“See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition.” Colossians 2:8
We successfully homeschooled four kids. They’re all decent adults, capable of thinking for themselves, independently minded, cognizant that nothing in life comes easy, and not easily fooled by the words of others.
Not one of them, however, graduated from Harvard. Nor did they attend the school. And when they did go on to higher education (not all of them did), they were decidedly older than 12.
Judging by the assorted pop-news articles I’ve been running into lately on Facebook, my children are — by contemporary homeschool standards — failures, because truly successful homeschooled kids
- attend Harvard,
- matriculate into Harvard, or some other acceptably elite post-secondary institution, well before the age of 15, and
- become doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs in the technology or engineering industry.
One article chronicled a family of 10, or maybe it was 8 or 11 or 15, that was “deeply Christian,” which was the unspoken explanation for why all their children past puberty attended Ivy League schools and entered into elite professions. The younger kids are presumably still stuck at home, working through calculus, intermediate Latin, and Keynesian economics for kids. My sincere sympathies extend to any outcast who has a leaning toward art, or music, or writing, and isn’t blessed with a last name like Warhol, Spielberg, or Cyrus.
As a homeschooling parent who made it through the gauntlet, I have read more than my share of articles about amazing families — most of whom gauge their amazingness by the number of children, at a very young age, that they have sent on to Harvard, and I’ve always wondered two things:
- How do they PAY for this? Harvard, or any private university — or public, for that matter — is not inexpensive, and even the best financial aid doesn’t fund the whole package. Private, elite schools are so named for a primary reason, most notably that many children from elite — read, rich — families attend there. Those without a significant amount of money face a major hurdle that the articles never address — and one would think that families of 8 or 10 or 12 — unless they have managed to secure a plushly lush reality show — would struggle to make it, especially upon the regular incomes that many ordinary families depend upon.
- For those who call themselves Christians — and theatrically point to God and their faith as the means of their affording elite options — why do they use the same standards as the corporate world to define success in the lives of their children?
Obviously, there’s nothing wrong about attending Harvard — but neither is attending there the pinnacle of everything right.
Being a doctor or a lawyer or a banker isn’t necessarily a bad thing — but neither are these professions the exclusive representation of all that is good, honorable, decent, or right. Many families, homeschooling or not, simply want the best for their children, and our standards are not too low if we desire that they make good choices, have enough to eat, find something to laugh about, and have people in their lives whom they love.
Within our anxiously frenetic, corporately controlled American society, however, the simple things in life not only are not enough, they are not a sign of a successful life. Being a decent, honest person is fine, we grudgingly admit, but only if the job title and yearly benefit package are concurrent. Sadly, to many Christians, the definition of success is the same as that of the world around us, only we toss the name Jesus in now and then.
True Christians, we aver, are happy and content and joyful and rich — with that last item in the list being the most significant, and truly successful homeschooling families produce children who attend Harvard.
So I guess we didn’t make it. We just raised kids who like to read, know how to milk goats, enjoy being around one another, can create something edible out of a can of tuna and a bag of noodles, and, most importantly, put a value upon their independence higher than the imagined status they receive from their job titles.
Independent thinkers: now those are a rarity.
But thankfully, attending Harvard is not the means to achieve them.
Thank you for joining me at This Woman Writes, where I integrate Christianity into real life, and seek to dispel the myths that attach themselves to a serious belief in God.