A Homeschooling Anniversary and a Love for Learning

It has been 40 years since my wife and I attended our first homeschool conference. We eagerly drank in the content from speakers such as Raymond and Dorothy Moore who played a huge role in laying the foundation for home education today.

Homeschooling was not as accepted then as it is now. For many years when someone would discover our family was homeschooling, they would ask why we were doing it. Once when I was flying to speak at a convention, a fellow in the same row asked where I was headed. I told him and he looked me in the eye and asked me to give him one reason for choosing to home educate our four sons. 

I told him there were several reasons, but he stopped me and said to give him one. I paused and thought about his query. Then I responded, “We want to train our children to live forever.” He nodded and agreed that this was a good answer.

Eternity was the predominant impetus for Sandi and myself. To that end, we developed regular family devotions which included reading Scripture, prayer, and singing. We also prayed for our kids and sought to live out our faith before them. We were deeply involved in the life of our church. We knew we couldn’t make our children choose to follow Jesus, but we purposed to do all we could to influence them.

Roots and Wings
Another motivation for homeschooling our children which was to instill in them a love for learning. We believed that if we gave them a good foundation in the language arts (reading, writing, and spelling) as well as math, the rest of their academic pursuits would be attainable. We knew we couldn’t provide all the knowledge they would need in the future, but if we gave them the basics, or roots, and encouraged them to follow their interests, they would develop wings.

During that first year we bought used desks at a yard sale, put an American flag in the corner of the “school” room along with pencils and notebooks. We were recreating a school in our home. Over the years we recognized that home education was more of a lifestyle of learning, than a form of academic instruction. We went on lots of “field trips,” read many books aloud, and gave our sons free reign to pursue their individual interests. 

One son was intrigued with nature and creation. Another had a bent for filmmaking. Still another moved from one subject to another like a bee seeking nectar from multiple flowers. His interests included hunting, sports, amateur radio, survival, and politics. Those were wonderful years and today each of these men continues to pursue learning in their sphere of choice.

As I have spoken and studied this different approach to education, two excellent quotes have crossed my path, which articulate this style of learning better than I can. One is from Kurt Vonnegut and another is by Deborah Wuehler. I hope they will be an encouragement to you, especially since we are in the middle of summer, when we have a little more freedom to explore and try new approaches.

Kurt Vonnegut, an American author and playwright wrote: “When I was fifteen, I spent a month working on an archeological dig. I was talking to one of the archeologists one day during our lunch break and he asked those kind of “getting to know you” questions you ask young people; “Do you play sports? What’s your favorite subject?” And I told him I didn’t play any sports. I do theater, I’m in choir, I play the violin and piano, I used to take art classes. 
And he went WOW. That’s amazing! And I said, “Oh no, but I’m not any good at ANY of them.” And he said something then that I will never forget and which absolutely blew my mind because no one had ever said anything like it to me before: “I don’t think being good at things is the point of doing them. I think you’ve got all these wonderful experiences with different skills, and that all teaches you things and makes you an interesting person, no matter how well you do them.” 
And that honestly changed my life. Because I went from a failure, someone who hadn’t been talented enough at anything to excel, to someone who did things because I enjoyed them. I had been raised in such an achievement-oriented environment, so inundated with the myth of Talent, that I thought it was only worth doing things if you could “Win” at them.

Deborah Wuehler, Senior Editor of The Old Schoolhouse, writes: 
My favorite job as a teacher is encouraging and supporting what delights each child and seeing where that leads. If they were interested in planes or history, music or art, knitting or sports, dinosaurs or flower pressing, insects or birds or filmmaking—whatever lit the fire to learn more, I wanted to be there to help fuel that. 
As a teacher, my favorite subject is . . . my student. I study them, figure out how they learn best, see what lights their fire, watch their progress, and bolster their weak areas. I try to instruct them in the way they should go, prepare the way before them, and stay right there with them watching them grow into maturity.
I have prayed for wisdom, and the God Who created each child has given me wisdom. He opens my eyes to see what is really important for each one, and He will do the same for you.

If you are interested, I discuss this topic more in a seminar given a few years ago. May you have a special and life changing journey, along with your children, as you nurture and encourage them to be lifelong learners.

Upcoming Events
Conference season is winding down for me. I’m leaving for Texas to participate in the Homeschool Convention on July 11-13, in Red Rock. 
On October 26 I will be in Rochester, NY, for an Iron Sharpens Iron men’s event

My original plan was to teach about the Spirit from Passover to Pentecost, but our times of searching the Scriptures and focusing on the Spirit have been so rich we continue to learn more about Blessed Spirit. These studies are posted weekly here and on Facebook along with a written transcript.
403. The Person of the Spirit
404. Names of the Spirit
405. The Spirit from Genesis to Malachi
406. The Spirit in the Incarnation
407. Jesus’ Teaching about the Spirit
408. Through the Eternal Spirit
409. The Spirit Helps Us Pray
410. Acts of the Apostles Empowered by the Spirit

May God’s love be poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us. (Adapted from Romans 5:5) Amen!

Pressing Onward and Upward,