I didn’t write this article, but it’s too good not to share. It was written by Chris Davis, formerly from Elijah Co.
If you have been a recipient of my eNewsletter or if you have heard me speak at a conference you know that I have a concern about the shift I have seen in the reasons families choose to homeschool. I would like to take this opportunity to bring us back to what I perceive to be the reason God began this movement over 20 years ago.
Our good friend Rob Shearer once told me something which I will paraphrase as follows:
About 20 years ago, a group of parents began to feel a deep desire to have their children grow up at home rather than in an institutional setting. Thus began what is now referred to as the Homeschooling Movement. These early “homeschoolers” my friend refers to as Pioneers: parents who knew God wanted them to take total responsibility for raising (including educating) their own children. These Pioneers were determined to have their children home during the day in spite of the difficulties (and sometimes the dangers) this decision created.
During this Pioneer stage, there was another group of parents who heard about the benefits of homeschooling, but who decided to wait to see if the Pioneers would be successful before becoming homeschoolers themselves. These my friend called Settlers. Once the Settlers were convinced of the benefits of homeschooling, they joined in. However, unlike the Pioneers, many Settlers weren’t sure they would homeschool for the long term so they simply copied the public schools’ curricula and sequencing methods just in case it turned out that homeschooling didn’t work for them. And, if it didn’t, their children could be mainstreamed back into “school.”
By the late 1990’s public schools were receiving such negative publicity, and homeschooling such positive publicity, many more parents began to consider homeschooling as a viable alternative. They knew little about homeschooling except that it had to be better than the public school. These families my friend called Refugees: parents who were escaping a negative situation, but with no real understanding of what they were doing or why; nor did many of them want to know. They simply wanted their children to be educated as if the children were “in school” but without the negative context they perceived existed in the public school setting.
As I have described the three kinds of homeschoolers above, you may have noticed a very subtle, yet most important, difference between the Pioneers’ main desire (to have their children grow up at home) and the main desire of the other two groups (to provide a better education, or a less negative context for their children).
The reason I entitled this article, Homeschooling Is Not About Education is because I think we have a tendency to lose sight of or, perhaps, we have never really understood why we were led to homeschool. I draw this conclusion because what I hear as most homeschooling parents’ primary concerns are issues such as, “Will this be the best curriculum for my child?” or “How do I know I’m going to cover it all?”
Let’s take another look at this thing called “Homeschooling.” We all know one or more families whose children would greatly benefit if their children were not in a public school setting. Yet, these families don’t bring their children home. We feel truly blessed to believe in homeschooling and we don’t understand why everyone doesn’t see the obvious benefits. Why do friends and relatives keep sending their children to “school”, anyway? Why do we seem to be among so few who are willing to do this?
I would like to offer my opinion as to why we have become “homeschoolers” and so many others have not: I have a conviction that a historical time is approaching for which a certain “kind” of person will be needed in this nation; indeed, in the world. When this time will come, I don’t know, but my sense is that it will come soon. What I do believe is that God has needed a very specific context within which He can grow up this particular kind of person. And, since a lot of these “persons” are needed, God has asked a lot of us to become homeschoolers. What is this context? It is simply a place where the hearts of the fathers have been turned toward their children and the hearts of the children have been turned toward their fathers. It is a place where children are raised to become proficient at the specific giftings, talents, and callings God has placed within them since their creation.
This is the context which every homeschooling family has the opportunity to create. Yet, what disturbs me is that homes-SCHOOLING has become the primary focus of so many of these families. Homeschooling parents are prioritizing something quite different than what was in the heart of God as expressed in the hearts of those early Pioneers when they brought (or kept) their children home during the day.
For those of you who have “brought the school home,” let me suggest that you rethink what you are really doing with your children. Do you ever consider what kind of person this little boy or girl is to become by the time he or she leaves your home? Have you ever wondered if God Himself, has placed some very specific talents, giftings and callings in this youngster that He expects you to discover and promote during the child’s stay with you? Do such things determine your family’s priorities, weekly schedule or the curricula you purchase?
Or as you look toward the “finish line” of your child’s time at home, do you simply buy a graded curricula and spend your days plowing through it, because you think the highest purpose of your parenting is to see that your child receives the best education you can provide so you can one day say, “My son has a good job.”
If the answers to these questions are something like, “I don’t know”, or, “I don’t want to think about it,” then you may be a “homeschooler”, but I think you’ve missed the point.
Even Pioneers can slowly become Refugees. The very word “homeschooling” can cause us all to forget that what we are doing is not about home-SCHOOLING but about creating that context in which we assist God in raising the little ones in our homes to become His men and women who are truly prepared for what is going to happen in their own generation. To be like King David whom God did not identify as a man “with a good job;” but as a man who “served his generation well.”