Posted by: chrisdavis | February 20, 2012

Give Them the Time School Steals

I can’t stop thinking about it…

It comes to my mind constantly and I am frustrated that so few parents realize that “school” is actually robbing their children of a future.

I have said this before, but it needs to be repeated until we hear it:

How will our children become proficient in the area in which God has gifted them? THEY MUST BE GIVEN TIME TO BECOME PROFICIENT!

How much time?

Researchers say 5,000 hours spent on a task will create proficiency.

You do the math: That’s 10 YEARS at 2 hours per day (not counting weekends and taking 2 weeks off during the year). Consider that 2 hours per day is about what most public school kids spend doing homework rather than becoming proficient in their area of personal gifting.

Want your child to become (not just proficient but) World-Class in his/her area of personal giftings? Researchers say this takes 10,000 hours! That’s 2 hours per day for 20 YEARS or 4 HOURS PER DAY FOR 10 YEARS.

When do kids have that kind of time today to become proficient (or World-Class) in what they have a heart to do in life?

Do we really respect what God has put in our children to do with their futures? If so, do we make room for those giftings to flourish? Or, do we use up their time with things like “school”?



  1. I always, always like your thinking… and I do agree. Do you have any thoughts on my children? I have four sons, two of which are still at home for their “education”. These two read late (very late), are not wizards at any school subject but do fine. Their passions show up as soon as they are allowed to be “out of school” each day. They work in almost all of their spare time. They whittle, wood burn, flint nap, create intricate designs on slingshots and walking sticks, they draw, paint, play instruments, not to mention hunt and fish. None of these activities are during class times and non are supervised by an adult…it is like their play time. Those are wonderful things…would you think these are glimpses of future calling? How would you indulge them in it besides giving them their after “lessons” time?

    Thanks ever so much.


    • Rhonda, it would help to know the boys’ ages. Obviously, they are very active and creative. Have you ever let them do a Dream Poster? I don’t feel I have enough information to say much until I know more…CHRIS

      • In March of 2011 I wrote a post explaining how the Dream Poster works. Check out that blog and try it on your children. Then, pay close attention to what their poster shows you…CHRIS

      • Hi Chris,

        My boy are 11 and 14. I have not heard of Dream Poster but will look into this. I realize each of our lives and children are so unique and you are not able to give me concrete answers, but thoughts, opinions, or ideas are welcomed. I worry for them because they are not good readers according to the set standards, both struggle w/ Math somewhat. We work at it consistently but progress has always been well earned.

        I have read the other posts and am enjoying this dialogue.

        • Rhonda, although some boys read early, many boys need a *reason* to learn ANYTHING and reading is no exception. I had 2 sons who didn’t learn to read at all until they were 9 & 10 and my oldest son didn’t do any recreational reading until he was an adult. He only read something if it helped him complete a task he was working on.

          Re: math. If you would approach math either by playing math games or on a “need to know this because we are actually using it for some purpose” basis, you will probably have much more success. The problem with “school” is that is requires young people to learn something that has no real-time purpose to them. No adult would put up with this so why do we do this to our kids?

          How about some of you others chiming in…

  2. Hi Chris,

    I’ve perused a lot of your advice in the past and I really respect the point you’re trying to make here. But I’m having trouble wrapping my brain around this concept because of the following thoughts:

    Even if your child does show interest in a certain area, does this mean we chuck all the other subjects in favor of doing things in their gifting area? Isn’t there something to be said for learning things just for the joy of exploring God’s world, not necessarily because you’ll use them?

    Is failure to become a “World Class” expert in something necessarily a bad thing?

    I agree that busy-work could be considered a waste of time. I skip the “Drill and Kill” exercises in math, for example, if I’m confident they know the material. But how do you determine what subjects to ignore in favor of a child’s gifting area, if you even have that luxury? Some states’ homeschooling/educational requirements don’t allow that.

    While we’re all created by God with individuality, does that mean we are locked into a certain interest for life? I’ve pursued many areas in my life and enjoyed each one. My interests have changed over the years and I’m grateful for the things outside my gifting area that I was able to use to pursue other areas besides my gifting, especially when that gifting would not have afforded the income I needed to survive.

    I do agree wholeheartedly that a child should have the freedom to pursue their interests, but there is also something to be said for a well-rounded education.

    Perhaps I need to know what your definition of “school” is.

    • Dear Jerzy: I cannot tell you how important your comment is to this discussion! I wish everyone who reads this blog would ask questions and make comments that help to broaden what we need to discuss here.

      First, I will make a few comments about SUBJECTS. Most adults would never question the idea that there exists a group of well-defined SUBJECTS which “must be covered” in order for a person to be considered educated. Who says? Who decided?

      Who decided which subjects a child will learn? More important, in my mind, is the question, “Who decided which subjects are more important than the others?” “Who said math and science are more important FOR THIS CHILD than art or dance or music?”

      As with so many things our society has adopted as “true”, we simply accept the public school model without thinking whether or not a) it IS true, and b) even if true, does this apply to the individual child in my home?

      How many parents are willing to boldly state, “This child has been entrusted to me by his heavenly Father and *I* will decide what he/she needs to learn, and when.”

      There is no doubt that every individual needs a certain set of “bottom-line skills” in order to function in our 21st Century world. But, do we really believe the public education system is providing these skills? Or, is American education simply trying to raise its overall test scores in a senseless attempt to compete with the worldly idea that our country is somehow “behind” in comparison to the rest of the world’s test scores. We chase a fantasy and Christian parents are caught up in the chase.

      I need to leave for school (where I am substitute teaching today) and I will write more this afternoon. (One of the most enlightening things to do is to have a conversation with a group of high schoolers. They aren’t fooled into thinking they are getting an education!).

      Have a great day. More later…

  3. Jerzy: You have said so many things that should be addressed, so I will try to do so one at a time.

    To (sort of) finish my thoughts re: SUBJECTS, I would say that PARENTS must decide (as they used to do) what their children need to learn to be able to function in today’s complex society. Some of the most important of these are not even taught in public schools, though some schools are trying to introduce them. There is nothing wrong with looking at what public schools consider important and decide where YOU think they are right and where they are wrong–or where they are simply wrong in their priorities.

    And, I say a resounding YES that children need to explore things they will never use simply because things (and ideas) are there to be explored. What children should never lose is curiosity. In my opinion, school are toxic in their ability to kill curiosity by. It has been said that children learn, early on, that adults will tell them what is important and they don’t need to inquire.

    Re becoming “world class”: Few individuals become world class at something. Still, that should not keep us from allowing them to at least become proficient.

    I know I will catch flack for saying this, but I would take issue with the statement that some states don’t allow ignoring certain subjects. I simply would not allow any “authority” to tell me what I will and won’t teach the children God gave me to raise. Today, saying this sounds like heresy (or, at least, fanaticism); however, when the homeschooling movement began, that’s how we ALL thought!

    I also agree that we do change directions in life. I have seen this in my own children. However, I also believe they must begin somewhere, and that “somewhere” should be at a place where their giftings seem to be expressing themselves right now.

    You asked about my definition of “School”. This is such an important question I will make comments on it below…

  4. From Bill Casselman’s “Words of the World”, here are some thoughts re: the original meaning of the word “School”:

    Our English word school comes to us through…the Greek σχολή (schole). The…prime and original meaning of σχολή in the most ancient Greek was ‘time held for yourself,’ that is, leisure time to use for learning important life insights, not job skills, but the kind of learning an individual purposely chose to help him or her understand who they were and who they might become in an examined life.

    The word originally meant “leisure”; however, not leisure as in “doing nothing or wasting time”. Rather, it meant that, when one was not involved in the more mundane functions of life, one had time to determine what gave meaning to one’s life that rose above the mere job-related skills.

    Almost entirely, “school” has come to be synonymous with academic studies that prepare a person for a job. If a person looks into the origin of our public school system, he will discover that this system was created to produce employees (I will not go into this arena as others have written about it at length).

    What we, as homeschoolers, want to produce in the children in our home, are individuals who leave our home, go into the world, and offer their God-given talents and callings to a world that sorely needs to see Christ in real human beings.

  5. Chris, this discussion reminds me of something we learned from you many moons ago. Are children “Tabula rasa”- a blank slate? When we understand that the answer is absolutely NOT it changes everything about how we view education. Problem is, culturally, that’s not how we treat education. We intuit this…the kids especially so. We adults however, have been numbed by too many years of indoctrination and it’s a vicious fight to break out of it.

    Our biggest job as a parent is to get out of the way, me thinks. Allow the treasure in each child to come forth…and that happens in countless ways.

    Jerzy, you mentioned about the changing interests of a kid. That made me chuckle. Our oldest has followed many a passion. And believe me when I say, when my Daniel gets something in his head…he follows it WHOLE HEARTEDLY. He’s explored plumbing, aquaria, telephones, drums (And boy where we happy when THAT interest fizzled out) and electricity.

    What’s amazing is how one thing leads to another. Today, he is 17, working full-time and has a broad base of knowledge that has *literally* made him highly in demand by employers. I kid you not. Word gets out on him and he is getting job offers. One of the best parts is that Daniel is always curious…always learning. He’s never bored and finds people enthralling.

    I read the book, The War of Art just today and highly recommend it. It’s by Steven Pressfield and it’s a quick read and very encouraging not only for we adults but we parents who want to see our kids on a path to freedom earlier in life.

    I’m shot gunning my comments here as I’ve got to head out the door shortly. Hope some of this makes sense!

    • Good stuff, T. I hope others comment. I particularly like the questions and would like to hear some disagreements out there.

  6. Well, I think it is about balance.

    The schools way over-emphasize textbook learning and this method: read, study, memorize, and finally regurgitate the information on a test.

    I find several problems with this:

    1. Memorizing and being able to take that information out of your head and answer test questions does not prove learning has taken place, especially long term learning. Just think back to what tests you did very well on that maybe you wouldn’t be able to pass today.

    2. There are very few things, I believe, that should be memorized- some math facts, the alphabet, some basic grammar rules, and maybe a few more. However, a lot of that can be memorized as we use it. Memorizing state capitals really does not serve any purpose. Memorzing formulas is not necessary either. If you can use the formulas, why should you need to memorize them.

    3. This kind of academic learning leads students who have different strengths feeling inadequate.

    There are other problems with the school system- too many hours, not enough exploring other interests and a load of homework.

    Now, as homeschoolers we can go too far in the other directions and give no boundaries. If we are wise we will strive for balance- some work, some lessons, and some alternative ways to learn stuff, and even some alternative things to learn and explore.

    One example I love to speak to is the subject of history. We could have our children do a typical textbook study and worksheets and quizzes and tests. OR we can let them read really good books about historical figures and discuss history with them and watch good documentaries. Which way will lead to more retention?

    • Cindy, thanks for the comment. When we consider education, are we asking, “Is this useful to know?” In “school”, students learn in order to let us know something has been learned (they can output it on a test). But, is this learning? Isn’t learning related to something’s usefulness and not simply to recall? Even things that don’t immediately seem pragmatic can be useful: art, music, logic, etc. Nevertheless, when requiring our children to learn something, shouldn’t we ask ourselves the questions, “Will he benefit from knowing this? Does he need to know this NOW? Is learning this NOW as important as learning something else right now? Is this something he can learn on his own if he really needs to know it? What are the very most important basics every child should know?”

      This discussion is a lot of fun and I hope others will share…

  7. I agree with many of the thoughts here. I’ve read John Taylor Gatto and it was so eye-opening. Many of his ideas are reflected in this discussion.

    I love the idea that children are packages to be unwrapped but I have trouble aligning that with my independent school’s requirements; e.g., my 8th grade daughter is headed for the art world and while I provide opportunities for her to pursue that interest, the school we belong to requires that she complete 2 years of math in high school. She’s good at math but hates it and I would just as soon tell her we’re done with math since she has the basics that we feel she needs in life. Is making my daughter do two years of math she doesn’t need just chalking it up to doing things you may not want to do but have to in order to get where you need to go?

    I live my life as a homeschooling mom constantly second-guessing myself and what we’re doing with our kids. I would just like to chuck school and all it’s stupid credit-tracking, grade-assigning, test-taking, requirement-filling demands, and live life! Unfortunately I’m the product of a public school upbringing and, while I do homeschool, I wouldn’t know the first thing about educating outside that model.

    • Jerzy- I can totally relate with the second-guessing…I spent many years doing that. Now that my oldest is 17 and doing FABULOUSLY I can speak with more conviction and…well, some anger.

      I get ANGRY at what the system does to children and parents alike. I too am a product of public education and it’s taken me the better part of my 47 years on this planet to sort through the brainwashing.

      When my son was told he couldn’t take drum lessons until he had 2 years of piano I knew intuitively this was just WRONG. It’s no different than you girl taking two years of math to pursue art. I can’t think of a quicker, more lethal way to destroy her interests and who knows…perhaps a passion that will make a her a living down the road.

      Anymore, my criteria for schooling my two kids who are still homeschooled is this: Am I motivated by fear? If I answer ‘yes” to that, I throw it out the window. That has eliminated so much clutter alone. (Please don’t think I’m so idiot wacko saying that….hopefully my context is obvious.)

      My other thing? How ever the schools are doing it…do the opposite. My goal is to raise independent, creative thinkers and that is the opposite of the school agenda.

      And if *this* isn’t enough. Check out this article

      Jerzy- Be encouraged that you’re not alone. There is a growing chorus of parents, kids and experts realizing that the system is just WRONG.

    • Jerzy. Actually, you know what to do. You are being forced into doing what you don’t agree with either by fear or by the requirements of others. Your spirit knows better. And, your spirit is being guided by your child’s Father. Please don’t reject what He is telling you to do with His child. That’s the worst choice.

      Second guessing is what everyone does who is not following the “accepted” mode of behavior. I did that all the time I was raising my 3 sons. But, I had to keep defaulting to what my spirit was telling me rather than what my fears were telling me. It was even more difficult 30 years ago when NO one agreed with what we were doing.

      Stay the course. Jesus said, “Deny yourself….” The word “deny” actually means “contradict” what the world expects of us.

      Keep letting us know how you are doing. CD

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