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- Léo’s Insights 2018-2019 Academic Year
Last week, I discussed how nostalgia made my listening to a nearly twenty-year-old broadcast session about home “schooling” interesting. Today, I would like to share the other reason this experience grabbed my attention.
I must admit that when I initially listened to these sessions in 2002, I was, well, nearly twenty years younger and also twenty years less experienced in the field of education.
Now, approaching thirty-five years’ experience in the home education venture, I have come to know things I did not know or believe in 2002, which would have been about half way through the approximately forty-year history of the modern day North American home education movement.
While I did observe that many things may have changed in home education since that time, there is one thing that hasn’t and I believe it remains the biggest obstacle to home-based learning…. That is, who calls the shots?
Now to be sure, there have been great improvements and time has shown us that home education generally produces better overall results when comparing to school-based learning. We may be more free, yet there remains an overarching problem that, if not addressed, will see the eventual demise of home education in this province, country and abroad.
That problem is that we are still home “schooling”! I know it may only be a term used interchangeably with home “education” or “unschooling.” However, the base philosophy of the movement remains largely unchanged from the days when home education was in its infancy. We have never gotten past the idea that something outside the family sets the standards for what should be learned, when and how.
The sessions I listened to reminded me that back then, we used the existing “government” as the bearer of educational standards and expectations. We constantly compared ourselves to it and did our best to “best the system.”
Home-based learning started with the idea that we could do better than school and indeed it does, but, improving on a flawed system is not a victory. A better bad, is hardly an improvement!
Today, we remain almost steadfast in our belief that government has the right and responsibility to educate children and we align ourselves according to it. We ask its permission, follow its outline, measure against its standards, repeat its methodology, insist that every child learn everything that is expected of a “well-rounded student,” even if it is not in keeping with the child’s abilities, and we seek government approval in the form of high school accreditation.
We are still mostly trying to school our children in something or everything rather than towards a particular thing. While we might consider following the government program within a “Christian” framework, it is still the government that we follow, not God.
At no time during this session of “pros” did anyone ascribe the standards to God. The closest they got was in mentioning the importance of instilling Godly character in the students, which I continue to heartily applaud.
And, there was talk of parents burning out! Why are they burning out? Could it be because parents are trying to fit the family circle into the government’s square hole?
And why are we saying we want to instil Godly character and then measure how well we have done by comparing them to the world’s school “standards” without ever questioning what this standard is, who sets it, or whether God approves of this system, for that matter?
I imagine that the first time I heard this broadcast I was in agreement. This time, all I could do was ask, where is the faith? You cannot pretend to be on the narrow road by “Christianizing” the attributes of the broad road.
I know what school looks like. A home “school” is not really that different because we tend to unquestioningly put our trust in man and his institutions.
If we desire to truly serve God, we will have to be different. Only then can we possibly make a difference in our children or in this world. Following what everyone else is doing will result in the same thing, not something unique and different.
Finally, the example student that was presented as a model of home “school’s” success in this presentation, while likely a good guy, demonstrated an almost copycat thinking pattern to what is found in schools.
When asked what he aspired to do with his life, he first shared his ambition of becoming the President of the United States, without stating any desire to be a servant of the most high God. I am certain he has not achieved his worldly ambition and I can only pray he found the mark of the high calling.
We do not home educate to get a better school product. While we must be striving to help our children become the best that they can be, this should be in keeping with the directives of the One who created them in the first place, not those who claim to know better.
After listening to that old presentation, I realized that I no longer agree with home “schooling,” or schooling at all, especially if “schooling” insists on a conformity of student behaviour that honours government above or before God.
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