Friday, November 2, 2012

Ditching Academics for Character Training

It has taken me a long time to gather the guts, and the words, to address this. I want to be sure I am completely clear up front, the condition of my children's souls and their character are absolutely the two most important reasons that I homeschool. If I homeschool them through graduation and the only real thing "I" have accomplished is that they have repented and accepted Christ and have learned how to live a Christ-like life, I will consider homeschooling a success. However (and you knew that was coming, right?), I am worried that there is a strong leaning happening in the homeschool community towards sacrificing our academics to the noble cause of character training.

So where am I going with this? Please forgive me if I ramble. I am not quite as profound as I would like to think so let me give you an example. Several months back when we were getting ready for our move, I was chatting with some of my homeschool friends I asked them for some practical advice on how to homeschool during a move: the most common answer I got was don't focus on academics, just focus on character training during that time. I know where their hearts were so I don't want to sound like I am questioning motives, but part of me wanted to scream! Really? Quit schooling for what could be months? Moves are hard, especially big ones like the one we are currently going through. Packing it up and teaching "character", ahhh, it sounds like a dream come true. But, what if doing that actually teaches just the opposite?

2 Timothy 2:15  Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman who needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Why do we teach our children to read in the first place? Why is it important to have an intelligent vocabulary, a comprehensive understanding of math and an ability to discern history and science? It all points back to Christ! How are our children to understand Psalms without a decent understanding of poetry and prose? How can they appreciate the act of creation without some background in science? Or the resurrection of Christ? Do some have the ability to have a deep understanding of Biblical concepts without ever being taught to read? Sure, but for most of us, our understanding of deeper things is built on the basics of the 3 Rs.Philippians 4:13 I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me. What message do we send our children when we pack it up and quit when things are tough? When we persevere with things that we know need to get done even though times are tough, we teach them to not only be persistent themselves but that we must rely on Christ. Sometimes this means that He sends others into our lives to help which opens the door to teaching our children what servant-hood looks like.

I begin to wonder sometimes, if we don't use the excuse of character training as a way to be lazy. I know, harsh words. I have no doubt we all start off thinking that we are doing what is best in the moment, but how often is quitting, even if just for a while, really the best thing? And then there is how others perceive us. I don't think we should give in to the world's expectations of how we should school our children, but if we are constantly giving people the impression that we will just stop teaching math every time there is a bump in our world, how can we expect anything but regulation to follow?

Now, are there times when we should take off? Absolutely! I would never try to school through the death of a close family member, or any other catastrophic event. What I am saying is, before you give someone advice to stop their academics and focus on "character training" remember that academics produce character as well.

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1 comment:

Laura said...

I completely agree.

When we moved, we had to take a couple weeks off because I was consumed with packing, finding a rental in our new town, and the actual move.

Beyond that, we went to a "bare bones" schedule: math, 30+ min. reading, 15+ min. writing. And they had to be helpful in any way I needed it!

We did get behind, but after we were settled in we worked a little harder and did 1-1/2 to 2 weeks of schoolwork every week. We finished on time, and they practiced diligence in the process!