Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Why We Homeschool

 This particular blog post has been rolling around in my head for quite awhile now, and hopefully by the end of this day, I will have it posted.  I have read on other blogs the writer's statements of "Why We Homeschool" - a listing of the reasons they have chosen this path for their childrens' education, usually put together to help the writer organize their thoughts and be prepared to answer their critics and skeptics - family members or friends who don't understand.  We are very blessed in that there really aren't any critics among our family and close friends!  If they are out there, they have kept quiet.  LOL  However, during the last year or so, the questioning has come from none other than my own firstborn.  He has expressed negative attitudes about homeschooling and has said numerous times that he wishes he could go to public school or that when he is a parent, he will let his kids "go to school and lead a normal life"  How much is just a teenager's attitude, and how much is real frustration? Who knows.  I do try to take it in stride, and not allow him to get away with disrespect, but it hurts to hear those things from my son.  So... my "Why We Homeschool" statement is addressed to him.  Not sure how I'll deliver it to him - maybe email?... as far as I know, he doesn't read my blog. (and perhaps its better that way for now!) 


Dear Harrison,

Lately I've heard some negatives from you about homeschooling, and what you don't like about it, so I thought I would try to explain to you why we chose to homeschool.

Truthfully, when I first started considering homeschool, it was from a pretty selfish standpoint.  It was something different from the normal - and in my opinion at that time, different was usually good.  I don't like to blend into the crowd too much; doing what everyone else does "just because" doesn't hold much appeal for me.  I need to have a REASON for doing something, and it seemed to me that the "reason" most parents enrolled their children in school was because "they were the age where they were supposed to" and not much thought had been given to the decision beyond that.  Not a good enough reason, to my way of thinking.  And I just wanted my kids WITH me.  I liked being with my children and it seemed unnatural to me to send a little boy so young out into an often hostile world (school bus stories scared me) for someone else to raise for the better part of the day.  Also, when I was growing up, I wanted more than anything else to be a teacher.  That was the profession I dreamed of for myself.  (okay, that and being a rock star.  LOL)  I didn't get to finish my degree, but when I started thinking about homeschooling as a possibility, I realized that there was a good chance that God had given me a dream of teaching for this purpose. 

The more we thought about it, the more natural homeschooling seemed to be for our family.  We had already moved several times, and moving semi-frequently seemed to be what the future held for us as well.  I didn't think it would be wise to have to disrupt schooling any time we needed to move, whereas if we homeschooled, moving would be part of schooling and could just continue as soon as we arrived - no new school, new teachers, different routines etc. And at that point, the most important reason became this: Dad and I felt that God was directing us to homeschool, and we believed that homeschooling would be the best way for us to live out the instructions for parenting that we read in the Bible: "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.  Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.  These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts.  Impress them on your children.  Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.  Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.  Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)  How could we "impress" Biblical truth on our children if we allowed a secular institution to teach them that they are only products of evolution?  How could we be available to talk about Truth while sitting at home or walking along the road, if our children were spending their days away from home?  "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." (Proverbs 9:10)  If this is true, then wisdom and knowledge (which is the purpose of education!) begins and ends with knowing who God is, and KNOWING God.  Public schools cannot teach about a relationship with God. 

I've given some thought to the REASON for education.  In general, the public school model is a factory, designed to pump out students that can jump through the necessary hoops to get the diploma.  They can pass the standardized tests.  But sometimes I wonder what they've really LEARNED.  I wonder that especially when I can completely buffalo a high school kid behind the register at McDonalds, simply by paying $10.03 for a $9.53 bill and they haven't a clue how to make change.  I'm not sure how much time is spent on "reading, writing, and 'rithmetic" in schools, but I often hear about the time they spend being taught "tolerance" and about "sexual identity" or "alternative lifestyles"  - and that in some cases students are told NOT TO TELL their parents what the class was about, or the parents are told that they do not have the right to pull their child out of a class they find objectionable.  Yikes.  Sounds like Big Brother to me.  (reference to George Orwell's novel 1984 which I know you have not read, but I think you might have an idea what it's about) And what about the environment in which they are supposed to be doing their learning?  Crowded, often disrupted, one-size-fits-all, and in the company of kids who don't want to be there, don't want to learn, and are just a negative influence.  So what is the purpose of education - I believe it is to learn all that we can about our God, ourselves and HIS purpose for us, to prepare us for the rest of our life so that we can live out that purpose.  I believe that's best done by parents.  I'm discovering that much of parenting is really risk management.  We have to let our kids go and take some risks as they grow up, but the amount of risk has to be measured against the possible benefits.  Letting my kids be taught evolution, immorality and sin as an "alternative", and being largely under the questionable (at best) influences of a "peer group" and secular institution have never seemed like good risks to me.  Particularly because I'm hard-pressed to find a benefit.

Now all that said... I've had to think a LOT as I wrote this about whether we are fulfilling the stated purpose and goals of educating our own.  And I know that I've come up woefully short in many of the areas where I should be setting the standards and the examples for godly living.  I had some idealistic visions back when we first started homeschooling that we would have our own little "one room schoolhouse" setting where we read the Bible and prayed each morning before saluting the flag; that my kids would be eager and excited to learn every day; and that I would be like some homesteading type mom with perfectly behaved, well-mannered little angels surrounding me; able to discuss fine arts and literature; with through-the-roof IQs and able to graduate at ridiculously young ages so that they could earn full scholarships to the most prestigious colleges.  Not realistic at all.  We read the Bible and I choose curriculum that teaches from a Biblical worldview, so that's okay.  I think we're raising you to be appropriately patriotic, so that's okay too.  I wouldn't really describe you kids as being "eager and excited to learn" most of the time.  Maybe Landon and Kennady still are, but you and Spencer - not so much.  Is that because I'm doing something wrong, or just because you are teenage boys?  You can let me know on that.  I love learning things, and I love reading, so I would like to think that at least in that area I am setting a good example.  I am hardly a Little House on the Prairie mom.  Not even close.  LOL  'Nuff said on that.  Perfectly behaved children?  Well, not hardly, but I do get compliments on my children from others on a somewhat regular basis.  This I sometimes find hard to believe, but that is likely because I live with you all.  I know you are all truly GOOD kids.  The discussion groups on arts and literature haven't really happened.  A few attempts that weren't BAD, but it wasn't quite the highbrow critique of great music and enlightening literature that I was hoping for.  Still - maybe that will happen someday.... or not... I have no idea what your IQ is, having never tested that or seeing any point in it, but I know you're very intelligent.  You have a quick and logical mind (most of the time) and a great aptitude to learn.  Just think of all the hockey stats, Olympic information, and sports card info you've memorized and analyzed over the years. That's truly beyond me.  And I think that if you'd decided to, you could have planned on graduating early.  If you decide now that you want to, I bet you still could get it done. 

I can't congratulate myself too much on any of your good qualities and achievements though, because I've been failing in so many ways.  I don't set a good example in diligence and perseverance, because I am too often lazy and tend to procrastinate on almost everything.  I forget to be intentional about doing all that "impressing on my children" stuff I mentioned earlier, so I miss chances to really share about what the LORD means to me and talk about spiritual things.  I am impatient and sarcastic; I yell too much and praise too little; I exhibit poor attitudes; and I manage my time poorly on more days than I care to think about.  Obviously I continue to need Christ to work in me to overcome these flaws and sins that prevent me from being the best parent and teacher that I could be.  Perhaps it is in part my failings that prompt you to think poorly of homeschooling.  Whether it is or not, I am sorry that I do a less-than-satisfactory job in so many ways, and I ask you to forgive me for blowing it so often.  And you may keep me accountable for it, and remind me when I am out of line.  Just remember to do it respectfully. :-)

Most of this is addressed just as much to the other kids as to you, but here's where I REALLY single you out.  I am VERY proud of you. I know for all your tough talk sometimes, that you are a gentleman at heart.  As I said before, you have the intelligence and the potential to achieve any goal you set for yourself.  I have "bragged" more than a few times about how when you made your decision to pursue sports journalism, you then got right to work on your Language Arts and applied yourself to getting that done - because it would help you reach your goal.  In that sense, you are like me - you need a reason to do something.  You have set your sights on that goal, and you are on your way. Don't give up, and don't be lazy, and you will get there.  I look forward to reading your sports blog when you start that, your byline in the newspaper someday, your contributions to magazines, and hearing your voice on ESPN radio.  You are an individual thinker, and usually don't need to follow the crowd.  I love that about you.  (although I'm hoping you're never arrested for violating obscure PA laws, just because you question the ridiculous)  My prayer for you is that you never neglect kindness and justice in order to be "cool", and that you always use your mind and your ambition to pursue God and to glorify Him.

So, I hope... that one day, if not now, you will indeed be glad that we homeschooled.  That if nothing else, you will know that we did it because it was something God laid on our hearts as being best for the children He entrusted to us; and that above all, we do it because we love you and more than anything we want you to have that "knowledge of the Holy One" (I'm thinking I need that little clip from the beginning of the VeggieTales videos where it says "why we do what we do" with a picture of the kids.  LOL)

Much love, and hopefully not too much sappiness,



bubbebobbie said...

May his heart be receptive to the Love pouring out on this page.

Everytime my teens had the itch to "go to public school" I always had them write a paper on why and cmpare the differences. It was always an eye opener and almost always had something to do withhanging out at school with friend, having lunch with their friends and a sports or music program. It was never about education. They never considered all the time they would have to devote to homework, that they would never have after school time with friends because of the school work they have to complete before class the next day. All they ever hear about from friends is the "fun" they have at school.

Your Biblical reasons are exactly right. We summed it up with James 4:17 If you know what is right to do and do not do it, That is sin! Sending them to school would cause me to sin.

Praying he is open with you over his reasons to want to go to public school.

Because of Jesus, Bobbie

bubbebobbie said...

I will check into the book, thanks for the info. about it. CBD is one of my favorite places to go shopping! They carry my book (:

Because of Jesus, Bobbie

hsbliteraryclub said...

Wow, this post looks so good, but I will have to come back. I am letting our HSB Literary members know that we have begun the new book, Self Raised. All details are on the blog and I hope you come join us soon!



DanielleW said...

What a great Mom you are. I pray he receives this with an open heart and sees and feels the love you put in this letter!

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