Trust The Children

Monday, November 06, 2006

Seek and Ye Shall Find


I wonder if others feel what I feel? If they know what it is like to be a "jack of all trades, master of none" kind of person? A generalist. Knowing enough to be dangerous, but rarely enough to make a serious dent in the world we live in?

It seemed so wise to me, when I heard educators all my young life talk about the virtues of "liberal arts education". They spoke of the need to be well rounded and that made sense to me. They spoke of how much better we get along when we can relate to others because we know something of "their world". It never occurred to me I was being sold something.

Convincing me of the need to be "well rounded" certainly also provided job security for the providers of the "well rounded-ness". Convincing me that I would get along better in the world if I knew something of another's interests also had the same convenient side effect. It made the purveyors of this "knowledge" ... necessary. Never mind that in the reality of relationships, someone else generally likes you better, when they feel they have impact on your life, ie knowing something and telling you about it because they feel you DON'T know.

Teachers played a great role in my life. Because of great and even poor teachers, I will never be the same. Teachers work hard at what they do for the most part. Anymore, they "risk their lives". And the attitudes and behavior they have to put up with today makes doing what they desire to do, all the more challenging and often nearly impossible. Many benefit because of their efforts and yes, even sacrifice. However, with even the best of teachers, what also comes with them is the "system" that provides them their jobs. And that system is what is at issue.

Recently another thought has come to the fore for me. The government school system proclaims itself as the basis of social interaction. School is where the community gathers to remain a community. Without the school house, our entire society has no place to meet, socialize and remain a society. Without school, society itself will all crumble and self-destruct into a heap of rubble. I don't know why it took me so long to get this, since in most discussions of home schooling as an alternative, "socialization" or the fear of the lack of it, is nearly always the first concern. Can socialization happen without schools? Yes it can and yes it does. Just about as perfectly as it does in the government system.

There must be other places to meet and other ways interact peacefully and enjoy a sense of community. Do we as a community really have to worship at the temple of the government school house in order to be saved? It is certainly an option but not the ONLY one.

WOW! Where did this all come from?

I read this last week from Henry B. Eyring, former President of Ricks College.

"My father taught me long ago that finding time to seek is a matter of preparing the heart. One evening he was helping me with some physics or math problems in the basement of our home. I was in college and he had high hopes for me, as he did for my brothers, that I would follow him in science. He looked up as he saw me stumbling on a problem and said, "Hal, didn't we work on a problem just like this a week ago?" I said, "I think we did." He said, "Well, you don't seem to be any better at it this week than you were last week." I didn't say anything to that. Then he looked at me with a shock of recognition on his face and asked, "Hal, haven't you been thinking about it during this last week?" I looked a little chagrined and said that I hadn't.
He put down the chalk, stepped back from the blackboard on our basement wall, and looked at me. He then taught me something, with sadness in his voice, I will never forget. I am just beginning to understand what he meant. He said, "But, Hal, what do you think about when you are walking down the street or when you are in the shower? What do you think about when you don't have to think about anything?" I admitted that it wasn't physics or mathematics. With a smile, but I think with a sigh, he responded, "Well, Hal, I don't think you'd better make a career of science. You'd better find something which you just naturally think about it when you don't have to think about anything else."

Henry B. Eyring. "Prepare Your Heart" [address to religious educators, 22 Aug. 1987], pp. 2-3.

There is more to this story, but it underscores something that we as home schoolers can do so much better than the government system can. Something that they won't talk about much. Something that will bless our children IF we take advantage of it. That something we can DO is.... DOING something about it, when our children "FIND" something. Home schooling is more agile and flexible. When a child FINDS something, we can respond, facilitate, and actually drop other things to help that interest grow. The government system just sends them to the next class telling them to take their interest and passion and lock it up until tomorrow. What they learn from this lack of freedom to pursue something is that being passionless is the norm, being interested and preoccupied with something is a passing fancy, and the system is more important than the person.

I would love it if government education would change their business model to encourage found interests, and feed them. However, since that paradigm shift is not likely to come soon, we can make it happen in our home, now. While our children are still children. In addition, IF the system of education ever changes for the better, can we honestly believe that it will change without alternatives showing the way or the reason why?

The free market is the primary reason for the quality of life we live, improving as it always has and does. A free market in education will have the same effect. Home schooling is the major contributor to the free market that education sorely needs as it has been proven to provide a viable alternative to the government system. In fact the level of its effectiveness is accurately measured by the vitriolic response of those who represent the status quo, the government educators themselves.

Our economic strength as a country, can be traced to a commitment to a free market economy that has continually encouraged improvement, change, and innovation that has resulted in a lifting force in our standard of living. Education is no different. Home schooling it is part of a "market force" that provides impetus for change, improvement and true innovation, in the education of our most precious resource, our children. it is a force because it works as good or better. That case has been made.

At home, when our children seek, because they are at home, my wife and I can help them find. And when we do, I have to say, it feels like we are in harmony with the Great Creator Himself, whose overriding purpose is to do that for each of us as His children. Home schooling pioneers are not so much the personalities of the past, for whom we honor and reserve gratitude. All of us who embrace the home schooling idea, and help one another succeed, make up a group of modern pioneers as well. Trekking our own path together, to a place where more and more children win and our future becomes more and more secure.

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