Posted by: chrisdavis | July 11, 2012

Words That Differentiate

Question: What one word would you use to differentiate a Common School education (i.e. either public or private school) from a home-based education?

I offer the word “individual”.

An individual is distinguished from a group in that “an individual has special, singular, or markedly personal characteristics; exhibiting unique qualities.”

Now, imagine that Common Schools (government or private) suddenly decided to prioritize the individual, rather than the curriculum, as they seek to educate our children. Even though plenty of evidence exists that children must be treated as individuals, the sheer number of children Common Schools are attempting to educate (not to mention financial limitations) mitigates against this ever happening.

Some individuals do thrive in a Common School setting. The problem is that this translates into an expectation that all children should thrive in a Common School setting. Because of this expectation, those who don’t thrive are regarded as deviant in some way with the deviant child being negatively labeled and the deviance being treated as having negative value to society.

When a child is educated at home, there is no need to compare the child to some generic group “norm” and this allows the child’s individuality to become the central focus of his, or her, education.

If you are already educating your child at home, is the curriculum you are using driving your child’s education, or is the child’s individuality driving his, or her, education?

OK, it’s your turn: Suggest some other words that differentiate a Common (public or private) School education from a home-based education.



  1. I’m not sure I understand exactly what you’re looking for, but how about “liberty”, “freedom”, “independence”, “non-coercion”, “creative”, “nurture”, “nature”, “respect”, “limitless”, “gentle”, “fun”, “expansion”, “human”, “sacred”, “divinity”, “sanctity”, “flexibility”, and “latitude”? Perhaps other forms of those words, or words like them, would work better, but I think you get where I’m going.

    I wanted to comment, too, on your point about some people thriving in a Common School setting; while that may in fact be the case, no one really thrives through indoctrination or coerced behavior modification. So while the Common School setting may be beneficial for some, its content most certainly isn’t.

    We are latecomers to homeschooling (unschooling, to be more precise); being recent refugees from our local Common School, our scars are still quite fresh, and so our perspective may be a tad more tarnished or cynical than lifelong home-based educaters. However, I suspect I cherish this new way of living all the more for having fought to get here. I urge anyone even entertaining the thought of educating their kids at home to throw caution to the wind and do so at once. My only regret is that I didn’t do this sooner.

    Thank you for your bi-weekly words of support…they have been of tremendous benefit.

    • Susan: all good words, to be sure. Thanks for commenting…

  2. Independent is the word I would use. During the early years (1st-5th gr.) I spent hours upon hours with my daughter laying a foundation. Now, I’m doing the same thing with my six year old, and my daughter is on her own. She is responsible, self disciplined, and she likes the independence. I just check her work. The exception is the family read aloud time, she still enjoys snuggling up on the couch for that.

    • Dear Anon: Good word. I think my sons learned most when they learned on their own. When your child is able to learn “Independently”, you have achieved much success. Thanks, CD

  3. Identity. Room to grow. Roots.

  4. Yes, I like these, too. Thanks K.

  5. Middle school is a transition for children, and while it can be an experience of growth and independence , it can also be difficult for children who face certain problems associated with middle school. Knowing what your child might experience or encounter during these years can help you prepare him, and maybe even prevent certain problems from surfacing. As always, knowledge is power. Below are a few typical middle school problems your child may have to face. Make sure your tween knows that whatever his challenges might be, you’ll be there to help, offer advice and work through them together.

    • Deandre, I didn’t see the “below” items…

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