Monday, June 26, 2006

More Education Thoughts

There is an exception to every rule it seems. Of course there are exceptions to that rule as well :) And as such when writing my first thoughts on education many exceptions came to my mind, and defining circumstances that would change the way a situation might be handled. I didn't want to talk about them there though for fear the main point would be drug down too drastically. So here I'd thought I'd share some of my further thoughts in case you read the last post and had thoughts like "But what about....and she can't possible think that in a case like..." and so forth.

First I would like to say that I think it is important when trying to establish a general philosophy on something that you keep a few things in mind. One, is that a base working idea will do you more good to start out with than one filled with "what ifs" and second to not hold so tightly to the general philosophy that it can't be altered as you gain more wisdom or as the situation presents itself. So even though I do rather think the general ideas I laid out on education have broad application to most families (I believe towards the end I was so bold as to make such a statement) they are not the end all thoughts on the matter, they are not even my end all thoughts on the matter. And if another family believes they are being lead in another direction then more power to them. The thing about opinions is that we believe that ours are the right ones- if we didn't then we wouldn't have them. So keep that in mind that although I will use phrases that indicate I do think this has application to more people than those who live in my house, I also know that I could be wrong about that and am always happy to be shown that I am.

Ok, all that is out of the way...some of my personal exceptions to my "rules" of education:

1. Family distress. It is probably obvious from my previous post that I think that a woman should be at home instead of in an outside career. However, I know that can't always happen. A wonderful woman who I had the privlege of hearing speak at my old church (woman's gathering, not Sunday ;)) encountered such an event in her life. She was homeschooling her 7 children, classical education style, when her husband got very ill. In a beautiful and heavenly turn of events it was actually her who ended up diagnosing him when the doctors were unable to and when he almost died. He has a condition which leaves him unable to work, but she was able to find a good job in her former field of chemistry. She was actually hired by a woman who had a very similar circumstance as her and was very understanding to her lack of previous experience and yet great need for the work. It is just an amazing story of God's provision. Anyway, now her husband handles the homeschooling and has chosen to go in a different direction instead of classical. This is just one of many possible situations of family distress that could necessitate ones' home looking different than what might be considered "the general rule".

2. Period Of Preparation. There are many people who get married and have kids before being done with schooling or job training (I'm one of these). As such the work and schooling demands of the parents have to be worked in with the children's schooling. It might be a season where free schooling outside of the home is the only option.

3. Single Parent. If there is only one of you, your options become more narrow. Once again this could make public school or all day school the best choice for your family.

Ok...there are probably many more, but those are the first 3 that come to mind. A few other exceptions to some things that I said are probably worth stating as well. First, I made the argument that it is best for the family to not be separated all day, with further activities on top of school commitments, only giving you dinner time as time together as a family. I do hold pretty firmly to this. But, I think (and this is more conjecture on my part from interaction with friends who had this sort of up bringing) that if you have had a lot of time together as family when the children are younger and a very firm foundation is laid, then 8 hours away at school is likely to be just fine. And it is well worth noting that if the relationship is strained in the older years (speaking from a child's perspective here) it probably isn't going to be time together alone that will help to fix it. I do think time though is a good component to restoring a relationship. Also, I am certain I gave the impression I am again extra-curricular activities, which isn't entirely true. I am against one activity after another, after another, after another. Often school involvement tends to snow ball, and what starts out as music lessons and one sport for the year very easily turns into music lessons for two instruments, a sport for every season, youth group, etc. For example, when I was little I started out with piano lessons, and then during the summer I took swim lesson and did basketball camp. After a few years flute was added, then volleyball, then another basketball camp, and then martial arts, and then I started teaching music. Then high school hit and it was cheerleading, cross country, choir, pep band, drama, FFA, church choir, youth group, worship team, piano lesson, voice lessons, tennis, and a part time job. Oh, and I was working to graduate early and taking AP classes, so about 3-4 hours of homework every night. I was on pretty much every page of the year book. So pretty much all year I had school commitments and then after school practice, and then after practice homework, and then music, and before you know it I was only seeing my family at dinner, and not always then because basketball games start at 6:00. So, I'm all for activities like sports and the arts, but I do think it is extremely important for families to limit the snow ball effect.

I do know that in setting up my philosophy of education like this I am putting public school as an alternative choice when the situation calls for it and not an equal choice with homeschool or private school. This I stand by. Public school isn't always bad, but I don't think it can be considered as good to have children whose parents yearn for them to serve Christ to sit under the authority of someone who does not share that same goal and may even be antagonistic towards it. I don't think it is fair to the child to teach them respect for authority and then try and expect them to sift through what truth is coming from the teacher and what isn't. I'm certain good parents can combat this influence, but it is still going to be very hard on the children to have the split authority over them with two very different goals.

Alright, I'm sure I missed a few other exceptions, but overall I think the point is clear. I believe that the family having the majority of their time together is the best, and that an education which is Christ centered given by those who serve Christ is also best. And there are often exceptions that create different circumstances that God will use for great good in the life of the believer. We have that promise.

So, readers- what are your thoughts? Am I out in left field? Right field maybe? How are you/going to educate your children and more importantly why? What do you think the goal of education is?

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