|| A WORD FROM MIKE SMITH
Wisdom: The most important goal
In a talk I give to homeschool audiences called "The Seven Habits of A Successful Homeschool Family," the first and foremost habit I suggest is that parents establish a vision or goal for their family. My conviction is that a family's overall goal for their home education program should be to glorify God, since this is the purpose of man's creation, a purpose that should rule all subsequent decisions.
|J. Michael Smith, President of Home School Legal Defense Association|
I also suggest that our goal for the education of our children must emphasize wisdom, not just knowledge. The American Heritage Dictionary (4th Ed. 2002) defines wisdom as "the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight." The Nelson Bible Dictionary defines wisdom as the "ability to judge correctly and to follow the best course of action, based on knowledge and understanding." These definitions focus on preparing our children not just academically, but also spiritually, for life. Any education that does not prepare a child to live wisely is deficient. And the type of knowledge and understanding we impart to our children will likely determine whether they are wise or not.
My view is that true wisdom comes only from God. To be wise, we ought to apply God's Word to every life situation. This means that in our home education program, the Bible must be the central focus.
If we do not make the Bible the foundation of our wisdom, we can be easily deceived. In the Bible, James 3:14-17 describes the two types of wisdom. There is earthly wisdom that is characterized by bitter envy and selfish ambition-it does not come from above. And there is heavenly wisdom, which is pure, peaceful, considerate, impartial, and sincere. As we impart knowledge and understanding to our children, we want to make sure that it is wisdom from above-from God. Otherwise, we are in danger of imparting the world's wisdom, which is temporal, constantly changing, and often false.
We in the homeschool movement have witnessed firsthand the fallacies of worldly wisdom. What are some of those "truths" of worldly knowledge and understanding that have been used against homeschooling?
The first opposition my family faced was the question of how we could think we were qualified to teach our own children at home. The assumption behind this question was that only those who are specially trained are qualified to teach children. Yet at the time, the test scores of children in public schools-where all of the teachers were state-certified-were falling dramatically.
In response to this worldly wisdom, heavenly wisdom says that parents are specifically chosen for their children. Thus, they are uniquely qualified to train, prepare, and educate their children for every situation in life. Research is now demonstrating objectively that parents are more than just qualified to teach their children academically-they are the best qualified.
Another important tenet of worldly knowledge is the view that children should have the same rights as adults. The children's rights movement says children's choices and opinions, even if contrary to their parents', should be protected by the state. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child asserts that children have the right to be exposed to curricula that promote the principle of autonomous children, and to have a court decide whether their ideas or their parents' ideas are right whenever they disagree on such issues as friends, church, or homeschooling. The foundation for this belief is that parents are not competent to raise their own children without the help of the government.
Wisdom from above recognizes that since parents have the responsibility to raise their dependent children, they also need the authority to do so. Parents are responsible to God for the raising of their children, and the state should become involved only when a parent commits a crime sufficient to justify state involvement. Homeschooling has amply demonstrated that parents are more than competent to raise and care for their own children.
Finally, we continue to deal with worldly wisdom that asserts that homeschooling stunts children's social development because of less peer interaction, i.e., "socialization" at school. Homeschooling parents know this is absurd. Objective research and anecdotal experience both demonstrate that home-educated children are quite capable of dealing with the issues of life. One of the main reasons is because they spend more time with adults than with peers. Still, many people erroneously believe that homeschooled children are deprived socially.
So, let me continue to encourage you to aim at the most important goal of your homeschool program: to impart wisdom to your children. Train them in wisdom from above, not worldly wisdom, so that they will be able to recognize the truth that comes only from God. Then our children will walk in purity, gentleness, and peacefulness, full of love, mercy, and good works, without partiality or hypocrisy. What a tremendous purpose-and promise-for parents! What parents won't consider themselves successful when their children attain wisdom? After all, God did not call us to prepare our children for Harvard, but for heaven.