For several months, I have been struggling to discern whether I should home school our children. Pray and pray as I might, I don’t seem to be getting any clear answers from above. This is a huge decision, and one that I don’t want to make without being completely confident that the choice is directed by God.
This decision would be much easier if my two oldest weren’t already settled into a Catholic school that they LOVE, and that I love as well. Their school seems to be one of relatively few Catholic schools that is trying to teach the faith in all its fullness, and we love the school community.
Add to this the fact that Zach, my oldest, started his elementary school career at the public school, before we moved him to St. Malachy for his first grade year. He’s a sensitive kid, and I hate to introduce more change into his life, especially when he’s made some really great friends at St. Malachy. While Zach by no means loves his school work, he certainly enjoys the social aspect of it – especially gym and recess – and he has been successful without being bored in his classes.
Morgan, who will be entering first grade, is another matter. She’s one of those kids that seems to soak things up like a sponge, so she’s already learned much of what Zach has learned simply by being around when he’s doing his homework or studying for tests. Her kindergarten teacher seems to have done a marvelous job of adapting to each child, but I wonder if every teacher will be so great? I’ve also been troubled by some of the attitude that she seems to pick up from the playground drama, which at times has changed my daughter into a kid I barely recognized.
I have been reading Designed to Fail: Catholic Education in America by Steve Kellmeyer. It’s a conspiracy theory book on American education, but everything he argues he supports with strong evidence and research. Kellmeyer maintains that compulsory schools were developed in the United States in order to “dumb down” children, creating people who are unable to think for themselves and who are content to go along with the masses. Kellmeyer even quotes the 1886-1906 U.S. Commissioner of Education, who stated that “Ninety nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths… This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the assumption of the individual.”
AUTOMATA? Not an accident? Seriously? Yet, when I am honest with myself, I recognize that my own education left me sadly lacking in critical thinking skills. I was fed educational material, which in many cases had been skewed to reflect a certain point of view, and expected to trust in everything I was being fed as absolute truth. I fell for it, as did 99% of my classmates. I was one of those automatons, happy to walk along the path that they had prescribed for me, blithely thinking that I was going “confidently in the direction of my dreams.”
When I can recognize that in my own education, I am loathe to turn my children over to the same system. I want to raise critical thinkers, adults who look at the facts presented and ask a dozen questions, then go out and find the answers. I want to raise my children to be adults who can defend their politics, religious beliefs, and their Church, intelligently and coherently. While I believe that most teachers would love to achieve the same goals, I don’t believe there are many out there who can achieve that goal in a classroom of twenty-four elementary school children.
Kellmeyer raises many other excellent points, most notably the God-given right and duty of parents to educate their children. In sending my children away every day to be educated by teachers that I barely know, how well am I fulfilling that duty? I don’t know what is taught in the classroom each day, or how it is presented. I don’t know the full content of their text books, and what might be skewed to present a different world view from that which I believe my children should be presented. I simply don’t know.
So there you have it. As you can guess, I’m leaning very strongly toward homeschooling. Of course, my husband must be on board, and at this point he’s on the fence, leaning heavily toward Catholic school. I’ve got less than three weeks to make a decision.
I know that I must trust in the Lord that, if this is what He wants for our family, He will bring about the change in Ray’s outlook. I must also trust in Him to provide the things that I lack that will be necessary to a successful home schooling experience for my children – things like organization, discipline, and patience.
Fortunately, my God is a great God.