In the past two days, I've read posts from an 80 year old grandpa and a 40 year old mom, each lamenting that their skills and knowledge have become obsolete.
Being a housewife in the 21st century, I've been obsolete for a long time. You kinda get used to it. Being also a home educating mama, the posts make me wonder again what is the purpose of education? What am I to be hungering for in our home school journey? What is essential?
I have no way of knowing the specific skill set needed for the future for my kids. But there are a few things I do know.
Respect of authority is foundational. I'm at that time of life--solidly middle aged--where I see a lot of folks dear to me missing the mark. Without exception, those veering off course are doing so because they are substituting their desire to be their own god for a submission to the authority of the one true God.
That tells me, and our pastor recently reminded us all (May 9), that respect for parents is essential in kids. I need to teach my children to respect our authority or they never stand a chance of respecting God's authority in their lives. Moreover, I need to link their respect for our authority to God's word--"because I said so" doesn't cut it most of the time (darn).
I have a whole 'nother set of folks dear to us who are being buffeted by life's storms through no fault of their own. Cancer comes. Spouses stray. Children die before their time. That tells me that faith is essential for my own children. Only by knowing and trusting that God is good, all the time and with us even in the darkest and most hopeless moments can one endure.
While we live in a district with wonderful schools, I know the schools can't be about teaching this to my kids. Only my husband and I can. And we can't cram it into the 15 minutes a day left over after school and activities. It's a Deuteronomy thing...talk about it when you sit at home, when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
I need to remember this because, have I mentioned we live in a district with wonderful schools? The lure and pull of their wonderfulness becomes powerfully strong at times and usually in direct proportion to the hold I give the doubt monster. Any parent knows the doubt monster and those of us charting an unconventional path know him even better.
My children need to learn that they are of infinite worth to God. Everything else in life, all our skills and knowledge, our job, our looks, our health, even those around us, will fade and pass away. Only God's love endures. I don't want my children to be lonely, so I need to encourage their relationship with the One who assures us NEVER will I leave you, NEVER will I forsake you.
If I did nothing else for my children but help them succeed in these three areas of respect, reliance and relationship, their homeschooling would be a rousing success. (And to all my friends who have been given other paths, please don't read this to say that homeschooling is the only path to success in these three areas. God uses many means to the same end. I am only certain that this is the means he intends right now for our family. You may be equally convicted on different means for your own. God may change the means for us in the future. He's God after all; He can do what he likes.)
My children need good habits. Even if I fail in the academic department, a good portion of life is showing up on time, being organized and being able to break down a task into sensible parts. Chores form habits. We do a lot of chores.
Yet I obsess over their academics. Not that academics are unimportant, but the very nature of a one on one (or even a five on one) educational environment covers most deficiencies in that regard. I could obsess a lot less. The aforementioned laments over obsolete skills comfort me and reaffirms my basic philosophy of education. My kids need to know how to recognize what they don't know and how to go about teaching themselves. They need to think, write, compute and create clearly, elegantly and artfully.
This post is nothing more than a reminder to myself. How often I put the academics above the others and if we're being completely honest, how often I do so to reassure myself of my own worth. I guess even us obsolete housewives feel a bit better about ourselves when we can brag but my eight year old knows X and my 14 year old is doing Y.
I'm wrapping up our 10th year of formal home education. 15th if you count it from when a kid is born. God willing, I have 18 more years in front of me. It's a marathon and a sprint...a lot of years and not nearly enough time, both together. But what a privilege and Galatians 6:9 tells me that my work in this regard will never grow obsolete.