As soon as you say the word “education” these days, you best have your HazMat suit on. It’s an inflammatory subject, for sure. This post is not meant to be inflammatory to anyone. Instead, these are thoughts and opinions that have been stewing and brewing deep within for a while. I’ve been mostly quiet on the subject for quite sometime… because, education is much like visiting the zoo, if you stick your finger in the lion’s cage enough times, you may loose that finger.
I’ve been bit on numerous occasions… yet, here I am again, on a snow day, sticking my finger in. This are my thoughts and this little corner of the blogosphere is my place to record my thoughts. If my thoughts differ from yours, I am okay with that. Are you?
For a year and a half, I’ve been precariously perched on the fence of education. I have a son who is a sophomore at our local public high school of about 2000 students. I have a daughter in eighth grade at our local Christian academy which houses 7th-12th grades and has a student population of less than 150. And, I have the not-so-little-one 3rd grader here at home with me.
I have no doubts God placed me in this seat on the fence, and, quite honestly, I hated it for a long time. I no longer fit in the public school arena, the private school arena, or the homeschool arena. Instead, I run back and forth between the three panting wildly. I’m not sure what to do with myself and I’ve come to the conclusion that no one else really knows what to do with me either. It is a lonely place to be.
However, once I took stopped looking down at my self-imposed woes and looked out at the arenas that my kids are in, I realized that I have an incredible vantage point… a view that not many have.
This is what I see…
… there is no RIGHT way to educate because we are all wrong. There is no perfect way to educate our children because we are all sinners living in a sinful world run by sinful leaders. Every option we have is equally flawed. It is up to us, as parents, to choose the best option for each one of our children and to allow others to choose their best option.
… there is no ONE SIZE FITS ALL because we are all different sizes. It never ceases to amaze me that Chad and I could have three opposite children. Can opposite even go three ways? Our 3 Es are all so unique and individual. They don’t do things the same way, they don’t learn the same way, and they most certainly don’t want to be the same. So… what good would it do to force them to all educate the same way?
Thankfully, Eric taught us this lesson. When he stretched his wings and ripped through any homeschool size we offered him, we knew it was time to find a bigger size. On the opposite, Emily’s education size is small. She thrives knowing and being known by all. The jury is still out on Ellen’s size.
… there is LITTLE GRACE offered among Believers because we all self-righteous. (see #1… we all just gotta think we have the market on being right) I got a glimpse of myself this week and hated what I saw.
Eleven years ago, I tenaciously clung to the calling to homeschool. I lost friends over it. I was called every despicable name over it and I even cried buckets over homeschooling my son. Yet, I held on because I knew it was what God was calling me to do. Over time, that tenacious clinging turned to bitter living. The longer I homeschooled, the more bitter I became. Why? Because the fiery darts continued to strike. The more the bitterness festered, the more it turned into self-righteousness.
When we made the decision to transfer our kids to conventional school, the comments I got from fellow Christians were the worst. Christian friends whose children were in public schools taunted me and Christian friends who homeschooled accused me. Once again, I found myself tenaciously clinging on. Thankfully, I didn’t cry buckets, but my heart hurt, nonetheless. I allowed those hurts and fiery darts to eat away at the grace in my heart until I got to the point of bashing just about everyone.
I became the very type of person who hurt me so deeply… all because I wanted to prove to them that I was right and they were wrong. In hindsight, I wonder if that type of thinking was what started all the pain in the first place.
…there is MORE HARM than good in building fences. Once I took my eyes off myself and began to look out from my seat on the educational fence, I realized that these fences built around each educational arena simply serve to isolate us. We are raising the next generation to be as self-centered, self-righteous, and ungracious as we are. Each arena has its own sense of indoctrination and entitlement. Instead of working together through issues, we are teaching our children to surround themselves with like-minded individuals and turn their backs to those who disagree.
As I sit on this perch, I now longer have saddle sores from straining against it. I’m learning to lean into it and to trust the One who placed me here.
Perhaps that is the greatest lesson we all can learn. God never promises to place us all in the same place, with the same mindset, at the same point in time.
Who are we, then, to act as if our way is the only way?