Forget Un-church, Un-education... ONLY JESUS!

3/26/2001

a conversation between brothers:

Hi brother, I’ve been thinking a lot about the children in regard to “subjects” and “education.” Leaving the predictable world of textbooks and curriculums seems strangely scary (like leaving Sunday morning services). If you leave that world, then there’s nothing to hold on to. I’ve read many, many books and heard a lot of different “theories” regarding the “best way” to educate a child. They can all sound so “right” at times that it is hard to figure out which path to take. I feel like taking my daughter’s current set of textbooks and shelving them for a time, and declaring open season on education. I figure I have nothing to lose by taking away the “crutches” of the textbooks and “subjects” for a few months. But can you help clarify for me how this will look? Leaving the predictable world of having “education” neatly pre-packaged and pre-planned and “boxed” is scary to me. But, at the same time, it seems like the hunger to learn is an innate trait built into children at birth. Is this so? Should I expect the children to have a natural “hunger to learn” to the point where I don’t have to provide much in the way of “structure”? And, how can my wife and I constantly make things “creative” and “interesting” like so many “theories” suggest? Love, Brad

Focus on the Eternal

Hey Brad, SINCE the “education” process is relatively MEANINGLESS, compared to the more obvious Essentials........it will always remain EXTREMELY important to NOT “shackle” parents or yourself with putting massive effort and time into being infinitely creative over every detail of the “education process.” THAT’S the rub—we don’t have the “right” to put massive time and effort into something that is largely meaningless in the big scheme of things. The “tools” of education (like “subjects,” textbooks, workbooks and the like) are “crutches” in some ways, just like the tool of a washing machine instead of a washboard, and an oven instead of a fire. Why do we use those things? BECAUSE COOKING AND WASHING ARE NOT THAT BIG OF A DEAL! Sometimes using “crutches” is worth it!

We know that there is great value in teaching our little ones and each other how to ask questions and work hard to find answers. True learning is NOT the “regurgitation” of facts and figures. However, the tools of textbooks and “subjects” can be a “washing machine” sort of help, no doubt.

I’ve also noticed that every child approaches information differently. NOT ALL children are “hungry” or “inquisitive”—not by a LONG shot! That creates many other kinds of problems, and they can’t all be handled in the same way. Remember, most of the time a child’s greatest problems are spiritual, not academic. THAT being the case, I would REALLY hate, for example, to have you or your wife bound in a MASSIVE effort of re-creating a “way to educate” (an innovative, personalized, ever-changing, daily planned “curriculum”—FOR EACH CHILD SEPARATELY—FOR EACH DAY AND MONTH, for years to come). The largest problems and highest goals—spiritual ones—are what require and where we should be spending the largest amount of time and energy and creativity. I’ve witnessed parents really fouling up their children’s lives by over-emphasizing education. All this time and energy is exerted into “educational goals” instead of into the Things that Matter and Last. People have mistakenly done the same thing over the years and across the miles, with “art” or “music” or “sports”...and it’s deadly. SO, that’s another thing to ponder, since you asked...;) xoxoxoox Love,

Hi Again, I know that “As you sit down, as you rise up, as you walk along the way” is the Best and most Alive way to live in all areas of life, not just the cubbyhole of Spiritual life. So where does one stop and the other begin? There are no “subjects.” I’m not “doing English.” Also, I’m puzzled as to why it has taken me so long to even SEE it? I made the leap in one world (spiritual), but not the other (academic). Why? Despite the wrestlings, I want to let you know that I’m feeling a lot of HOPE in all this. I believe it’s related to helping my children and wife and all of us, spiritually. Love, Brad

Hi Brad, Believe me, I know what you’re saying. Many of us have been functioning in this for over a decade! We knew even way back then that even “learning to read” isn’t something to be forced on a child at some pre-determined age. Look at the young men and women around here, and what has been done with them, in their VERY organic training! You know of the couple of young men who are so-called “freshmen” in college—what does THAT mean? Just because they’re in their early twenties, are they really three years “behind”? Behind WHAT? The pagan’s recipe? Forget that! They both have a 4.0 in ENGINEERING School, without having had any of the “prerequisites.” And it’s NOT simply an issue of their IQs! We’ve broken all the rules in education and everything else for a decade and a half, and the children and adults are flourishing because of it.

No Religion, Please

Part of the “rub” that I was talking about earlier is that we shouldn’t start a religion around “no textbooks,” just like we shouldn’t start a religion around “eating only rice cakes and healthfood” or “no immunizations.” Textbooks CAN be great tools and time-savers for “getting the clothes washed,” but we need to view them as ONLY tools, used with daily discretion. They’re not to lead us around by the nose or steal our creativity! And we don’t want to put a yoke on your wife or anyone else about some special way to do something when “education” per se has miniscule value, when weighed properly. They WILL get the Physics and Differential Equations and Languages...JUST LIKE OUR OTHER 30 and 40-year-old females...”as they rise up and sit down and walk along the way.” We’ve been doing this EVEN WITH THE ADULTS for a very long time now. (And we’re not talking about a highly “intellectual” bunch, but the adults are LEARNING every academic subject imaginable. That’s unique for their ages, for any group of adults in the entire world.) So my response: NO YOKE of any kind, in putting effort into making a big deal out of washing machines or health food or educational philosophies. It can EASILY become a false religion. Remember the woman who became infatuated with some Amish child-rearing book. She was placing FAR too much emphasis on something that you don’t see the apostles, in the scriptures, placing emphasis on. She was having all this difficulty with her children, and really, her husband was part to blame, because if he would have been involved with the children and their discipline in the first place, she never would have needed to get into that obsession. It was not revelation that caught her attention—it was a relief valve for failure and fear.

So, do what is SUPPOSED to be happening with your children anyway—teaching them and learning along the way in the ebb and flow of life. That’s already being demonstrated amongst us every day with things like 40 year olds learning nuclear physics, though they never attended “college.” THAT’S LIFE! Again, I’m only saying 1) this stuff has already been life for many for many years. Many that I’m around don’t even call things “subjects” or “time to study Math, since I’m done with English.” That’s WRONG, for the very reasons you’ve mentioned. 2) don’t become obsessed with something “tricky” when it should be just every day life, using books or not, as the situation dictates, without the EXTRA WORK to be cutesy or creative, and 3) don’t break the requirements of the state or you may lose your children to the state, and 4) REALIZE that every child is DIFFERENT, and NOTHING “works” except us listening moment by moment to God, for each of them. ANYTHING will fail with many children; that’s just how it is. Do the children have an “Uncontrollable desire to learn”? No way. Even IF that turned out to be true for all of yours, it is NOT true for all of everyone’s. Probably not even yours. Selfishness is a higher motivator to the unregenerate than “learning” in many cases. That’s not true for all, but it’s true for many.

As for the “philosophy” of “education” and “productivity,” the corporate world was obsessed for a while with “Quality Circles” for exactly the same reasons. And they have “failed.” There are NO answers, except HIM. We’re always searching for “answers” because they’re EASIER than WALKING IN HIM EVERY MINUTE. But that’s what we can, and we must, and we will do—walk with HIM minute by minute. There are some valid truths in the books you’ve read, but only to a point, and then the methods/theories fall apart and are filled with Spiritual holes in some areas. BUT, the “rise up, sit down, walk” part is Right! NOW, perhaps your wife was in bondage to books and schedules and whatever. I wouldn’t have guessed that she would be doing that. Usually, it’s the MEN who try to impose that on the women because they’re afraid the women are playing around all day. They’re afraid the women aren’t doing a good enough job “educating,” so they impose laws and guidelines out of fear. But, I’ve not witnessed generally that women are regimented and shallow and NON-Life oriented.

THIS is the flavor of how many have lived for years!

Funny? Or True?

Q: How does a home tutored child change a light bulb?

A: First, we check out three books on electricity from the library. Then the children make models of light bulbs, read a biography of Thomas Edison and do a skit based on his life. Next, everyone studies the history of lighting methods, concluding with dipping their own candles just like the American pioneers did. Next, everyone takes a trip to the store. Here they compare types of light bulbs as well as prices and figure out how much change they’ll get if they buy two bulbs for $1.99 and pay with a five-dollar bill. On the way home, a discussion develops over the history of money and then of Abraham Lincoln (because his picture is on the five-dollar bill). Finally, after building a homemade ladder out of branches dragged from the woods, the light bulb is installed.

And there is light.

As it should be.

Now, perhaps the child hadn’t intended to “study electricity” that day—but that’s where leadership comes into play. You teach your children what they NEED, not just what they WANT. And HOW you do it is a FAR cry from textbook regurgitation. Of COURSE, it’s not on some chintzy schedule based on A Beka or government factory mandates. SO, I’m only saying that we should do what we’ve always done (such as the above light bulb thing) as we “rise up, sit down, walk along the way”—as all the adults learning German or Calculus would attest. We’re NOT to create a religion of “anti-textbooks” or anti-leadership WHILE we’re doing the obvious of “rising up and sitting down”!

I just don’t want a “health food binge” in the “education realm” to replace “being led by the Spirit” (books or no books, or WHATEVER, day by day)—and create MORE work and guilt for the women. “Education,” as the state defines, is ONLY as important as washing the clothes. The rest TAKES CARE OF ITSELF, viewed correctly. Again, I have NO idea how things function in a normal day in your home, or what is going on with the educational and spiritual specifics there. I know the folks around you are a big help, and obviously, I think VERY highly of your wife—always have, and always will. I don’t question her at all. She’s a jewel to the max and warms my heart. My point is I DON’T want to become focused on “educational techniques,” when they are shallow and unSpiritual on the MOST important levels. A religion of “anti-institution” is not where we want to go, but rather LIFE in ALL areas! Not “un-church” or “un-education” or “un-_____”...BUT rather, Jesus, ONLY JESUS!!!!

Anyway, my shortness of time and 10 interruptions have made this too choppy and too non-Dale Carnegie. : ) But DO let the points soak in, okay??!! OBVIOUSLY, most of what you’re saying is right, and should be common already. It’s not that complicated. Just no RELIGION, PLEASE! Very sorry to not be able to dialogue with you more as I’d like. Bear with me?...........Love,

a conversation amongst sisters:

Hi! I was wondering if any of you had any thoughts on teaching the children “academics.” We really don’t want to bring public school home. We know that each of the children are different and learn differently. Isaiah seems to grasp distinguishing colors and letters and numbers very well. Gail on the other hand can’t seem to get a handle on those things. We’ve been looking through books that talk about letting the children learn at their own pace, focusing entirely on their personal interests. No scheduled times to learn. Just going through the day asking questions and the parents are only there to answer questions or help them find the answers they’re looking for. We’ve already come across some things that we know can’t be Father’s way (example: let the children take control of the day and allow them to do whatever they want to do). We realize that can’t happen and would never go to that extreme, but then how do you know what a child needs to know and when. Should we just let them learn to read whenever they are “ready”? We’ve been reading about some children who did not learn to read until they were 8 or 9 years old. This is some of what we are trying to work through. Any thoughts would really be helpful and appreciated. Love, Rachel

Hi Rachel, Raising our little ones and teaching them all they need to know about life can be quite a challenge. I am familiar with the kinds of books you’ve been reading. I understand the authors’ points at times, but, as you already mentioned, sometimes they take it way too far. They build a religion out of their theories and leave God totally out of it. The aspect of teaching “as we rise up, as we sit down, as we walk along the way” has great value because it is JESUS’ way. BUT, to say that you should never determine to have concentrated, disciplined time where you sit down FOR THE PURPOSE of teaching your child is silly. And there are times where YOU need to determine what it is YOU want the child to learn, whether they like it or not. Everything has to center around Jesus and NOT a way to do “academics” or “home-school” or “education.” Don’t get me wrong though, I think the books sometimes have good ideas and some thoughts to consider. That stuff can be very helpful for breaking up our long history of institutional schooling and/or how “schooling” is supposed to look. And those books can sometimes have some practical, helpful, and creative ideas for us. But, they are just tools in the toolbox—not THE Way. JESUS is THE WAY!

I surely do not have all the answers in this area, but I know Who does. And I know that I find peace and life in just CARING for the children, and trying to LISTEN, and Watch, and Pray as to what they need to learn and when. Your children are so young, and the sky is the limit. There are soooo many things to see and explore and learn with them. I think the biggest obstacle when they are that age is that WE TEND TO GET TOO BUSY and not notice the TONS of opportunities that each day offers! I often look at my children and think, “Wow! Life has so many opportunities just built-in. If my little ones are not being fed and nourished and learning about LIFE in a full way (spiritually, academically, mentally, emotionally), it is definitely not because life isn’t FULL of the opportunities.”

Well, speaking of little ones, I better go take care of mine. : )

Love, Rose

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