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I'm excited to be sharing part of our story on the MOB Society today ("Mothers of Boys")! If you have a son and have ever wondered, "How do I raise a boy?", I hope this will encourage you. Please join me there! (http://www.themobsociety.com/2013/11/20/how-do-i-raise-a-son/)
All of the fuss being raised these days about the Common Core State Standards Initiative has gotten me thinking more about what we are doing as we home school our children. As I've shared previously, for now at least, we have adopted the classical approach in our schooling and are using the Classical Conversations model specifically. And as I reflect on that choice, one area that I am thinking through more and more, is the goal of education.
According to a recent Washington Post article, the United States Department of Education believes schools should be asking, "What can we do to get better, so our students can graduate from high school, succeed in college and be competitive for good jobs?” The goal seems to be to prepare students to be competitive in college and, ultimately, the marketplace.
In contrast, many classical educators describe the goal of classical education as "to teach a student how to teach himself", to give them the skills of learning, so that they will become a "wise and virtuous person". The idea is that if you spend the elementary and secondary years develop the person with the ability to think and reason, they will be equipped to step into their role as a contributing and responsible citizen, and they will be free to pursue whatever advanced training is needed for their chosen career.
Obviously, contemporary schools can (and do) try to include character education and the like. But as the current sign on my local elementary school has been reminding me lately, "Begin with the end in mind" (Habit 2 of Stephen Covey's Seven Habits of Highly Effective People). If the federal government's self-proclaimed goal is to encourage schools to produce high school graduates who can compete in the global marketplace, that goal is going to influence all other choices about curriculum and standards.
While the ability to serve one's community and support oneself and one's family at the same time is certainly important in life, the goals of classical education resonate much more deeply with me, and that is part of our reason for choosing a classical approach at this time. We want our children to be able to think clearly and critically about the issues they will encounter as they grow up. We want them to develop as communicators in both speech and writing, able to express their beliefs and opinions to others in ways that are both effective and considerate. And we want them to grow in Christian virtues, especially love.
Would it be possible for us to pursue these goals with our children while they attend a "regular" public or private school? Of course. Many parents do. But using a classical home school approach is allowing us to incorporate all this naturally into our day instead of figuring out how to make the time and effort to add it into an already-crowded curriculum, and that is what excites me about the choice we have made.
What do you believe the goal of education should be? How does that influence your choice of how to educate your child?
I've been thinking lately that being in my forties is not so bad after all. I actually feel more "comfortable" in my own skin that I have in any other decade - but maybe that's constantly true as we get older? Anyway, I've been also thinking back to my earlier decades and my earlier me, and pondering what, if I could travel back in time, I would tell my younger self, especially that self in my twenties. If I could, I think these are the lessons I would pass along:
1. Quit worrying about being single. You fret a lot about whether you'll be single and why everyone else is finding a good man except for you. It's not you, so stop worrying about that, too. You'll meet the right man when it's the right time for you and the right time for him (it takes two, remember). Just keep focusing on growing yourself and becoming the kind of person you want to be when you are married. It'll happen, trust me.
2. Good for you, investing your single years. I'm proud of you, single-and-younger-self! Instead of just acquiring stuff, you're using your single years to invest in the future and in eternity. You're going to grad school, teaching overseas (and you once said you hated Chinese food!), traveling more than most people do after they retire, and then you got that crazy idea about attending seminary in South Carolina. (Note to younger self - that was a particularly excellent idea, for many reasons, including lesson number one above!)
3. Spend more time memorizing the Scriptures. You started doing this and older-self-you still has a bunch of colored index cards with Scripture verses on them that you were memorizing at one time. In fact, I need to pull them out again and start that practice again, because at some point, my younger-self-me stopped. But you need it, so don't let anything get in the way. You are going to encounter some hard life situations down the road (don't worry about what those are right now), and when you do, you will need the wisdom and comfort that will come from hiding God's word in your heart.
4. Build other spiritual habits now also, while you can. Habits like regular times of prayer, Bible reading, thanksgiving, celebration. Remember the book you love, Celebration of Discipline? Read that at least a couple of times a year. And practice those things now, while you have time in your day. Because someday you will have (spoiler alert!!) a husband, and children, and a home to manage, and just having time to shower will seem like a luxury.
5. Learn how to cook. Seriously. You will not believe how must stress this will alleviate later if you learn now how to make more than pancakes and pasta.
What lessons would you like to pass along to your younger-you?
Welcome! My name is Kristi. I am a wife, a mother, a daughter, a sister, a teacher, a writer, a musician... but most of all a child and worshiper of God discovering that even in life's messes, God is still good. Learn more about me and my journey here!
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