"Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Paul to the persecuted at Philippi (2:5-11)

Friday, October 31, 2014

Taking College for a Test Drive and Drunken Anglican Chameleons

Sometimes parenting is like being initiated into the mysteries of the universe.  Not just birthing babies and late night feedings and the still that happens for the ten minutes a day that the little stinkers are asleep and you're awake.  Life's mysteries are more ongoing than babies. 

My eldest has been accepted into two colleges, one very Reformed Protestant and one very Roman Catholic.  Okay, that's only funny if you're an Anglican.  I know.  For the rest of the Christian world, its just weird.

We talked this morning about how Reformed Protestant College (henceforth referred to as RPC) has mandatory chapel.  I have mixed feelings about mandatory chapel and I wondered if he did, too.  On the one hand, chapel is good!  On the other hand, nobody should be required to worship, it should be a freewill offering.  And making chapel mandatory means that the college tends not to be very diverse, not outside your particular brand of Christianity.

As I said this, my teen replied, "but we're Anglicans, we blend in." 

I answered, "We blend in like a drunk chameleon shouting "you don't see me! you don't see me! Oh wait, you hear me... um, hi!"  We blend in so that we're almost unnoticeable in a Catholic setting, until we start knocking over the furniture.  And the Protestants will happily have us over for social outings, until we put on our liturgical lampshades and become a little unruly.

Needless to say, my teen thought that was hysterical.  Because I am seriously funny.  Or because it was very very inhumanely early in the morning and we were both a little loopy. 

Anyway, he's off today and tonight at RPC taking it for a test drive.  He texted that he's having fun (yay).  He'll be doing the same at the Roman Catholic College (RCC, of course) later this month.  He has to decide on which side of the fence his undergraduate education will fall, no doubt based on such teen priority as where are the people friendliest, the proximity of tasty food (RPC has the ticket there), and what the classes are like (at least the math classes, he cares nothing about the rest of his education, best I can tell.) 

But here's the mystery I've discovered.  College test drives are not just for the kids to see what the next four years could be like (if you choose door number one....).  They are also for the parents to remind ourselves, at this tender point in our development, our parental growing up, that they can survive on their own.  College test drives give us the chance to test drive what it is like to have a kid somewhat out on his own.  While they test drive adulthood, we test drive, well old-adulthood. 

And he's having fun.  Cool.  Maybe this mom can grow up. 
Or at least let him grow up.... maybe.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Homeschooling....

Homeschooling is dreadfully inefficient.

I stumbled across a photograph today which was supposed to represent homeschooling.  A mother was drawing a clock on a chalkboard and in the foreground we see the backs of three little attentive blonde heads of varying ages, no doubt in rapt wonder over the miracle that is time. 

And I thought to myself, homeschooling is dreadfully inefficient. 

If you want efficiency there is nothing like a school building.  All the little students (future products) are grouped together by need (academic or otherwise) in order that one teacher might impart information into several minds at once.

More efficient, were it equally optimized, would be the internet, where there would be no limit to receiving minds.  Like a line of cars at the gas station students could arrive en masse and teachers could just fill 'em up.

Homeschooling is dreadfully inefficient.  I should be teaching my production line what I know best, and line my own up with all the other little products in the great educational marketplace.

But it is internet education, which is the classroom efficiency blown out of scale, that shows exactly the flaw in the argument.  You see, I teach motivated students online.  They're adults, and they're engaged.  And they learn. 

Still, I don't feel they learn as well as they'd learn in a classroom.  They cannot see what I demonstrate.  Asking a simple question in a lecture is a production.  They cannot find study partners in their classes or sense that I am genuine when I tell them they are doing well.  They don't have a foundation for staying at the table when they struggle.  In short, they don't have a relationship with their instructor or their classmates, and in doing so they lose an aspect of their relationship with the material.

Learning happens best in community, in relationship.  Every single anti-homeschooling zealot on the planet will agree to that. 

But the internet classroom demonstrates where the relationship flaw lies.   Efficiency is the opposite of relationship.  Efficiency is quick and task oriented.  Relationship is a slow plodding stream of contact hours, conversations and even at times conflict.  Relationship is people oriented.

The flaw in the efficiency argument is that homeschooling is the ultimate in relational education.  The teacher is trusted and known, the learning and wonder are mutual and shared.  Correction and struggle are accomplished in direct relationship.  It is slow, plodding education.

Make no mistake, the inefficiency of schooling is at times necessary, at times even preferred.  But even then, the element of trust and relationship makes the excellent schools look dreadfully inefficient.  We all want schools where we're more than a number, but those schools make demands on our lives that many do not want.  Community and relationship are built on the athletic field as much as in the classroom. 

By the end of next May I will have dedicated about 2340 days of my life to the formal education of my eldest son.  2340 days, one largely indistinguishable from the one before it, but somehow we plodded along from counting buttons to calculus, from phonics to Plato, one day at a time.

That's no more days than a public school would require, no fewer.  But in slow plodding relationship, somehow, a small child became a man.  And he doesn't see life very efficiently at all, but he has become a man along the way.  And I look forward to the next phase of our relationship.