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Developing a Strong Enough WHY by Ellyn Davis

Why We Home School


Developing A Strong Enough Why Published by: Double Portion Publishing, Inc. 1053 Eldridge Loop Crossville, Tennessee 38571 www.doubleportionpublishing.com A Strong Enough Why

Copyright © 2011 by Double Portion Publishing, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Some of the anecdotal illustrations in this book are true to life and are included with the permission of the persons involved. All other illustrations are composites of real situations, and any resemblance to people living or dead is coincidental. This book incorporates content originally published in the Elijah Company catalogs and EJournals, Copyright © 1991-2004. Copyright assigned to Home School Marketplace © 2005. Please note: Information provided in this guide is for educational purposes only. It does not constitute professional advice, nor does it guarantee results. Unless otherwise identified, all Scripture quotations in this publication are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION® (NIV®) Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House, all rights reserved. FOR RESOURCES, GO TO http://www.homeschoolmarketplace.com

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A Strong Enough Why.......7 Reason 1: We home school our children because we want to create a different type of human being.......17 Reason 2: We home school our children because we object to the presuppositions and objectives of the public schools.......23

Reason 4: We home school our children because we want our children educated for the REAL world.......41

A Strong Enough Why

Reason 3: We home school our children because we believe institutionalized education is harmful to children.......33

Reason 5: We home school our children because we want to create a context where each child can find his or her identity in God....... 47 Reason 6: We home school our children because it is a matter of the heart.......53 Delving Deeper.......59 3


Introduction

The great Irish poet William Butler Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” Whether you are just considering home schooling or a seasoned veteran at it, we have developed a series of unconventional guides that will help you “light a fire” in your children’s hearts and minds instead of treating them like “buckets” to be filled.

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As you look over the guides we’ve developed, they are meant to lead you through a progression of changes in your heart and your head about what education is, about who your children really are, about what their real needs are and how you can meet those needs, about how your children learn best, about how to identify your family’s unique meaning and purpose, about how to choose the best teaching materials for your situation, and about how to prepare our children for a future that may be as radically different from our adulthood as ours was from our parents and grandparents. Each guide thoroughly covers one topic in easily readable form. Think of them as highly digestible “meals” that will nourish your spirit, mind, and soul throughout your home schooling journey. You are reading Developing A Strong Enough Why. A list of our other titles may be found in the “Delving Deeper section” at the end of this guide.

Enjoy your meal! P. S. Be sure and visit the Home School Marketplace website for more valuable and timely information about home schooling, home life, and home business. And while you’re there, sign up for our free newsletter. www.homeschoolmarketplace.com

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Six compelling reasons why we choose to home school our children

A STRONG ENOUGH WHY a strong enough why


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A Strong Enough Why SEVERAL YEARS AGO I attended a real estate conference given by a man named John Dessauer. John was known as the “king of multi-units” and the conference was about how to choose, finance, and operate multi-unit apartment buildings.

His “WHY” was restoring his marriage, his finances and his life, so he began investing in multi-units, one small step at a time, until he built an apartment empire and became a multi-millionaire. In the process he was careful to cultivate his relationship with his wife in such a way that within three years his marriage and his life were back on track. And now his wife is his business partner. I’ve never forgotten John’s statement: “If you have a strong enough WHY, the HOWs will take care of themselves.”

A Strong Enough Why

Other than the obviously valuable information about investing in multi-units, the session that stood out the most to me during that conference was one on the “why.” In it, John shared that several years before he had been near bankruptcy, his marriage in ruins, and his life a shambles and he said this, “If you have a strong enough WHY, the HOWs will take care of themselves.”

In the twenty-plus years I’ve home schooled, I’ve spoken with thousands of other home schooling parents and I’ve discovered that most problems with home schooling tend to occur because parents get hung up over the HOWs of home schooling. And the reason is, they don’t have a strong enough WHY. In Christian jargon, we might call the WHY a conviction and we could say that their home schooling efforts became a struggle because their conviction about home school7


ing was unclear or wavering. Let’s be realistic. Home schooling is not for everyone. Home schooling is a massive, full-time commitment, primarily for Mom. Done well, it requires a total reorientation of your life, not just four or five hours of your day.

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There will be no bus coming to whisk your children away to school and free you to use your day as you choose; no salaried teacher to make sure they learn the minimum required in math, language arts, history, or other subjects, to prepare them for standardized tests, or to check their schoolwork and assign grades or remedial work. No school cafeteria to prepare and serve them their meals and clean up the kitchen afterwards. No hall monitors to catch them when they try to sneak out of the classroom. No principal to send them to when they misbehave. And no janitor to clean up the building when the school day is over. Like it or not, YOU ARE IT. You are the teacher, principal, cook, cafeteria worker, school board, school superintendant, janitor, and yes, even the bus driver who takes them on field trips. And when the schooling portion of the day is done, you won’t be relieved of your students, you’ll still have to fix them dinner, help them with their homework, and drive them to their piano and dance lessons or soccer practice. Then you’ll have to make sure they are ready for bed before you can grab some rest and spend some time with your husband. And you’re not going to get paid a dime for doing all this. You’re not going to get a lot of appreciation for all you’ve done either. In fact, you will probably be criticized and told you’re some sort of lunatic and that your kids are going to be totally messed up when you’re finished using them as “guinea pigs” for your misguided home schooling experiment. Yes, hopefully, Dad will be supportive and encouraging and may even teach some of the subjects, but you will probably be the primary educator. In short, you will be the

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glue that holds the whole endeavor together. So let’s spend a little time developing a strong enough WHY to propel us through any problems of HOW. Some people instantaneously receive almost a miraculous conviction that they want to home school their children and are willing to go to jail to defend their right to do so. Others come to a conviction more gradually.

I had been pursuing the liberated woman’s American dream of a career at her expense. She had been cared for by others since she was a baby—first in daycare, then pre-school, then kindergarten, then regular school. Wasn’t that the way it was supposed to be done? Watching her lose her innocence and sense of wonder about life sickened me and I realized I was primarily responsible for that loss because I had entrusted her upbringing to strangers to whom she was just one of many who passed through their institutions.

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I was in the first category. I had several heartbreaking miscarriages between the birth of my first child and my second. So by the time my eldest son was born, my daughter was already in high school. With each passing year I had watched the bright-eyed, inquisitive, happy little girl I once had a very close relationship with transform more and more into a sullen rebel I hardly knew whose only interest became keeping up with her friends and trying everything they did, no matter how many of our Christian values she violated. She became the epitome of the PK/MK (pastor’s kid/missionary’s kid) stereotype.

When my first son was only a few weeks old, I was nursing him one day and looked down into his eyes. He stared back up at me with a look of utter trust. That look penetrated deep into my soul and something connected inside us. From that moment on, I knew I could never betray his trust by placing him in the care of strangers for most of 9


his waking hours. I also knew that no matter what it took, I was not going to send him to daycare, pre-school or public school—or to Christian school either, because I had discovered at my daughter’s expense that Christian schools are often worse than secular schools because they talk about Jesus while they do all the same things as their public school counterparts. So Christian school often (but not always) can give children a huge dose of hypocrisy that completely inoculates them against a real relationship with God.

A Strong Enough Why

I didn’t know exactly how I was going to pull it off my conviction, but two weeks after the “look” from my infant son, a friend from our church called and said, “Ellyn, turn on the radio. You’ve got to listen to this guy on Focus on the Family.” That “guy” turned out to be Raymond Moore and he was talking about home schooling—something I had never heard of before. Before I knew it, I was devouring everything Raymond Moore had ever written, then found the Colfaxes and John Holt and Gregg Harris and John Gatto. And with everything I read or listened to about home schooling, my conviction became stronger and stronger. I gave up my career and became a full-time stay-at-home Mom and eventually had two more sons. And when they were born, I felt that same strength of conviction about caring for them. Like Scarlett O’Hara vowed in Gone With the Wind, “As God is my witness, I will NEVER….” As God was my witness, I would NEVER subject my sons to the soul-crushing institutions my daughter had endured. Later I joined other pioneers in the home schooling movement and helped them forge a Christian home schooling path that thousands have followed. So, the HOW took care of itself once I had my unshakeable WHY. From that point on it was a given. I was home schooling my children. Case closed. It took years of convincing before my husband Chris came on board, but when he did it was with my same depth of conviction and he became a powerful force in home schooling during the 1980’s, 1990’s and early 2000’s.

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So I’d like to share the primary reasons I have such a deep conviction about home schooling. I agree that home schooling may not be for everyone. But, if you are reading this, it is probably for you. You just need a little stirring of the coals for your spark of interest to become the flame of conviction—a strong enough WHY that the HOWs take care of themselves.

Common Home Schooling Reasons

1. They object to the school organization. • Breaking up the day into learning time and play time. • Starting and stopping learning (or shifting topics) according to an externally-imposed schedule. • Telling students what they should care about and when they should care about it.

A Strong Enough Why

What, specifically, is it about institutionalized schooling that home schooling families want to do without? Here’s a brief outline of the most common reasons parents decide to take their children out of traditional classrooms and teach them at home:

• Evaluating children on an arbitrary scale of what the school considers good conduct and adequate academic achievement. • The hierarchy of authority that puts the student at the bottom. 2. They don’t want their children subjected to the de-humanizing aspects of schools.

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• Having to ask permission for basic human needs. • Having to supply "acceptable" excuses for absence or lateness. • Routine abridgment of human (constitutional) rights. • Standing in lines, waiting for everything: food, water, attention of the teacher, time on the computer, etc. • Group rewards and punishments. A Strong Enough Why

• Neglect of individual gifts and problems. • Moving at the sound of a bell. • Students coming to view themselves as products, moving down a 12-year assembly line, with bits of knowledge poured in or bolted on by others as the belt moves along. Seeing the primary responsibility for their education as being in the hands of others. 3. They feel like school isolates children from the real world. • It segregates them by age and by gifting or learning challenges. • It separates them from their families during the greater part of the day. • It isolates them from the working world. • It teaches subject matter divorced from context or real life application. • "Free" education isolates children from economic reality. • Subject matter is divorced from context.

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4. The schedule rigidity stifles the freedom and spontaneous curiosity of children and ignores opportunities for “teachable moments.” • Having to be in school at certain times means you can't see the World Cup or a solar eclipse if it happens during the school day, and you can't see the late show or a lunar eclipse if you have to get up in the morning. • Having to be in school limits your ability to travel.

In his book, Dumbing Us Down, veteran teacher John Gatto shares how schools send negative messages because of their institutional influence over the students. Gatto says that even the best schools teach a hidden curriculum of confusion, peer position, indifference, emotional dependency, intellectual dependency, provisional self-esteem, and lack of trust.

Why We Chose to Home School

A Strong Enough Why

• Having to be in school limits your ability to do any time-consuming worthwhile activity.

After more than twenty five years of teaching our children at home, we have seen home schooling evolve from a misunderstood underground movement to a political and economic force. Years ago, if we went shopping and a friendly check out clerk asked our children where they went to school, they would answer, “We go to a private school.” We tried not to bring attention to the fact that we home schooled because, at that time, almost no one knew about home schooling and the few who did were opposed to it. Plus, in many states it was against the law. 13


Nowadays almost anyone you talk to knows someone who home schools. It has become an acceptable and respected alternative to traditional schooling legal in all fifty states. Why did we begin teaching our boys, and why are a growing number of parents choosing to educate their children at home?

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There are the obvious reasons: reasons like being able to choose teaching materials that reinforce our religious beliefs and moral standards; the academic superiority of a one-on-one teaching situation; the ability to monitor socialization experiences; the freedom to tailor the course of study to the individual; and the flexibility to create more family time. These are all excellent reasons to home school, but there are other reasons that are seldom mentioned. These “other reasons� are the REAL reasons we teach our children at home.


We home school our children because we want to create a different type of human being.

reason one REASON ONE


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Reason One

We home school our children because we want to create a different type of human being. Professor Allan Bloom argued in his bestseller, The Closing of the American Mind:

Every culture’s form of education transmits the culture’s belief system. It encourages devotion to and honor of those things the culture considers meaningful. Education seeks to produce an individual who thinks, believes, and acts a certain way and who considers certain things valuable. An education, therefore, has three facets: 1) conveying academic information and practical skills, 2) training in a specific lifestyle, and 3) developing an attitude toward life.

A Strong Enough Why

Every educational system has a moral goal it tries to attain and that informs its curriculum. It wants to produce a certain kind of human being. Democratic education, whether it admits it or not, wants and needs to produce men and women who have the tastes, knowledge, and character supportive of a democratic regime.

In American schools, these three facets of instruction are designed to conform children to the image of our society’s ideal man—a politically correct, self-actualized consumerby valuing certain behaviors, knowledge, skills, lifestyles, and careers and placing little or no emphasis on others. Let’s take the three facets one at a time and illustrate ways schooling focuses on creating the American ideal. First, conveying academic information and practical skills. The facts and skills that are included in a course of study will reflect the kind of people the educational system 17


is trying to produce. Rote learning of information, with little emphasis on critical thinking and individual accomplishment is the order of the day in most public schools, because the schools are designed to produce a minimally competent, compliant work force.

A Strong Enough Why

Second, training in a specific lifestyle. Based on society’s changing values, greater importance will be placed on certain careers and lifestyles than on others. For example, in the 1960s, after the launch of Sputnik put Russia ahead of us in the race to outer space, schools began encouraging careers in science and mathematics. I was one of the children placed in the “science track,� only to discover after completing a Masters degree and several years toward my doctorate that the market was glutted with scientists, and physicists with PhDs were working as janitors. What does American education currently emphasize? Social service and computer oriented careers. In addition, the institutional environment trains children to accept a certain lifestyle. As John Gatto explains in A Different Kind of Teacher: Schools train individuals to respond as a mass. Boys and girls are drilled in being bored, frightened, envious, emotionally needy, generally incomplete. A successful mass production economy requires such as clientele.... Our own economy requires a managed mass of leveled, spiritless, anxious, family-less, friendless, godless, and obedient people who believe the difference between Coke and Pepsi is a subject worth arguing about. Third, developing an attitude toward life. If we want to create people who believe all religions are the same, who will look to the government to solve their problems, who feel entitled to express themselves in whatever manner they choose, and who have a highly developed consumer mentality, then we fill our curriculum with information that will reinforce these attitudes and beliefs.

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These three facets of instruction exert a hidden bias on the school curriculum. C. S. Lewis, commenting on this hidden bias, says the student “has no notion that ethics, theology, and politics are all at stake. It is not a theory put into his mind, but an assumption, which ten years hence, its origin forgotten and its presence unconscious, will condition him to take one side in a controversy which he has never recognized as a controversy at all.”

Why? Because our ideal man is not a politically correct, self-actualized wage-earner, He is Jesus Christ. Scripture says that those who love God have been “predestined to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.” It entreats Christians “do not conform any more to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” The Bible also says “a student who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” This is why we cannot entrust our children to a system that considers Jesus Christ irrelevant and seeks to conform them to another image.

A Strong Enough Why

We maintain that the institutional school system not only transmits the information and attitudes of a culture that is alien to Christianity, but that it also excludes knowledge that would conform children to Christian beliefs. We do not want our children to be taught to think and act according to society’s concept of the ideal man.

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We home school our children because we object to the presuppositions and objectives of the public schools.

reason two REASON TWO


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Reason Two

We home school our children because we object to the presuppositions and objectives of the public schools. You may find this hard to believe, but compulsory education is an effort to change the social order by equipping children with knowledge, skills, and attitudes that best serve the economy. As John Gatto explains in The Six Lesson School Teacher,

The great American author, H. L. Mencken wrote that the aim of public education is: ...not to fill the young of the species with knowledge and awaken their intelligence. ... Nothing could be further from the truth. The aim ... is simply to reduce as many individuals as possible to the same safe level, to breed and train a standardized citizenry, to put down dissent and originality. That is its aim in the United States... and that is its aim everywhere else.

A Strong Enough Why

‘School’ is an essential support system for a vision of social engineering that condemns most people to be subordinate stones in a pyramid that narrows to a control point as it ascends. ‘School’ is an artifice which makes such a pyramidal social order seem inevitable.

Proponents of the modern school system envisioned schooling having six basic functions: 1) The adjustive or adaptive function. Schools are to establish fixed habits of reaction to authority.

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2) The integrating function. The intention of “integration” is to produce conformity—to make children as alike as possible. Why? Because people who conform are predictable, and can be easily manipulated, which is especially useful in harnessing a large labor force. 3) The diagnostic and directive function. School is meant to determine each student's proper social role.

A Strong Enough Why

4) The differentiating function. Once their social role has been "diagnosed," children are to be sorted by role and trained only so far as their destination in the social machine merits. 5) The selective function. School is meant to selectively screen out those who are deemed “unfit” to be part of the general population. Schools tag these children with poor grades, remedial classes, and other punishments. 6) The propaedeutic function. A small number of the most capable students will be groomed to be leaders and taught to manage the “dumbed down,” compliant masses that the schools produce. To accomplish these functions, institutionalized schooling operates on four major presuppositions, and has three major objectives.

Major Presuppositions and Objectives of Institutionalized Schooling The presuppositions on which institutional schooling operates are: 1) Man’s problems stem from not being properly taught. Man is not considered 24


fallen but merely uninformed; not a sinner, but merely educationally disadvantaged; not responsible for his own life, but the victim of circumstances. Like Riff says in West Side Story, “I’m depraved because I’m deprived.” In order to overcome his problems, man must be taught how to manage his personal life and how to take advantage of his talents, skills, and opportunities. While we agree that a lot of personal problems can be helped by learning better “life navigation” skills, education cannot change man’s fallen condition. Only Jesus Christ can do that.

3) The best way to reach these goals is through a standardized curriculum that moves children systematically through a predetermined sequence of instruction. Because minds are assumed to be like “containers” that can be incrementally filled with knowledge, understanding and socially correct attitudes, children are moved through a program of instruction like cars on an assembly line.

A Strong Enough Why

2) Educational goals should be centered in society’s needs. From their inception, the schools have been looked upon as a “cure-all” for society’s ills. If America has a drug problem, an ecology problem, a gun problem, an AIDs problem, an intolerance towards minorities, a lack of skilled workers in a particular field, or any other problem, the curriculum is adjusted to address these needs and to develop politically correct attitudes about them.

4) Only trained professionals are capable of properly instructing children. Parents, pastors, or skilled mentors are not assumed to be competent enough to train children to become informed, productive adults. The three main objectives of Institutionalized Schooling: 1) To produce citizens who can responsibly exercise their civic duties.

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2) To produce a skilled, compliant work force to meet the employment needs of American businesses. (3) To develop individuals with politically correct thinking and the proper social spirit. Don’t believe this? Read The Six Lesson School Teacher. In it, John Gatto, longtime public school teacher and winner of the New York Teacher of the Year award multiple times, explains how the whole school environment is “rigged” in such a way that six lessons are common to schoolteaching from Harlem to Hollywood. A Strong Enough Why

Gatto explains: The first lesson I teach is: Stay in the class where you belong. If things go well, the kids can’t imagine themselves anywhere else; they envy and fear the better classes and have contempt for the dumber classes. So the class mostly keeps itself in good marching order. That’s the real lesson of any rigged competition like school. You come to know your place. The second lesson I teach kids is to turn on and off like a light switch. I demand that they become totally involved in my lessons, jumping up and down in their seats with anticipation, competing vigorously with each other for my favor. But when the bell rings I insist that they drop the work at once and proceed quickly to the next work station. Nothing important is ever finished in my class, nor in any other class I know of. The third lesson I teach you is to surrender your will to a predestined chain of command. Rights may be granted or withheld, by authority, without appeal. The fourth lesson I teach is dependency. Good people wait for a teacher to tell them

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what to do. This is the most important lesson of all, that we must wait for other people, better trained than ourselves, to make the meanings of our lives. It is no exaggeration to say that our entire economy depends upon this lesson being learned.

In lesson six I teach children that they are being watched. The lesson of constant surveillance is that no one can be trusted, that privacy is not legitimate. Surveillance is an ancient urgency among certain influential thinkers; it was a central prescription set down by Calvin in the Institutes, by Plato in the Republic, by Hobbes, by Comte, by Francis Bacon. All these childless men discovered the same thing: Children must be closely watched if you want to keep a society under central control. It only takes about 50 contact hours to transmit basic literacy and math skills well enough that kids can be self-teachers from then on. The cry for “basic skills” practice is a smokescreen behind which schools pre-empt the time of children for twelve years and teach them the six lessons I’ve just taught you.

A Strong Enough Why

In lesson five I teach that your self-respect should depend on an observer’s measure of your worth. Self-evaluation -- the staple of every major philosophical system that ever appeared on the planet -- is never a factor in these things. The lesson of report cards, grades, and tests is that children should not trust themselves or their parents, but must rely on the evaluation of certified officials. People need to be told what they are worth.

In short, School trains children to be employees and consumers; to obey reflexively; to have a low threshold for boredom; to dread being alone; and to settle for less than reaching their full potential.

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In reality, schools are laboratories for the creation of the habits and attitudes that corporate society demands. You may be thinking, “So what?” The big “so what?” is that none of the presuppositions or objectives of the traditional school system include God, and they certainly do not include Jesus Christ.

A Strong Enough Why

Although we may want our children to become good citizens, skilled and valuable workers, and people who are enhance their communities, those objectives are incidental to the goals of preparing our children to assume the adult responsibilities of a Christian man or woman. The Bible describes these as follows. The responsibilities of a Christian man: 1) to be a visible representative of God and His nature 2) to provide for his household 3) to love and understand his wife 4) to raise his children in the ways of God 5) to provide leadership in his home and community 6) to participate fully in the Church of Jesus Christ The responsibilities of a Christian woman: 1) to be a faithful example of a godly woman 2) to respect, love, and be a helper to her husband

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3) to bear, nourish, and love children 4) to teach other women godly qualities 5) to participate fully in the Church of Jesus Christ

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We home school our children because we believe institutionalized education is harmful to children.

reason three REASON THREE


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Reason Three

We home school our children because we believe institutionalized education is harmful to children.

Research on the effects of institutionalized education on children centers around five areas of concern: (1) socialization, (2) self esteem, (3) learning readiness, (4) gender differences, and (5) the factory mentality of an institutional environment.

Socialization The most common question asked by concerned friends and relatives during the early years of the home schooling movement was, “What about socialization?� Many people believe that the more a child interacts with other children, the better socially adjusted he will become. However, exactly the opposite is true.

A Strong Enough Why

The impact on children who, from kindergarten through high school, spend most of each day in an institutional setting, has been debated by many educators and social commentators. There is growing evidence that institutionalized education of any kind is detrimental to children, particularly those under the age of ten.

The Hewitt Research Center, operating under a grant from the Community Services Administration, analyzed the available scientific literature on socialization and concluded that what school provides is negative socialization in which children become reliant on the opinions of their peers to determine who they are and how they should behave. When a child is peer-dependent, he receives his sense of identity from the children around him and he:

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• adopts the values of his peers and rejects those of his parents • assumes the dress, language, behavior, and interests of his peer group • is unable to stand up for his own convictions in the face of peer group opposition • forms his sense of personal worth from his peers’ opinions of him.

A Strong Enough Why

Another common argument directed by other Christians towards home schooling families has been, “But the public school needs for you to keep your children there so they can be Ambassadors for Christ!” Children were never intended to be “Ambassadors for Christ.” The Bible refers to them as young plants who should be sheltered, protected, and nurtured, not placed in situations that have the potential to negatively socialize them.

Self Esteem Psychologist James Dobson identifies two critical areas of vulnerability in children: physical attractiveness and intelligence. These are the two areas most exposed to ridicule and criticism at school. Attractive, physically capable, socially adept, intelligent children are usually more popular with peers and more favored by teachers than unattractive, awkward, shy or socially challenged, intellectually slower children. Children quickly learn to evaluate themselves by the artificial standards of popularity, athletic ability, and good grades. In addition, schools operate on the assumption of mistrust. Charles E. Silberman, in Crisis in the Classroom, states:

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Far from helping students to develop into mature, self-reliant, self-motivated individuals, schools seem to do everything they can to keep youngsters in a state of chronic, almost infantile dependency. The pervasive atmosphere of distrust, together with rules covering the most minute aspects of existence, teach students every day that they are not people of worth, and certainly not individuals capable of regulating their own behavior.

Learning Readiness

The pressure to grow up fast, to achieve early in the area of sports, academics, and social interaction, is very great in middle-class America. There is no room today for the “late bloomers,” the children who come into their own later in life.... Children have to achieve success early or they are regarded as losers.

A Strong Enough Why

Placing children in a structured classroom setting before they have developed the skills demanded by such a setting can have damaging results. David Elkind calls this “the hurrying of children.” In his book, The Hurried Child, Elkind comments:

Schools today hurry children because administrators are under stress to produce better products. This blinds them to what we know about children and leads them to treat children like empty bottles on an assembly line getting a little fuller at each grade level. This factory emphasis hurries children because it ignores individual differences in mental abilities and learning rates. The child who cannot keep up in this system, even if only temporarily, is labeled learning disabled or minimally brain damaged or hyperactive.

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Gender Differences There are profound differences in the learning skills of boys and girls. In general, educational institutions tend to reward feminine skills and behavior.

A Strong Enough Why

In the elementary years, children concentrate on reading and writing, skills that largely favor the quicker developing fine motor skills of girls. Plus, children in school are expected to behave more like girls, remaining attentive to one task and staying seated in one place for a considerable period of time, taking in information through mainly auditory channels, and being more verbally communicative. Boys are also at a disadvantage because schooling institutions are essentially feminine in nature. Eighty five percent of all public elementary teachers are women. Patricia Sexton, in The Feminized Male states: In the schools, women set the standards for adult behavior, and many favor students, male and female, who most conform to their own behavioral norms—polite, clean, obedient, neat and nice. The feminized school simply bores many boys, but it pulls some in one of two opposite directions. If the boy absorbs school values, he may become feminized himself. If he resists, he is pushed toward school failure and rebellion. As long as employers and society regard diplomas as the badge of merit, boys will be pulled ever deeper into a system that rewards conformity to feminine standards.

The Factory Mentality In efforts to increase productivity at minimal cost, schools have adopted a factory-like system of management. Some authors have become concerned that this educational ap-

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proach produces a distorted concept of reality and of humanness. In his book, The Hurried Child, David Elkind states: When school is looked upon as an assembly line, and children are empty vessels to be filled, there is a temptation to speed up the assembly line.... The problem with the factory management system is that it pushes children too much and puts them into a uniform mold.

Institutionalized schooling also fosters certain illusions about learning and about knowledge. It associates true learning with being taught by trained professionals, and it treats knowledge as a pre-packaged, sequenced, consumable commodity. School also teaches that everything in life can be measured on some sort of scale, and reduces education to strategies to “beat the system.” In his book, Dumbing Us Down, veteran teacher John Gatto shares how schools send negative messages because of their institutional influence over the students. Gatto says that even the best schools teach a hidden curriculum of confusion, peer position, indifference, emotional dependency, intellectual dependency, provisional self-esteem, and lack of trust.

A Strong Enough Why

“School,” says Ivan Illich in Deschooling Society, “prepares for the alienating institutionalization of life by teaching the need to be taught.” Furthermore, “Once a man or woman has accepted the need for school, he or she is easy prey for other institutions.”

Safety Violence is increasingly becoming a way of life in America, including in our schools. While events like Columbine are rare, there are many other physical dangers to children 37


who attend public schools. My sister was an assistant superintendent of schools in one of the largest school districts in Florida. Before that she was a principal at several schools in upper middle class neighborhoods. Recently she told me that when she began as principal a successful day meant that her pupils had spent their day learning. By the time she became an assistant superintendent, a successful day meant that her students had made it through the day without being physically harmed. A Strong Enough Why 38

Physical safety is only one of the dangers inherent to attending public schools. Others include constant exposure to bullying, violence and drug use; solicitation for membership in gangs; having to daily contend with highly sexualized social environments; and the relentless peer pressure to engage in drug use, sex, theft, and disruptive behavior.

 


We home school our children because we want them educated for the REAL world.

reason four REASON FOUR


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Reason Four

We home school our children because we want our children educated for the REAL world.

John Gatto—former New York City and New York State teacher of the year—states that public school-style education separates a child from the daily context of life. By this he means that to live life successfully, one must, in the process of growing up, gain an appropriate set of “life-preparing” experiences. Public education not only does not provide enough of these experiences, it fills a child with information and experiences that actually must be overcome for the child to become a success in life. Says Gatto: “Schools school; life educates.”

A Strong Enough Why

There are two ways that institutionalized schooling fails to prepare children for life in the “real” world. First, it separates children from the daily context of living life. In Endangered Minds, Jane Healey shares how modern children have poor powers of analysis and lack basic knowledge of the strategies for coping with everyday life. Why? Because they seldom spend time in the company of thinking, productive adults. The better part of their days is spent in school surrounded by their peers studying subjects that have little application to everyday life.

Most institutional education is theoretical knowledge. “You will need to know this one day, so you’d better learn it now,” works fine for some children. If a child is able to catalog thousands of pieces of information for future use, has a good memory, or simply has a learning style that fits the way public schools teach, that child will do well. Other children do not do well at all. These are the children who need to interact with what they are learning (feel it, touch it), or interact with other learners, or need the information to

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have some realistic application. One reason why home schoolers do so well in college—and why more and more colleges are aggressively recruiting home schoolers—is that children taught at home tend to have a more real-life approach to learning. They have not spent large amounts of time doing busy-work. Learning has real meaning to home schoolers. Here is a quote from John Gatto which says it all,

A Strong Enough Why

...the natural sequence of learning is destroyed without experience—a sequence in which hands-on experience, “primary data” (to give it an academic title), must always come first. Only after a long apprenticeship in rich and profound contact with the world, the home, the neighborhood, does the thin gas of abstraction mean much to most people. ...only a few of us are fashioned in such a peculiar way as to thrive on an exclusive diet of blackboard work and workbook work and bookwork work and talkwork work of all sorts. When we fail to take into account how most children... learn—by involvement, by doing, by independent risk-taking, by shouldering responsibility, by intermingling intimately into the real world of adults in all its manifestations... —we have created the mise en scene where a mathematical bell curve seems to describe a human condition in which only a few children have any real talent. In most classrooms, children are inundated with theoretical knowledge to the point that a common refrain becomes “When am I ever going to use this stuff?” John Gatto describes the gap between schooling and real life this way: I’ve noticed... that schools and schooling are increasingly irrelevant to the great enterprises of the planet. No one believes anymore that scientists are trained in science classes or politicians in civics classes or poets in English classes.

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The truth is that schools don’t really teach anything except how to obey orders. The second way that institutionalized schooling fails to prepare children for life in the “real” world is by shielding them from the truth. As Christians, we believe that the Bible gives the true picture of reality—of God and what He is like, of man and his problems, of the world we live in, of authority, of truth, of values, and of ethics.

A Strong Enough Why

Because the American school system rejects the possibility of man’s redemption through Jesus Christ and denies the existence of a loving Creator Who is the source of all authority and morality, it actually shelters children from the truth and hinders them from being able to live in true reality.

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We home school our children because we want to create a context where each child can find his or her identity in God.

reason five REASON FIVE


A Strong Enough Why

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Reason Five

We home school our children because we want to create a context where each child can find his or her identity in God.

Christians don’t speak much of “destiny” anymore, mainly because it has become a catch-word among humanists and New Agers. But we need to look again at the concept of destiny. The Bible is full of hints that each one of us is created for a specific time and purpose in God’s unfolding plan. Ephesians 2: 10 even says we each have “good works which God predestined for us” before the world was ever created. Before time began, God had my sons on His mind, He chose my children, and He prearranged a life for each of them to live. They are beings pre-determined by God and destined to, just as the Bible says of David, “serve their generation well.”

A Strong Enough Why

Each child has a “way he should go,” and has been “created in Christ to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” The Bible says our children are issued to us by God as arrows to a warrior. This means that each child is a strategic weapon in the Church’s effort to secure God’s kingdom and will on earth. Secular education views children as future members of American society and prepares them to be better citizens. Christians, however, should be trained to develop their particular God-given gifts and callings for fellowshipping with God and His people and for establishing his kingdom on earth.

We have all heard the biblical injunction to “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” Most often this Bible verse in Proverbs is used to justify moral training, but that is not all the verse is about. The Hebrew word which is translated “to train up” is also used in another place in the Bible. When Solomon dedicated the Temple, the word translated “dedicate” is the same 47


Hebrew word use in the Proverbs verse as “train up.” This Hebrew word means to “discriminate,” to “narrow the focus.” Simply put, as a child grows up, we parents want to continually narrow the focus of his or her set of educational and practical experiences to be more and more specific to who this child was created to be. John Gatto says, “Due to its emphasis on competition, institutional education leaves a large population of losers, damned to the self-concept that they cannot succeed no matter what they have a heart to do.” A Strong Enough Why

Consider the following statistics: • The average college student now takes six years to finish a degree since he changes majors 2.3 times (and 40% never finish at all). • Only 10% of those who finish college go on to work in the field for which they spent years and thousands of dollars preparing. • The average American changes jobs seven times and has three complete career changes. • Many adults, especially men, experience a period of emotional turmoil in mid-life when they question their meaning and purpose. This event is so common that society has coined a term for it: “identity crisis.” How do I interpret these statistics? Americans are trying to figure out who they are and what to do with their lives! I don’t want my sons to contribute to these statistics. I would like to believe each child could enter adulthood with a fairly clear sense of identity and having had the time, resources, and emotional support to become really good at what he does best. There are two things a child must be given in order to become truly good at what is

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in his heart to do (translate: what God has put in this child to be manifested to his/her generation). They are Time and Resources. Public schools cannot make education specific enough to treat students as other than “generic children.” Yes, public schools offer electives and special courses of study, but if each person is uniquely gifted for a specific life work, then each must be given some very specific “tools of the trade” as well as a lot of time to spend becoming good at talents or callings.

A Strong Enough Why

Studies have shown that it takes a minimum of 10,000 hours (or 10 years) for a person to master an area of knowledge or a specific skill. Although the typical child is in school for approximately 12,000 hours in the 13 years from Kindergarten through 12th Grade, that 12,000 hours is devoted to achieving the minimal level of literacy acceptable in society and very little of it is directed towards helping a child achieve mastery at anything. Learning is so disjointed and discontinuous that the child never has the time to really follow his skills, interests, or giftings. So if a person achieves mastery at anything, it is usually on his or her own time.

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A Strong Enough Why

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We home school our children because it is a matter of the heart.

reason 6 REASON SIX


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Reason Six

We home school our children because it is a matter of the heart. Not long after I had written the book Going Home to School, I was a vendor at a home schooling conference. During the conference, a man came into our booth. He was obviously frustrated, confused and agitated, and as he approached me he blurted out, “Just why are you home schooling your children?”

So I didn’t share anything from my book. What I said was, “When it’s all said and done and my boys are grown up and have left home, what I really want is to have had a relationship with them. It seems to me that if they are gone from me all day every day, the chances of that happening are pretty slim.” That brings us to the original question... why did we choose to homeschool our children?

A Strong Enough Why

I had already written an entire book on the many reasons Christians were choosing to home school their children, but to me there is really only one reason—I want to know my children and I want them to know me.

Over the years, as I have been asked this question, I’ve usually spouted off reasons such as: “We want the freedom to select teaching materials that reinforce our religious beliefs and moral standards. We want to provide the academic superiority of a one-onone teaching situation. We want the ability to monitor our children’s socialization experiences. We want to tailor the course of study to the individual. We want the flexibility to create more family time.” These are the reasons I clung to as I tried to convince our family, friends and even curious strangers that we were not really crazy for keeping our children out of that highly 53


revered American institution—the public school. I, oh so seriously, would list these reasons and add statistics and stories about the success of home schooling so that my decision sounded very rational and well-informed. But, when I’m perfectly honest with myself, those are just secondary reasons why I chose to teach our children at home. The real reasons are matters of the heart. A Strong Enough Why

Home schooling was and still is attractive to me in part because of the images it evokes: children snuggling on the couch as I teach them to read; little boys’ faces alight with excitement as they assemble model rockets; my son absorbed in a book while lying on the back of his pony; cross-country trips in the station wagon learning about the Oregon Trail; acting out the battle of Yorktown with boys who have muskets slung over their shoulders; twilight adventures collecting lightning bugs; the pride in a child’s voice as he calls out, “Mom! Look how well I wrote these letters!”; and the joy of watching them grow into the extraordinary, unique, intelligent, interesting people I had hoped they would become. To me, home schooling speaks of close family relationships, highly valued home and family life; happy children who love learning; meaningful traditions; simplicity; nurturing, mentoring relationships; restoration of excellence; freedom to pursue individual interests; entrepreneurship; recapturing meaning and purpose to life; and discovering one’s destiny. After over twenty five years, the academic portion of our home schooling journey is completed. Our boys are now in their twenties and are all wholly committed to and in love with God. But the “heart” portion of our homeschooling journey continues.

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During the past twenty or so years we have seen a profound shift in home schooling as well as in our culture. We grew up in an era when there were very few latch-key kids, where neighborhoods were safe because you knew all your neighbors and they shared many of your same values, where kids could play games outside after dark and could have sleep-overs at their friends’ houses without the parents having to worry what might happen to them; and where families were far less stressed and far more stable. In other words, we grew up in homes where there were parents present most of the time we were home.

Many of you come from homes that were filled with tension or with various forms of dysfunction. Your image of a father may be a busy, negative, pressuring, authority figure, and your image of a mother may be a distant, distracted, but somewhat nurturing career woman. Even worse, your parents could have been abusive. Or perhaps you don’t have any strong images of a particular parental role because you come from a broken home.

A Strong Enough Why

But we are seeing whole new generations of parents embarking on the home schooling adventure who don’t come from that base of home and family.

The other difference between your upbringing and ours is that your lives were lived primarily in a series of institutions: daycare, school, after-school care, church, recreation centers. As a result, you may be not only disconnected from a sense of real family, but are also disconnected from a sense of meaning and purpose in this life. A large reason home schooling is so attractive to your generation is that it carries with it the promise of providing that sense of connection—the family-oriented feelings, experiences, and identity-shaping you missed as children. But what we all have in common is the desire to make right some wrong in the up55


bringing of children—not just for ourselves, but so that our children can have the type of home life we believe is possible, but may never have fully experienced. We all long to restore something that has been lost. In this case what has been lost is the hearts of the parents for their children and the hearts of the children for their parents. We home school because we want to reconnect to multigenerational values, to relationships, and to a sense of meaning and purpose for life.

A Strong Enough Why 56

So, in the end, no matter what the generation, teaching our children at home has a lot to do with academics and with shielding them from secular influences. But it has even more to do with our desire to turn both our own hearts and theirs. And we turn hearts not by the pushing, demanding, shaming, or competition of an institutional setting, but through the drawing out of true identity in an intimate, open, trusting, emotionally safe, relational environment that we try to create in our own homes.  


FURTHER READING ABOUT THE AUTHOR RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

delving deeper DELVING DEEPER


A Strong Enough Why

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Further Reading I Saw the Angel in the Marble and I Carved the Angel from the Marble by Ellyn Davis The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey Dumbing Us Down and A Different Kind of Teacher by John Gatto The Closing of the American Mind by Benjamin Bloom

About the Author Ellyn Davis is the mother of six children, four on earth and two in heaven. She home schooled her children for over 20 years; was a leader in the Christian home schooling movement, has spoken to thousands at home school conventions; has written three successful books and numerous articles; and at one time helped build one of the largest home school businesses in the world.

A Strong Enough Why

The Hurried Child by Richard Elkind

But the accomplishments that really matter to her have to do with her children. They are each doing what they have wanted to do since childhood. They are all interesting, fascinating people who love the Lord, have great relationships, have many wonderful friends, and are probably better educated and more knowledgeable about the things that really matter in life than many of their peers. They also have never lost their childhood sense of wonder. 59


Resources

ABOUT THE RESOURCES WE RECOMMEND.... We don’t recommend everything available to home schoolers for two reasons—first, because no matter how good they may be, most of the resources marketed to home educators are either unnecessary or patterned after public school materials, and second, because we’ve limited our advice and selections to materials we have used with our own children or to items friends we trust rave about that are educationally sound. That way we can stand behind each product and say, “It works!” A Strong Enough Why

We’re aware of a lot of educational junk food out there that does nothing to nourish young minds and hearts. We are also aware that home education has become an industry and many people with no interest in or experience with homeschooling are beginning to cash in on this market. We believe homeschooling is part of a move of God to restore the family, and we don’t want to merchandise what God is doing, we want to service it.

The Homeschoolmarketplace.com Website

The great Irish poet William Butler Yeats once said, “Education is not the filling of a bucket, but the lighting of a fire.” Whether you are just considering home schooling or a seasoned veteran at it, we’ve developed products that will help you “light a fire” in your children’s hearts and minds instead of treat them like “buckets” to be filled with academic information. First, there is I Saw the Angel in the Marble, which focuses on the foundational aspects of home schooling—the attitudes, thinking, and environment that allow you to set your children free to become the individuals God created them to be. Then there is I Carved the Angel From the Marble which focuses on the nuts and bolts of educating

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children at home. Next, we are developing a series of unconventional guides to home schooling that cover each of the topics introduced in I Saw the Angel in the Marble and I Carved the Angel From the Marble in more detail.

These unconventional guides to home schooling cover four tracks, or themes: (1) understanding your child and his/her educational needs; (2) teaching methods and materials; (3) different approaches to education; and (4) putting it all together in such a way that it encourages a lifestyle of learning. We also have guides that cover different facets of home life and home business.

A Strong Enough Why

As you look over our guides, they are meant to help you through a progression of changes in your heart and your head about what education is; about who your children really are; about what their real needs are and how you can meet those needs; about how your children learn best; about how to identify your family’s unique meaning and purpose; about how to choose the best teaching materials for your situation; and about how to prepare your children for a future that may be as radically different from our adulthood as ours was from our parents and grandparents.

Each guide is around 60 or 70 pages long and thoroughly covers one topic in easily readable form. Think of the guides as highly digestible “meals” that will nourish your spirit, mind, and soul throughout your home schooling journey. All of the guides can be purchased at our website: www.homeschoolmarketplace.com. Here’s just a sampling of the guides we offer and are in the process of developing: The first guide, Developing A Strong Enough Why leads you into developing such a strong conviction about why you are home schooling that you can weather any storm and the “Hows” will take care of themselves. 61


When asked how he could carve such beautiful sculptures, Michaelangelo is said to have replied, “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.” The guide Seeing Your Angels in the Marble gives you the knowledge and tools to identify who each child really is, in spite of the fact that sometimes you feel like you’re looking at a “block of marble.” See How They Grow gives you a deeper understanding of the mental, emotional, and moral stages a child goes through from birth to age 18 so that you will be able to home school each child in an age-appropriate way. A Strong Enough Why

Helping Them to “Get It” gives you tools to identify the ways each of your children learns best. The two guides What’s Out There and Home Schooling in Freedom explain the different teaching materials and approaches available to home schoolers and walk you through the process of creating your own scope and sequence that is tailored to your family’s needs. Creating a Family Mission Statement helps you discover your family’s goals, values, uniqueness, meaning and purpose and walks you through creating a Family Mission Statement that can become a guide to the way your family operates in every area of life, including home schooling. Once you’ve discovered the heart of your children and of your family, the next several guides lead you through the process of discovering your educational philosophy, charting a course for each child, understanding the common educational approaches in home schooling, and choosing your teaching materials. They give you tools and understandings to craft your own individualized educational program for each child in each subject.

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The Seven Habits of Highly Effective Home Schooling explains the seven most important things you can do to ensure that your home schooling efforts are effective and successful. If you’ve ever suffered from a desire to throw up your hands and quit, the e-book Home School Burnout will help you stay the course.

We also have a series of guides on starting and building a family business. You can find all of these guides and more, as well as the top resources in every area of home schooling at the Home School Marketplace website: www.homeschoolmarketplace.com.

E-journal

Why not join us? The thousands of home educators who receive the Home School Marketplace EJournal get valuable and timely information about home schooling, home life, home business, and more delivered right to their email inbox. Through this online newsletter, we offer many new articles and thought-provoking essays through the EJournal that we just can’t fit into our books and guides.

A Strong Enough Why

Sometimes when you are wearing all the different hats of home school Mom, wife, home-maker, chauffeur, and chief cook and bottle washer, life can get a little overwhelming. We have guides for that too—guides that will help you get off the “hamster wheel.”

Best of all, it’s free. Go to www.homeschoolmarketplace.com and sign up for the EJournal. And, rest assured, we never sell, rent, or share our customer email list with anyone for any reason.

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Developing a Strong Enough WHY by Ellyn Davis

Why We Home School

A Strong Enough Why  

In home schooling your children, if you have a strong enough WHY, the HOWs will take care of themselves. Most problems with home schooling t...

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