Last week as I spent a couple of hours just browsing the shelves in our new library, I was again overwhelmed by the vast amount that there is to know. I was caught between elation and discouragement, elated by the certain knowledge that I will never run out of books to read and yet discouraged that I will never run out, because this means that I will never know or understand all of the things that I could wish.
As homeschooling parents we often fear that our kids are not learning "everything." Of course they aren't. What we really fear is that there is some essential bit of knowledge that they haven't learned, and that this puts their futures are in jeopardy.
No one learns everything. Some people have an amazing, borderline-encyclopedic knowledge of a great many things. Many people don't care to have more information than they need to function in their daily lives.
There may be some essential bit that your child doesn't have. But that's okay. When he needs it, he can learn it. Think about the knowledge that you use in your daily activities. Did you learn it in school? I spend a lot of my day on the computer. I run email lists and blog. I have built more than one website. I upload, download, bank, shop, sell, balance financial accounts, create spreadsheets, brochures, and fliers, and can put together a mean Power Point presentation. All of this in spite of the fact that I never used a computer until I was a 28-year-old college graduate and mother of two and needed it for my job. I have learned the information that I have needed as I have needed it.
Yesterday my boys were talking and I was amazed at their knowledge of mythology. They made me feel really uninformed so I've added a some mythology to my reading pile. A relative was questioning the wisdom of them learning Greek. Why not choose something more practical? But knowledge doesn't all need to be practical. The value of knowledge can come from the discipline achieved in the learning or from the sheer joy of knowing something. It can come in the interesting late night conversations with friends or the essay exam for a history class that blows a professor away.
Best of all, for me, it can come from sitting at breakfast, with a child who is so excited by what he is reading that his pancakes are growing cold.