Homeschooling is like parenting; it is a calling that begins with a gift from God: children. Like becoming a parent, becoming a homeschooler happens for a variety of reasons. My story begins with me not wanting my children in three different schools in three different states in the same school year, something that job-related moves was going to cause. Now, however, my wife and I homeschool our children because we see education as the cultivation of wisdom and virtue in our children.1 Of course, we also want them to know lots of things, to know good things, and to be able to achieve their goals and dreams. More importantly, we want those things to be in service to our greater goal for them which is to be wise and virtuous.
Ultimately, what I am saying is that I want my children to grow up to be Christ-like and I believe that homeschooling is one of the tools that will help accomplish this. My reason for believing this is not because homeschooling is perfect. My reason for believing this is not because I believe that memorizing lots of facts will do this. My reason for believing this is not because I believe that making them smart will do this. I believe this because I believe that Jesus was right when he said that the student will become like his master.2 This statement, naturally, requires some explanation. I am not saying that I am more Christ-like than any teacher my child might have in a school environment, be it public, private, or parochial. What I am saying is that my wife and I can be more intentionally Christ-like in our homeschool environment than teachers in a school may think to be, more than teachers may think to integrate into the education they offer.
This is where I must stop, however. Even with these words, I am on the fast track to undermining the very thing I am trying to be for my children. One cannot be Christ-like without humility. For Christ, it was not about being the Christ; it was about His Father. To be Christ-like, I must have humility. For my children to be Christ-like, they must have humility. For my children to be humble, I must be humble. With this I am reminded of a story.
And [Jesus] spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.3
Whenever I compare my home school to another school, whenever I compare my child to another school child, whenever I compare myself to another school teacher, I am in danger of becoming the Pharisee in Jesus’ parable. I am in no way modeling humility to my child and I am failing at the very pursuit for which I am homeschooling.
The last thing I want of my child is for him to grow up and become the Pharisee, praying, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as public school students are…”
The last thing I can be, then, is the homeschooling parent or tutor praying, “God, I thank thee, that I am not as public school teachers are…” Nor can I pray, “God, I thank thee, that our home school is not as the public school is…”
Our children can be educated and grow up to be wise and virtuous, to be Christ-like, without us telling them what other schools, other teachers, or other students are doing poorly. In fact, when this is what they hear, this is what they repeat, and this is what they imitate.
What I want is a child who grows up to pray, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.” I must, therefore, be a parent who prays, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner.”
1 Thank you to the CiRCE Institute for giving me the words to describe what I felt about education.
2 Luke 6:40 (KJV)
3 Luke 18:9-14 (KJV)