It's back to school time for most of the students across America. Even homeschoolers like us are getting back into the groove. And after a conversation I overheard between a couple of homeschool moms the other day, I thought it might be a good time to do a little reflecting on education in general.
The conversation had to do with the "pressure" homeschool moms feel to live up to everyone else's standards. The feeling that my kids must excel academically because my extended family is judging me, or the other homeschoolers are watching me, or I have to prove something to the public schools, or whatever.
I remember feeling that way. When we started homeschooling 15 years ago it wasn't nearly as accepted as it has become. There weren't nearly as many of us, not nearly as many resources, etc. Our family thought we were crazy. Our church family even raised some eyebrows. We felt like we had something to prove.
Then we remembered something significant. We didn't start homeschooling because we wanted to churn out the smartest kids. We did it because we wanted to turn out godly men and women. That doesn't mean that our academic goals became non-existent. We have graduated the older two, now, and one is ready to finish her senior year in college. That makes us very proud. We have another who will graduate next year, and so getting the next two through college testing (if that's what they choose) certainly makes us sweat. We still feel that pressure for the kids to "perform." And with the youngest, we still have years to go.
But aside from any academic achievement, aside from the choir/band/orchestra accomplishments, aside from all that the older three have done with writing and photography, the thing I am most thankful for is that God has graciously answered our prayers. These older ones are good, godly men and women. Their faith is solid and growing, and their chief desire is to please Him. And that's what it's all about.
Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, introduces his collection of instruction by telling us what the purpose of it is: "To know wisdom and instruction, to understand words of insight, to receive instruction in wise dealing, in righteousness, justice, and equity; to give prudence to the simple, knowledge and discretion to the youth." (Proverbs 1:2-4)
The goal is to produce men and women of faith and character. And that should be our goal in education as well. Not just the goal of "religious" education. But the goal of all education. The fact that this is not the goal of so many in government schools is the primary reason we went the homeschool route to begin with.
Not that public education didn't have this goal at one time. The original charter for none other than Harvard University stated that the goal of the school was to be sure that every student understood that "the main end of his life and studies is to know God and Jesus Christ...as the only foundation of all sound knowledge and learning."
Jesus Christ is the foundation of all sound knowledge and learning. That's the heart of this. Regardless of what educational option you choose, homeschool, private or government school; you need to understand this. This is the real goal. It's not how high their test scores are, it's if they are ready to stand the ultimate test. If they are ready to stand before God's examination. All the things of this world will pass away. It will all be burned up and destroyed, along with all of our degrees and the material things we were able to buy because of them. As Peter reminds us: "Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness." (2 Peter 3:11)
So, as the kiddos head back to school, wherever that might be, let's keep a proper perspective. And let's remember that our job as parents is to be sure that we are teaching and training them in righteousness regardless of who is teaching them the other "r"s.