I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention, as a continuation of my last two posts, that God allows trials out of His great love for us. We do not serve a great punisher who seeks to crucify us for everything we’ve done wrong. Instead, we serve an all-knowing Creator who sees, better than we see, who we are and who we can be. It is because of this knowledge of our destiny, and the desire to see us fulfill our purpose, that the Father allows us to endure suffering (Jeremiah 29:9-11). In our moments of weakness we come into a better understanding of who He is. I think about this each time I get after the kids about something. Having walked down the roads they’ve yet to travel, I see places where they need refining, and habits that need tightening up. My scolding is not because I’m a mean mom who wants perfection, but because my plan will give them a better future than leaving them to their own devices.
Well, I could have easily begun a “Part 3” here, but I was asked to speak on Heartbeat Live soon—gotta hold something back so that I’ll have something to say, you know? (smile) At any rate,
Happy New Year!
We’ve not had much to do, but I’m convinced that the lazier you get, the harder it becomes to gather energy for the smallest of tasks. I’ve had a series of nights where I’m wide awake in the middle of the night, so when it becomes time to get up, I’m a zombie. Such is how I feel today, but with a growing of work to do, I’ve forced myself to remain awake. Plus, the NFL promises some “must-watch” television beginning in about 1 hour. I’m trying to clear my docket of things to do so that I can watch the games in semi-peace.
2009 has so much promise for us and I’m excited about it, even though the days have been largely uneventful. After staying up on New Year’s Eve until well after the stroke of midnight, we slept in on New Year’s day until almost lunchtime. With no plans for family gatherings and such, we began taking down our Christmas tree and other decorations. It was a great matching game for the youngest—packaging box to the right ornament—who is actually ready to begin school! Plan A was to take one more week; there is something deliciously sneaky about rolling back over while hearing school kids gather to catch the bus. Yet, I’m not one to miss a window of opportunity, so she and I will begin slowly on Monday since it doesn’t take that long, anyway. Hopefully, starting again with her will also help me in whipping out books and planners for the second semester. We intentionally take three weeks, moreso for me than the kids. As much as I like to finish by April’s end, the three weeks allow me to fully recuperate from my annual semester-end burnout.
Yesterday, our son teamed with his duet partner to practice. They are performing well together, and the first competition is just around the corner. We’ve also gotten to spend some time as families of the kids. Last night, after the kids spent a significant amount of time together practicing and playing games, we were invited out to their farm for fireworks and a bonfire. It was a little cold for me as one who was unprepared for the night breeze, but we had a good time. They are nice people, and I pray that we will step into the right window to minister Jesus.
Though I’ve intentionally not picked up a book yet, I have completed some great reading of my own, thanks to Carol Jago’s books (see the titles from December 12). Works like hers make my heart bleed for the average American high school kid. Her assertion that current educational processes almost inherently generate an elitist society is sad, but true; I see it in the teenagers in our midst each day. As one example of many, a number of the young ladies at the dance center were speaking of several classic works. Unfortunately, not one of them had read a book; my son, several years younger, began to talk about the difference between the original work and the movie director’s interpretation, and the young ladies looked at him as if something was hanging from his nose. There are much longer-term implications to an inferior education, and that is what the book With Rigor for All details. In a private school, presumably all the children get a high quality education—or at least they should, since their parents are paying more for it. In a public school, the honors kids get the quality; the gifted and talented kids get the quality. What about the others? What about the kids who attend our church, who find themselves in a stereotypical “inner city” school? They are positioned to work, to take orders, to fulfill others’ dreams. Jago quotes from another in writing the following:
What the child can do in cooperation today he can do alone tomorrow. Therefore the only good kind of instruction is that which marches ahead of development and leads it; it must be aimed not so much at the ripe as at the ripening functions. (72)
She goes on to point out that, in many modern educational systems, instruction is lagging behind development, and we cater to other agendas within the public school system. Those other agendas include complaining teenagers and parents who feel overburdened, objective tests that reward memorization rather than understanding, and testing requirements that reward the schools with money, even if the kid hasn’t attained anything. We don’t help our kids by watering down their education. The one who is hurt most in this system are the children, like the young ladies above, who don’t know any better than to gloat about seeing a movie as a primary tool for learning rather than reading a classic. Obviously, I’ve had a chance to revisit some of my own decisions, and to be clear as to what we’re doing and why.
This may sound “pie in the sky-ish,” and there is a sad reality that even the best lesson plans won’t motivate a student past his/her initiative to do and to be more. The author concedes that even though she has a tremendous passion for books and reads voraciously, her own teenage son ‘would think nothing of stopping on page 43 if that was where the homework assignment ended—not even if he knew that the mystery was solved, the gun went off, the girl was saved on page 44.’ Yet, maybe this is what irks me the most—does the average student even get the chance to be more than mediocre, or is this already decided for him? As homeschoolers, we design our children’s education to best fit our goals, their goals, how they learn best, and the realities of our particular home and school environment. Who’s paying attention to the lion’s share of what’s out there—kids who may not be the brightest, but aren’t dumb, kids who want to learn, but don’t know that they even need to take learning into their own hands? The Lord has blessed us that our kids will be amongst the elite—not only because of their education, but moreover, because He says so in Deuteronomy 28. But will we pray for others? For until Jesus comes, the future will include us all.