This is the last edition of the Court Report which will be completed under the creative hand of Jayme, our chief graphic artist. Jayme will be leaving HSLDA to serve as a missionary for a year in Romania. She will be working part-time as the English speaking secretary for the president of Emanuel Bible Institute, the largest Christian college in Europe, and the balance of her time will be spent working in a small orphanage for babies.
While it is always a little sad when we lose a valued staff member, there is always great joy when that staff member is leaving to pursue God's will. Both my sadness and my joy are heightened this time, however, because Jayme is my daughter.
The reason I write about Jayme in this space is that her story reveals the essence of home schooling.
Jayme is our second daughter. We started her formal academic instruction just after Christmas when she was five. She learned to read in about two weeks. It was obvious from the very beginning that she was very talented in academics.
But Jayme presented real frustrations for my wife, Vickie, in those early years of home schooling. Along with her intellect, Jayme had a perfectionist spirit that caused her to react with severe emotional responses to anything less than 100% on any of her daily work. Vickie had to spend many, many hours with Jayme reassuring her. Ultimately, this tendency was overcome by the time she was about ten years old-maybe a little sooner.
There is no question in my mind that if Jayme had been in a conventional school, even the most compassionate teacher couldn't have justified spending all the necessary time with Jayme that was required to deal with her perfectionism. I was and remain convinced that had Jayme been in a conventional school she would have probably ended up with both academic and emotional deficiencies, because she needed one-on-one attention to be able to excel.
There are tens of thousands of Jaymes in the homes of HSLDA members, children who can truly excel if they are given the one thing that is simply impossible to deliver in any other form of education—lots of individual attention.
A second memory of Jayme's early years tells the story of another strength of home education. When she was eight, we gave her an annual standardized achievement test. In the science section one of the questions began: Millions of years ago … Jayme refused to answer the question because there is no such thing as millions of years ago. The earth was created thousands of years ago, Jayme (correctly) said, so the question was simply wrong.
Public school officials often claim that the highest form of educational skill is critical thinking. I believe that critical thinking is the ability to look at a standardized achievement test, spot an incorrect philosophical assumption and act in accordance with the truth.
Let me share a final memory from Jayme's early years. When she was very, very young, she announced one morning that God wanted her to be a missionary to Sudan. Vickie and I both took her announcement very seriously and "treasured it in our hearts" over the years.
Consistent with that very early calling, about a year and a half ago, Jayme began to express a strong desire to go on an extended short-term missions project. She spent five weeks in Romania last spring and the year-long trip now follows.
One of the reasons I wanted to make sure Jayme had the opportunity to follow through with her desire to go to the mission field was that I regret having missed a similar opportunity when I was her age.
When I was at the end of my senior year in high school, a missionary to Quebec came through our church. I had taken four years of French and was relatively fluent. He wanted me to come to Quebec and serve as a summer missionary. I said, "Maybe next summer." Next summer brought its own set of ideas, and thoughts of Quebec faded away.
The real reason I hesitated to go to Quebec was that my spiritual condition had become compromised through my high school years. Although by the world's standards I was always a good student and good kid, by godly standards I simply did not measure up. Peer pressure and the nearly inevitable patterns of sin that follow are what really kept me from being spiritually prepared for the mission field.
Jayme cannot speak much Romanian. But her spiritual maturity is unquestioned. I do not believe that every child who is home schooled is automatically a spiritual giant. But I remember my own spiritual intensity when I was six or seven years old and believe that I was on a par with Jayme at the same age. But at age 18 and 19, my own intensity was strongly diminished, whereas Jayme's burns brightly.
There is no doubt that Jayme's spiritual maturity was allowed to develop because she was home schooled. Peer pressure to sin can never be eliminated (without excessive isolationism), but it can be overcome when time spent in the family outweighs time spent with peers.
It's a simple formula for spiritual success, but one that has been proven in thousands of lives with the godly young people that are becoming our legacy.
I could, if I had space, tell you the story of how Jayme was apprenticed in graphic arts and relate yet another success of the worldview of home schoolers. But you have seen her work and can make your own judgments.
It is hard to write this kind of column without sounding like bragging. And I am certainly proud of Jayme. But my real goal was to simply tell the story of a bright little girl who would have gotten lost in the institution.
The final proof of the rightness of Christian home education doesn't come from statistics and test scores. It comes from the rich fabric of the stories of real lives that have been made better.