Trust The Children

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Blessing of Crisis in your Home Education

In a recent PLOG that I read on, Patrick Lencioni, one of my favorite business writers made this statement, "No one hopes for a crisis, and rightly so. Certainly this applies to teams and organizations. Most leaders would probably say one of their primary responsibilities is to prevent a crisis from occurring. However, I have found that a powerful lesson for organizations can be found smack dab in the middle of a crisis. It isn't uncommon for a leader to say, "our team has never pulled together more than when we were facing a crisis. Maybe it's the prospect of going out of business or dealing with a public relations catastrophe or even a natural disaster that causes people to rally.

And while this may not seem surprising, it begs the question, "why?" Why do people set aside their usual squabbles and petty politics in the midst of a crisis?"

Lencioni continues, "I found an answer while pondering which teams and organizations live in a perpetual state of crisis every day. Consider firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMTs), and soldiers in the heat of a rescue mission or battle. These are certainly some of the least political and divisive teams that you'll ever find. For them, disagreement about budgets and lines of responsibility are inconceivable. Or even worse, deadly. And that's the point. When the stakes are clear and high - life or death - well-intentioned human beings can't help but focus on the overriding task at hand. Which is precisely what happens to companies in crisis: they focus around a compelling, over-arching goal. "

It was this statement, "When the stakes are clear and high - life or death - well-intentioned human beings can't help but focus on the overriding task at hand," that really struck me. It hit me, because recently I was introduced to the TED talks. One of the speakers, Sir Kenneth Robinson speaking of education, reminded me that the world we live in is more unpredictable than ever before. No one is sure what is going to happen in 5 years time, let alone next 40 years. Yet, we as parents are supposed to be ensuring the education of our children to negotiate those years successfully. As he says, WE may never see the next 40 years, but our children surely will. They are the ones needing to succeed and survive it all, not us. What tools will they need? With China, India and Indonesia most likely taking many of jobs out of our own job market, what skills will emerge as absolutely necessary? And are we better able to give those skills to our children at home?

In educating our children, the "overriding task at hand" for me is preparing my children with attitudes and skills that will enable them to succeed. It is to help them more successfully meet future needs some 40 years down the road. While I don't claim to know the specifics of the needs super clearly, acceleration of change seems obvious. As I have faced those kinds of issues in my life thus far, my experiences tell me that the following are important, if not essential for my children. 1) Love of learning, 2) The ability to think creatively 3) Closeness to the Lord in order to receive guidance and 4) the inner strength to select a course, even a visionary one, and remain on it, in the face of opposition from others. Most likely there are additional important goals for our children I need to consider. For now, I am sticking with these four.

Preserving a love of learning in my children is much much more possible at home than at school for the obvious reasons. We have more freedom at home. We don't have to generalize instruction to meet the need of the weakest link, or any link for that matter as so often happens in a classroom setting. Creative thinking is an outgrowth of the very fact that our choice of home schooling tells our children in real terms that there is more than one way to skin the cat, even when it comes to education. Closeness to the Lord, isn't even taught in the public system, let alone nurtured and encouraged. Inner strength and courage is less an outcome of practicing social skills than it is the establishment of deep spiritual roots in purposes that please our Creator.

These conclusions, born of over 27 years of home based education are the blessing of the "crisis of education" that came to us as our first children reached school age. We like many others, were faced then with considering for the first time what was best for our children. That crisis led to our making the decision to give home schooling a try. It was at a time when home schooling wasn't even legal in our state. The years have gone by, it is now legal and accepted almost everywhere and we can see the fruits of this "fork in the path." Next to our faith in God and his prophets, this "road less travelled" has made a huge difference in our children and family. A huge difference for good.

Certainly our children will strongly consider higher education. Surely they need to make choices now to make that opportunity possible then. Yet with the accomplishment of those educational goals in their lives in years to come, we are, as parents, much comforted that underneath those educational pursuits will exist a foundation, rock solid. The cornerstones of which are love of learning, creative thinking, closeness to the Lord and personal courage and inner strength.

This may be the time in your life that finds you and your family in the "valley of decision" as it says in Amos. Here is a tip. Deciding what skills and attitudes you want your children to develop and possess, will make educational alternatives clearer to evaluate, leading to a best choice for you and your loved ones. We hope that it includes home based education.


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