Wisdom Homeschooling and Child Abuse: Mahlah’s Story

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Pseudonym note: The author’s name has been changed to ensure anonymity. “Mahlah” is a pseudonym.

I grew up in Alberta, Canada with a single mom and three siblings. We were low-income and we moved around a lot, from rural Alberta to cities like Calgary.

In highschool, my oldest sister experienced some bullying and so my mom decided to homeschool her. Since my mom worked full time, often two jobs, my sister was expected to keep on top of her studies by herself. In elementary school, my brother and I experienced some minor bullying as well. So my mother pulled us out and homeschooled us as well.

I was only in the first grade.

We were homeschooled through the group Wisdom Homeschooling, a faith-based group whose credentials are not recognized by Canadian Universities and whose credits are not convertible to standard provincial diplomas. Essentially, it sets you up to fail because you are not a holder of any recognized high school diploma when you are 18.

The majority of our school books came from US publishers such as Apologia Educational Ministries, which taught everything from how evolution is a lie to how great manifest destiny is. Often my mother had not ordered all the books we needed, so when I should have started grade 4 math, I started grade 6 instead.

Every year we would have a program facilitator from Wisdom Homeschooling come and do a review to see how we were making progress. It should have been clear that we did not have appropriate school books, that our mother was too absent to properly administer any supervision, and that on any given year myself or my siblings were not doing sufficient work that children in public education would be completing.

By the time I was a teenager I began realizing how dire the situation was.

My two older siblings technically did not graduate, even by Wisdom Homeschooling’s standards. I was very worried. I knew I wanted to go to university, but nothing I had done up until that point would be accepted by any university, except private Christian schools.

Except, I didn’t know that.

My program facilitator told me I could compile a “portfolio” of my work, essentially self-testing that I had completed and kept a record of, some of my art work, a list of books I’d read. Clearly that was a lie. Universities would not accept that.

I wanted to go to public school and finish highschool. I begged to go to public school. But my mother said no.

By 14 I was working full time. I spent more time working than completing my totally useless fundamental Christian studies. I used my money to help pay for groceries and save for university.

Again my facilitator was willfully ignorant of the fact that I was not doing nearly enough work on my school books.

At 16 I called him to ask more questions about university. The conversation took a turn when he asked me about my mother. He asked me if she had been drinking the last time that he had come for his scheduled visit. I said yes.

During that visit, my mother had an outburst at me. She yelled in front of the facilitator and it was extremely awkward. She always yelled at me when she had been drinking.

She had a problem. I wanted to get out so badly.

On the phone with the facilitator, I broke down crying. I told him everything. I told him about the drinking, I told him about the emotional abuse I had been enduring. And my fears for my education. I didn’t want to end up like her. Poor with 4 kids.

I basically asked him for his help. The facilitator told me he can’t confront her, because she will feel attacked and may feel that she should pull us out of homeschooling and put us into public school.

That was his biggest concern. 

That we stayed in homeschooling. 

That we didn’t tarnish the name of Wisdom Homeschooling. 

A year later I moved out. I took American SATs to use as entry into Mount Royal University in Calgary and the process was complicated and daunting.

Homeschooling ruined my life. Even today I am struggling to overcome social anxieties and awkwardness due to lack of socialization.

I have no math skills and I struggle to understand basic science.

When I wanted to join the military, they denied me because I didn’t have a high school diploma, even though I am a university student.

Somehow, I have managed to get control of my life. Today I am working for the government and I am about to graduate from university. I have not spoken to my mother in years.

I did not receive a real education. In the face of flagrant child abuse, I was ignored.

12 comments

  • This resonates with me so much. I also have some college credit but no high school diploma. In most colleges in the USA you need two levels of Algebra and one higher math class, and two sciences in order to obtain ANY degree. I found out I have a learning disability in the math and science area. Consequently, I am now in my 30s, and still have not even passed my GED.

  • I finally got into a for profit college in my late 30s graduated and went on to start my masters at 41. I’m so excited but I was so far behind. Thank you for writing this!

  • Can we stop pretending that homeschooling is a recipe for smarter kids now?

    • I agree. There are very smart kids in all types of schooling and kids who struggle in all kinds of schooling. Homeschooling is not the end all answer for all the problems of the school system.

  • Headless Unicorn Guy

    WISDOM(TM) sure has a different definition of Wisdom than anything I’ve heard.

  • Revenwyn Aethelwaerd, Mahlah and others. I am so sorry for what you experienced. Thank you for sharing. Keep learning and sharing and striving. And Mahlah, I am sorry that that man did not stand up for you and get you out of the situation and tell you the troth about college and how to get where you wanted to be. That is not acceptable!

  • First, I am so sorry that the author experienced what she did, and was in a situation that wasn’t safe or positive. These sorts of situations are rare within the home school community, but they do happen, and they need to be taken seriously.

    As someone who home schooled through high school through WISDOM Home Schooling, and now works in the home education field, I’m very concerned that this blog post lumps all home schoolers, and an entire school board, into one category. Home educated students consistently score higher on standardized testing than their public schooled counterparts, and consistently fare better in university studies. Home educated grads are sought after by institutions and businesses who recognize their ability to learn and adapt, and their above-average work ethic.

    A student _can_ graduate with a high school diploma through WISDOM. They _can_ go to university through WISDOM – yes, university, not just private Christian institutions as stated above. They _can_ use a portfolio to successfully gain entrance into post secondary.

    The problem here isn’t with home education, and it certainly isn’t with one school board. The problem is with a dysfunctional family that fell through the cracks – something that happens with too much frequency among families of children in the public school system. This situation is terrible and one that I hope is incredibly rare. Please don’t use this situation to paint all home schoolers with one black brushstroke.

  • This is the manager for WISDOM Home Schooling. I would appreciate you contacting me about this article, which contains misinformation that might confuse families looking at home educating.

    Also, the ad image above is copywritten and should not be used on this blog.
    Thank you!

    • Thanks for the note. The image has been changed.

      It is up to individual author of the post if they’d like to reach out. We’ll pass on the message.

      • Thank you! I appreciate it.

        I will say, to those who read this and are curious to know more about who WISDOM really is and what we stand for, as well as how we work to help students have the best educations possible, please contact me – you can find WISDOM and myself on Facebook.

  • As an example of the misinformation, it is quoted, “Wisdom…a group whose credentials are not recognized by Canadian Universities and whose credits are not convertible to standard provincial diplomas. Essentially, it sets you up to fail because you are not a holder of any recognized high school diploma when you are 18.” Homeschooling gives students an option of pursuing credits and obtaining a diploma, or doing non-credit studies, which are often of a higher standard / level of achievement than a diploma. If a student choses not to take courses for credit, it is not because that wasn’t an option for them. Homeschool authorities themselves do not have “credentials” or “credits”, those are issued by Alberta Education to the student, based on their studies and/or exams.

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