This is where I try to pass on what little I know to a new generation of parent-educators, encouraging them as they teach their children, challenging them in their philosophies of education and choice of curricula, and inspiring them to innovation and creativity.

My greatest desire is for homeschool families to experience the joy of discovery, and for homeschooled children to be blessed with lifelong curiosity and a deep understanding of many subjects. My greatest concern is that the movement is too bureaucratic, too enamored of public school methods, and too commercialized. My greatest fear is that independent home education will die. Yet, my greatest hope is that home educators will come together in groups that focus on personal connection and instructional enrichment, rather than on creating school-like environments. My educational preferences are eclectic, (mostly) non-traditional, relational and unhurried, and rigorous of thought. My focus is primarily on homeschooling in Connecticut.

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Living, Daring Confidence

The homeschool group with whom I volunteer had their Back-to-Homeschooling Picnic this past weekend (9/15/2012).  As part of the opening ceremony, I read the following before we broke for lunch.  I offer it to you, my readers, in the hope that it speaks to you wherever you are on your homeschooling journey.

In considering what to say for this devotion, really the first one I have ever done in all the years I have been part of CHOOSE CT (and I joined way back in 1995 when my daughter Katherine the Great was five years old;  she is now twenty-two), I thought it might be interesting to see what Luther had to say about education, since we are sitting in the outdoor sanctuary of a Lutheran church.

Having Googled "Luther on education," I wouldn't necessarily recommend that you, as home educators, do the same since the Father of the Reformation was an advocate for institutionalized education (in his day, of course, that meant parochial school).  In fact, in some of his writings, he said things like this:
"When schools flourish, all flourishes."
"...I hold that it is the duty of the temporal authority to compel its subjects to keep their children in school...For it is truly the duty of government to maintain the offices and estates that have been mentioned, so that there will always be preachers, jurists, pastors, writers, physicians, schoolmasters, and the like, for we cannot do without them."
And, perhaps harshest of all:
"The common people appear to be quite indifferent to the matter of maintaining the schools.  I see them withdrawing their children from instruction and turning them to the making of a living and to caring for their bellies.  Besides, they either will not or cannot think what a horrible and un-Christian business this is and what great and murderous harm they are doing everywhere in so serving the devil."
On the other hand, Martin Luther also said things like this:
"Parents shouldn't give up doing what is best for their children even when their children are ungrateful."
"But the greatest good in married life, which makes all suffering and labor worth while, is that God grants offspring and commands that they be brought up to worship and serve him.  In all the world this is the noblest and most precious work..."
And, quite against his previous pronouncement about taking your children out of school:
"I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures, and engraving them on the hearts of youth.  I would advise no one to send his child where the Holy Scriptures are not supreme.  Every institution in which men and women are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must be corrupt."
Given that last statement, I am not at all certain that Luther would denounce homeschooling out of hand today, especially if the Word of God was clearly taught and if he saw the current state of education in our country.  But whether a 16th century priest approved of it or not, more than a decade ago, my family decided to tackle home education, even when it seemed impossible at times and the school bus looked tempting.  We stepped out in faith daily, hoping that the Lord would finish what we started...and He a way that we could never have imagined.

But what does that daily faith look like?  When your toddler has emptied the Tupperware all over the kitchen floor for the umpteenth time while you are trying to finish a science experiment with your oldest child, what does that faith look like?  When the dishwasher starts leaking during a history lesson that should have been done a week or more ago, what does that faith look like?  When you answer the phone during "school hours" and, one by one, your children disappear to focus on anything but their assigned work, what does that faith look like?  Oftentimes, that daily faith-in-action eludes us, doesn't it?  Or at least it can feel that way.

Yet, Hebrews 11:1 reminds us:

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

I like Luther's paraphrase as well:
"Faith is a living, daring confidence in God's grace, so sure and certain that a man could stake his life on it a thousand times."
May you all know that kind of faith this year as you teach your children.  Amen.

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