In the Interest of Interests

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The college model is well established: Find a major to focus on while also covering "general ed."

Why is it, then, that people take issue when homeschoolers follow a similar trajectory? I can sympathize with being nervous about a "student directed" model. I get that early education is about covering a wide range of topics and so a "trade school" approach isn't exactly what we think of for grade school. But why such negativity to covering the basics while allowing for focused pursuit of a particular subject or skill?

Lee, The HomeScholar, recently blogged about nutty homeschool parents who allow their children to "follow their interests." Mary Grace also has a blog post about the pressure to do high school the "right" way. Both posts hint at this nagging idea that school shouldn't be about interests. Rather, interests should be aligned with school.

Granted, my education prior to college didn't include much formal training in what specifically interested me. I wrote and filmed and programmed and recorded music on my own time. But homeschooling let me devote hours of the day to my hobbies. I didn't need to take a class on making movies because I was practicing on my own.

I guess this post isn't so much about the kind of schooling environment you are in, but rather the kind of learning environment that is open to you both in and outside of formal education. Do you have time to pursue your interests, either formally or for fun?

You can with homeschooling.

What better way to begin a journey of life-long learning? If you learn something because you want to, you're well on your way to enjoying the benefits of learning at home, at school, at work and wherever else you encounter something that fascinates you.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester

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  1. Hi, Luke. Because of Emperor's autism, he has very different abilities depending on the subject. He is in a standard high school algebra course, but has trouble with his writing. He is in the process of getting USCF rated and so far is between 1100 and 1300 at the age of 9 (if that means anything to you). So, much of his day is spent doing math and chess. I cover English and the like but it is not the number one area of intense focus. I think focusing mostly on the things our children cannot excel in will only lead to frustration. I don't mean not to do them at all, but that we should build people in areas they're likely to actually be able to hold down a job. :)

  2. I appreciate this post. I've been told that my oldest son is exceptionally bright by more than one exceptionally bright person. (He gets that from his father, not me!) I am constantly trying to find the balance between letting him follow his interests (computer systems) and keeping his attention on my agenda, Sonlight Wolrd History, part 1. I suppose I should go to the forums and find a group to join. I feel inadequate to guide him at times. He is writing a novel. I feel almost silly asking him to write a descriptive essay, which takes time away from his "real" writing. And it is real writing in its best form.

  3. Nicole

    This will be my first year homeschooling (and we are using Sonlight core A) I have to get used to the idea MYSELF that homeschool doesn't have to model public school! I'm just used to what I've grown up with. I think the real beauty of homeschooling can be muffled by transforming into the public school model!

    I've been blogging about our new homeschool journey at

  4. Mrs. C, I have seen "Searching for Bobby Fischer" so I'm familiar--a bit--with Chess rankings. Congratulations, Emperor! And I'm also a fan of finding and honing your strengths, rather than ignoring them to work on your weaknesses (something promoted in Strengths Finder which I found very interesting). Thanks for adding dimension to this post by bringing in the topic of special needs!

    Jenn, there is something to be said for learning to do certain skills, even if you are well beyond them technically in another form. I love writing myself--and have done it for fun for a long time--but learning the skill of, say, writing a research paper is a valuable experience. May you find the encouragement and suggestions you need on the Forums!

    I agree, Nicole. I hadn't found your blog, but now I look forward to seeing how you create an educational experience that works for your family! <smile>