Monthly Archives: February 2011

Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children! – Part 10

CHANGING WHAT WE DO

[This is Part 10 of the Article “Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children!”]

I hope some of you have been encouraged by all I have written in this series of articles. Encouragement has always been my intention, even if I have poked a little hard at some of your paradigms. I believe most parents desire to prioritize having a relationship with the children God has given them to raise and to raise those children to become all God intended them to be. To not send children to school can be an immense lifestyle change. For some, making this change must be done in stages. If you have brought “your” children home it may be necessary (for a season) to follow a Public School model. Hopefully, that season will be short-lived.

So, then, what do you think children should be doing all day now that they are home? Here are some ways to determine what you believe:

First, and probably the most obvious way to determine what you really believe, is to ask yourself, “Is this child the constant or is this child’s education the constant?”

Next, consider how much your school is like public school—only at home. Are your children in a grade? Are you following a Scope & Sequence track that is moving your children throughout the years toward graduation? Are you using what is popularly termed “prepackaged curricula” which is filling their minds with the same information you were required to learn when you were in school? Are you teaching them this information so they can do well on the same tests every other child in the world is taking? Is what you are doing (or not doing) providing time for them to prioritize what God has gifted them to do (remember the 5,000-10,000 hours I discussed in the previous entry)? Are you resourcing these talents and giftings? Have you given a lot of thought to what they really don’t need to know, but can look up if they ever need to know it? Have you given thought to teaching them the things you were never taught but wish you had been? Have you prioritized what God has told you is important for each child to know and do? Are you struggling with using materials that have no “life” or meaning?

Or, have you stepped completely out of the lock-step, institutional, Public School model of raising children?

Our daughter went to both public and private school, but our sons never did. In fact they were never in a grade, and we rarely used anything “prepackaged” with them. It did take us a while to learn the value of not doing these things. Now, they are grown, and will tell you they are doing exactly what God put in them to do. And, they are good at what they do! Each was given the necessary 10,000 hours to become good at what they are doing…

Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children! – Part 9

Changing the Emphasis – Part 3

[This is Part 9 of the Article, “Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children!”]

In the previous entry, I stated that Institutional Schooling does what it does out of a belief in what a child is, what a child needs, and what schools do to fill a child’s need.

What a child is: An empty vessel.

What a child needs: To have his or her empty vessel filled with the information necessary to be called “educated” (i.e. graduated).

What Schools do: Fill empty vessels with graduation-ready information. The child then takes a job or goes to college to take a “better” job.

My question to parents is this: “Do you believe children arrive in the world as empty vessels to be filled? Do you believe learning information is the main objective of an education? Do you believe Schools know what they are doing?”

I ended that entry by asking the question, “If children do not enter the world as empty vessels, what kind of vessels are they?”

The idea that children are born as empty vessels is a foolish notion and couldn’t be more harmful, yet this is the prevailing attitude of most adults in the world today (and the main reason Institutional Education is set up the way it is). In truth, children come into the world prepackaged with specific giftings, talents, and callings which we parents must discover as the child grows up in our homes. All we parents need to do is ask the child’s Father/Creator “Who is this you have given me to raise?” and the Father will begin the process of showing the parents whom He has created. Then, the parents begin the process of providing the necessary time and resources that will allow the child to become the person he already is!

This idea has astonishing implications!

I have already mentioned that it takes the child’s entire schooling experience—approximately 12 years, or 15,000 hours—to input all the information Institutional Schooling says a child must know (or, at least, be exposed to) to be considered “educated”. But, while the child is spending all that time learning information, what does he or she not have time to be doing?

Here is an important statistic: It takes approximately 5,000 hours of involvement in a particular endeavor for a person to become proficient at something in which he or she is interested. If you consider allowing your child to spend 10 hours per week (that is, only 2 hours per day, 5 days every week) at something that is of interest to your child, you will have allowed your child to spend about 500 hours in a year on that task. In other words, proficiency will take about 10 years. Proficiency means your child will probably be able to get a job at something he likes to do.

Now, let’s look at this further: If you want your child to become one of the very best at what he likes to do, that will take an additional 5,000 hours, or about 10,000 hours in all. This means the child will either need 20 years at 2 hours per day or 10 years at 4 hours per day.

How easy is it for a child to become the very best at what he loves to do? To say it another way, Is it easier for a child to learn something he loves than to learn something he doesn’t?

What causes a child to love something? One child loves to play the piano. Another loves math. Another loves to dance. Another loves computer languages. Another writes, is artistic, etc, etc. I want to suggest that a child loves something because his or her Father has put that endeavor into the child before birth.

Then, the child comes into the world—not as an empty vessel—but full of what the Father wants him or her to do in life. The parents are tasked with discovering these giftings and callings (they ask the child’s Father), and they then provide the TIME & RESOURCES for the child to become the very best at what he or she loves to do.

Further, I want to suggest that these giftings/callings are given to the child, not primarily for the child’s benefit, but for the benefit of the rest of the world. And, as the child expresses his or her giftings/callings, others are blessed, the child is blessed, and the Father is blessed.

If you believe any of this, would it change what you did with the time you have with your children? Would information be the main course of your child’s daily educational meals?

My middle son once told me of a quote he had seen as a young person. It said, “If I will spend a few years doing what others won’t do, then I can spend the rest of my life doing what others can’t do.” With this in mind, we gave our sons the time and the resources to become proficient and, now, they are becoming world class in what they love. Requiring them to spend those 12 years becoming educated (according to the world’s standards) would have robbed them of both the time and the resources to fulfill what God had placed in them to do with their lives. I only wish we had known this when our daughter was growing up. Fortunately, her Father took over and raised her to be the amazing person she is today.

Each child is gifted according to the will of his or her Father. Each is a “genius” is his or her special way.

Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid–Albert Einstein
I once read an article that said 85% of 2nd graders considered themselves stupid.
I challenge us all to let our fish swim!

Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children! – Part 8

CHANGING THE EMPHASIS – Part 2

[This is Part 8 of the Article, “Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children!”]

In the previous entry I listed the primary emphases of Institutional Schooling. Considering what I am about to share, it may be helpful to review that list.

Institutional Schooling does what it does out of a belief in what a child is, what a child needs, and what schools do to fill a child’s need.

What a child is: An empty vessel.

What a child needs: To have his or her empty vessel filled with the information necessary to be called “educated” (i.e. graduated).

What Schools do: Fill empty vessels with graduation-ready information. The child then takes a job or goes to college to take a “better” job.

My question to parents is this: “Do you believe children arrive in the world as empty vessels to be filled? Do you believe learning information is the main objective of an education? Do you believe Schools know what they are doing?”

Or, is there another way to perceive what a child is and another way to perceive what a child needs? Is it possible to ask the question, “Is what Schools are doing (and the way they are doing it) good for children? Necessary? Harmful?” Believe it or not, many schools are asking that very question. Here is part of an email I received a few days ago:

“My daughter’s school held meetings last week with the parents. They told us that the way they teach may be hurting the future of our children. They are asking for parent input on re-shaping the education system. They told us they are failing our kids. They told us that they can’t help this generation….”

This parent said her daughter’s public school is considered one of the best in their county!

I urge you to listen to any of Sir Ken Robinson’s messages on YouTube.com. If you do, you will understand why this school is concerned. What surprises me is their honesty! More and more education leaders are willing to admit that the Emperor is naked. Unfortunately, they have missed the real reason schools fail children. I’d like to offer my own perspective which, in turn, will suggest a different emphasis as we raise our children in our homes:

I begin by proposing a different belief in what a child is and, therefore, a different belief in what a child needs.

First, what a child is: I propose that a child does not come into the world as an “empty vessel”. Rather, each child has been created by God who then brings that child into our time-space world and chooses specific adults whom He tasks with raising that child.

Immediately, several problems arise from this premise:

First, although most Christian parents say their child is a gift from God, parents rarely understand that they have been chosen only to parent the child, but are not to consider the child as theirs. The child has a Father who intends to take the child back one day and who expects parents to train the child to look to Him as Father the rest of his or her life. Of course, we hope to always have a relationship with the children who grow up in our homes. But, they are not ours; they are His. This is one reason why, when speaking to my children, I always referred to myself as “Dad”. When I used the word “Father” I was always referring to the One I was training my children to look to more and more as they grew up. Further, I finally came to understand that I needed to keep asking Him what He wanted me to do with this child so I could be on the same page with Him.

One day, when my oldest son was part way through Saxon Math 6/5, he declared (with emphasis), “I hate math!” I was surprised since I knew God didn’t create us to hate learning. Besides, I liked math. There was a problem which I didn’t understand. So I told Seth to put the book aside while I asked his Father what was going on. I asked for a week. I asked for several weeks. I asked for several months. Finally, after a year of Seth doing no math, I gave up, saying to Seth’s Father, “OK, never mind! If You won’t tell me what’s going on, I will assume you don’t care about Seth learning math!” (By now I was not a happy Dad). A few days later, I was visiting a family and mentioned this issue to them. The daughter suggested an Algebra course she loved. I said, “But my son hasn’t even finished 5th grade math!” The girl only repeated that she liked the Algebra course a lot. So, I bought the Algebra course and showed it to Seth. He went through the entire book without ever asking a question, took the final exam, which he aced. Then, he did the same thing with the Geometry course by the same author and aced that final exam, too. Today, years later, I still scratch my head, and wonder what that was all about. Perhaps the lesson was that Someone knows His own kids better than we parents do!

In the next entry, I will answer the question, “OK, if these children aren’t “empty vessels”, what kind of vessels are they?

Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children! – Part 7

CHANGING THE EMPHASIS

[This is Part 7 of the Article, “Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children!”]

I ended my last entry by saying…

If I could do it all over again, I would not call ourselves “homeschoolers.” I have actually come to dislike the term because I think it creates significant internal problems for the family. If I were starting over again, when the lady at the store asked, “You boys aren’t in school today?” I would have taught the boys to say, simply, “No ma’am,” and let it go at that.

If you are homeschooling and your emphasis is on the school part of home-schooling, it is my guess that your homeschooling is driven by an ongoing feeling of insecurity; perhaps even fear.

Over the years I have noticed a real distinction between children who are home and those who are schooled-at-home. The difference between the two is one of emphasis.

How can you tell if your child is being schooled at home?

The most obvious way you can tell is if you believe that public schools actually know what they are doing. This is important because to accept that any part of the public school model is correct will cause you to mimic what they do.

What do public schools do? They faithfully follow their paradigm of what it means to educate a child and how that task should be accomplished. Read the list, below, and see how much of it you believe in. You can easily tell what you believe by how much your homeschool tracks with the following public school model:

  1. The emphasis is mainly on learning information. More time is spent learning information than learning all other forms of knowledge: reason, wisdom, judgment, relationships, practical skills, what the child wants to know, etc. How much of your child’s time is spent learning information, especially information he could easily find if he actually needed (or wanted) to know it?
  2. There is an agree-upon amount of information a child needs to know in order to be considered “educated”. In educational terms, this is called “The Scope” (of information).
  3. Because the amount of information needed for a child to be considered “educated” is so large, the Scope is separated into common Subjects. Then each Subject is arranged from its simplest form to its most complex. In educational terms, this is called “The Sequence”. Every school (and textbook) displays a “Scope & Sequence” Chart showing the progression through which the child will move as he learns each Subject.
  4. The name given to each Sequence is “grade”. A child is commonly assigned the sequence level (grade level) in which are other children his same age.
  5. Testing determines if the child has learned enough of the information to continue to the next sequence, or grade.
  6. Children are provided with letters so they will know how well, or poorly, they scored on tests (how much of the information they remember and can retrieve).
  7. It takes the average person most of his childhood to accomplish the task of becoming educated at the basic level—usually about 12 years, or approximately 15,000 hours.
  8. Children should learn information simply because it is supposed to be learned. The information does not need to have any personal value to the child nor does the information need to be taught in a way that demonstrates that it has (or will have) practical value to the child, either currently, or in the future.
  9. A room devoted exclusively (or almost exclusively) to learning helps the child become educated.
  10. The use of grade-level curricula—that can be used by all children in the same sequence (grade)—is the most efficient way to school children.
  11. Everyone understands that education is a competitive undertaking. Students compete with one another for their personal evaluation. There are winners and losers. Failure is to be avoided and just about any means one needs to employ to avoid a negative evaluation is worth considering.
  12. An individual’s evaluation depends on his own, individual, effort. Cooperative effort is called “cheating” and is punished.

If you were institutionally schooled, you may have internalized some, if not all, of the above.

In the next installment, I will offer some alternative emphases that might be considered as we raise our children in our own homes