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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Paradox of "the Best"

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I've been reading a lot of posts about how people are homeschooling this year. And, I've included several in the Other Posts of Note as they rave about how great Sonlight is <smile>.

But with all this planning and purchasing there comes the question of, "What is the the 'right' method of homeschooling?"

Currently, the accepted wisdom is "whatever is best for you and your family." And, who's going to argue with that? Who would honestly say, "Use something that is not best for you and your family"? No one, especially since one of the many strengths of homeschooling is that you can form it to fit the needs of you and your children.

And yet, when we look at the answer, we discover that it merely begs the original question: Well, then, what is the "right" method that will be best for me and my family?

I'm reading The Paradox of Choice right now, and it's interesting (of course, so are the negative reviews). The basic premise is that we have too many options available to us today and that is actually making us less happy with our final decisions because we worry about what we might be missing.

What's more, in the section I read just last night, things are further complicated by the fact that how we make choices is not altogether wise. For instance, we'd rather hear a 16 second annoying sound that tapers off at the end than just the initial 8 seconds of annoying audio. We choose twice as as much annoyance because we judge things by how they end, rather than what it was like while we experienced it.

Of course, there can be good in this too. I think minimizing the pain and struggle of birth or adoption is probably a good thing as we consider bringing another bundle of joy into our lives <smile>.

What does this have to do with choosing a homeschool curriculum?

Merely this: Feel free to try out something else if something isn't working, but don't let it bog you down.

It feels almost wrong for me--a Sonlight promoter--to suggest that if Sonlight isn't working for you, you can try something else. But it shouldn't because we've got 27 Reasons Not to Buy Sonlight.

Of course, this cuts the other way as well: If you're not thrilled with what you have, check out Sonlight.

And if you don't know where to start, maybe, just maybe, you'd be happier if you just purchased one of Sonlight's amazing Cores and decided that it works for your family. And if it works then it's "good enough", even better than that: It's perfect for you and your family.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Expectant Father


Jen said...

Sometimes I feel like I overthink our curriculum choices and make it a burden because we are still such new homeschoolers. One of the reasons I liked Sonlight was because not only did I agree with your philosophies, but everything was all packaged up, the curriculum all laid out and saved me many hours of work during a summer when I was too busy recovering from moving our family two times in one month.

Kimmie said...

Hi Luke;

We have enjoyed our Sonlight times...

Just want you to know that I am praying for you (as requested ;-)

Would you pop me an email and fill me in on your adoption situation? Thanks Luke...praying for you dear brother.

mama to 7
one homemade and 6 adopted

Rachel Harris said...


Thanks for visiting my blog. Yes things are working out really well with Sonlight! There has only been one little glitch, which was one of the read alouds that my girls weren't loving. Having your mom tell me yesterday that we can just simply drop it was so FREEING! I know how wonderful all the books are that SL suggests and I was feeling guilty for wanting to drop it but hearing those words yesterday let me breathe easy :-) Now we are going to start Wizard of Oz which is a 5 day book choice and we are doing the 4 day core. . . I am all excited and bubbly again!

I am praying for your adoption process, Luke. Definitely keep us posted.

oh, and YOU ROCK!

mary grace said...

I think that often, we do have too much to choose from. It makes our job (discernment) that much harder. Of course, the pressure--both positive and negative--that we, as homeschoolers, find ourselves under as we are making choices plays a big part as well.

I'm off to blog about a Sonlight-related adventure in choice. I don't think it'll make your Posts of Note section, but it is most certainly born out of some very hard choices indeed.

Luke Holzmann said...

Jenn, I'm glad you have enjoyed Sonlight and it proved true to what we say: It can save you tons of prep time <smile>.

Kimmie, I'll try to get an update to you tonight. Thank you so much for your prayers!

Rachel, thank you! I'm glad my mom's talk was so encouraging for you. The technical difficulties at the start there had us both stressed out, so I was very pleased that it ended out so well <smile>.

Mary Grace, I just skimmed your post (and I'll read it more in depth in the morning)... but it looks noteworthy <smile>.


Heather the Mama Duk said...

The first bit of homeschooling is always the hardest because that's when people are trying to find the right fit. Rarely do they hit it the first time, but it is true, once you find it, the unpleasant feeling of floundering seems to disappear into the good feelings of using the right thing.

Tammy said...

I was so blessed to hear your mom speak yesterday - awesome technical support btw, Luke! - and will definitely consider the books she suggested to encourage my children to have a heart for the world.

There are a TON of choices for those just beginning a homeschool journey. Honestly, I think it would be overwhelming! It does still seem though that word of mouth is still the best advertising as I talk to new homeschoolers and find out what they are using and why.

Tammy ~@~

Luke Holzmann said...

Heather, I believe it! Of course, I don't think I'm going to have exactly the same experience since I grew up on Sonlight and am totally sold <smile>. And, I hope, there is a growing generation that will be the same!

Tammy, thanks for the encouragement, and I'm glad the talk was inspirational. And I completely agree that word of mouth is best... which is why I'm so excited about Sonlight Rewards <smile>.



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Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Empty Nester
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