Should parents have the right to educate their own children, or is it only the State which can be entrusted with developing young minds?
Via The Daily Mail:
A mother who home-schools her ten children in Montgomery, Alabama, has opened up about how six of them began their college degrees by the age of 12.
Those of the Harding siblings who have already graduated from college have gone on to become a doctor, an architect, a spacecraft designer and a master’s student. Another two – 12 and 14-years-old – are still finishing up their degrees.
But despite the Hardings’ incredible achievements at such young ages, their parents – Mona Lisa and Kip – insist they are a family of ‘average folks’ who simply find and cultivate their children’s passions early on.Smart family: Six of the ten Harding siblings started college by the age of 12, thanks to their parents’ home-schooling, which lets them focus on their passions. The remaining four children are ten and under
Hannah was the first to take her college entrance exams – at the young age of 12. ‘I didn’t expect to pass,’ the 24-yead-old told Today.com. ‘So I started crying, because I was thinking, “Now what?”‘
She passed the exam and, at just 17, became Auburn University Montgomery’s youngest ever graduate, obtaining a BS in mathematics.
Hannah went on to get master’s degrees in math and mechanical engineering, and she was designing spacecraft by the age of 22.
The other Harding siblings, spurred on by their parents’ encouragement and their older sister’s success, were quick to follow suit.
Seth, 12, is the latest to begin at college. At seven, he announced that he wanted to be a military archaeologist. He is now a freshman at Faulkner University, where he studies the Middle Ages.Eldest: Hannah, now 24, was the first Harding sibling to apply to college at the age of 12. She went on to get master’s degrees in math and mechanical engineering, and was designing spacecrafts by 22
Breaking records: Heath, now 16, was the youngest student ever to graduate from Huntingdon College at 15. He’s now studying for his master’s in computer science, which he will complete before his 17th birthday
Just down the hall is Seth’s 14-year-old brother Keith, a college senior with a passion for music who is studying finite mathematics.
His ambitious younger sister Katrinnah, ten, plans on taking her college exams next year.
Still, despite the exceptional talents of her brood, Mona Lisa – who studied to become a nurse before staying at home to educate her kids – said: ‘I don’t have any brilliant children. I’m not brilliant.’
‘I don’t have any brilliant children. I’m not brilliant. We’re just average folks’
The mother-of-ten also explained that her husband, who flew helicopters in the army and didn’t graduate college until 25, is not brilliant either. ‘We’re just average folks,’ she insists.
People who know them, however, would beg to differ.
Seth’s assistant professor Grover Plunkett, for instance, said of the 12-year-old, who lives at home rather than in a dorm: ‘He’s got the highest average in the class.’Accelerated learning: Seth, 12, is a freshman at Faulkner University where he studies the Middle Ages. ‘He has the highest average in his class,’ said his assistant professor
Following their passions: Rosannah (left), now 20, became a fully fledged architect at 18. Her older sister Serennah, 22, (right) is training to be one of the youngest physicians in American history
But the Harding children insist they are not geniuses. Instead, they credit their achievements to home-schooling, as well as a concentrated focus on their passions, which their parents taught them to hone in on from an early age.
‘By the time you get down to number five, number six, they just think learning seems normal,’ Mona Lisa said of her children.
‘They’re taking college classes, but socially, they are just teenagers’
‘We find out what their passions are, what they really like to study, and we accelerate them gradually.’
For Serenneh, that passion was medicine. The 22-year-old is currently on her way to becoming a Navy doctor – which will make her one of the youngest physicians in American history.
Younger sister Rosannah, now 20, became a fully-fledged architect at the age of 18.
And Heath, who graduated from Huntingdon College at 15, will have completed his master’s in computer science just after his 17th birthday.Support system: Ten-year-old Katrinnah (right), who gets some study help from older sister Hannah (left), plans on taking her college entrance exams next yearUp and coming: The younger Harding kids – ten, seven, five, and three-years old – are also being home-schooled by their parents
‘It makes you wonder,’ Wesley Jimmerson, Seth’s college friend, mused. ‘Are they advanced, or are we just really behind?’
In fact, Mona Lisa and Kip are convinced that all children have the capacity to learn at the rate theirs have.
The couple have written a book to illustrate their teaching method and launched a website detailing their unique approach.
The book, called College By 12, is said to feature ‘lots of tips of how you can simplify your homeschooling’, as well as ‘testimonies of how God has worked in our lives’.
College may sound like too much pressure for the pre-teens to handle, but the Harding parents insist their kids are thriving, not suffering.
‘All our children would have to tells us is, “You know, this isn’t fun any more,”‘ says Mona Lisa says. ‘And we’d do something about that.’Understanding: Their mother Mona Lisa insists her children don’t feel too much pressure to succeed. ‘All [they] would have to tells us is, “You know, this isn’t fun any more,” and we’d do something about that,’ she said
Work and play: Their father says they still have time to be normal kids. ‘The expectation is that you’re going to have a fun day,’ he said of his children. ‘Not that you’re going to come home with A’s’
Kip agrees with his wife: ‘The expectation is that you’re going to have a fun day,’ he said as he watched his children play in the backyard. ‘Not that you’re going to come home with A’s.’
Indeed, the couple insists that despite their accelerated eduction, the children have led normal lives.
‘We didn’t limit their experience,’ said Mona Lisa. ‘They’re taking college classes, but socially, they are just teenagers.’
Their remaining children are seven-year-old Mariannah, Lorennah, five, and Thunder James, three, all of whom are being home-schooled, too.