Homeschooling: from sail boat to university

Today we received our kid’s report cards. And, it got me thinking about homeschooling on our boat. We want all of our children to go to university. How to achieve that is our biggest challenge. If we cannot make education work on our sail boat then we will likely abandon our plan as cruisers.

For the first time in years, I thought about my old performance reviews and the SMART goal setting process. Before I became a stay-at-home mom I worked as a technical and marketing writer for 10 years, mainly for large multi-national companies. Two of the companies that I worked for used the SMART goal system, which was developed in 1981 by George T. Doran. (Wikipedia, SMART criteria).

SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-related. The SMART goal system provides a way for companies to align corporate objectives with team and individual objectives.

Coincidentally, in 1981, the same year that SMART goals were developed, the song “9-5”, by Dolly Parton was number nine on billboard charts. (Wikipedia, Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1981). Further, Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5 and Odd Jobs” was the first album I ever bought. This choice perhaps says something less about my musical taste, and more about my early ideas of what it might mean to be a woman in the work force.

Album cover of Dolly Parton's
Album cover of Dolly Parton’s “9 to 5 and Odd Jobs,” 1981.

When I was in the work force, I would carefully map my achievements, training, and goals in a table like the one used for this SMART goal setting objective template. The table was then used as a discussion point with my manager. Writing my own performance review was probably at the bottom of the pile in terms of excitement for me.

In 2005, just months before I left to go on maternity leave, Robert L. Bogue wrote an article called “Use S.M.A.R.T. goals to launch management by objectives plan“. In this article, Bogue indicates that the process need not be daunting and that it was away of aligning corporate goals with the individual goals with laser-like focus.

The report cards that we received today were sterile and grey and called to mind my old performance review documents. The tables reminded me of how difficult it is to fully capture a person’s strengths and weaknesses. And, that they are not true indicators of a person’s future path or success.

I don’t know what our homeschool plan will look like when we step aboard a boat. But, to send our children to university, we will need a way to measure and demonstrate that our children are fulfilling the objectives of their grade. We’ll find our groove. Perhaps I’ll find that the SMART goal setting method wasn’t so crazy as it seemed after all.

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