5 Myths About Educational Gaps to Reject for Homeschoolers

I once had a homeschooled adult tell me her kids attended a demanding hybrid homeschool program because she didn’t want them to have gaps in their education as she felt she did.

Interesting.

So here she was, a successful adult with a college degree, raising children, yet she felt the need to protect her children from perceived educational gaps.

I wish I would have asked her what she felt these insurmountable gaps in her education were, but I didn’t want to be nosy. However, it seemed odd that she found these holes so troubling since, by all accounts, she was a successful, educated adult.

But here’s my take.

The whole idea of gaps in education has become so politicized, monetized, and insidious, we don’t even see the absurdity.

Politicians and school districts make themselves relevant by perpetuating these myths, curriculum providers make money by assuaging fears of gaps, and the public never questions the legitimacy of either.

But really, is any of this true?

Myth One

The first myth is that there is an agreed-upon body of information that qualifies as a gap-free education.

Can there be a gap-free education? Is there some magical person who knows everything?

No.

There may be a set of skills necessary to function in society, but admittedly it is relatively minimal. Of course, we aren’t striving for the minimum, but the idea that somehow anyone can have a “gap” free education is absurd.

Personally, my gaps are many: I escaped school without ever taking a Physics class, most of my knowledge of World War I is from Downton Abbey, and I can’t remember the date of a single Civil War battle which was the subject of many tests.

Allow me to get philosophical for a moment, would you want to live in a world where everyone knew everything? It can be bad enough in a world where everyone simply thinks they know everything.

Myth Two

The second myth is that institutional school, with its set scope and sequence, provides a gap-free education.

We’ve been indoctrinated to believe a gap-free education can be achieved with a set scope and sequence delivered over the course of 13 school years of 180 days.

How would this even be possible? This assumes that the body of knowledge is fixed and unchanging, which is ridiculous because when I was a child, Pluto was a planet, then it wasn’t, and now they aren’t sure.

5 Myths to Reject About Educational Gaps for Homeschoolers

Myth Three

The third myth is that gaps can never be filled.

I didn’t own a personal computer until I was 25, I didn’t read Jane Austen until my late 30’s, and only recently learned that Europeans believe Santa Claus lives in Lapland, not the North Pole.

Do we stop learning once someone hands us a diploma or degree?

Is that even possible? No.

The human desire to learn is innate. We can’t turn on the TV or computer without learning something, and there is no expiration date on our ability to acquire new skills and knowledge.

Myth Four

The fourth myth is that gaps will have a lasting adverse effect on a person’s life.

Belief in this myth can cripple the homeschool mom. We’ve taken on the responsibility of raising and educating our children when most of the world thinks that’s a job best left to the “professionals.”

What if we ruin them? What if they’re crippled by some critical piece of information we failed to pass on?

This worry can keep us up at night and turn us into worksheet dictators. We require every box to be checked and assignment completed so we can rest secure in the belief that the gaps won’t be our fault.

Myth Five

The fifth myth is that the responsibility for our education lies with someone else.

Our society loves to call for accountability and responsibility. If children don’t learn, it’s the teacher’s fault. Children act like children, and it’s the parent’s fault.

However, as a mom of six vastly different and unique children, I can unequivocally tell you this is false.

Self-education is, I firmly believe, the only kind of education there is.

Isaac Asimov

In the end, the responsibility lies with the individual. I can help and support my child in their quest to learn Algebra, but ultimately, I can’t force them to learn it.

And neither can a school or standardized test.

Humans love to blame someone or something for their lack, but the responsibility for any real or perceived gap in our education lies with us. We can choose to correct it, decide it isn’t essential, or blame someone else.

Ultimately, it is our responsibility. At some point, it becomes our child’s responsibility.

Reject the Myths

Will homeschool students have gaps in their education? Of course, as will public, private, and charter students.

As much as the idea of a complete and definitive education is appealing, I think you can see it is an unrealistic expectation.

Our fears and concerns over not covering everything propel us along the never-ending quest for the perfect curriculum. We worry about the “shoulds” instead of appreciating what is and seek ways to fix our children when they are not broken.

Reject the idea that for learning to be complete and correct it is confined to specific subjects covered in a particular order at a certain time.

Learning is a never-ending journey; the fun is filling in the gaps.Homeschool strewing

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| Filed under Homeschool

About Bethany Ishee

Bethany is the mom of six always homeschooled children who one day realized she'd lost herself in the process, probably under a pile of laundry. Her eclectic style of homeschooling draws upon Classical to Unschooling and everything in between.  While homeschooling her children and writing about learning outside of school, she tries to find time to read a book, drink coffee, and pay the bills.

11 thoughts on “5 Myths About Educational Gaps to Reject for Homeschoolers

  1. Found your page on FB and I’m so glad!!! Thank you for adding this blog to your many lists of things you already do in your busy life!! I had a break down mess of a day with my three kiddos after a longer than expected day of homeschool (which rolled into self doubt etc) and your posts have eased a weary momma’s mind!! I’m glad you’re open about your school days. So many of the homeschool blogs that I read paint glorious images of “Sound of Music” days without mention of any hiccups.

    1. Thank you, Joni! I’m glad you found me too : ) My oldest just informed me the other day that we aren’t “Little Women.” I wanted it to be like that, but my girls are a little feistier, which shouldn’t surprise me.

  2. Great post! I agree in that “traditional” education is full of gaps, too. I remember transferring from third grade in Wisconsin, to third Grade in Texas. In Wisconsin, I was taught that Christopher Columbus was born in Italy, while in Texas I was told that he was born in Portugal.

  3. I agree 1,000%. What fills my head today is an impressive (toot toot 😉) accumulation of twenty-two years of studying nutrition and natural medicine, the Bible, parenting, interpersonal relations, psychology (understanding myself, my kids, my spouse and the people around me), what’s *really* going on in this world, rather than the lie that is perpetuated in schools and in the media… Not history fact, not English rules, (never excelled in English 😉 I’m relearning it all with my kids!) not trigonometry equations, not biology terms and processes unless I’ve read about them in the last few years (!) not any of the other subjects I studied to pass the tests… IT’S NOT THERE! what’s in my head today is self taught! As an adult. Don’t let yourself believe your kids will stop learning at 18 or that their adult success in life depends on the things they remember from their textbooks therefore you have a finite number of days, weeks, years to cram as many facts in their head as possible. It’s not about the facts. That’s not what we’re doing here. My kids love to learn and I teach them the basics of what they need now. But not the repetitive subjects year after years because it’s irrelevant at the time and they forget! What’s in a 3rd history textbook blows my mind! A rare 8 year old cares about all that. Instead we read Little House in the Prairie, books about Indians, historical fiction, watch time period shows and movies. Memorizing dates and battles and names required of an 8 yo is a waste of time! Memorize scripture! I sure don’t remember most the details I see in these young textbooks and in the tests. What was the point? Government indoctrinational daycare?

  4. I love this! Yes, yes, yes! Especially number 2. They all matter, but number 2. There is no guarantee to an airtight educational experience. I went to the same school as my siblings, had the same teachers, and we still learned different things. I had other like-minded friends who were in the very same classroom as me, and we STILL learned different things. You might miss a day of school and miss a pretty (truly) important piece of information, and find out years later that you missed this. Then again, we are sometimes taught things that later turn out NOT to be true.

  5. This is a FANTASTIC article! I shared it on my public FB page! I hate to see so many homeschool parents beating themselves up over this very issue! Do you know that I learned about the Japanese Interment camps in the U.S. while reading a Danielle Steele Book? When I was in my 20s! I had never even heard of them before in all my public school years. So many more examples I could give. GREAT reminder!

  6. Cannot give you enough amens! Logic and reason! A commodity in short supply nowadays – caused by a misdirected educational system, IMHO.

  7. This. A million times. How any of us had to “learn” things that we never use in our daily adult lives!

    I think another problem lies in what the perception of an education “gap” actually is! If you’re in the school system, then a “gap” is usually related to not knowing the right things in the right order for any given subject. But what about all the life and work-life gaps that are really more like chasms? Things like life skills (budgeting, how to manage your credit, understanding all the various kinds of insurance that exist and when you need it, the mystery of escrow, etc etc etc.) and on-the-job training are abandoned in favor of learning theory and other unrelated subject matter (i.e., a person studying marketing does not need to know chemistry or biology to be successful in their job). This is most obvious in college where we are forced to throw thousands of dollars away on required courses that have no practical relevance. However, the mindset is present in all levels of education.

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