Last month, someone asked us if we were planning to educate James at home. There’s a lot of reasons why the answer is yes; mostly related to Biblical obedience. Heidi and I believe very strongly that it is our own personal responsibility to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. Even if our current public school curriculum wasn’t fundamentally opposed to these things (and co-ed bathrooms are the least of our concerns, by the way), institutional education systems don’t leave the time or opportunities for us to set the examples for our children that we see Scripture describing for us, the parents.
But it goes beyond that. We’re not seeing home education as a burden we carry until our country’s messed-up schooling system gets fixed, and we’re not approaching it like a daily cross to bear (not until we get to Algebra, anyhow), but as a blessing! We may be a little nervous about our own personal abilities to teach, since this is our first time to do this, but we are genuinely excited about this. Why is that?
The best, clearest, most concise answer to that is simply that we were educated at home. I realize that lots of other homeschooled kids have rejected homeschooling, that not everyone who experienced homeschooling has the best attitude about it, and that we all had different parents and experienced a different process of homeschooling. And yet, there is no better way to explain why Heidi and I are just plain excited to teach our children at home than simply to explain that we have experienced it ourselves.
Our parents taught us to love God’s Word and God’s ways, and we want to do the same for our children. But it goes beyond that. We want to teach our children at home because we loved being with our parents and siblings growing up, and we want to allow our children to have that same wonderful experience. We’re excited about providing that experience to them and being a part of it with them.
This week I’ve been reading about Sebastian Junger’s new book Tribe: On Homecoming and Belonging, which suggests that most military veterans suffer from PTSD not because of trauma, but because of the extreme culture shock of going from the very communal and self-sacrificial life of a military platoon to the very individualistic and self-absorbed life of modern America. His interviews with returning soldiers who feel the loss of camaraderie almost as keenly as the loss of individual comrades are fascinating, and their wistful descriptions of the community they used to belong to are poignant.
Junger’s reasoning is largely based on evolutionary psychology – that humans evolved as pack hunters, not lone wolves – but his observations are very compatible with Scripture. After all, it is not good for man to be alone. Humans are meant to be in families, in churches, and in communities. We were created to be in covenant relationships, both with other humans and with God Himself. Heidi and I want to both demonstrate and provide those relationships for our kids.
When we were homeschooled, we grew up in the context of a secure and loving family, rather than as an isolated individual in a whirlwind of disconnected activities with random age-segregated peer groups. It was great, primarily relationally, but also personally and academically. Family-focused education in our home will enable us to focus on a child’s true character and actual understanding of knowledge, not just blindly grading his adherence to arbitrary rules and Common Core checklists.
But again, I want to stress that we’re not just picking the educational process by which that child is least likely to be academically left behind; we’re looking forward to creating really neat Kingdom opportunities for James. Thanks to our parents’ examples, we know that a home can provide personalized opportunities for seeing, learning, and living out service, business, hospitality, and relationships far beyond anything the state can provide… and we’re so excited to be cultivating that in our little family!