Tag Archives: Homeschooling

Personal growth through questions

15 Apr

A young woman I know, a mom with three small children, related a transformative conversation she had with a wise friend.  With her confidant patiently listening, the mother detailed all the reasons why she was going to try homeschooling again. She had resorted to public school for her older two kids when baby number three came along. In explaining the decision to pick up again with homeschooling, she offered what she considered a strong closing conclusion, the following assertion:

  • Besides, everyone knows how much time is wasted in a regular classroom!

The wise friend thoughtfully asked, “What’s wrong with that?”

Startled, the mom paused and couldn’t really come up with a concrete reason AGAINST ‘wasting time’.  In fact, the more she thought about it, she started to see how ‘wasting time’ all depends on how you view time and the purpose(s) for it.  Her thought process led her to ask some good questions, beginning with the one that had stopped her in her tracks:

  • Well, what is wrong with wasting time? Why do I view that negatively and use that kind of language?
  • Do I believe that we don’t ‘waste time’ here at home or would not if I homeschooled?
  • Is being productive ‘all the time’ actually good for my children?  Don’t they need some ‘down’ time, like I do?
  • In fact, is any time wasted in office settings, on the job?
  • Is my view of time universal, around the globe?

Then, in the providence of God, Anne picked up a book called The Yes Brain.

In it, the author described the different kinds of time children AND adults actually need to cultivate and maintain a healthy brain.  One category had to do with time for play; another was focused time for work or study. Then there was the kind of time necessary for us all to exercise our imagination or to meditate.  You know, the kind of ‘lost-in-thought’ ponderings that Westerners often categorize as ‘doing nothing’.

All this to illustrate not only the POWER but the GIFT of a good question.  Questions make room for new insights. Had the friend not responded to the mom’s assertion with a question, this mother would not have had space or motivation to evaluate her belief to see if it really was true!

So how can we remember to ask ourselves or someone else a question?

Look for assertions that you or others make.  In our climate, people are asserting unexamined opinions and beliefs left and right.  A well-timed, thoughtful question can often stop them in their tracks.  Most of us really don’t know WHY we believe what we do.

Don’t just think of the political or economic arenas, as important as they are. I find I’m WAY more excited about the potential impact of questions for personal growth. With God’s help, I want to develop habits of:

  • noticing what I’m thinking or saying to myself
  • wondering why I think something
  • examining what actually supports my belief, if anything!
  • determining if what I think is true.

What comes to mind as a first belief to question?

Follow reason, not the heart in making a decision

9 Dec

My husband used to be in sales  – the kind whose products were invisible and long term.  Life insurance, college accounts, emergency savings, although worthy goals, couldn’t hold a candle to the allure of a shiny new car.  What he learned was that despite a couple’s acquiescence to the need for financial protection, that pure desire for a new car exerted a stronger pull.

new car

The husband would be the one to enumerate all the reasons why the family needed this new van.  Reality taught my husband the truth of the adage: People buy emotionally and justify their purchase rationally. 

My daughter-in-law and her husband face a decision, like all parents, of how to educate their oldest child.  Over the past two years, Anne has considered home-schooling with much turmoil.  She has felt her heart pulled toward this paradigm for various reasons, but last year she enrolled our grandson in pre-school.  At the time, it was the right decision.  The family moved over the summer and they found a 4-year old preschool in their new city.  But the tug to homeschool has grown stronger.

Decision-making is challenging for all of us.   It doesn’t help that in today’s ‘Disney-fied’ world we are counseled to ‘follow our heart’!

Christians should know that according to God, our hearts cannot be trusted.  Only as these hearts are being renewed by the Holy Spirit and informed by a Bible-saturated mind that considers, weighs and evaluates all things can they be trusted.

The other challenge to wading through options is the oppression of the majority.  I’m surprised, yet I shouldn’t be, when I encounter people  who seem to assume that if a majority of people in their country think XYZ, then it must be true.  Where is THAT assumption grounded on?

All Logical Joes and Janes recognize that view as a bald-faced fallacy – Argumentum Ad Populum.  The holders of this view automatically assume minority dissenters must be wrong.

So back to Anne and her recent decision process to switch to homeschooling.  My husband and I have long thought that this couple are well-suited to homeschool.  Furthermore, we have confidence in parents’ ability to equip and guide their children just as well, if not better, than outsourced educational institutions.

As someone who supports critical thinking, I am encouraging Anne to think through her reasons FOR this change.  If the benefits to her and to their children outweigh other options, then she should choose home-schooling.  Her husband, our son, absolutely supports his wife in whichever educational choice she opts for.  She is a full-time mom to their two kids and is the one whose day-to-day responsibilities center on raising the family.

As we talked about this over Thanksgiving Anne gave vent to the real pressure from the world, seeped in ‘majority knows best’ thinking.  But trying to please extended family or current pre-school teachers or friends who evince surprise and trot out, “But what about the social aspect N would be missing?” should carry no weight against researched reasons that matter to the couple.

What about the heart?

Follow your heart

When I mentioned to Anne that Christians are counseled NOT to let feelings and emotions guide our decisions, she balked a bit.  I know that what grounds her reaction is that she truly feels that God has given her the desire to homeschool.  And I don’t discount that.  Maybe we’re using different words.  I might say about a decision: “I don’t feel any check from the Holy Spirit,” thereby giving weight to the ‘affective’ aspect of my choice.

A more effective final check might be for Anne to review the purpose they see for educating their children.  Then they can evaluate if homeschooling is the correct and best course to meet that goal all the while guided by their values.  Decision-making MUST start with the end in sight and progress backwards.  I offer that when Anne articulates their vision for their children as young adults and then looks at the options for their family, she can feel peace about her decision.

Logical Gal and illusions about education dollars

23 Jun

Education Dollars - scales

I live in North Carolina and ‘Low Teacher Salaries’ is a hot topic.  (For the record, I teach in a private school where we earn even less than the public sector).  But I follow the debate with interest because the rhetoric is flung around thickly.

Here’s a quote that was highlighted within an article in our local weekly paper:

  • “If given the choice, would you enroll your child in a state that is 48th in per pupil spending?”

What is implied by that question? (which is actually NOT a question but an assertion masquerading as a question)

  1. You have to spend a lot of money to educate a child well
  2. Money is the # 1 predictor of good education

What don’t we know?

  • whether all 50 states actually spend close to the same.   What if NC truly is 48th in spending, but the variance among state budgets is pretty narrow?
  • whether the quality of students graduating from secondary schools and universities is a problem
  • what the end product (i.e. students) is like in states that spend the most
  • what the difference in dollars goes to in states that spend more
  • what ‘per pupil spending’ actually includes.  What goes into that figure?  Does more money go directly to teacher salaries?  And if so, is there a correlation between better -paid teachers and quality education as measured again by the end product?

Here are some FACTS to consider:

Facts

  • The city of Washington, DC spent an average of $29,349 per student in 2010-11 and 81 % were not proficient in either reading NOR math.
  • North Carolina spent $8,433 per pupil during the 2012-2013 school year.
  • The average among all 50 states was $11,068 for the same 2012-2013 window.

Questions for further reflection:

  • What does the average home-schooling family spend per pupil?
  • How much is the average private school tuition?
  • What about on-line schools that are growing in both accessibility and quality?

Homeschooling

Here’s the bottom line for ANY issue:

You can’t have a useful discussion without taking TIME to flesh out hidden assumptions and facts!