In homeschooling communities, there are usually people who pooh-pooh the whole gifted thing because “gifted” is a “school category.” Sometimes there’s (spoken and unspoken) suspicion of people who seem to be “rushing,” “pushing,” or otherwise pursuing some course of study at a pace or intensity perceived as “not normal.” They celebrate the homeschooler’s freedom to go at her own pace, but that usually means the freedom to meander (which is great!) not the freedom to go balls to the wall.
This attitude gets under my skin, which is why I enjoyed a somewhat older exchange I just found on Just Enough, and Nothing More. Tammy Takashi posted a story about a homeschooler, Chelsea Link, who was very successful getting into top colleges — evidence that homeschooling doesn’t knock you out of the running for selective programs, if that is your goal.
A couple of commenters were not sure whether this was good news. Part of one response:
Ugh – I think we need to take homeschooling back from the overachievers…the goal of homeschooling is not to get into all the best colleges, you know
I hope very much the real Chelsea Link is the Chelsea who offered this excellent response:
With all due respect, I’d rather like to take home schooling back from the overachievement-bashers. What exactly qualifies as “overachieving” vs. just “achieving,” and what about it is so “ugh”-inspiring?
I think “the goal of homeschooling” is up to each individual home schooler. My original goal in home schooling was pretty much to have the freedom to “overachieve” if I darn well felt like it, without being hassled by The Man. When I was five, I certainly was not thinking, “So first, I’ll ditch school, and then I’ll make sure to pursue my passions and score well on tests so I can get into a top-ranked college…” What I was actually thinking was more like, “You know, I really love reading chapter books, and I want to learn to write in cursive, and I kind of like long division, and I’m not really allowed to do any of those things here, so…forget this.”
When high school came around, though, I will willingly admit that I had two goals in designing my curriculum: 1) to continue to learn and do interesting things, and 2) to get into a good college. And why did I want to get into a good college? So that I could continue to have the freedom to go where I want to go and do what I want to do. I’m going to Harvard for all the same reasons I stopped going to kindergarten – it has very little to do with degrees of achievement, and everything to do with having fun and enjoying life to the fullest. I sincerely hope that this simple desire will soon cease to evoke an “ugh” reaction.
Yay for you, Chelsea Link! If I had a selective university, I would admit you too.