Years ago, I picked up a used copy of Clay & Sally Clarkson’s Educating the Wholehearted Child. I was fascinated by the content and implemented as much as I could in our little homeschool. Since that day, I have recommended this book to homeschoolers everywhere, and even given it special mention on my Homeschooling page here on Raising Arrows.
About a year ago, I picked up a copy of the new edition. I could readily see there was more content and I knew I needed a refresher course. Finally, during vacation this year, I was able to begin reading.
Boy, did I need the words contained within those pages! Ty and I spent hours discussing what I had read. The kids and I spent hours discussing what I had read! There was so much to chew on. I am continuing to chew even today!
One discussion that came from my reading was concerning a sidebar comment on page 98 entitled The Education Nation:
“Secular public education in America has evolved into what is essentially an elaborate employment preparation and social indoctrination mechanism.”
And I realized even I was getting caught up in the mindset of “employment preparation.”
You see, I have a 16 year old who is very close to finishing up all of his required high school credits in our state. The natural conveyer belt of our society says the next step is college, but Blake isn’t sure he wants to go to college. He’s a very intelligent, very driven young man and although I wanted to respect his decision, I felt myself lurching inside.
Would he be able to get a good job without a college education?
Isn’t every smart child supposed to go to college?
How would people react to him not going to college?
(notice how that last one is all about MY pride?)
Government education has truly become a system of institutionalized thinking. There aren’t many “outside-the-box-ers” these days. The goal does seem to be to get a child through high school so they can get through college, so they can get a better job than their parents, but if you look around you will see a lot of college graduates struggling to do just that. And often, their answer is to go BACK to college for another round. Piles of information, good test taking skills, and very little to show for it in the way of real world experience. In the words of Kevin Swanson,
“It’s like taking 12 years of bike and never getting on one.”
Common Core is supposed to help change some of this, but all I see there is more of the same…fill heads with information they won’t retain and teach a test so hopefully they’ll get a good enough grade to get into college and…then what?
As I continued to read in the Clarkson’s book, I found myself deeply convicted to stop secretly wanting my son to be like everyone else (I say secretly because I would NEVER have admitted that I even remotely wanted any of my children to be INSIDE the box) and use these young adult years to give my son even more opportunities to become who God has created him to be because “true education is not about making a living but about making a life.” (<— this is a topic explored even more within the pages of Educating the Wholehearted Child.)
How we educate is important. It runs much deeper than filling heads with information. It runs much deeper than college prep or employment skills. It starts when you child is very young and you allow them to be children full of wonder and curiosity for God’s great grandeur. It continues as you cultivate a home environment that is full of love and respect for the individual image-of-God child, as well as plenty of free space and time to explore personal interests and and God-gifted leanings. And as your child nears the end of childhood and adulthood is in sight, it becomes a time in which you guide your child toward using those interests and leanings where making a living becomes a reality because they’ve made a life.