I’ve read my share of articles on the Common Core. I’ve watched the cute promotional videos explaining how important it is that we all work together to help each child climb the ladder to educational success. These marketing messages raise some real-life concerns, such as when a student moves from Seattle to Atlanta, then suggest that the immediate answer to issues like this is to establish uniformity of method and materials.
Bill Gates’ Kids
Bill Gates is noted for his success as founder and longtime CEO of the Microsoft Corporation. Most of his time these days is spent on philanthropic endeavors, including raising AIDS awareness and promoting education. I recently read an article about why he refuses to give too much of his money to his own children. One of the most obvious reasons is to avoid the Paris Hilton effect—that is, creating trust-funded children who don’t have to work but instead can afford to indulge their every whim, often leading them to make disastrous life choices such as experimenting with drugs and alcohol. But Gates’s most important reason for not showering his kids with a boatload of money made me think of a major flaw with the Common Core.
The main reason Bill Gates chooses not to give his children too much money is so that they are encouraged to pursue work that is unique to their skills, interests, and passions. He wants to make sure they have to work. And he doesn’t want anyone to put them in a box and tell them what they must do with their lives. Gates wants his children to think about big ideas so that they can see a vision of their own and work toward making their vision a reality. If successful, then they will know the deep satisfaction of a life well lived.
Wow! Isn’t that what we all want for our kids? I know God has great plans for my kids. And I’m sure He has great plans for yours, too. Every one of our kids is made in God’s image, and every one of them is made to bring Him glory in everything they say, think, and do. This includes their life’s work.
Education is largely about—or should be about—preparing young people for their life’s work. That is why so many young people served as apprentices once upon a time. That’s also why trade schools are still successful. And that’s why teaching the same subjects, with the same material, in the same way, and in the same order to all kids doesn’t work. In my opinion, the Common Core will produce clones, drones, and a whole lot of moans.
Educators should be determined to help every individual child discover and prepare for his or her life’s work. After all, every one of us is God’s creation, designed to do good works which He prepared ahead of time for that person (Ephesians 2:10). Your life’s work is not the same as my life’s work. The same goes for our children. Some will want to change the world and bring glory to God by designing new transportation systems, some by nursing the sick, others by writing a great novel, still others by preaching, teaching, leading, or serving. No matter what a person does in his or her career or where they do it, one thing is clear: Society won’t work if everyone is doing the same thing, the same way, in the same place. The world needs a diversity of work, completed in a wide variety of ways, all across the earth.
This is where IEPs come into play. IEP stands for Individual Education Plan. There is nothing “common” about this philosophy. This can’t be cloned and rehashed by teachers for their next classroom full of students. No, this means the educator must actually get to know each child and find out what gets him or her excited. Of course, homeschooling is ideal for this kind of educational approach. And you know you are onto something as a teacher when you don’t have to remind kids to do their studies. You might even have to pull them away from their “work” because they are so motivated and interested in the subject matter. It means you have to treat (and teach) each one like an individual—a true one-of-a-kind kid.
Do It with All Your Heart
Who knows, God may have blessed your family with the next Nobel Prize winner in physics, a missionary to Korea, an Oscar-winning film animator, or corporate CEO. Whatever you and your student find yourselves doing, do it with all your heart as working for the Lord and not man (Colossians 3:23).
What big dreams has God placed in the heart of your child? What does he or she want to do for His glory? Are you cultivating your children’s full potential by preparing them with an individualized education plan? Your answers to these questions may give us a glimpse into the future God has in store for His people.
Walking by faith and enjoying the homeschooling adventure of a lifetime!
© 2014 Davis Carman
Davis is the president of Apologia Educational Ministries, the #1 publisher of Creation-based science and Bible curriculum. He is also the author of three illustrated children’s books designed to instill a biblical worldview. Good Morning, God is based on Deuteronomy 6, and A Light for My Path is an ABC book based on Psalm 119. His latest, In the Beginning, is based on the Creation account in Genesis. He believes that if there was ever a time to homeschool, it is now! You can read more at his blog: www.homeschoolcastles.com.
Davis will present the Keynote Session, Give Me One Good Reason to Homeschool, at the Free Mini Conference for New Homeschoolers July 7 at the Pasadena Convention Center as well as other workshops. View the other workshops here, including Family: Our Best Apologia and The Teacher-Principal Principle.