The Great Train Robbery, Part 4: Does this really work? Final words and some practical examples.
Most people secretly harbor a desire to be really good at something; however, few people are ever given the chance to become really good at something. What time they could have spent becoming good at something has been stolen from them. Their 10,000 hours of deliberate, solitary practice (see part 1) has, instead, been spent on obligatory irrelevancies.
Several years ago, one of my sons shared with me his favorite quote:
“If I spend a few years doing something no one else will do, then I may spend the rest of my life doing something no one else can do.”
For years, that son spent time in deliberate, solitary practice until he acquired the ability to perform expertly in the area of his heart’s desire. In order to do this, his parents had to be willing to avoid those obligatory irrelevancies that would distract their son from gaining the acquisition of expert performance (see Part 1).
So important was this concept, we decided to step about as far away as possible from the public school paradigm: My sons never knew what grade they were in (because they were never in a grade); with the possible exception of math, their education did not follow established sequencing; they were not taught material just because they were a certain age, rather we waited to teach it until it had some real meaning; we never graded their work (if we thought it worth learning, they were simply required to master it)—and, we considered a waste of time (i.e. irrelevant) much of what their public schooled counterparts were being forced to learn.
Another son was given time to completely explore model rocketry. His technical aptitude soon came to the attention of a local college professor who asked my son to teach a group of senior citizens how to use the Internet, a skill he had acquired by deliberate, solitary practice in writing programs for the internet and diving headlong into learning all the then available computer programs. After turning down a scholarship from the University of Maryland, he now owns his own high-end web development company.
From age six, the youngest son grew up on stage, eventually performing in such shows as Cats and Les Miserables. By the time he turned 20, he decided to step away from theater to begin working in film. This year he formed his own production company.
As you read this, you may think each of these pursuits strange and completely outside what you would want your children to pursue. Yet, these were in my sons’ hearts to pursue. How easy to become good at what you love—if only you are given the chance to become good at what you love!
Did I decide to play it safe and “go for employability”? Believe me, I often thought about it! For years I wondered if I was raising three young men who would enter adulthood as “vacant lots”, incapable of functioning in a 21st century, industrialized world.
But, I hung on to God’s promise: “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.”—Proverbs 22:29. None of my three sons have actually stood before a “king” in the literal sense; however, I echo what one of them told me the other day: “I know few people who get to do what my brothers and I get to do—the very things we love to do.”
I would now say, The End. But, this is not the end of the story:
I don’t know how many actually read this blog; but I would like to ask my readers to share your own story of how each of you gave birth (or are giving birth) to your children’s personal giftings and callings. I think it would be a group encouragement to all.
It may even start a movement. Or, better yet, it may return homeschooling to what I believe the Lord intended it to be in the first place: that fertile ground in which young people are able to have the time for their own, deliberate, solitary practice so they, too, may acquire that expert performance as they are “trained up according to their way”, and, by being able to express their giftings and talents with excellence, thereby glorify their God.
It’s your turn to share…