The Elijah Company Freedom Article
This is just a personal note. Each year, as I try to put together our big, summer catalog, I go through probably 50 totes full of new products sent to me by national publishers or self-published by a home schooling Mom or Dad. You would think this would be an exciting adventure for someone who loves books as much as I do. Just think! I get to dig through all the latest home schooling "stuff" and choose what I like best to go in the catalog.
Actually, it's pretty depressing. Out of every thirty or forty new products, I might find one that I think is barely worthy of telling people about. Why? Because these products are usually all variations on the same theme, which is trying to repackage for a home schooling setting the institutional school's Scope & Sequence, confining schedule, tendency towards overkill and busywork, and paraphernalia. Sometimes I just want to pull out my hear and shout, "Don't you guys understand that all this stuff actually makes home schooling more difficult?!"
I guess that's the big secret. Home schooling is either the easiest thing you've ever done, or the hardest, depending on how stressful it is for you to trust God, trust yourself, and trust your kids. At a recent book fair, a lady spoke to Chris and she hit the nail right on the head. She said, "You know why home schooling is so hard? It's because of the FREEDOM we have."
Freedom is scary. It makes us want boundaries, rules and regulations so we always know exactly what to do and exactly where our kids stand compared to everybody else's kids. It's like being a Christian, isn't it? Being legalistic is easy, because we know what we have to do to be "acceptable" to God and we can gauge whether we are doing better or worse than we are "supposed" to do. But living by faith can be very hard because we're not in charge of the standards any more. Only God's opinion matters, and He tends to judge by the spirit of the law, not the letter.
Because it's always easier to rely on external measurements in order to know if we are doing things "right," home schooling parents tend to gradually drift toward some imitation of the public or private (let us say "institutional") school, just like a Christian will always tend to drift toward some form of legalism. We like the safety of having a system as well as the security of knowing where we stand at all times. Plus, it's always easier to have someone else figure things out for us, whether that someone else is our pastor or a curriculum publisher.
So, what's the point of this little note? A gripe session? No. I just want everyone who reads our catalog to know that I understand how scary and hard home schooling can be. First, it goes against every experience we have regarding what education is. Second, it opens us up to a lot of criticism from family and friends. Third, we feel insecure about our ability to pull it off and fourth, we are uncomfortable about using our children as "guinea pigs" while we figure out what we are doing. Just to attempt home schooling requires a huge leap of faith. In fact, if we are unable to home school "in faith" we might as well send our children to the government (or Church) school.
But I also want you to know that it IS possible to home school in "freedom." We haven't done everything perfectly (by earthly standards) but we've tried it for almost 19 years with our three boys and God has blessed us beyond our wildest hopes. They may not know all the names and dates our minds were crammed full of in public school, but they are responsible, productive, on-fire for God, interesting people who love their families.
This doesn't mean you can't assign grade levels (we didn't). This doesn't mean you can't have a plan (we do). What it means is that you recognize the whole manmade industry of institutional "schooling" for what it is: a lie. John Gatto says (and we agree with him), "School was a lie from the beginning. It continues to be a lie." Don't buy into the lie just because it's harder not to. For some reason, God has placed in your heart a desire to home school your children. YOU find out why. YOU find out how. Be free to do what you find out.
Ellyn Davis ~ Elijah Company
"Why is it that people are slow to yield themselves to the control and government of God? Why is it that there is not a divine passion in our hearts that such a blessed control be made a possibility? Shall you and I today assert our own little humanity and walk according to our own light, or shall we as wise men, as those who seek the divinest in life, say 'yes' to God and let God take our being, inhabit our being, and let Him live His life in us, and then He will manifest His life through us?" -- John G. Lake