I have been part of the education system most of my life, either as a student or a professional teacher.
Throughout this time, I have had to attend a number of exercises where there is usually someone who delivers a message to the graduating class. Most of these were good, but occasionally someone would get up and say a bunch of fluffy things that were largely disconnected from reality!
During one of these less than stellar presentations, I was reminded of a particular cartoon by my all-time favourite cartoonist, Gary Larson. But before I tell you about it, I need to give you a quick biology lesson about an interesting insect called the cicada.
Cicadas are a type of fly that has a very strange life cycle. Once the eggs are hatched, they fall to the ground burying themselves sometimes as deep as 3 meters, where they remain until they become adults, at which time they surface to breed and die, starting things all over again.
What is interesting is that they stay in the ground for as long as 17 years before emerging as adults!
The cartoon had a group of “graduating” cicadas, all decked out in caps and gowns, listening to their keynote speaker who was saying…“So as you enter the adult phase of your life, you will thank God that these past seventeen years of being stuck in the ground and unable to move are over. Congratulations cicadas of ninety four.” Okay, a bit bizarre, but perhaps instructive.
I started thinking about those poor graduates who put in twelve to thirteen years in school and perhaps another four in college. I started thinking they were perhaps a bit like the cicadas in my cartoon, buried in the school system for seventeen years before finally moving on with life. I began to feel sorry for them!
Now, I suppose that since this is the last blog of a series entitled “A Practical Guide to Home Education,” I should have a bit of a commemoration speech, so here goes!
If this were a speech at a “public graduation ceremony” (something I would replace with a family event), I would probably start by telling you the story about the cicadas, make a little fun of school and congratulate you and your parents for having avoided the “under the dirt” part of your education by having stayed and learned at home. Lol!
I would tell you how you are far better equipped for the real world, because you never left it. I would remind you of the sacrifice your parents truly paid, not just the cursory afterthought given at school graduations.
I would continue my talk by giving you some pearls of wisdom respecting how a committed Christian should conduct his or her life, with the caveat that you “fix your eyes on Jesus, the author and the finisher of our faith.”
I would then talk about how life is a game that you play to win, both when the game is finite and measurable, as well as the long term effects that transcend your life.
A finite game has a beginning, a set of rules, and an end with real winners and losers. Cribbage and baseball come to mind. When the game is over, it is over. No second chances.
This is the game most people play because it is the only game in town. However, when we realize that this town is only a small part of a much bigger picture, we come to understand the bigger game, that while including finite games, it is indeed, infinite.
The infinite game has no beginning and no end. It has rules that we haven’t made up, and has its winners and losers, but not so much in the here and now, as into eternity.
The finite game is temporal and one does need to play it to win, but not at any cost. For instance, it is important to be able to earn enough to support your family, but selling contraband or yourself to accomplish this would be a foolish way to win the finite game while seriously jeopardizing your chances of winning the eternal, infinite game.
Keep in mind that both the finite and infinite, or the temporal and eternal games, have eternal consequences that are clearly spelled out, leaving no doubt as to who will be the ultimate winners and losers.
My advice to you would be to focus on winning the eternal game through which your temporal game can be won.
I believe a man, much wiser than me, or any other man for that matter, once said that “if we seek first God’s Kingdom and His righteousness (or playing the infinite game), all these things (those temporal things that are part of the finite game) would be added onto us”.
After having spoken to you about the need to have a bigger view of life than the temporal world, I would proceed to encourage you to enjoy this life to the fullest. I would quote Elbert Hubbard in saying, “Don’t take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” Lol!
After the laughter of the crowd subsided, I would venture into what it takes to win the finite game. Always bearing in mind the need to understand that the infinite game is the one that should direct how we play the finite game, I would remind you that nothing is accomplished without risk.
I would tell you that life is actually risky. I would tell you that faith involves risking our temporal lives in anticipation of our eternity, by trusting that our infinite, eternal God, whom we cannot see, is in control of it all. I would point out that love should be the motivator that directs your life and that it also involves risk.
Next, I would tell you that since life is a risk, you must be willing to take risks to win the finite game and that if you risk nothing, you will be guaranteed to lose nothing, and in the end have nothing to lose. I would advise you that risk aversion is itself the most risky business.
Living life as though it will go on beyond the finite temporal world requires faith, and this is a risk worth taking.
By now the crowd would be starting to fidget. My wife would be giving me signs that my time allotment has expired and would further indicate in her own special way, that I am now living on borrowed time. Lol!
I would quickly review how being home educated has given you the very best opportunities and delivered the best tools available for your success. These tools include a knowledge of who you are, where you have come from and what your purpose in life should be.
I would start wrapping up my commemoration speech by reminding you that you were created by the eternal God as an eternally unique individual, then remind you that you know who you are and that you have what it takes to make a positive difference in this world.
I would end with this. Your parents demonstrated unconditional love towards you, sacrificing and spending themselves to give you the best possible chance in this world, without considering that they were actually investing of themselves in you.
Now it is your turn to deliver a return on their investment. Please do not disappoint them or your God, whom I pray richly blesses you in your life. Thank you.