Sunday, March 16, 2008

A Christian and a homeschooler, but not...

a Christian homeschooler.

It is so nice to be able to put people in a box. It helps us make sense of people; it helps us to figure them out. It helps us to judge them and decide if they are like us or not. It helps us decide if we should like them or not.

The term "Christian homeschooler" creates a certain image in the mind. People tell me they picture a mom in a jumper (the homeschool uniform) standing by the whiteboard in front of her large family. They're crackin' the books, doing "school at home" which is like school, only with Christian textbooks.

Nothing wrong with that image, really. I guess some Christian homeschoolers are like that. We're not like that.

We do try to start our day reading the Bible, and my kids memorize their Catechism. Or try to. We sometimes slack off on the memorizing because we're discussing the concepts. Sometimes we read the Bible at breakfast, but as often as not we are involved in some other kind of conversation and don't get to it till later. But we do it. Usually. Somewhere in every day, we pray. At some point, Biblical application to life comes up. Always.

We do math from a workbook, too, and I guess the publisher is a Christian but it's not a "Christian" math book. We had one of those once, and there was nothing particularly Christian about it except the occasional use of Christian people or symbols in word problems. 5 (loaves) + 2 (fish) = what?

We tried reading some Christian fiction once too, but the story was badly written and the only thing Christian about it was the fact that the main character prayed. Once in the 150-page book. So we read the classics - Mark Twain, Dickens - and lots of fun stuff, like the Swallows and Amazons series.

We own a set of children's encyclopedias which are not Christian. This caused great concern for a guest once. She thought we should not have such books because they contained evolution. Not all Christians are like this, but she didn't think kids should be exposed to the concept of evolution. Ever, as far as I could tell. Wow, imagine going off to college or otherwise into the adult world, not having a clue about evolution. I don't teach my children about evolution as fact. But they understand the basics of the concepts.

Our history curriculum is often criticized by Christians because it does not portray Christianity as "right." It pretty much treats all religions equally. But it's a good curriculum and I am certainly capable of going into more depth on certain aspects of it. I certainly don't want to paint a rosy picture of the Crusades, for example, or ignore that time completely. I certainly don't teach them that all religions are equal, but I'm not going to skip over Buddha, Confucius, and other non-Christian people, as some of my acquaintances do. These people existed in history. Knowing that they lived and what they did does not mean we believe in what they taught.

Some Christian homeschoolers are like me. But some are also driven by fear - fear that their kids will be exposed to something different and will lose their faith. They cite statistics that show some high number of kids in college have a crisis of faith and leave the church. I think kids are more likely to have a crisis of faith if/when they figure out their parents kept a lot of information from them.

I'm happy with my homeschooling plans, most of the time, and they seem to be working out for my kids, most of the time. If only people wouldn't try to hard to fit us in a box! There are so many different ways to homeschool; that's part of the beauty of it. We should try to see that all homeschoolers don't have to fit the same box.

1 comment:

Sandy said...

5 loaves + 2 fish = felt board Sunday School lesson. Sorry, couldn't help myself.