What you do in your house is worth as much as if you did it up in heaven for our Lord God. We should accustom ourselves to think of our position and work as sacred and well-pleasing to God, not on account of the position and work, but on account of the word and faith from which the obedience and the work flow. ~ Martin Luther

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

A Middle-of-the-Roader, I am


Homeschooling isn't for everyone, I know that.  But homeschooling is undoubtedly for US.  In my mind, there is no other option for our family

Don't get me wrong...there are days when an empty (or almost empty) house from 8-4 sounds like bliss (think of all the ME-projects I could accomplish!) but the fact is, even if we lived right next door to an amazing classically Christian school and had oodles of money to throw at them for tuition, I *still* would want to homeschool.  Because for me, the best education is the personalized education and schools, even Christian schools (as wonderful as they can be) aren't built that way.   (It's the John Taylor Gatto in me.)

    No bells interrupting personal discovery, no not-so-hidden agendas, no wasted time on school buses or in hallways, no gender confusion, no pushing ahead, no holding back, no peer pressure or bullying, no need for conformity, no hands-off parenting, no godless leadership, no varying values. No children growing up without me watching in awe.

    The unfortunate thing about homeschooling though- is that it requires work.  Sometimes difficult work, often plentiful work, always time-consuming work.

The Number #1 reason we homeschool is because we know that no education is neutral.  Education either speaks of a Creator or a Chance.  Education either points us to God or gods.  And a Christian worldview isn't just important in science class.  The God dilemma shows itself in all subjects...from English, to Math, to History to Humanities.  Because, In the total expanse of human life there is not a single square inch of which Christ, who alone is sovereign, does not declare, 'That is mine!'.

Even if that is our number one objective in homeschooling, to provide a Godly education to our children (and it is), that does not give us license to stop there.  Our children need to know the 10 commandments, yes, but they ought to know the 10 times table as well.   Our children shouldn't just end up being Godly.  They also need to grow up to be SMART.  (That's the Susan Wise Bauer/Classical Educator in me.)  Why?  Because God gave us brains, that's why.  Because our brains are a GIFT.

When we have increase, we tithe 10%, because He gave it to us, he commanded it and it is good.  If, instead, we were to squander that increase (poker night, anyone?!), it would be clear to everyone that we didn't really VALUE that increase enough to be good stewards of it.   If our children are super excited to receive a special toy on Christmas morning, only to find that the next morning it was left out in the driveway and been run over with the car- we know that they didn't really value it enough to take care of it. In the same way, when we decide that our children loving God is enough and that they don't need to know history or how to express their ideas thoughtfully, it would be clear that we didn't value the brains that God has entrusted us with.

Raising up children who adore God and live to please Him is our ultimate goal.  But for them to be glorifying to God, they need to be grateful for the gifts He has given- including their brains.  Our Christian mandate is to Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.  If we are to speak and act in His name- we had surely better do it well!

That said, I often feel that education can often be restrictive and forced- and that the value of education truly comes with learning to love the process.  I believe that children need time to discover things themselves, pursue their own interests, explore on their own terms and be given the freedom and time to do those things.  That is, children need to be children.  I don't think it is coincidence that God gave children an amazing sense of wonder and astonishment at His creation and I don't think it wise to put those awe-inspiring, tangible things only into facts for their minds-but also into their hands to experience.  (That is the Charlotte Mason in me.)

So you see, I am a bit of a middle of the roader.  I am a "take the good from it, leave the bad" kind-of girl.  

My goals for home educating:

~ I want my children to grow up loving God and being constantly amazed at His work; At His story of the world and of peoples, at His art and creation, at His mathmatics and His poetry.  I want them to notice it, admire it, love it.  I want them to try to recreate it in their own poetry, in their own art, in their own history, in their own world.

~ I want my children to grow up LOVING the process of learning.  If they learn to love to process, they will never be limited by me or anyone else.  If they become lovers of knowledge, who can stop them?! 

~ I want my children to grow up valuing life because God created it.  Whether that life has Down syndrome, only one arm, in a wheelchair, dark skin, white hair, dirty clothes or smells funny.

~ I want my children to grow up valuing themselves because God created them.  I want them to love the skin they are in, to be able to wear weird clothes without caring what other people think, to love things that maybe other people don't love.  To be different and unique and individual and lovely.  

~ I want my children to grow up prepared for LIFE.  I want my children to grow to be hard workers, to be diligent and enthusiastic with their tasks.  I want them to know how to cook, to sew, to grow, to care for creatures, to make things from scratch, to use ingenuity in solving problems.   I want them to know how to do real things and to value doing real things.

I want them to be exceptional readers.  I want them to get lost in books, to go to different worlds, become different people, to experience new things.  I want them to love the written word.  

~ I want them to be courageous.  Strong.  Chivalrous.  Trustworthy.  Kind.  I want them to know where to turn when life is dangerous or hard, I want them to know where their Comfort lies.  I want them to find Joy, outside of circumstances.   I want them to be Joy to others.  I want my children to have character.

I want only the best for my children- and for our family, the best way to get there is through homeschooling.

Education would be much more effective if its purpose was to ensure that by the time they leave school every boy and girl should know how much they do not know, and be imbued with a lifelong desire to know it. ~William Haley


Terri said...

Love it! My children have experienced homeschool, p.s. and Christian school and I do have to say that homeschooling has been the best of the three choices.

Most of the reasons I homeschool my daughter are the same as yours. I do agree that it's not just educating them spiritually but also educationally. I have always used KONOS and love it because it does help my children to think and think hard about things.

Great post, Rebecca.

Miranda said...

You have such a way with words. Love it!

Anonymous said...

What a beautifully written post! For those of us who are considering homeschooling but haven't taken the "plunge" yet--do you ever worry about the "social" aspects they may miss--though with four children there is bound to be plenty of socializing! We live in a suburban area, and while I am motivated to take on the academics of homeschooling, I still value the "mainstream" activities my kids engage in--soccer, etc--and see them as healthy outlets for the kids and instant parent connections/fun for my husband and me too. I suppose there can be a balance but I realize it may be difficult? Do your kids participate in team/group sports or other activities, and how do you find time/logistics for the occasional "play date" or friendship fostering? I realize your kids are a bit younger than mine--guess I'm anticipating your upcoming years with pre-teen girls and all that comes along with it!:)

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post on the way you HS and your goals. I hope though most Christians especially will adopt this method and not just depend on the bible for all/most subject matters like poetry, writing, memorization etc. It seems a bit legalistic and even shoddy and lazy and keeps children from getting all the value of the talent God gave people. They don't seem to value education to me.

You put a lot of effort into your children and it is very visible.


Leah T. said...

Great post (as always), Rebecca! We're eclectic, too! I like that term better than "middle of the road". ;) And our goals for educating our children fall closely in line with yours.

I'd love to know what you use for/how you go about teaching spelling. Reading is very important and something my older sons are finally latching on to but to me spelling is a very close second. A quote I've heard and agree with is "All good spellers are good readers but not all good readers are good spellers".

Rebecca said...

Terri~ I have heard of KONOS but never really looked into it. I guess I have to!

Thank you Miranda!

Anon.~ Thanks for your comment and great question! I'll answer it in an upcoming Q&A post later this week.

Cheryl~ I have seen the same thing. Thankfully, I think that it is, for the most part, a very tiny fraction of Christian homeschoolers though. Because you are right, there is nothing wrong (in fact, plenty RIGHT) with enjoying the fruits of the talents that God has given people. In it, we see glimpses of Him.

Leah~ I use ecclectic often but it made for a bland title. :-) I'll answer your questions (and that in the previous post) in a Q&A scheduled for later this week.

Renata said...

Hi Rebecca
I love this post & agree wholeheartedly! I will admit that this past term I've found the home school program we are using very restrictive & have found myself going through the motions of homeschooling, but have lost that love of it. I need to set aside time now ( it's spring holidays here) to recapture the reasons we homeschool & the love of the process. Thank you for getting me thinking. This is an excellent post!

...they call me mommy... said...

Love this!