June 5, 2013

Why We Home School: Part VI

Why We Home School:  Foundations

What are the most important things for children to learn?

The answer differs from one family to another.  Reading, writing, and arithmetic?  Science?  History?  Maybe the arts?   

Author and Education Correspondent on the PBS NewsHour, John Merrow, suggests in his Huff Post article, "In Education, Back to Basics", four educational "basics":  reading & writing, numeracy (math), creativity (the arts), and health & nutrition (I imagine physical fitness would fall under this category as well).

Merrow says, "We read to gain information, and we write to convey it.... Numeracy is also a basic skill.... Health and nutrition are [also] basic components of a balanced education.  Larger classes with increasing numbers of children who are undernourished or otherwise in poor health are not a prescription for a vibrant future...."

In regards to creativity, Merrow sends us in the direction of Sir Ken Robinson, an internationally recognized leader in the development of creativity, innovation and human resources in education and in business.  I think Sir Robinson's TED talk of 2006 sums it up quite nicely.


 As parents, what matters most to us for our sons' education is not what grade they earn on a test.  It's not how they perform on standardized state tests.  Those tests are irrelevant to our sons' futures and to who they will become as men.  

As Sir Robinson wrote, "One of the deep problems of the standards and testing movement is that it promotes a very narrow view of ability in schools and a culture of conformity. The fact is that all students are different. Like you and me, they all have different talents, different interests and different ways of learning. Individual achievement is not marked by so much conformity as by diversity. People with ‘learning differences’ may well have other strengths and talents that standardized education completely overlooks. Discovering our real abilities is at the heart of creating our best lives."

If we were to choose measurable building blocks, or foundations, of what we want our sons to learn in life, the four mentioned by John Merrow, especially creativity, as discussed by Sir Robinson, would be at the top of our list.  But none of them are first on the list.

Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you. Blessed are those who have learned to acclaim you, who walk in the light of your presence, Lord.  ~Psalm 89:14-15

For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.  ~1 Corinthians 3:11

...to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.  ~1 Timothy 6:18-19
The most important things we want our boys to learn, the foundations of their education, are not things they will learn in a public school classroom.  In fact, the God of the Christian faith has been all but banned from public education.  But what matters most for our boys is to build their lives on the foundation of Jesus Christ.  

That can't be measured by a standardized, norm-referenced test.  But it can be measured.  We can gauge our sons' spirits by the fruit of THE Spirit they display in their lives.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  ~Galatians 5:22-23
If our boys never learned another math fact or the meaning of one more word or to memorize one more historical fact or play one more note on the piano, but they grew up to be Godly men - men who display the fruit of the Spirit in their daily lives, then I would be one happy momma!

Do I want them to master the foundations of education that public schools recognize?  Yes.  Will I do my best to teach them to be the best readers, writers, mathematicians, historians, scientists, musicians, and artists they can possibly be?  Of course.  Will I spur them on to great heights of creativity?  Definitely!

But what I will teach them first and foremost are the foundations of Godly living.  They will be good men - men of strong moral character who follow Christ and seek to show His love to others through the way they live their own lives - before they ever ace a standardized state test.

Coming up... Why We Home School: Facts

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