"To empower students to be successful in an ever changing world."
This is the school motto that flashes on the electronic announcement board of the local elementary school in our neighborhood. It sounds good, right? In fact, it's one of those statements that seems to prompt agreement and nods of approval all the way around. However, while the statement above seems like a noble quest for any adult educator to desire for their students, we must be careful when defining our goals within the context of our home schools.
Since it is such a broad statement, it leaves a great deal of room for interpretation. While we can probably all agree that we live in an "ever-changing world", how do we interpret the words "empower" and "successful"? Most likely our definitions of these terms and how the local school board defines them are going to be quite different.
Whereas we seek to "empower" our children by becoming "powerless" and relying on the strength and wisdom of the Lord, the world teaches children that they only need to believe in their own abilities to achieve whatever they desire. While we strive to equip our children to be bold in taking a stand for what is true and right in the eyes of God, the world upholds the lukewarm doctrine of relativism; teaching children that "right" is in the eyes of the beholder. Similarly, when we work to spiritually "heartschool" our children; knowing that successful academics will come as a natural by-product of that focus, the world emphasizes children who behave acceptably on the outside yet divorce the motivation to do so from anything that is spiritual or Godly.
Then there is the whole issue of defining "success". Subscribing to worldly standards, success means tolerating each other, following the law of the land, maintaining attractive standards for our person and our possessions, contributing to functioning of our society, and making a decent amount of money in the process. Yet, as Christians, we know that our worth and our standards of success have nothing to do with worldly goals. Jesus said, "If you love me, you will obey what I command." Samuel reminded King Saul, "It is better to obey than to sacrifice." The obedience that reflected the faith of Noah, Abraham, and the other patriarchs were all "credited to them as righteousness". Likewise, we encourage our children to obey what God has commanded because it is right. If we do this, they will be "successful" no matter what tangible form of responsibility they take on in life.
Proverbs 6:20-23 says..
My son, keep your father's command,
And do not forsake the law of your mother.
Bind them continually upon your heart;
Tie them around your neck.
When you roam, they will lead you;
When you sleep, they will keep you;
And when you awake, they will speak with you.
For the commandment is a lamp,
And the law a light;
Reproofs of instruction are the way of life,
Is it likely, then, that the instruction and training God intended for the children that He made in His own likeness and then gave to us as gifts should come from any other perspective but the one that Godly parents can deliver? Simply put, no. It is not likely because the concept of "empowering" begs the question "from what source and with what standards are the children being empowered"? Similarly, "success" can only be measured in terms of the obedience and faith that flow from our children's hearts to their hands.
Ultimately, while it is not a bad goal "to empower students to be successful in an ever changing world", as homeschooling parents we need to be boldly specific in our family's vision statement so that there is no question where are standards come from and where their application will lead us.
If you would like to join us for our upcoming spring session where we explore the essential role of creating a family mission statement and many other important topics, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will be happy to provide you with those details when they become available.
Homeschooling since 2000, Carol shares in her blog observations, confessions, and musings that help provide perspective and inspiration for homeschooling moms.