More Bad Ideas About Careers: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 6)

A trend is now becoming commonplace in the western world. Some folks are so adept at this “game” that a new word has been coined to describe the illness. It is called “victimology”!

This “disease” is actually a symptom of gross immaturity. People who cannot or refuse to accept responsibility for their decisions often find others to blame rather than admit error and fix it.

A classic example of this victim mentality is occasionally seen in the home education world, as well. If you are refusing to move on with life, thinking that the world owes you a living, you are deluded.

I really like what Mark Twain had to say about that. He said: “Don’t go around saying the world owes you a living. The world owes you nothing. It was here first.” Wise words.

If you lack ambition, you have a problem and it is not your parent’s fault. There comes a time when you need to grow up. Go talk to the mirror because that’s where the problem lies. Thinking that the world owes you anything is a bad idea.

Similarly, if you were told you did not qualify for admission to college, it is not likely because you were targeted. Either you failed to inform them of your being home educated, so alternative admission criteria could be applied, or you did not have the required prerequisite subjects, or your marks are poor.

Whatever the reason, you failed, not your parents, not the institution, nor anybody else. Blaming others for your issues is a bad idea.

Another bad idea that can cloud your judgement about your future is when you compare yourself or your choices with others.

Just be comfortable with yourself and trust that while you may not be perfect, you have made your decisions based on the best possible information, which includes: awareness of your personal characteristics, and the advice of others.

Comparing yourself with others is a bad idea.

Attending college, thinking that this will reveal your inner being and your destination, is another bad idea.

Consider that if you are not self-confident, you are susceptible to further indoctrination by the ideologically driven nature of most of the academics occupying teaching positions as well as your peers in college.

In other words, if you don’t know who you are, you may be paying others, not so much to help you find yourself or your direction, but to create their version of what they think you should be and do. Beware! This is a very bad idea!

Better to know what you want to do in the first place and to determine if institutional post-secondary training is necessary at all. Many times, you can do things without needing government approval, certification or institutional training.

As a self-taught, home educated learner, it is often much better to skip the “official” program in favour of teaching yourself what you have to learn, in order to best do what you have to do, when you need to do it. That is how we were created to learn.

However, if college is needed to get the certification necessary to do what God has created you to do, then do it.

If you are not confident with yourself, if you are lost or unsure of your attributes, you will never discover yourself or your career at college. Furthermore, it is one very expensive and potentially dangerous way to find your place in this world.

Going to college to say that you went to college is another bad idea.

Likely the most common bad idea regarding choosing a career is called “going with the flow.” This is very different from walking by faith, where you work as though it depends completely on you while trusting that God will see you through. People often plan to fail by failing to plan.

True, you have as limited a vision of the future as everyone else, but choosing a career should be an active, not a passive pursuit. To confuse lethargy with faith is also a bad idea.

Now let’s review our list of bad ideas as prescribed by a godless secular world.

– “We can be anything we want to be.” Sure, if in keeping with our positive attributes.

– “Success is based on temporal objectives with no eternal purpose.” This is limiting.

– “Higher learning guarantees success.” Not really, although higher learning can provide more options.

– “Perfection is be sought after.” Only if eternity is the goal.

– “Your failures are not your fault.” This prevents maturation.

– “One should compare oneself with others.” This prevents contentment.

– “Attending college will help you find your way.” If you are not clear as to where you are going, wait until you do know.

– “Careers will happen without being proactive.” This may be true, but will it be the right career?

I am sure there are many more bad ideas that can mislead you into your future.

Obviously, the best thing that you can do is to avoid bad ideas. This can be accomplished in two ways. One is to identify a bad idea and to avoid doing that. The other is to involve people who love you and are genuinely concerned for your wellbeing, who most likely have experienced at least some of these bad ideas and can advise you.

Everybody makes mistakes. Seek wisdom from those who have walked through this career search activity. They are likely to reveal even more bad ideas than what we have discussed here.

What is Success? A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 5)

Last week we discussed whether a higher education meant a better chance at success.

Needless to say, industry insiders will certainly encourage you to continue to bring education money to, or spend your money at, their institution of higher learning, so there will be no end to equating more education to greater success.

There are two questions that beg asking here. The first is, what do they mean by success? The second is, who do they honestly have in mind when talking of this success!

There is a joke that often circulates within teachers’ circles that goes like this. In the school system the B students are encouraged to better themselves by going to university to learn from the A students, so that they can be qualified to work for the D student, who saw through the school charade, quit school and started a business. Ha! Ha!

This simply does not go with the thinking that a higher education means greater success, yet it may not be that far from the truth.

You must understand that school will always promote school as the only way to succeed as this translates into success for the industry, if not necessarily for you. It is also important to understand that those who went to college will measure success through their personal experience.

The “D student” shows us that success does not necessarily follow greater amounts of school. Not that the “D student” isn’t intelligent. He is just not playing within industry expectations. Success in this case is disconnected from schooling maybe, but not from learning.

An old friend of mine often said that this or that person had done well for themselves. What was his measuring stick? There are a number of things used to measure success, but since he was a high profile university professor, he measured success by titles, placements, or prestige.

For instance, in his mind, a principal had done better than a mere classroom teacher and the ultimate success within the teaching industry was reached if one “climbed” to superintendency, whether or not the individual demonstrated competence.

A lot of people measure success by the size of the pay cheque. Mathematically and financially this makes sense, but does it really translate into greater levels of success? Are the wealthy more contented?

Some, especially those who have a natural affinity for entertaining, will use fame as a measure of success. Occasionally, when not that successful on merit alone, some may even resort to notoriety as a form of being “famous” which in their eyes is success.

Yet others, and I must admit that this is hardly a good measure of anything, will deem themselves successful through the uniform required by a position. In their world, if you ranked for the uniform, be it trousers with a stripe down the leg, a special vest or a particular headdress, you have made it!

All these measures, and I am sure there are others as well, may indeed have the trappings of success, but are they really?

Is it possible that one could have a great title or placement and still not be successful? Will prestige, or fame, or some particular wardrobe do it? What about money? Surely more is… better?

While the world advances a vertical view of success where the university educated look down upon the college educated, who in turn look down on the trades and so on, God sees things differently. He has a horizontal view of importance, not based on the world’s definition of success, but on how well you use your talents. Every job or career is important to Him.

Perhaps I live a sheltered life, dealing mostly with fearfully independent people who have opted to do the job of educating their children themselves. However, in my experience, clothing, money, fame, titles, positions, prestige, or anything else, for that matter, should not be advanced as measures of success.

There is really only one thing nearly every parent desires for their child. For those who do not acknowledge God as part of their lives, happiness within a career is the measure of success.

For those who seek God in their lives, serving Him with all their heart, soul, mind and strength is the ultimate goal, which, incidentally, leads to happiness.

Both are saying the same thing. As mentioned before, there are only two possible careers: the right one, leading to success and happiness, or the wrong one that doesn’t.

Do you not think there are people in high places, with big titles, lots of prestige, money and fame, who should be five times successful by the world’s standards, yet who are miserable?

If we use the world’s standards to measure success, we will not likely find peace, as every measure is a comparison to someone else. There will always be those who are greater and those who are lesser than you, but there will never be another you.

You will only be happy if you are doing something that makes use of, or highlights, your strengths. You will only be happy if your career has you giving something to someone else.

Sure, you may be getting paid, maybe even paid well, but unless your day to day activities contribute to someone else’s success, your success will be shallow.

I do realize that the measure I have given you is based on faith. Perhaps the world doesn’t see it the way I do. However, let me ask you a question and you can decide for yourself what should be used to measure success.

Imagine you are on your deathbed with days, maybe hours, left to your life on earth. What do you think will be on your mind? The title you had? The placement you occupied? The prestige of your position? Your clothing, fame or fortune?

Or do you think that how you loved and served God, your spouse, your children and your fellow man, might occupy your thoughts?

If relationships are what matter at death, I can guarantee you that they are what matter in life, and likely the best measure of success there is.

If your career improves your relationship with God and others, you will be happy. If so, you are likely in the right place. This is the best measure of success.

Does Higher Education Mean Better Success? A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 4)

Continuing with our bad career idea of being whatever you want to be, I want to share something I experienced while doing an East Coast circuit of talks several years ago. As we were billeted, we got a chance to have personal contact with a number of people who had organized the events.

As usual, the dialogue eventually took us to discuss what we were doing for a living.

Funny, isn’t it? What we recently talked about in a video as being the biggest decisions in life end up being what we are most interested to learn about other people, starting with our questioning their worldview perspective, then their marital status and/or family makeup and finally the careers involved.

As we moved from place to place, I started to take note of a pattern respecting the careers of the people with whom I was associating. We were billeted with a university math professor, a fisherman, a pastor, a teacher, a policeman, a music producer, a financial planner, a prosthetist and a host of other people in various positions, postings, careers and jobs.

What became clear to me was that it did not seem to matter whether these careers involved a lot of higher education, or money or prestige, or not.

The thread that ran through it all was that pretty well everybody I visited was happy with what they were doing for a living, with the notable exception of the fellow who said he made his living by shoving cars down people’s throats!

Obviously, this individual was not happy with his placement, nor was the physical education instructor at the local college who could not understand why others did not see things his way.

Both these individuals were in the wrong place, highlighting that there are only two possible careers, that being, the right one and the wrong one, which, as previously stated, is determined by the individual characteristics of the person.

So much for the school-based idea about people becoming anything they want to be!

Later on, when I asked how many in the audience I was addressing were post-secondary educated, that is, had some training, diploma, certificate or degree beyond a “grade 12”, over three quarters of the crowd indicated they had.

Asking those who had post-secondary training to leave their hands up if they were presently employed in their field of training, nearly every hand went down!

Further probing the crowd, when I asked how many were content with their present employment, nearly every hand went up, clearly demonstrating that post-secondary training, while important, seemed to be disconnected from what people ended up doing with their lives, exposing yet another bad idea about careers, which is, that more education guarantees a better placement.

I also asked one more question after noticing that there were a few people who stated that they had some kind of post-secondary training and that they were working in their field of training.

When I asked how many knew at a young age that they wanted to do what they are doing today, the same people had their hands up. Not willing to accept this as coincidence, I asked what they did for a living.

They fell into two categories. They were either tradesman or farmer and fisherman, which have one common characteristic. Both of these careers are initially learned from people doing the job. That is, the skills are learned from experts in the field.

This was interesting as folks going into these careers usually do not go to college to find them, but rather know what they want and go to college to qualify to do just that. This educational process is called apprenticeship, but we can also refer to it as mentorship.

This East Coast experience led me to question the whole idea of why the world advances going to college as the most important thing one can do respecting education. Perhaps this is why there are a number of people who, while post-secondary educated, are not actually working in the field they’re trained in.

I believe that there are two lessons here. The first is that post-secondary training does not guarantee success and that if we try to find a career by first getting the training for it, there is a good possibility of failure.

The second lesson is that we ultimately find our place, with or without this higher training. God sees to it, if we let Him.

There’s a prevailing view that higher education means greater success. Is it true that the more education someone has, the more successful he or she is going to be? No. Perhaps yes, but that will depend on whether you start by determining what you desire as a career, or simply go to college to find that.

Higher education is certainly beneficial, providing more options for possible careers, but it does not guarantee a successful placement in life. However, before we proceed further down this path, we will have to discuss what success actually is.

Proceeding Without Bad Ideas: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 3)

Before I venture any further in this series, intended to be viewed by post-pubescent students as much as by parents, it is imperative that I speak about a topic that occasionally comes up within the home education community, indeed, any community.

It is regarding perfection. It doesn’t exist outside of God, so forget about reaching it any other way. There are no perfect parents and there are no perfect children.

Imperfect parents cannot expect perfection of their imperfect children. Neither should imperfect children expect it of imperfect parents. Get past this crazy idea of expecting perfection from anyone or anything!

Just as unreasonable as the perfection merry-go-round we just went through, is to expect perfection of yourself. To be conscious of doing good work, to strive to be the best that you can be, or to expect excellence of yourself is all good, but you will not do well as a “perfectionist”!

Perfectionists are impossible to live with because they live in an impossible world. Perfectionists are so disconnected from the real world, they may even start to confuse their desire for perfection with their actually being perfect. Bad plan! Perfect people don’t exist, remember?

Furthermore, people who think they are perfect cannot possibly improve on perfection, so they handicap their own growth as a consequence. Perfect people see themselves as faultless and flawless, not as having failings or of being failures!

The next step to thinking you are perfect is to declare personal divinity and then to advance self-righteousness as His righteousness. This can only lead to disaster!

Forget about being perfect. Forgo the temptation to expect it of others. Just be good old imperfect you and strive to be the best you can be and to do the best that you can do, without beating yourself up when making a mistake.

As mentioned last time, the home educated have a number of advantages over the school educated. However, even though you have a better starting point in making life decisions, you can never expect perfection of yourself or anybody else. Besides, seeking perfection can actually paralyze decision making.

Living in an imperfect world provides ample opportunity for bad things to creep into our lives, without our being aware of it. There will always be ideas and actions that will direct you to repeat error, sometimes by default, other times by design, but never to perfection.

As solid as your worldview may be, it is still full of error, or shall I say, is imperfect and subject to further corruption.

You must understand that when the secular world keeps repeating a message, there is likely a reason. You may not know this, but the best way to indoctrinate people is to provide the same information, over and over again, eventually wearing down natural resistance, leading to the acceptance of what is being presented, as truth.

Repeating these principles or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true is the very definition of dogma, the underlying root of the dogmatic, who repeat an idea without knowing the original source or why it is or is not so.

There is no lack of examples one could use to illustrate how error becomes fixed as part of our thinking, but we will focus on a few specifically associated with career paths.

The first and most widely advanced bad career idea is that anybody can be anything they want to be. This secular thinking is based on the assumption that all people are born as a product of some cosmic chance occurrence, as blank slates that can be programmed to be something constructive, or destructive, depending on one’s perspective.

This is why there are so many people bouncing around from one job or career to another. If we can be anything we want to be, we will eventually find what we want to be, I guess! However, even this wrong thinking actually highlights an important reality about careers.

That is, there are really only two possible careers. You heard me right. There is the right career, the one in keeping with your gifts, talents and abilities, and the wrong career, which is not.

This takes us back to our original good idea that those who are more confident with who they are, are more likely to avoid paths that do not fit. If you are already familiar with your positive and negative attributes, it is easier to eliminate the wrong careers and potentially right careers are more likely to be identified quicker.

It should be obvious that people need to have a God-given aptitude for the career they choose. If you can’t draw, don’t aspire to being an artist. If you can’t hold a tune in a bucket, forget about being a rock star. Well maybe you could be some kind of star, as they occasionally prove how not having talent is not a hindrance! My opinion, of course!

Can’t stand the sight of blood? Forget medicine or nursing, even if it sounds so… romantic! Can’t stand people? Really, you need to fix that, but in the meantime, stay out of the service industry!

Many people have bought the lie that said they could be anything they wanted to be and have taken the longer, and likely more expensive, route to find the right career.

However, you can only be who God created you to be. I am not talking about a specific position, but a career in keeping with who you are. If you are excited about going to work, you can consider that to be the right job or career, at least for now.

Preparing for Life, Not for College: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 2)

God did not call parents to prepare their children for college but to prepare them for life, both on this earth and for eternity. There is a big difference.

Even if college becomes one of the steps taken along the way, it is not the focus as much as a means to an end that no one can accurately predict.

While the parents’ job is certainly to encourage children to be the best that they can be, to direct them with an eye to the future, and to praise them always for a job well done, it is the students that need to prepare for their future, for life and for college if, indeed, that becomes part of the plan.

One of the best preparations for the future is something that usually comes naturally with home education. Those who have been sentenced to school are usually either completely confused about the world and themselves, and/or pressured to make decisions before they have the personal knowledge and confidence to do so, but this is not so with the home educated.

You have been given one of the best gifts any growing and maturing child could receive; the privilege of being who you are. Not only did you not have to sacrifice yourself on the altar of unreasonable, peer-pressured expectations, but you were given plenty of uninterrupted time to make informed decisions.

You were raised in the only environment possible where you could truly receive unconditional love. This is not to say that your parents did not correct your errant ways while encouraging you to model your life in accordance with a code of conduct that has withstood opposition since the dawn of time, but they did not try to recreate you into something that wasn’t you.

This freedom to be who you are gave you something most in the jungle environment and laws of school are robbed of. You were directed to have confidence in yourself, your abilities and to be exposed to and familiarized with your shortcomings.

This is not to say that you are the centre of the universe, but that you were given the opportunity to be aware of your being, within a universe much bigger and older than yourself.

This knowledge and confidence about yourself provides you with a much clearer vision of options for how you will occupy your life and you are not as likely to be choosing a career based on money, prestige or power.

Children may make decisions based on faulty premises such as uniforms, world-saving ideology or self-aggrandizement, but you were encouraged to grow up and put away childish things. Your focus on the future is more mature because it is, hopefully, less self-centred.

The home educated students are, therefore, more likely to follow a more successful career path as they are less likely to be confused about who they are and what they are capable of, reducing the experimental fact-finding needed for those less confident of themselves.

Being familiar with yourself, your gifts, strengths, weaknesses, faults and shortcomings is the key to finding the appropriate pathway in life.

Starting with the knowledge of what you can and cannot do will quickly eliminate needless “dreaming” about things out of your grasp or undervaluing yourself. On that note, always challenge yourself by reaching beyond what you think you are capable of.

Understanding that you are unique in this world, and not simply a clone of someone else’s design, also better equips you to find your particular place in this world.

Celebrating what makes you different rather than trying to confine yourself to the conformity of school will serve you very well in determining what you will do with your life.

Remember that, unlike the world’s measuring stick, it’s not what you do that determines who you are, but rather who you are that determines what you do.

Being comfortable with being different also places you in an advantageous position. After all, assuming that you do not see this world as being here for you as much as you being here to serve the world, you will want to make a positive impact on it or to make a difference within it.

And it should be obvious that in order to make a difference, you have to be different.

This is not to say that everyone will be in a leadership position, but to understand that we all affect those around us, one way or the other. It is my hope that you want to affect those who have found themselves as part of your life, in a positive way.

Finally, I most certainly do not subscribe to the belief that God has a perfect plan for you. Outside of Salvation through Jesus, which indeed is the eternal perfect plan, God gives you all the latitude you need to make life choices.

Indeed, He gives you enough freedom to make wrong decisions, too. If you truly want freedom to make decisions about your life, you need to take responsibly for it and the decisions you make. Also, you must be prepared to admit error when it happens, do what you can to fix the problem and move on.

The Three Most Important Decisions: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Planning Ahead (Part 1)

Click here to watch this entire series’ video playlist on YouTube.

At this juncture we have reached a crossroads. Up until now, this blog series has focused on advising and directing parents.

In keeping with the advice given to the parents of pubescent children, we are going to shift the focus of our audience from the parents to the students who are completing their secondary level education at home.

However, even though the future belongs to the student, I do not want to exclude parents from the conversation. Therefore, I will be making suggestions that may at times be directed at parents or students or both.

I strongly urge parents to make this blog series a required part of your student’s secondary learning, especially as they approach and transition to the post-secondary level.

Now, let’s begin by discussing:

The Three Most Important Decisions

Life provides us with many opportunities for making decisions. In fact, it is estimated that we make as many as 35,000 decisions every day, whether we are conscious of them or not!

No doubt, there are some decisions that are much more important than others, especially those affecting your long term best interests. In that respect, I believe that everybody will make three critical decisions in life.

The first and most critical decision involves God’s place in your life. Whether you decide for or against God, or to accept or reject what Jesus has provided you, is of critical importance as it defines eternity.

A decision about eternity not only establishes the outcome of your post-life journey, but affects your future, which is included within the eternal.

Consider that how you perceive God becomes the very foundation upon which you build your worldview and that this is the place from which you will draw all your presumptions in decision making.

Furthermore, the degree to which you commit to serve and obey the Lord will very much influence the direction you choose to walk in life. Indeed, the amount of freedom you will have will correlate with the extent to which you walk in faith. You can study this in the Gospel of John, Chapter 8.

The second most important decision involves love and marriage! This decision, properly made and maintained, will last a lifetime.

Although not as crucial as the decision to follow or not to follow God’s directives regarding eternity, a lifetime is a long time, so this decision is of critical importance to your journey here on planet earth, and it should not be taken lightly.

Getting attached with the wrong person will lead to either a long miserable life or a broken one. Neither is desirable.

Although this decision is the second most important one you will make in your life, the third most important decision will likely be made before the second most important decision.

The third biggest decision that you will have to make is regarding your career or what you will do in life. Unlike the eternal consequences of the “what place will God have in your life” decision, or the lifelong “who will be your partner” decision, this one will affect your day to day life for forty years or so.

Unlike the first two decisions, this one is more of a process than an event. Although there may be some trial and error in the beginning, most people eventually find their place in this world.

All these decisions are individual decisions. Nobody can make them for you.

Parents cannot make these decisions for their children. They most certainly should be advising, but parents will not be the ones having to live directly with the outcomes of any of these decisions.

However, you need to clearly understand that all decisions made by any person will affect others, especially those closest to you.

Generally speaking, nobody is blessed with the ability to make the right decision every time. No doubt, there will be changes of mind as you go through all the options for faith, family and freedom.

If your desire is to get things right the first time, start with the most important decision first, namely, God’s place in your life. If that decision is correct, you have a better chance of making the right decision respecting marriage.

Regarding marriage, there will be a few, maybe many potential candidates, but only one needs to win! There is no need to get in a hurry, but at the same time, if you are waiting for the perfect person to show up, you may be waiting for a long time!

I am personally not convinced that one has to actively seek a lifelong partner. My experience is, I must admit, somewhat limited, but I believe that this ideal, not perfect, individual sort of “falls” into one’s life as one walks through it. Maybe trusting God to provide this person is the best approach. What do you think?

Once a potential candidate comes into your life, remember that even though marriage is a personal and intimate relationship between you and your partner, it includes everyone involved in your lives. Some of your “seasonal acquaintances” will drop out, but most will want to continue to be part of your life.

Involving those who love you the most, starting with your parents and siblings, cannot be overemphasized. As a rule of thumb, if your potential candidate fits right in with the rest of the family, you at least have someone who will not be separating you from your loved ones.

As mentioned, career decisions are usually made before the marriage decision. On this front, it is okay to experiment. Part time work or volunteering is a good way to get the experience and to discover what you like or don’t like doing.

There are two things at play in the beginning of your career search. First there is finding a job, getting experience and cash to move forward in life. Few start and end in the same place.

The other issue involves what you will be doing for the rest of your life. Few start here, but most everyone ends here.

This is where the home educated have a real advantage over the schooled in that they are usually more comfortable with who they are, more aware of their strengths and limitations, more mature and therefore more able to find a good fit, earlier.

Three big decisions. The first is by inspiration. The second is by enlightenment. The third is by discovery. All are life changing and therefore critical.

Parents should be involved. Family and friends should be involved. But you will have to ultimately make them.

Oh! By the way, if all these questions are about your future, your foundations, direction and purpose in life, I highly recommend you consult the One who truly knows something about that!

Make the most critical decision to serve the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength. Seek His Kingdom and His righteousness. If you keep the other decisions in prayer, you will find that they will eventually be added unto you.

Graduation: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Finishing Strong (Part 7)

The two most difficult things with any project are starting and ending. No doubt you remember all the issues that you had to deal with at the beginning, although time does dull the memory, especially when it involves negative things! Now, it is looking like the job is done, but you may not know how to stop!

If you have been home educating from the start, you transitioned from the primary level to the secondary level as the children transitioned into adulthood through puberty.

Since then, you have transitioned out of being the teacher, delivering and/or directing the program, into being an overseer and personal mentor, as the children become more self-motivated and move into the post-secondary phase of learning, where they will start to specialize.

Generally speaking, these “metamorphic changes” occurred as the students assumed more responsibility for their education. The rate of learning accelerated, resulting in the completion of their secondary level of education, usually by age sixteen.

They have all they will need to move on in life. If there is anything missing, they, as adults, will do what they have to do in order to go where they want to go. We wanted our children to excel and they did.

It is now time to let them move on to the post-secondary phase of their education. However, since learning actually never ends, when do we consider the task of home educating done?

Most parents and students are fine with simply fading out of “doing school” into “living life.” Some like to have a point in time or a mark to distinguish the end of one, before fully embarking on the next step in life.

School calls this “graduation,” a point in time when the formal education of children is officially recognized as completed. There is nothing wrong with doing this, but one must ask why it is necessary. Even more important, does this have to be a community affair, or is a familial celebration enough?

As our home education industry has directed the community to become increasingly more associated with doing school at home, agencies have been making some sort of graduation exercise a part of their offerings.

I personally question the need for playing into any agency’s redirecting and normalizing a purely “school” based activity. Our determination to do things differently from the “school’s way” should not end with our doing things the “school’s way”.

Why not do something different, in keeping with our theme of being different from the rest, in the first place?

For starters, having inputted the children’s achievements into their cumulative transcripts, now is the time to wrap it up and submit it for “official” recognition that triggers the creation of the Certificate of Achievement, both of which are made available in the Student’s Documents.

Both serve well as indicators of completion for a home education, not to mention being invaluable for progressing to the post-secondary arena.

I am, of course, talking about the online cumulative transcripts parents associated with Education Unlimited have at their disposal. I am also assuming, against our collective experience, that parents were faithful in updating information as things were accomplished in a home education program, rather than having to panic due to the accumulated procrastination of this obligation!

Now that the “official” Transcript and Certificate of Achievement have been presented to the children, you can consider this part of their education as completed.

Another often used, although truly “unofficial” home education “diploma” is the Driver’s Licence! Since most students abandon the notion of doing more “school work” once they have obtained it, it is a good point at which to recognize that the job of secondary education is done.

This license truly frees the students to pursue life and so it is a good place to let them go with the confidence that it is now a job well done.

Some parents and students like to have an official “graduation.” As previously mentioned, this can be as part of a larger group, but my personal suggestion is that this be a familial rather than community event.

Young ladies especially like to do this as it gives them the chance to get a nice dress and to be the focus of attention for an evening.

Guys usually don’t get too excited about new “dresses,” unless of course they are on young ladies! Joking aside, fellows are not as likely to request a graduation exercise, but will accommodate the parents, who may wish to mark the completion of the formal learning process with an event to honour them.

Either way, whether it involves a gathering of extended family members and friends at home or another venue, with or without the presentation of documents, to celebrate a worthy accomplishment, is always a good thing.

Any opportunity for parents to make manifest their pleasure and pride in their child’s accomplishments is a good thing. Anytime a child gets a chance to express gratitude and appreciation for all that the parents have done, is not only a good thing, but a fitting end to this part of the learning journey.

Whatever course the parents and students take to mark the completion of the secondary phase of learning, the real celebration is not having accomplished certain proficiencies and skills, but the demonstrating of principled adult attitudes and responsibilities.

Oh, let’s not forget to be thankful for The One who made it all possible, in spite of the occasional lapse of faith we experienced while arriving at this place. THE END!

Done At Sixteen: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Finishing Strong (Part 6)

How long does it take to get a basic education? If you answered twelve years, you are thinking school. What I would like to do today, is show you how home educated students can complete a formal program by the time they are sixteen.

School may say it takes twelve years to get an education, but we need to ask where that idea came from. Furthermore, pretty well every private school and nearly every curriculum follows the pattern of needing twelve years to acquire a basic education.

Most jurisdictions in the world have sixteen as the legal school leaving age, including the Province of Alberta. Yet, the peer pressure is to go the additional two to three years.

The standard claim is that it takes six years to learn the basics in elementary. Students are then subjected to three years of academic purgatory in junior high, where few new concepts are learned as children negotiate puberty.

Finally, students are required to do three additional years of high school before being “approved” as ready for the post-secondary world.

Most students starting high school are already tired of going to school. They are not likely thinking, “Oh boy, now we’re in high school where we will be treated as adults!” Rather, what most have in their mind is, “Three more stinking years and we are out of here.”

I know this! I spent a lot of years watching students go through this process, as I taught high school. Most students either didn’t have enough gumption to care or cared just enough to buckle down and do whatever was necessary to put this experience behind them.

One thing for sure, if students were not coerced into believing that it was necessary to go, most would just skip high school and get on with life.

Once school students have put in their time and if they have followed directives, they will get a diploma that nobody will ever ask for.

While celebrating their accomplishments at the graduation party, they will often chant about how they have made it! They will congratulate each other on being academically proficient and prepared to take on the world!

Actually, this is not true. The reason for the big party is much the same as one finds when someone has gotten out of jail. It’s more a celebration of parole, of having served the required time, rather than of being accredited for the next phase of their lives. I exaggerate, maybe, but not by much!

How long does it actually take to educate a child? Does it really take twelve years? It actually only takes about a hundred hours to learn the basics or primary skills. Why six years of elementary?

Junior high is where students go through puberty while teachers go through mental issues. Well, maybe not all teachers, but it is fair to say that this is a very difficult group to work with. No wonder that few new concepts are introduced!

Ever think that God, in His wisdom, may not have allowed parents to have litters of children at a time, in order to avoid the “junior high school pubescent circus” we see in school?

By the time school advances to the “completion of the student’s formal education” in high school, most students are actually more ready for life than three more years of learning things they will likely never use will make them.

If we take those twelve years and throw out the three years of junior high, we are left with nine years of formal education.

If we really exaggerate and say that the children are actually learning and advancing academically during half of their school time, it means there are only about four and a half years of actual learning time during a twelve year school term, or shall we call it, a twelve year school “sentence”?

Seriously, we could start teaching our children at home at ten and send them to university by fifteen. In the meantime they would still have a life. This is not a joke! My wife and I have seen it happen time and time again.

We have observed that if children have been home educated from the start, they are usually done with their formal education by sixteen. That is, they are working at a similar skill level to “school graduates,” completing their secondary level of training by this time.

Home educating parents making their children do “school” beyond sixteen, will likely run into difficulty convincing them they need what really amounts to additional busy work, keeping them from engaging in more meaningful activities. Even the government believes they are old enough to drive a potentially lethal vehicle at age sixteen, so it’s okay to set them free.

Parents may be guilty of asking their children to retreat in order to advance when employing the “you’re not finished until you are eighteen,” school thinking. This is especially the case when the students are sent to high school.

We do not want to waste their time. Home educated children are more likely ready to start post-secondary studies by now than regressively chasing that elusive goal of an accredited grade twelve.

I encourage you to trust God and not put your confidence in man, who no doubt knows enough math to be able to see that extending a short process into one longer than necessary, also extends the potential of the education industry to both indoctrinate the children and increase its income!

Alternatives to Accreditation: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Finishing Strong (Part 5)

Now that we have established that parental ignorance of the systemic use of accreditation, largely motivated by the increased funding associated with it, is to blame for the normalization of public school credits at home, I would like to provide an alternative to public accreditation.

Once the accumulation of “high school” credits is started, whether at home or at school, there is no turning back, as anything short of the full completion of all requirements for a high school diploma deems the student a dropout, much the same as the GED does.

That is, if a student earns a single credit either through school or a school-based program, a provincial transcript is created that is attached to the individual’s Alberta Student Number (ASN).

Parents should be warned that home education providers who offer high school credits usually do not reveal this information, as it is not in their best interest.

While it is imperative that parents understand that accreditation is not essential to successfully transition to the post-secondary level, it is also important to note that to seek accreditation is to embark on the most demanding and frustrating option for the secondary level of a home education.

This is due to the challenge of trying to complete a program designed to be delivered by a teacher in a school, forcing students and parents to jump through the hoops required to complete a high school program.

Parents or students motivated by wanting to outperform regular school attendees at school programming, need to consider that demonstrating the ability to do better at school work, comes with questionable benefits.

Students “schooling at home” place themselves in competition for post-secondary admission with every other accredited student. Since it is more difficult to “honestly” do better with “school work” at home than at school, students often find themselves handicapped with lower marks.

Also, if the focus of the family faith is biblical, parents should be aware that the accreditation route does not follow biblical principles.

Christian parents should, therefore, be concerned when a school claiming to be “Christian” offers public programming as an incentive to attend or register with their institution.

Parents should also be wary of schools and home education providers “pretending” to meet the course requirements in order to award credits. Although doing so greatly benefits the school, students rarely complete the requirements for a high school diploma and usually do not merit the marks required for post-secondary admission using this approach.

Whether credits are honestly or dishonestly obtained at school or at home, public accreditation returns us to the secular world for our future direction, acknowledging the state as lord of our education.

It is far better and easier to allow a student to be who God has created than fitting him or her into the “one-size-fits-all” expectations demanded by those who know nothing of the child.

Completing secondary training at home, without government accreditation, is a much better option because there is no time wasted on subjects that are not needed. Students are allowed to be comfortable with who they are, can specialize early and by the time they are old enough to drive, are usually ready for the world to receive them.

Meanwhile, their school friends are putting in time awaiting the day when they are paroled from the institution with no greater access to post-secondary options than those who chose to continue their preparations at home without the burden of meeting that which is required for accreditation.

Even though most post-secondary institutions will advise that credits are needed for admission, (due to the fact that most applicants come with a school-based education), most usually have alternative admission criteria that take alternative students, including the home educated, into account.

Alternative students following alternative home education curricula that more closely compares to first year post-secondary programs than to a school grade 12, have a definite advantage over standard school students.

When taking into account the fact that the traditional home educated, who have been given the freedom and opportunity to advance at their own speed, in keeping with what interests them, usually have a higher level of maturity and a more highly developed work ethic, it becomes easier to understand why most excel at the post-secondary level.

So, is there a need for government accreditation at the high school level? No! Alternative students use alternative methods to gain access to post-secondary opportunities, whatever that may be.

Once ready, post-pubescent students will begin to show signs of ownership and self-motivation, resulting in a great deal of learning usually taking place in a very short time. This should be the parent’s cue to back off from “programming” and allow the child to mould into their future, without neglecting to provide new opportunities for learning.

Finally, please understand that only in a traditional home education setting, can a student truly follow an individualized program which cannot be obtained through public accreditation.