Should the process of becoming an educated person be stressful? Should students feel "pressure" when it comes to learning? By what standard should graduates be deemed ready for the adult world?
Having been a home educator for almost half of my life, I have had the benefit of selecting my own curriculum and setting my own time schedule for learning. I knew, through research, what was ahead for my children and organized my course of study for them so that they would be ready for entrance into the next stage of their education. Sometimes the journey was smoother than others. As time went on, I made it a policy and priority of our homeschool that moving on to the next level of a subject would occur only when the previous level had been mastered. This sometimes meant that my student was still doing 5th grade level math when she was in her 7th grade. So what? What mattered was that she understood and could apply the material, not how long or exactly when she understood it. Our culture puts a greater emphasis on when something is grasped, rather than if it is truly comprehended. (I often make the analogous observation that most adults when they interact with each other don't really care at what age the other was toilet trained; they are just gratified that they are! Yet, mothers "stress" over this milestone, as though any delay will have catastrophic consequences. I wonder how often this is fueled by the desire to enroll their little ones into a day-care situation.)
It is not unusual to see high school students develop ulcers because of all their homework, AP classes, and the "need" to succeed. Many become obsessed in their quest to achieve high SAT scores and gain acceptance into the "best" universities. However, they often don't have a clue as to how to offer a good apologetic for their Christian faith, and they are altogether ignorant of church history. This isn't that surprising, because their parents usually are in the same boat. What we end up with are Christian people who know much more about the world than they do about their faith. It should come as no surprise then, when faced with decisions of those to elect to political office or which policies should be implemented and those that should be countered, that they don't have a biblical orientation point from which to proceed. Thus, we get "business as usual," despite the fact that we live in a country with so many professing Christians who claim to believe the Bible from cover to cover!
Why have we allowed learning to be hijacked by the humanistic concept that grades determine a person's capabilities and that getting into the "right" school serves as a measure of personal worth? The Scriptures instruct us to seek first God's Kingdom and righteousness, and then all that we require will be added unto us. It would appear that many have accepted a counterfeit answer to the question: What should I do with my life?
The missing ingredient in all this is a lack of understanding of calling. What exactly is calling? Simply put, one's calling is the particular way the Lord has chosen for each individual to personally glorify and enjoy Him forever. In that vein, it is vital that young people get a chance to develop according to their giftings and inclinations, within a context of self-conscious Christian education. In the process of becoming educated, stress and anxiety need not be the norm, nor sleepless nights and caffeine filled days.
Psalm 127:1-2 asserts:
1. Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain.
2. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep.
What would a society look like where the focus of young people wasn't centered in their school, but in and with their family as they make their preparation for usefulness as adults? Homeschooling gives us a microcosmic glimpse. Even so, isn't it time that we RETHINK the particulars of education?
- Andrea G. Schwartz
Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven Family, The Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your Household, Empowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom Service, Woman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected].