by Katie Julius
As we were decorating our Christmas tree this weekend, one of my ornaments caught my attention. It was a small blue tote bag filled with a variety of school supplies. The outside of the tote bag was inscribed with a repeating pattern of words that describes the work of a teacher. One of the years that I was a classroom teacher (in my former, pre-child years), I had chosen this ornament because I felt it embodied what I believed to be my goal as a teacher.
“Teach. Inspire. Support. Encourage. Motivate. Nurture. Listen. Guide.”
As I reflected on these words and the expectation that this is the job of teachers today, I thought to myself, “This is a tall order for any one! There is so much behind each of these words. Throw in the pressure teachers have for students to be at a certain level academically from the state and their administrators, it’s certainly a lofty goal.”
Now that I am in my third year as homeschooling parent-teacher, I see these words a bit differently. As we have been planning this year’s CHEA Convention, I have been involved in the process of selecting and communicating our theme for the event. Based on the words of Romans 14:19, “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another,” our focus for this year is “Pursue.” What are the things you are pursuing in your home, in your life, in your school?
On a recent child-free vacation, I finally had the opportunity to sit down, uninterrupted, and read Israel Wayne’s book, Education: Does God Have an Opinion? While I could always give a reason why our family had chosen to homeschool, I only knew a verse or two from the Bible that spoke about education and supported our decision. After reading this book, it became so much clearer exactly why God had called me…called us…to homeschool. And it all has to do with what we are chasing after; what we are pursuing.
If you were to ask a number of people what the end goal of education is, you would probably get a variety of answers – prepare students with skills necessary for life after high school, nurture a love for learning, develop character, etc. While these reasons and the words imprinted on my Christmas ornament are all great secondary goals and results of the educational process, they shouldn’t be our primary focus as Christian home educators.
To know God. That is the purpose Wayne gives in his book, not only for our children’s education, but for the reason we were created. “The Christian worldview teaches that the real purpose for our existence is to know God…The purpose of an education is to know our Creator…It is to teach us about the nature of God.” Reading those words was a punch in the gut.
If we were to look at our home, our school, and our lives, is this what we are pursuing? Not just what we say we are pursuing, but is there actual evidence in our choices? Are all the activities that fill our busy schedules furthering our relationship with our Creator? Is the curriculum that lines our shelves encouraging our understanding of God? Do the words that we speak to our families, especially our children in the midst of a whirlwind of a day, teaching them about the characteristics of our God? (Yeah, that last one hurt a bit for me, too).
We have six months until CHEA’s 37th Annual Homeschool Convention in Anaheim. While we plan to share 26 things that our team feels that we should be pursuing (all great things!), we want to encourage you to find God in each of those things. Our primary pursuit should be of Him.