Posted by: chrisdavis | March 14, 2011

Please Don’t Homeschool Your Children – Part 11


Teaching information is the priority of public schools.

And, when information is priority, The Test becomes the sovereign to which all must bow.

We think of childhood as beginning in infancy and stretching into the dim future. There is so much time…

This is not true. What public education does is to take the largest chunk of childhood and use it up in the teaching of information. This deprives the child of the time necessary for him or her to become proficient in the very thing the child has been created to do in life.

Today I substitute in an 11th grade math class. I hand out worksheets their teacher has left for them to do while she is out. I watch many of the students struggle to remember how to graph algebraic equations on the axes x and y. A girl realizes she will have to skip her dance class tonight (the only time she feels truly alive) because she must study for tomorrow’s math test, instead. A boy was planning to help his father fix the family car after school. This won’t happen, either, for the same reason. Both girl and boy long ago concluded they were dumb and will tell me so, a complete stranger.

What is complicated is that some of the information school requires is necessary. Parents have long ago abdicated their personal privilege of determining what is, and is not, necessary for each of their children. Because The Test has taken on such a place of authority in our culture, today’s parents assume someone other than themselves knows what, and how much, information their children must learn.

Last week, USA Today ran a cover story about The Test and how common is has become for public school teachers and administrators to cheat (or help their students cheat) on The Test. The article stated, “Many teachers interviewed by [the investigating team] justified cheating…as a way of getting back at a low-paying system rigged by impossible standards and unrealistic goals. Other teachers resented that their entire reputation could hinge on a child’s performance on a single day.”

The teacher’s reputation! What about the child? Regardless of where I substitute, students cheat every time they get a chance. When I challenge them, they tell me they cannot afford to do poorly on The Test and only a handful of the recognized “geniuses” can be expected to remember the glut of details they are being required to learn.

When I was in school, I never cheated. But, then, I always thought of myself as dumb and would have told you so, a complete stranger.

When will we stop this informational overload and when will we stop making The Test the sovereign to which we all bow?

You, the homeschoolers of the world, have the opportunity to change all this. Will you?

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Responses

  1. I am so thankful to have found your blog! I first heard you speak several years ago at the THSC convention in 2005 (I think). The whole time I was elbowing my husband, saying – “This! This is what I’ve been trying to tell you I wanted to do, but I haven’t been able to articulate it well.” We bought your book and set of CDs and drank it all in. It was such a different, refreshing perspective. I was disappointed when The Elijah Company closed, as I felt like I had just found a source of inspiration and then lost it.

    I recently read an article of yours in Home Educating Family magazine, where I saw the link to your blog. I was excited to find you again! Over the past few days I have read through this series of posts, and was both encouraged and convicted. This was the vision we started out with, and still aspire to. But I realized that over the years we have drifted from that a bit back towards a more formal version of “school” thank I intended to have. Somewhere along the way, the challenges of raising five children made the allure of curricula that is already laid out for me very appealing. We have been using a whole/living books approach, but it certainly has not been tailored to what the children are interested in learning. I’m still wrestling with things mentally – how to change things around here so that we adopt a more “lifestyle of learning” approach rather than “school in the mornings, play in the afternoons”. It’s difficult to let go of what I have always known, though.

    Due to some family difficulties, we scrapped the notion of “doing school” several weeks ago. I felt somewhat guilty about it, but kept reminding myself that we had always said our primary goals in homeschooling our kids were not academic. We have behavioral and relationship issues that need addressing, and I felt like it was more important to focus time and energy on changing the negative dynamics that had developed than to stick to my school plans for the year. Reading through your blog this past week has been affirming of that decision.

    So, we’re trying to find some things the kids are interested in learning. My mother-in-law owns some land in the country near us that we spend time at regularly, so the kids have spent the morning researching poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac. They’ve been learning how to identify them and what to do if they are exposed. My oldest even printed out pictures and made a presentation of sorts on a piece of posterboard – all of his own volition. I figure we’ll try to learn about venomous snakes soon as well. Finding things of interest to the oldest (11 year old boy) is easy. The next two (9 and 7 year old boys) is more challenging. Sometime in the near future I’m going to have them all work on dream posters to see if that gives us any direction at all.

    Anyway – sorry to have rambled on, but I just wanted to thank you for all that you do to spread this message. You have truly been a blessing to our family.

    • Thanks, Laura, for the encouraging words. I know your children will be blessed. CD

  2. I thought you were done with this series, but I am glad you weren’t.

    It is hard to figure out just what do our children need to learn-but the good thing is that even if we miss something, they can learn it later. I hope that I give my son the tools to help him in the future without overloading him. I do worry that sometime I make it too easy-but don’t ask him, he won’t agree (lol).

    • You will do just fine. Your son’s Father knew to whom He was giving this boy!

  3. Your writings have been a lifesaver and a lighthouse for my husband and me as we struggle with whether or not to send our precocious, social and emotional 5 year old to our local “wonderful public elementary school” this Fall or keep him with us and figure out how to help him grow to be who he’s meant to be. We were adament about keeping him (and his younger brother) out of daycare and we have. Now he’s only 5 and meant to be swept into a five day a week, 7 hour a day program away from us and into a system. My husband and I were both public school kids. It’s hard for us to separate the wheat from the chaff on this issue.

    • Follow your heart in this. Take responsibility for making the decision because the Lord will never look to someone else to decide. That is why He gave this little boy to YOU. It’s all right to be anxious as long as you trust Him for the outcome.


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