Sep 5, 2013

School Wars

Navigating the world called, "where to put my child in school" seems to put me on the front lines of what I like to call "The School Wars."  Dun dun dun.  I have launched into another school year which is completely different than last year's, and I have no regrets for what we did last year and no regrets that we have moved on to homeschooling this year.  I confuse most people with my choices on schooling.   Have you ever encountered the school wars?  Ha! If you are a mom or someone who has even thought of perhaps one day having a kid and that kid eventually getting to school aged years, then you have encountered the school wars.  Lines are drawn in the sand here, people.

"What? Homeschool?  Aren't you worried about their social life?"  Often so gently said but inwardly the thoughts go like this:
"What!!! Are you cray-cray!  You are going to be the people in the long skirts who make their own BUTTER and are so out of touch that your kids will struggle to have conversations in normal society because all they can talk about is their latest goat milk science project.  For the love of all things normal, consider their social standing!"  Uh huh.  I hear that in their little sniffs as they ask that question to me ALL. THE. TIME.  Seriously, you guys, this question never lets up from the public school crowd.

For the record, we meet with other homeschooling families and teach classes on Thursdays in a little tiny schoolhouse.  Very few of the children are socially awkward or odd.  I would say about the same amount as I encountered in public school. Here it is.  I love it.  I'm not sure this is helping this stigma type.

I am still holding the memories and lessons learned from last year tightly.  I fell in love with a bunch of dark haired, brown eyed, 2nd grade children.  We grew to love people in the community who lived in tiny little old houses with pretty gardens surrounding the school.  We made friends.  We were sad to leave.  My kids were definitely the minority in that they could afford to bring their own breakfast and school lunch, their clothes were new and they had blond hair and blue eyes.

The questions from the crowd were just as gently asked.  "Oh public school, huh?  Where?  A low income school?  Aren't you worried about how they will fit it in, the poor education they will receive, and the things they will pick up from the other kids there?"  Also, so gently said.  But I heard it.

"What?!  Are you CRAZY!  Throw your kids to the WOLVES why don't ya.  Ruin their education.  Turn them into a bunch of heathens by letting them run with the....(I'll be nice and not print whatever it was they were thinking). Do you KNOW what they are exposed to in those schools?"

Yep. School wars.  And to tell you the truth, it's hard to not get sucked in, make a camp, stake a claim and hold to it.

Can I just point us back to the last command that Jesus asked of us?  "Go therefore and make disciples of every nation."

What does that involve exactly?  To make a disciple you have to do two things.  You have to introduce them to this amazing Jesus person who is also God, and once they love Him too, then you have to actually disciple them by showing them what exactly it means to be more like Him.  Seems to me that there is two steps:  Evangelism and discipleship.

I think we are called to both but there can be seasons when we focus on one more than the other.  Last year we focused as a family on introducing others around us to this amazing Jesus.  We talked about how to love our school friends, our classmates, and our school staff.  We struggled with how to do that in a public school environment with kids that were different from us and a culture we were unused to.  It was hard.  Then it became easier and we learned to love and be loved in a community.  We learned we are more the same than different.  We were stretched. It was a great year for personal growth and every child in my class knew that I loved them and that they were created to be something special.  We really focused on that.

This year is a discipling year.  This year our focus is different.  We are pulling back, taking time for pouring into our children while we can.  To disciple them.  To raise them up with diligent, focused school lessons and family time that really teach who our God is.  Bible time in the morning can take 45 minutes.  Literature, science and history have a focus on pointing us to God and who He is.  I am working with other Christian families in our co-op where I teach classes, and I also took a part time job this year as the children's coordinator for our church's kid's program.  I'm working with teachers and helping them learn how to disciple children who come on Sundays to their classroom.  This year, we have a different focus.

Now I have a question for you?  Which environment was more "sacred"?   Which one was the "right" one?  Ha. Gotcha.  Right answer: Neither.  God had a focus for us at that time and we were called to it.  I am not in the business of just raising well-educated children, though that is obviously a goal of mine.  I am in the business of raising children to be all that God intended for them.  Sometimes that means we will be called to different places.  Scary places.  Places that aren't a good fit for someone else.  God points the way, and we follow.

As I was thinking about this, I also thought that when there is a focus on evangelism or discipleship, you have to be intentional to fit in the other half.  What I mean is, last year, we really had to work hard at the discipleship part because it was hard to fit it in the day between school, homework and activities. I found that the half hour drive to and from school was the perfect opportunity.  So instead of always just listening to the radio, I told Bible stories (We managed to work our way through the whole Old Testament in a year), listened to Christian music and talked about how God would think about our day. Evangelism and discipleship go hand in hand.  If you don't pair them, they really don't work out that well.  How effective would we have been at showing God's love if we didn't have time to really study His Word and reflect on His point of view of our day?
Likewise, this year, we have to be intentional to not stay in our safe little homeschooling/church bubble.
We are seeking ways to stay in the community.  We are staying in Scouts and little league.  We visit the convalescent home regularly.  We are helping lead a Good News Club in our friend's school on Friday afternoons.  Without finding a way to share God's love to outsiders, Christianity stagnates and becomes hypocritical and judgmental and small.
You see.  Two parts, but inseparable and just one command.
So back to the school wars.  Lets not stake a claim on which is the "right" or more "sacred" way.  Let us just be faithful to go into all the world and make disciples.  God points us all in different directions and which ever way you have been pointed, I implore you to be faithful to both evangelism and discipleship.  To be intentional with both and be at peace with the idea that God's best direction for your life is not the same for your neighbor.  I want to encourage you that someone else isn't going to get this confusing schooling "thing" more right than you.  Be intentional where you are and rest in the fact that you are doing very sacred work.  
Be faithful to that sacred work.  Wherever that may be.


  1. This makes me so happy. I admired you last year for what you did, and I admire you again this year for what you are doing. I love the hearts I see behind these family decisions. May God bless you and your little ones this year as you seek to grow them and serve Him while loving on others in the community, too.

    <3 Bethany

  2. I just love this. And am so glad we are getting to read your words more often :)

  3. Well said! And I think there were few more stressful decisions for me than deciding what to do with Annike for Kindergarten this year! I could finally relax when I realized that I had a decision to make for THIS YEAR ONLY. I did not have to plan her school life out when she was still 4. What we decided was the right choice for us this year, and next year it might change as God reveals new things to us. But absolutely it is important to be intentional wherever we are. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. I love this post. And I love how you've experienced both sides of the debate.