Chapter Three – Frequently Asked Questions
The Extraordinary FAQs
by Cara McLauchlan
“The next time you meet someone new (any adult) don’t ask what he does for a living; instead, ask what he likes to do in his free time. You’ll either make him speechless or he won’t stop talking.”
– Leigh Bortins, The Question (pg. 47)
I always thought I would be Lois Lane.
One of the greatest seasons of my life was when I got my first real job at my hometown newspaper. It was the 1980s and I wore business suits every single day—feeling smart with my journalist’s notepad and leatherette briefcase.
That summer I interviewed farmers, politicians, and business owners. I flew in a helicopter to cover the controversial chemical treatment of the local lake. I attended beauty pageants, plays, parades, and city council meetings. I also helped design the paper (by hand, no computers), developed photos, took the paper to the printer and, yes, even delivered the paper. My job was to ask questions all day long and it was incredible. Still to this day, I love asking questions.
In The Question when I saw that Leigh Bortins called the third chapter, “Frequently Asked Questions,” I thought it was an “amen sister” kind of moment. Usually, FAQs are the “basement” of every book. Relegated to somewhere at the end and typically overlooked—the virtual red-haired stepchild of the paperback. But that’s Leigh—able to keenly look into the hearts of homeschoolers and deeply understand we have lots of questions. Yes we do and thank you.
You see, I am the type that actually reads the FAQs. I want to know what other questions people have. In fact, that is what I love so much about the Classical Conversations community—I know I am only a week or so away from my day to ask more questions of other veteran parents on the homeschool path. Or if it is more urgent, I am only a Facebook post away from having the help of the smartest minds around the world. (Side note: if you have not “liked” the Classical Conversations, Inc. page on Facebook—you are missing out. Join us!)
When you think about it, there is a sort of openness of the spirit when we ask questions. It says, “I don’t have it all figured out” or “I want to do this well, can you show me?” or “Help???” What a relief to know that questions are such an important part of the journey in homeschooling.
Unfortunately, my questions about homeschooling tend to go to the “dark side.” If I had to amend the FAQs section of the book, here are the FAQs that I would ask:
The Dark FAQs:
- What do you do when you get tired?
- What do you do when you don’t feel smart enough to homeschool?
- How do you know your homeschooling is working?
- How do I get off the comparison trap?
- How do I homeschool with excellence without overdoing it?
- What do I do with my ego?
- Will my child still like me when he/she grows up?
- What do I do with my shallow self—wanting my kid to have things like prom, homecoming, and typical high school stuff?
- How much is enough?
Even though I ask these questions, there is a part of me that already knows the answer. My son and I have a joke that is not really a joke. Well, maybe it is. It is a joke that has a whopping truth to it. We always say that the best answer for questions of the heart is “to pray and read your Bible.” It is true. If you go back through my Darth Vader style questions, that is the answer—every time.
I noticed that when I prayed about my dark questions, better questions started to come to mind. When you look down, that is all you see. But when you raise your standards and look up—look to Him—you can find thoughts that draw you closer to what God would want us to think about. With that in mind, here are my spirit-inspired FAQs:
The Best FAQs:
- What would you do if you were confident God was with you?
- What if you could get a glimpse of how God sees you?
- How can I honor God today?
- What would an extraordinary homeschooler do?
- What if I lived my life as if I were an extraordinary person?
- What if I believed that I am exactly where God wants me to be right now?
- How can I bring out the best in my family today?
- What if I trusted God completely?
I noticed that my dark FAQs were really about fear. They were not about bringing goodness to my spirit and my homeschooling path. So I know when the dark questions come, they need to be given to God. Because when we lay down our fears before Him, then the good work can begin. By discarding the darkness, the light can shine through. The best questions make my soul sing. The light-filled questions energize me. They give me joy to ask, even when I do not know the answers. But I cannot wait to find out.
Isn’t that what our Father wants from us? To lovingly ask the best questions so that He can smile back and say, “I can’t wait to show you the answers today.”
One good question:
What would an extraordinary homeschooler do today?
The Question Book Club Articles
Introduction – The Question Expedition
Chapter One – Dorothy, Doubts, and Dialectic
Chapter Two – I Heart Aristotle
Chapter Three – The Extraordinary FAQs
Chapters Four and Five – Three Big Ideas about the Three Rs
Chapters Six, Seven, and Eight – What’s Your Big Hairy Monster?
Chapters Nine, Ten, and Eleven – Who Is Your Hero?
Conclusion – The Best Question