Secular Thursday: Why I Recommend The Well-Trained Mind First

Let's get real. Homeschooling can be lonely. Being the secular homeschooler in a group of conservative Christian homeschoolers can be lonely. Equally lonely, though, is being the curriculum-using rigorous homeschooler in a group of secular homeschoolers. There's a lot of flitting on the edges, not feeling like you quite fit in any group.

Because I've homeschooled from the beginning, I've become something of a "go-to" gal for public school mamas with whom I'm acquainted, when they first begin thinking about homeschooling. They want book recommendations, and I recommend The Well-Trained Mind first, every time.

I admit that there is a selfish motive driving it slightly. The more secular, liberal Christian, or non-Christian homeschoolers of other religious beliefs there are that use WTM-inspired methods, the less alone I feel! That's not the main motivation, though.

I also know that there are other, more general homeschooling books that are written from a secular, mainstream perspective. Many of these, though, tend to overly praise unschooling and other relaxed approaches, and spend a few paragraphs lambasting any approach that uses methods from institutional schools - which tends to include neo-classical and classical education.

I recommend The Well-Trained Mind first, though, because I want these neophyte homeschoolers to see what's possible. I want the mom who is considering homeschooling because she wants something better to see just how much better is possible. I want to encourage my fellow secular homeschoolers to reach high. There's no shame in reaching for the stars and falling short. There is, I feel, shame in only reaching for the light switch.

The Well-Trained Mind can give people hope. It's not really necessary to know about the history of homeschooling in detail. It is necessary to know what steps to take to be legal in your state. It's not helpful to look at huge books of resources in the beginning. It is helpful to have a list that is winnowed down to some of the best. There are excellent resources that are not recommended in WTM, that is true, but it's a very good start. Above all, The Well-Trained Mind can help the new homeschooling parents feel that there is a plan and a vision. They'll likely modify it, but they can begin, knowing that there's something to work towards... other than the required 180 days on our state's attendance sheets.


Smrt Mama said...

Score one for the "ironically ignorant," "mean" secular homeschooler.

The Mama said...

Trust me- it can be really hard and lonely as a religious homeschooler, too. Especially if you don't fit the proper mold.

Kash said...

Oh, I don't doubt it, especially depending on the locale. I trip over variations on religious support groups, here.

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