Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Homework versus the home

This is a neat article that I read by the folks at God's World News. David Chilton puts into words some things that have bounced around in my brain before....

I once knew a teacher (let's call him Willie) who used to spin absurd theories with elaborately inapplicable applications, and try them on his students. He had a gift for talking fast. So fast that his listeners were often convinced that even if they didn't know what he was talking about, he surely did.

One of Willie's methods of turning his students into walking eggplants was by assigning homework. Now, I have nothing against homework. But Willie subscribed wholeheartedly to a falsehood known as the priority of intellect. He regarded himself as a great intellectual, and since he spent all his life looking up irrelevant data, he saw no reason why his students shouldn't do the same.

It was easy to spot Willie's students. They were the ones who dragged wearily into school every day, bleary-eyed from staying up past midnight to complete his assignments. When they complained, Willie accused them of laziness. When other teachers protested, he airily dismissed them as "humanists" who were more concerned about the children's need for sleep than about "dominion."

But it wasn't only sleep that the students needed. They needed time with their families. Willie never understood the thrust of Deuteronomy 6:6-7: "These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them upon your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up." The instruction spoken of here is not structured; nor is it simply a time for regular family devotions. The point of the passage is that in all family activities, the implications of God's word are to be repeated, impressed upon children, and worked into the fabric of daily life.

Children should live in an atmosphere of praises for God's providences, of awe at his judgments, both in world history and in their own circumstances. But this requires time well-spent at home; time spent with the family-working, building, mending, playing games, enjoying hobbies, shoveling snow, planting gardens, and expressing the love of God in a multitude of ways.

A major problem with any institution is the sinful tendency to view itself as central to all of life. The Christian school does have an important responsibility in teaching. But our students have needs and commitments that go far beyond the demands of formal education. The school should support the aims of godly homes. Children should be encouraged to spend time with their families. And parents should know that school intends to help rather than hinder their efforts in building family relationships.

Administrators should make sure that homework assignments are coordinated. Teachers should teach, not dominate. Be sure that you don't assign homework for the simple reason that you have not done yours.

Finally, let weekends, holidays, and vacations alone. Don't ruin them with schoolwork. Give yourself and your kids a break. Tell you students to have a good time with their families-and then go thou and do likewise.

If you're reading this you likely homeschool too, but these are some of the reasons that I am glad that I am able to teach my kiddos at home. The days can be tiring and the wallet strings tight, but there are many good reasons for us to be teaching at home right now.

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