
Consider this. The world has over seven billion people and no two are alike. In the history of the world there have been perhaps a hundred billion people born, and each one had a unique fingerprint. How can we apply any kind of standard to this incredible human diversity? Is it possible for all students to be able to attain the same level of proficiency in English, math or music? Can everybody attain a certain expected level of understanding of politics, religion or philosophy? Can everybody fix their own broken items? Where is the standard here? There is none! How can there be?
Standards can only be applied to people if we believe that all people are the same and they obviously are not. If we believe that people are all accidental products of nature and as such are all similarly empty containers, we can assume that they need to be programmed towards a “standard” human ideal. But if that is the case, is a standard a measure of how well a child is doing with a program, or how well the program is doing at standardizing the child?
School standards are not applicable to home education, so why should any home educators be concerned about school standards? First of all, you can’t define them. Secondly, you can’t measure them. Thirdly, you can’t reach them since they don’t really exist. Besides, fifty percent is all you need to pass in school, which is hardly a standard worth striving for!
The home education standard should be educational progress with high and reasonable expectations. Learning should focus on applying and advancing skills, not reaching someone else’s idea of what should be learned. In other words, learning should not be about trying to meet subjective standards characterized by mediocrity, determined by perfect strangers that may not even have any children of their own.
Home educating parents should not worry about meeting government’s arbitrary “standards.” They should be concerned about meeting God’s expectations of parents as described in the Bible. The bureaucrat’s “standards” and God’s expectations are not the same. However, it should be obvious who’s approval we should be seeking when focusing on the eternal rather than the temporal.