Educate: To give intellectual, moral or social instruction. This is the definition of educate.
I often field the question, "Why did you choose to homeschool your children?". I must confess that I'm as perplexed by someone who wouldn't choose to home educate their children as so many seem to be perplexed by the decision to do so. When I'm asked that question, my first response is to ask one of my own. "What are your opinions on why education is important?" Oddly enough, most people seem completely caught off guard and can't seem to correlate the importance of that question with the one that they asked me. To me, they are synonymous. Why I home educate is simply an extension of what I believe the entire purpose of education should be about. Hence, this blog post.
Education, by it's very definition, isn't about test scores, or educational Olympics or pushing children into becoming what the government believes to be "productive". Education isn't about competing, or forcing children into a mold or outcome based education...or at least it shouldn't be! Education is to guide children to be the best that "they" can be intellectually, morally, and socially. I, personally, do not believe that institutionalized learning is capable of providing the most excellent in any of those capacities. I believe that each family must first define their goals in education.
Our goals are simple: To allow our children to become the best they can become based on the talents and gifts given to them by God. This is preceded only by the directive that God has already given: Love the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind, with all the strength you have and Love thy neighbor as thyself. We believe that if children are taught to love God and place Him first in their lives and then truly love their neighbors (this does not mean the people living beside you, although it does encompass them), they will have something that no school can teach them. They will have an internal compass that will give them the desire to work as for the Lord, and not for man. That means that they will strive for excellence in every area of their lives...including their intellectual pursuits.
Let's have a scenario that places this in it's proper perspective: Let's say that you've paid tens of thousands of dollars and your child(ren) have had the "best" education that you believe money can buy. Let's assume they have gotten a full ride to the "best" college/University out there, and have graduated with all the honors the world has to offer. They become a doctor/lawyer/accountant...or whatever your family deems to be a career with every worldly accolade. You have achieved bragging rights heaven. Your child is the epitome of all the world says is the "best" and most coveted. He/She is "educated". And then life happens.
Life comes in, with all it's twists and turns, and when dignity, honor, and kindness are needed, all that your child is equipped with are intellectual skills that offer no moral fiber or social understanding that they are not islands in the sea of humanity and "self" should not be placed above all else. A parent is placed in a nursing home, or becomes deathly ill. A divorce looms in their horizon because their career was placed before their family and home. Drugs and alcohol are placed in front of them in a way that makes them seem "fun" and "glamorous". Will they choose to say no? Any scenario you can think of that life places in each of our paths will one day cross your child's path...and there is simply nothing anyone can do to change that. It's tough to be a parent, isn't it? Where is their moral fiber? Was that part of their education? Are they equipped to become more than just a title and job description? Are they truly equipped to make Godly decisions in an Ungodly world when things get tough?
For us the question of "Why do we educate?" is much broader than simply having a child that can do well on standardized tests and the SAT. Don't get me wrong...those things matter to us in that we do desire for our children to be the best that they, personally, can be. Part of home education, a large part, is knowing that we can provide a better intellectual education that a state certified stranger, no matter their level of degree. We have the proof of that in a graduating senior next year who is already being romanced by a few leading colleges based solely upon his SAT scores.
However, that's not our primary goal. I'm proud of his scores, but I'm more proud of his heart. He volunteers at a domestic abuse center, he loves to sing and play his guitar in the youth band...and really feels the worship. He speaks openly of his love for the Lord and his life displays the fruit of the Spirit. We have three younger children who are quickly following in their older brother's footsteps, all to the glory of God because, trust me, they have very imperfect parents! We have children who pray and have no understanding of being "embarrassed" to express their love for Christ. This is what we are most proud of.
THIS is why we educate. We believe God's Word when He tells us to "train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will not depart from it" (Proverbs 22:6). I don't recall God's Word saying...turn your kids over to the state and they'll train them up in the way they think they should go to be productive citizens of the State and serve them...not even once. I think we can all agree that based on the true definition of education, and the current state of our educational system, the State isn't overly interested in supplying our children with the moral and social fiber that they need to be truly educated. I encourage you to pray about this. Ask yourself the question, "WHY do we, as a family, educate our children and what are our goals for that education?". Pray about it. Your children are worth it.