Monday, 10 August 2015

Home Education Encouragement

At the weekend, around seven families from our area attended a day conference on Home Education Encouragement. The speaker was Voddie Baucham, who is well known for his books and sermons relating to family integrated church (and here) and to home education. In fact, Family Driven Faith was a book we read early in our own home education experience, and which to us made a lot of sense - almost like the voice of clarity and reason in a generation which seems even to twist the Bible to support what it wants to hear.

It was a refreshing and encouraging day. Rather than present a digest of the talks (there are plenty of great Voddie Baucham talks available online), I'm going to share some things I found most helpful:

1) Simply to be together with a large number of Christian home educating families, sharing a very similar perspective was refreshing. I was also encouraged by the diversity, and the differences in family size and structure. There was nothing uniform about it, but rather many unique families who are following the calling God has given them.

2) The reminder of the importance of worldview. The fact is, we communicate worldview whether we do so intentionally or not. It is like the 'silent curriculum' or the 'hidden curriculum' in medicine, whereby subtle attitudes and values are communicated from the more senior physicians. This can be for better or for worse. It was helpful to reflect on how harmful the subtle influences of the world around us can be.

3) Alongside this, the need to have strong Biblical arguments to refute the prevailing worldview of the age. It is not enough just to say something is wrong, or to have a shallow view of the Bible. We have a responsibility to 'study and do our best to present ourselves to God as one approved, a workman who correctly handles the word of truth' - God has given us the Bible and we must understand it well and teach it well to our children.

4) That in raising children we are raising 'intercontinental ballistic missiles' to be deployed in battling for the kingdom of Christ. The Bible uses the phrase 'like arrows in the hand of a warrior'. Often in Psalms the arrow analogy is used. And what is an arrow for, but to fire as a weapon. Many people have many goals and aims for our children, but what is our highest aim?

5) That specific curriculum choices are less important that our underlying philosophy of education. (And that we should have such a philosophy, and we should be clear about what we are trying to do and what the end result we are aiming for is, rather than drifting vaguely and hoping for the best)

6) That we should not confuse fleeing from idolatous aims for our children with low aims for them. There is a temptation amongst some Christian families to see excellence as evidence of idolatry, and so to seem to aim for mediocrity. This is not Biblical. Colossians Chapter 3 states plainly, 'whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not for men'. The difference is our motivation, but excellence can bring God glory. In fact, it would bring God glory to have clear minded Christians serving Him from leadership positions in medicine, politics, economics, law and so forth. (This resonates with me, because several years ago a leader of ours frequently told me I was idolising my career because I was achieving good - or indeed excellent - results. This was not so, but it was a really hard time for us. It is something I frequently do ask God to search my heart with regard to, because I know that it is easy to kid yourself. But I truly believe that God gave me academic success to enable me to go places for His kingdom - and most of our academic medical work around the world has been enabled by this). I think this requires a separate post before too long.

7) That we should not worry about the 'academic year' or whether we have 'fallen behind' since one of the beauties of home education is that we are free from these constraints, Indeed if 'education is a life', then when does it start and stop? I think as a family we already put this into practice, and continue with the same kind of structures all year round, regardless of where we are. But it was a refreshing reminder

8) Voddie and his family (his seven youngest children, all of whom are adopted) are shortly relocating to Zambia to work alongside an academic insitute. I was encouraged by the faithfulness to follow this calling (and also I suppose because we are moving to Africa to work in academic institutes, and whilst we are there, if God makes it possible, may extend our family through adoption. Because of these parallels, I was encouraged to see people who share our motivations and have a similar perspective with regard to moving around whilst home educating the children).

And some more light-hearted ones:

1) I always wondered what large home schooling families do for transport, and I saw some lovely customised mini buses that did the trick quite nicely. I now know what we would need if God gave us more than six children.

2) My five year old (who is of slender build and short stature) leaned over and asked me, 'is he really that big?' So we went and said hello to Voddie, and were able to confirm that yes, he really is that big!