Thursday, August 23, 2012

The Demands of Education.

Truth And Lies Word Collage
I was part of an on-line discussion recently about  Classical Education, Beauty, Truth and STEM focus. Basically it was a big long discussion about how people homeschool rigorously, prepare for the real world, live in the real world and insure outcome (i.e. kids who can join in the Great Conversation (i.e. classically educated) and are still vocational competitive in a global market.
The idea of this discussion alone is enough to make even the most stalwart educator turn and run screaming, private, public, home or otherwise.

Seriously. There are just 24 hours in a day. We stuggle to balance academics with hands on activities, focus heavily on literature and the "Great Conversation," instilling a sense of wonder and awe about the most amazing scientific stuff, and still have time to revel in the Truth and Beauty of God and all that He has done.

It's been a 2 decade + balancing act. Some years/kids/seasons we've done better than others. Which is how we landed on a classical pedagogy. It's fits best. Even with that, it's a difficult balancing act; WE weren't classically educated. We live in a world that tests for lots of stuff we don't focus on and little that we do. Ds 17 can talk intelligently for 2 hours straight, without notes, about the Punic War (along with many other topics) but still struggles with spelling. Any guess about how that tranlates on the Iowa Basic?

I have lofty goals. I know how to be rigorous. I get unschooling. I love the idea of autodidactism.  I love the idea of raising renaissance men and women.

Reality: our house burned, 1/2 my family died, my gram is going a little nuts, we are re-building a house, our older kids are struggling to make their way as adults, our cars die and demand beaucoups $ over and over again... if it wasn't all of the above it would be something else. And I'm sure your reality has a host of challenges sitting, like a big white elephant, in the middle of your life as well.

IRL: I look at my older kids and can tell you, in living color, all of the many ways we've failed them. I look at the family we've sacrificed to create and wonder (on bad days) about just how crazy we were to have more than 1.6 kids, one income, advanced education, a vocation instead of a job with security. Catch me on a bad day and I will talk you out of homeschooling, home-making and living by faith. I will lead you, by the hand, to a secular, 2 income, 1.6 kid life that is safe, secure, and has lots of perks, including vactions, health and dental and a 401K.

Irl: We have wanted more for our homeschooling than we've been able to afford.
Irl: homeschooling is expensive, financially, socially, emotionally
Irl: It's a lonely road

The reality is that we don't get it perfect. We've failed. We've let things slide. We didn't call some things right. And we are still homeschooling.

The reason is that homeschooling, for us, stems (pun intended) from our belief that we are called to train up our kids in the way they should go. We call it wrong, they have their own ideas, there are no assured outcomes. That's one of the things that drives me nuts about a certain branch of homeschoolers. They advocated doing "A" and make statments to the fact that it will insure "B".

Irl: We know families who have tried to live up to that ideal and it has broken them, ruined their families and alienated their kids.
Irl: kids don't cooperate, are willful and have a zillion other voices screaming at them for attention and approval, including the enemy of their souls, who is cunning, decietful and determined.
Irl: Parents struggle and can't be all that their kids want or need. There is little grace in the world for families that sacriifice to do anything out of the ordinary.

So, education. One of the biggest concerns of most parents with kids. There are no easy answers. Homeschooling is one. It's a good one. It's made better by a methodology that delivers on what it promises, (like Classical, but also like the Government Schools -honestly, that have, until recently, delivered on their promises- we just don't happen to agree with their secular starting point). It's made better by parents who understand the limits of homeshcooling and are  realistic about those limits. It's made better by folks who don't hold homeschooling out as a panacea to all of the world's ills. It's made better by folks who actually educated their kids at home.

Truth, Beauty, Goodness, STEM focus, the Great Conversation? We address these various points, through various methods. Our goal is not to be perfect at any of them. Our goal is to understand our children, their unique personalities and focus on training them, body, mind and soul, to embrace LIFE and the truth and beauty it promises.



Anonymous said...

I have been struggling this year with starting another year. My oldest homeschooler is starting junior high which panics me a bit because there is less time in which to fix the mistakes you make. I have a very wise woman who has told me, "Yes, you will make mistakes, but we need to trust that God has a plan for our children and His purposes will be accomplished in their life despite out mistakes." Now that doesn't let me off the hook to pray and do the best with what I have.

That being said, I too only have so much time in the day and so much energy. My life is complicated by my oldest with severe special needs and my youngest with medical needs. I have guilt with never being able to do everything I feel like they need. There are many days I wish I just had a quiet house all to myself just even one day. My kids should have more sports opportunities and music lessons, but the energy to run them around and the money it would cost would stress our family to the breaking point so they don't get those opportunities. Sigh...I just need to cling to God and trust Him to work out our lack. He is the God of abundance.

LaughingLioness said...

((BEth)) Clinging with you, Friend. He is faithful and True. Our job is to be faithful to what we are called and to Trust HIM for the outcomes. You have a lot of challenges and demands. God is strong when we are weak!!
I am praying for strength, wisdom and rest for you today!! Love in Jesus, dear Sister!

Melissa said...

Hi Lady, sooo enjoying your Blog. Now on my third year of homes school and feeling overwhelmed and a bit lonely in this adventure. We are on a limited budget and extra are God ordained. Sigh..... Go God! Wish I could come over see the new digs for tea a chat and good company.Miss you Girl. God is so able,Yet I often forget. Melissa Gerber

LaughingLioness said...

Melissa, I totally know what you mean! I'd love for you to come over - anytime you are in town, lmk- you are Always welcome! God is shaping your kids, and you, through what you have and through what you don't have. He has your back! I'm sending you a FB pm ; )
Love, Lisa

Anonymous said...

Awesome post because you know what, I have made a lot of mistakes, have tried to homeschool during long seasons of chronic illness and could only give them their books, tell them what to do and pray that my ADD child gets something while I am too out of it and sick to barely talk.

That has had to be our homeschool more often than I care to admit, but that is also life, is it not?

And I pray that they will see that the Lord gave me the strength to persevere and hang in there without giving in and will desire to lean upon His strength when times get hard too and know that He gets us through.

And now, I was wondering what STEM is?!

The others I have heard about (and have also had crammed down my throat at one time or another like castor oil) but I've not heard of that or at least am not familiar with the abbreviations:)

Amy @ Hope Is the Word said...

Wonderful post. I wish I had something to add to the conversation, but I'm starting my fourth year in this gig and still feel like a rookie.

Amy said...

I'm a newbie too! Thank you for sharing so candidly. I think it's so hard in many areas of life when you know the thing you think is right (or best, or most God-glorifying, etc.), but it is so hard to actually do! I think often on blogs we see people's best face forward (mine included most of the time) so it is nice to see the thoughts, struggles, and real life examples of, well, real life!

What a balancing act...teaching real knowledge vs teaching testable information. Too bad it has to be that way. Thank you for linking this up with us at Trivium Tuesdays!