As a homeschool parent, we occasionally run into snags in our faith and beliefs in educating our children. We’re often bombarded with accusations that we aren’t doing enough, aren’t intelligent enough to teach our kids, and we’re given reminders of how much kids in the public schools are doing. We’re faced with intimidation and pride, often scolded. Our opposition seeks to shame us and our children in their fast paced educational system by comparing credits, units, and hours of instruction. We lay awake at night wondering if we’re really doing the right things for our children and we anguish in prayer over whether our kids will turn out to be able to keep up with the world when they become adults.
This fast paced western world emphasizes competition with test scores and comparison charts, yet they forget what our ancestors taught. The very ancestors that built the foundation for education. Our modern concrete and plastic world has long forgotten the intricate fibers, textures, and vibrant colors that shaped the education of ancient worlds.
While we should favor moving forward in this struggling economic and educational society, we must not forget the depth of the truths that brought humanity to where we are today. There is a sacredness in the expansive cosmos of knowledge that is shamefully rejected and is facing an ongoing battle to survive.
This most holy treasure must be preserved and honored. We must not lay down our heritage in obeisance to the neglectful and imperious tormentors of this world. There is no possible way to measure the worth of such a key ingredient to educating the children of tomorrow. You can’t race to the finish line to achieve it, for within this nucleus of hidden treasure is the fact that there is no finish line. It is small yet profoundly large to the point of not being able to contain it all nor capture it for greedy gain.
In all the rush and pressure to obtain it, they miss it entirely.
Born in the late Eighteenth century, a poetic literary artist named C.S. Lewis said,
“the greatest service we can do to education today is to teach fewer subjects. No one has time to do more than a very few things well before he is twenty, and when we force a boy to be a mediocrity in a dozen subjects, we destroy his standards, perhaps for life.” in ‘Surprised by Joy’, a story of how his early childhood was shaped.
C. S Lewis was born to his Irish parents and lived in England during his adolescence. We are often enamored by the retelling of poetic tales from ancient men and women who lived in times of intense depth of soul. A time when stories were told to teach lessons of wisdom, love, and war. C.S. Lewis wrote fantasy tales artistically created in the far away land of his imagination through imagery of animal life. His stories not only entertain us, but when we read between the lines we learn valuable lessons that are eternally applicable to life no matter what century we live in.
We can travel further back in time to ancient Greece where we meet another fable visionary named, Aesop. His literal existence has long been suspected to be untrue, yet Aristotle and Herodotus wrote about him. Regardless of whether or not Aesop actually existed, his tales teach truth through short stories of human-like animal dilemmas. We don’t need to argue over whether or not a fox actually spoke English or if a tortoise really wants to learn to fly. The literal translations of the fables are not the point to begin with. Don’t miss the moral of the stories by trying to win an argument void of truth.
The ancient telling of fables were often retold verbally and later written down.
In a time of verbal story telling, the storytellers were able to show emotion, facial expression, and tone of voice that could lead their pupils to ponder deeper into the stories. We are treacherous human beings to omit this powerful expression of education. To further humiliate our most cherished ancestors, modern adults have closed the door to open discussion and collaborative efforts to improve our humanity. For ages, they have banished true free thought and expression in the communities out of fear of conflicting beliefs. Throughout history we read of world powers seeking to silence “rebellions”, when in truth those “rebels” were the ones fighting to preserve this sacred truth. The treason committed against our kind as been to overpower us with dominating control. People have gained control, but missed the beautiful art of communication and understanding. Oppressing the truth out of fear because the truth is so utterly transforming. I shake my head as I sit in awe of just how much more advanced our human race could be if the truth had not been encumbered for so long.
Aesop wrote a simple, yet profound, story that captures the very essence of this impacting axiom in his tale of the Tortoise and the Hare.
“A HARE one day ridiculed the short feet and slow pace of the Tortoise, who replied, laughing: “Though you be swift as the wind, I will beat you in a race.” The Hare, believing her assertion to be simply impossible, assented to the proposal; and they agreed that the Fox should choose the course and fix the goal. On the day appointed for the race the two started together. The Tortoise never for a moment stopped, but went on with a slow but steady pace straight to the end of the course. The Hare, lying down by the wayside, fell fast asleep. At last waking up, and moving as fast as he could, he saw the Tortoise had reached the goal, and was comfortably dozing after her fatigue. Slow but steady wins the race.” ~ Translated by George Fyler Townsend. Aesop’s Fables (p. 18). Amazon Digital Services, Inc..
As I was scrolling through my Facebook newsfeed this morning, I noticed this elementary aphorism;
“Childhood is not a race to see how quickly a child can read, write, and count. Childhood is a small window of time to learn and develop at the pace that is right for each individual child.”
In the upcoming school year 2014-2015, the States will be implementing a new method of education called, Common Core. On the surface, Common Core appears to be a goal oriented approach to assisting children in attaining a higher benchmark of education. However fancy the words may sound, I have come to see Common Core as the Hare in Aesop’s fable. The aspiration of Common Core is commendable, but the pathway to achievement is perfidious. It’s philosophy is inverted and against the natural grain of human learning. It’s akin to strapping Styrofoam fruit to a tree and calling it nutritious. The hare is created to be swift to avoid becoming prey, but the tortoise is created to be patient and diligent.
Much like the story Jesus told of the wise man and foolish man, we learn the lesson of diligence and wisdom which can prepare us for a storm. The foolish man quickly built his house on sand, and the wise man patiently built his house on a rock. It’s like the story of the three little pigs. The pig who built quickly so he could enjoy life outside his home, later suffered ruin when the wolf came; as opposed to his brother who build his home out of bricks and survived. It’s devastating to think of how such small and seemingly insignificant stories can still teach today, but are often ignored by the masses.
Ancient years of hard working apprenticeships have been replaced by driven textbook memorization techniques intended to harvest statistics built on sand with sticks.
Children are born to reach the stars they are appointed to and we avert their energy and attention away from their individual greatness. Adults have been deceived into thinking their efforts will give the world a stellar academic scholar, but the result is scatterbrained victims who have missed their place in the universe. Oh we’ve muddled through, but is merely existing the desired achievement?
We force tortoises to trade in their feet and shells for fast and furry legs that don’t belong on reptiles. We’re not all born to be hares.
Many school systems (both public and private), have put children on a conveyor belt to be fed into a machine that alters their created purpose. They’ve missed the sacred for the Styrofoam.
Even many homeschool curriculum vendors have been deceived into following the same destructive patterns. They naively (or maybe deceptively) changed lingo by inserting religious vocab into “secular” textbooks and passed them off as “Christ honored” education materials. They are choking on false fruit decorated in religious glitter.
We must not war with one another in a mad dash race for domination. That sprint doesn’t teach us the value in the cross country longevity needed to have the character and self discipline to be whole individuals who can invest in future generations.
We should aim to move forward, but not when we sacrifice the sacred for the superficial.
Each child is unique and will have their own created purpose. Allow your imagination to flourish for a moment as you ponder the expansive greatness of your child’s future if he/she is raised and educated in a way that strengthens their potential. Daydream with me for a time as we envision the success your child will achieve in his/her arena of expertise if they are formed, shaped, and sharpened in that specific talent.
Have we lost the skillful art of apprenticeship?
We must consider the danger of removing a child’s inner adult and replacing it with a robot void of the truth of what the child is destined to become.
We can’t expect all children to grow up to be hares. The world still needs the diligent tortoises, the beautiful peacocks, the swift cheetahs, and poetic love we witness in pods of dolphins who travel the seas as families.
As parents, we must consider what is best for our children and help them to grow into their personal infinities. We must contend for their future and refuse to allow anyone, or any entity, to steal their future from them. We each have our own path to choose.
Humanity must be set free to become what their stars have waiting for them.