Evaluating Expectations

June 10, 2015 — Leave a comment

Evaluating ExpectationsWith time restraints and the high amount of information available, it’s unreasonable to expect a teacher or a parent to teach a child everything.

Attempting to learn all there is to know about a subject is unrealistic. Any pressure to do so only squeezes the joy out of the learning process.

For example, no one that I’m aware of expects 5th or 6th graders to write a one hundred thousand word, doctoral thesis, on Newton’s Laws of physics. What’s expected is that children might understand the three basic principles, and be able to name them.

Learning takes time and we need time to learn.  This is why most pre-tertiary and some undergraduate programs only teach an overview of a particular topic, sometimes, in repetition. The overview takes the form of an in-depth introduction to the content of the subject.

Once taught, the student is free to explore the subject further. Taking the opportunity to advance then becomes the responsibility of the student, not the teacher – “wax on, wax off.”

The same applies to homeschoolers. The overall goal is infused with the intention to create, inspire, spark interest in and give kids a love of learning.

For Homeschoolers both the world and the home are seen as being educational platforms that provide ample opportunities to empower the learning process. Effectively taking personal responsibility for their child’s early education, homeschooling parents actively involve themselves in the learning process.  They direct and engage with their child. Matching their child’s education with natural abilities in consultation, not servitude, to contemporary standards.

This overall goal begins and ends with what Christian theologians call right relationship, exampled by God, intended to be lived out in both world and home environments. This theological vantage point allows for certain benefits to be more clearly seen.

For instance:

Relationship development: Generally speaking, mum and dad work together. Both are equally responsible, contributing on multifaceted levels. Within a responsible and loving framework, there are few limits on what can be determined as an educational experience.

Community development: Helping a child understand that they are part of a community and seeking to establish what that means for them. Transparency and accountability fall into the sphere of communal participation in the educational process, often including friends, family, professionals, and/or travel.

Embracing technology and media: When it comes to technology and the media, there are parental boundaries in place that teachers don’t inherently own. A child’s learning is directed towards understanding technology, how to adapt to its many changes and use it responsibly. In addition, children are taught the concept of gratitude for access to the technological advancements and privileges on offer in Western Society.

Life affirming experiences: Applied knowledge is the aim of education. A deliberative knowing only empowers embedded knowledge when what we know is applied. Think theology and ministry or perhaps theory and practice. One challenges the other. Theology empowers ministry; ministry informs theology and both move towards becoming an integrated whole.

Humility: No homeschooler or teacher is perfect. Through our constructive response to limitations and setbacks, students learn the importance and being teachable.

Society and politicians will either reasonably support homeschool, or disempower it by coercing parents into a subtle abdication of their parental responsibilities. Whereby, a teacher, fraternity or ideology, ordained by the state, is placed, wrongfully, right at the heart of where a parent or trusted guardian should be. Something for which a blueprint and tragic history already exists[i].

Our task as homeschoolers is not to force our kids to learn, or indoctrinate them with state aligned agendas which change as easily as approval ratings.

Our task is to help our homeschoolers learn, directing them towards freedom and responsibility; towards the Creator, who in Jesus Christ freely chooses to direct us towards Himself[ii].

Following God’s example,  we choose to stand with our kids in order to show them that they can reach beyond themselves; beyond what they and others think they cannot do, inspiring them to see the possibilities of what they can do.

Whether education is based on homeschooling or on parent-teacher consultations, a realistic, achievable and holistic education, hits the ground running when parents are responsibly involved.

The objective for homeschoolers is universal:  loving parents doing their best to set their kids up for success.

‘The task of the modern educator is not to cut down jungles but to irrigate deserts. The right defence against false sentiments is to inculcate just sentiments. By starving the sensibility of our pupils we only make them easier prey to the propagandist when he comes. For famished nature will be avenged and a hard heart is no infallible protection against a soft head.’[iii]
C.S Lewis, The Abolition of Man, [pp. 13-14]

Sources:

[i] Germany between 1933 & 1945

[ii] Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics II/I

[iii] Lewis, C. S. The Abolition of Man HarperCollins. Kindle Ed.

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