One of the things I wanted to do when we started homeschooling was to trim out all the useless fluff that always fills a traditional schooling day. I sat down to create a list of what you really need to learn in life (other than actual life skills, like cooking). It didn’t go like I thought it would.
I immediately planned on ditching the higher level math. Nobody needs to know how to solve quadratic equations or calculus differentials. Then again, you don’t really even need long division or complex fraction problems either. So my math list shrunk down to basic addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, simple fractions and decimals. Nothing else is really needed. So that means 6th grade math is plenty. That didn’t sound very good once I got thinking about it.
Language arts got trimmed down really big. My daughter already reads beyond her grade level, so no need to “teach” reading or vocabulary. She picks it up naturally. All the fancy grammar terms aren’t necessary as long as you are able to speak and write at an appropriate level. Who cares what a preposition is?
As I went from subject to subject, I realized just how little learning is needed in life. And I stumbled on a very fundamental concept that I somehow missed along the way:
You don’t learn something because it’s needed,
You learn because the alternative is ignorance.
And ignorance is never the preferred choice over educated.
So I’ve given up trying to teach what is needed, and tried to focus on exploring as much of the world as we can. The more we can discover, the better. But now that I’ve thought about what is really needed, its also a little easier to let go of subjects that are not working for us. Is it really worth weeks of struggle and tears to master long division?