What does curriculum cost?
I recently looked on as a group of homeschoolers talked about "the cost" of a certain curriculum. Now, when most homeschoolers talk about "curriculum," they mean a packaged or "boxed" course of study.
The whole discussion fascinated me because it settled down into a comparison of dollars and cents-- of strictly monetary cost. That's not what I think of when I think about the cost of curriculum.
The main cost of curriculum is not in dollars and cents. There are multiple costs to using "boxed curriculum," but they all boil down to something economists call "opportunity cost." Put simply, time and resources used in following a "boxed curriculum" are time and resources unavailable for anything else.
A Tall Order
One of my dear friends, a brilliant and successful doctor, described the cost of so many years of demanding curriculum this way: "It cost me my creativity." Well, of course.
The whole theory behind a general "boxed curriculum" is that
- *there exists a certain body of knowledge that every child should learn
- *that there is a particular order in which these things must be learned
- *a particular way in which these items must be learned
- *that this curriclum presents thes itmes in the right order and the right way
That's a pretty tall order, when you think about it.
Notice, moreover, that there's no room at all for creativity in that formula.
The whole program treats a child more like a computer to be programmed, than a sentient being needing to discover the use of his mind.
Real education is about learning to use the mind, not just about filling it with information.
Age Makes a Difference
As I have written elsewhere, buying a general "boxed curriculum" for your child is roughly equivalent to purchasing average size shoes for your child's feet. While children's feet generally resist being squeezed into a shoe that's too small, your child's mind will all too easily be squeezed into the typical curriculum.
Minds differ more than feet, and can be severely deformed. Curriculum reinforces every toxic symptom; passivity, irresponsibility, dependency, and so on.
Of course, a narrow course of study for a particular reason for a teenager who is exercising his/her creativity and uniqueness is quite different from a generalized curriculum that purports to cover all the bases. And age makes a difference. The sooner a mind is squeezed into the confines of a curriculum, the more damage it can do.
The true cost of curriculum includes loss of healthy parent/child interaction, loss of initiative and creativity, among others. It was too expensive for my children.