During my kids homeschool high school years, I remember the scene in Shakespeare’s Henry V movie and play when the king rallies his tired and battle-weary men to fight for just one more day in the unavoidable Battle of Agincourt.
One of the rousing pleas he uses is the line, “…men will think themselves accursed that they had not fought in this battle when in years they talk of the day, they will roll up their sleeves and show their battle wounds…”
Yes, war stories, from acts of courage, trust between the troops and passion towards a cause.
I like to think that those of us who have, whether knowingly or unwillingly, chosen to home educate have our own war stories. Moms gather around the playground or the church hall after a homeschool groups’ First Friday Mass or co-op and swap war stories.
These usually begin with the war stories of childbirth, and as such serve to initiate a tight bond between homeschooling moms. We all have a story to tell and share.
As we hold close to us the “result” of the latest war story, we smile at each other knowingly. There is no way that you forgot the pain of childbirth but instead you plunged ahead in spite of it, in the face of it, to reap the beauty in its sweet reward, a new baby in your family!
So, am I suggesting that homeschooling is a battle front, a war, then?
Many of my fellow homeschooling moms would say YES, heartily.
The battle begins with the first cry from the troops, “I can’t find my books mom, can I skip Math today?” Then it is carried through the day when meals ensue, and chores have to be done. The battle weary general retreats to the comfort of her computer screen to seek respite and solace in the latest Facebook group, or perhaps she secretly seeks solace with an episode of her favorite TV show, one she would never dare to watch with the kids.
But I say homeschooling your kids is not a battle front, it is not a war. It only becomes that when the world inflicts its preconceived ideology of what education is, and what it looks like.
Does it take courage, trust and passion? Absolutely! However, there is no enemy in this “war”.
I suggest we concentrate on education rather than school.
Can we focus on the individuals entrusted to our care? Do we entrust our homeschooling to Jesus? He the best leader, a perfect leader in the battle of humanism, materialism, secularism, hedonism running wild in our culture.
Yes! I recommend you begin by really trying to paint a vivid picture of what education looks like and sounds like and feels like for your particular family. Note, I did not say school. That is not education.
Wait before you begin let’s take a short side trip…
Webster’s dictionary defines school as “an institution for the teaching of children.” You and your family’s homeschool are NOT an institution and thank God you are not.
In turn, here is Webster’s definition of an institution:
“A facility or establishment in which people (such as the sick or needy) live and receive care typically in a confined setting and often without individual consent.”
Okay maybe I need to get rid of my copy of Webster, but the point is that an institution often has to be regulated, and self-serving to continue to exist.
Families and individuals do not work that way, especially when we talk about education. Schools came into being to regulate the masses, to teach job skills in an increasingly industrial world, with little focus on the individual.
Interesting enough, if you also look up the definition for education in Webster, you quickly determine that there is no real definition…here is what is says:
“The action or process of educating or of being educated.”
Wow…I didn’t think that was allowed, defining a word with a form of the word…
So next I looked up “educated”, and I got the following: “having an education”.
It’s not just me, right? But are we going around in circles?
To get to the heart of education we instead have to ask ourselves, “What do we mean by education?”
Paint a vivid picture with your spouse, by praying together first and then really take enough time to write down, in detail, what you mean by education.
For my family, education is a process, a life-long pursuit towards acquiring intellectual curiosity and a sense of wonder.
You still have to choose a curriculum, and tools to get towards your meaning of education for your kids. However, all too often when we begin to choose curriculum, we all succumb to peer pressure, in our case “adult peer pressure.” We look around us, play the compare game and lose the courage to put out into the deep. Don’t!
Put out into the deep!
“Getting into one of the boats, the one belonging to Simon, he asked him to put out a short distance from the shore. Then he sat down and taught the crowds from the boat. After he had finished speaking, he said to Simon, ‘Put out into deep water and lower your nets for a catch.’ Simon said in reply, “Master, we have worked hard all night and have caught nothing, but at your command I will lower the nets.” – Luke 5:3-5
I love Simon Peter, such a real guy! Immediately he obeys BUT his first impulse is to question Jesus!
Wow, imagine that! We all have seen this scene played out in our very own homes, every single day! We give direction to our children, determine their lesson for the day or chore, only to have our kids question it immediately!
But take heart…
If we go further on to the end of Luke’s chapter 5:
“When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish and their nets were tearing. They signaled to their partners in the other boat to come to help them. They came and filled both boats so that they were in danger of sinking. When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at the knees of Jesus and said, ‘Depart from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.’ For astonishment at the catch of fish they had made seized him and all those with him, and likewise James and John, the sons of Zebedee, who were partners of Simon.
Jesus said to Simon, ‘Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.’ When they brought their boats to the shore, they left everything and followed him.”
Go back to that painted picture of what you mean by education. Know that it will create a huge net full of overflowing “fish.”
Yes, your life overflows with so much responsibility, so many daily, monthly and yearly decisions and tasks that you easily become overwhelmed.
Well, simply put, deciding to home educate, because it best matches what we mean by education is without a doubt “putting out our nets into the deep.” Jesus fills our nets to almost tearing…he stretches us…and this is when fear sets in and peer pressure and doubt creep in.
But what does Jesus do for us?
He says, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching men.”
Dear sisters in Christ, do not be afraid!
Venture forth with the knowledge that you will be successful in your “catch of men.” You are planting seeds, but not alone. You work with the Master of the harvest, Jesus!
The focus is on Him, and the gift of each precious child He has given to you, so trust in Him!
Pay attention to the individuals He has placed in your life and forget what the world tells you…forget what school is supposed to look like. Design your own, build it with your kids, with the knowledge of what you mean by education. Get help from loving mentors, research on your own, pray and be silent in Adoration.
Then forge into the daily battle, by following Jesus as your leader and guide.
Have assurance, the battle is won, the victory is already ours!
What are your definitions of school and education? Do you need to break free? What’s holding you back?