Wisdom Homeschooling and Child Abuse: Mahlah’s Story
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.