The Great Train Robbery, Part 3: Getting the Train(ing) Back on Track
Nothing robs a parent’s ability to train up a child more than The Obligation of Irrelevancies.
When we believe the things public school requires children to learn are the right things for them to learn, we are, then, obliged to teach our children the same things. Not only do we feel obligated to teach our children the same things, we also feel obligated to teach them in the same sequence and at the same age they are taught in public school. We ask ourselves, “Who are we, mere parents, to do differently with our children than would be done to them in school? Hasn’t public school had enough time to figure out what works? I am going to throw all that away and do something different? I don’t think so!”
But, if we care, we must also ask ourselves the question, “Would public school even try to train up my child according to his way—to narrow the focus of his educational pursuits to exactly agree with what God has put within this child? Then, does the school give my child the time necessary to gain the acquisition of expert performance?
Remember the phrase deliberate, solitary practice? I began this article (see Part 1) with the concept that, in order to gain the acquisition of expert performance, it takes about 10,000 hours, which translates into approximately 10 years of several-hours-per-day of such deliberate, solitary practice.
Ten years of a child’s life is about the time he spends in grades 3 through high school graduation; in other words, most of his childhood! I suggest that most of the time a child spends in public school is not spent having the focus of his education narrowed to what his inherent giftings are; rather, most of those 10 years are spent teaching the child huge amounts of irrelevant information, at an age when he isn’t ready to learn most of what is being presented, anyway.
By graduation, the opportunity for the child to be trained up according to his way has been robbed! Is it any wonder that so many people go to school, get a job, and, after 20 years, be really good at something they hate doing. What has happened? That person longs to depart from it when he is old. This would not have happened had he been trained up according to his way.
Do you know a child who will spend hours practicing the piano, or dance, or working on the car, or learning computer languages? Over the years, a great many exasperated parents have come to me saying, “All my child wants to do is….!” I ask them, “Are you willing to remove the irrelevancies from your child’s schooling and allow him or her the time to spend in deliberate, solitary practice, to become what is in his or her heart to become: to gain the acquisition of expert performance?
Why do I keep hitting on this idea of expert performance? It is simple: I believe God gives each of our children giftings and callings. If the child is allowed time to become excellent in the performance of those giftings and callings, those giftings and callings will allow the child to bring glory to God through those giftings and callings. It doesn’t matter if the person is excellent at dance, music, plumbing, auto mechanics, computer technology, or whatever. What does matter is that the person has had time to acquire expert performance in the areas that God has gifted him in.
Since public school has a one-track mind for all children—a track leading to employability—what can be said of the child who has acquired expert performance in a field of his or her heart’s desire? God, Himself, answers this question in the last verse in the same chapter of Proverbs 22, which talks about training up a child…. God puts it this way in verse 29, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” How more simply could that promise have been stated!
Next, the final installment of The Great Train Robbery, Part 4: Does this really work? Final words and some practical examples.