Saturday, July 26, 2008

Things Have Changed

July 7, 2008

My wife and I recently attended the Christian Home Educators of Colorado conference. It was a great event, and it gave the two of us much needed time to talk, reminisce, and dream. We played catch-up on a lot of ideas and happenings, as we don’t always get to chat as often as we wish.

This will be our fifth year of homeschooling. It gets better every year. We discussed how things have changed over time – progressing from the first year of experiment and doubting our sanity, and proceeding on through the most recent quarter, which was full of confidence, growth and joy. And as we were talking about curriculum, daily planners, and what special subject I was going to teach to my son this year, a sudden thought occurred to both of us. The purpose for homeschooling our children has completely changed in just four years.

When we began, it was about giving our children the best education possible. And while we admired many aspects of the elementary public school which we attended, we knew that our children were not learning enough, and were not being challenged academically as they should. My son, who was progressing to first grade when we made the homeschooling decision, was destined to spend the next year doing worksheets in the school hallway because he had learned to read earlier than the others in his class. The school could not modify their curriculum to accommodate this, and so he was effectively going to be punished for his effort. I wonder if the “social skills” that people question in homeschoolers develop better in lonely school hallways?

We made the decision to educate at home largely because we wanted our kids to have a superior education – to demonstrate superior academic achievement as they had already shown in their first years of schooling. This desire drove the first two years of our home education. We focused mostly on typical education rigor, making sure that our children could pass any test, in case a surprise auditor came to our door to see if our children were really learning at the pace mandated by the state.

Through God’s grace, a new objective inserted its way into our lives. The primary purpose of homeschooling our children no longer is academic – we do it so that we can disciple our children to live godly lives! The surprising part is that neither of us can recall exactly when this goal came about. It is abundantly clear to us that through God’s leading, our long-term vision for our children (and their children after them) is first to know God and to serve Him. My former self tells me that any of the school day that my children spend in reading the Bible, or in memorizing scripture, or in learning how to intelligently argue against evolutionary theory, is time not spent learning biology. And they aren’t getting as much time in trigonometry or Civil War history (though even this isn’t true – we get more of this because of the sheer efficiency of our “class size”).

Isn’t that thinking backwards from the way God intended? If I allowed my children to spend their time learning secular subjects first, isn’t that time that they could have been spending with God, or learning godly principles? Proverbs 9:10 says “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” The education of my children should first begin with dwelling on God’s precepts. And once they are grounded in what is right and good, they will be better prepared to serve God in this world. Doesn’t that trump our culture’s incorrect interpretation of success?

The bottom line is this – if my child grows up to be a highly-paid, Harvard-educated lawyer on Wall Street, but doesn’t know and serve the Lord God, I will have failed. And that vision will continue to refine our homeschool efforts, as well as our children’s hearts.

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1 comment:

Brenda said...

I so agree. My head knows this, but it's really good to read! I was very anti-homeschool in my former life, until I read a book by a Christian author whose children were homeschooled. Suddenly it all made sense--training the children throughout the day--academics truly take a backseat in the grand scheme of things! (But it's a good reminder, because I get bogged down in those academics!)