Everybody is Post-Secondary Bound: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 1)

Bringing things to a conclusion usually results in having to repeat oneself. Arriving at the post-secondary level in a series entitled “A Practical Guide to Home Education” is especially so.

When you consider that this is the final stage of the formal academic learning, and that it is not only the culmination of all that has transpired since “being born,” but also the point of springing into the adult world, you will understand my having to repeat things that have been brought up in the past.

After all, the points we discussed in preparation for this stage are now “coming home to roost,” so to speak.

Now, let’s get started with the end of our home education journey, so we can get on with life.

Those of you who know me will find this a bit hard to believe, but every once in a while, I will stop being busy and just relax a bit! It was during one of these “relaxing” moments that I experienced an epiphany. Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, so let’s just say I had an interesting observation and subsequent thought.

I had been working on reporting my findings from a cross-Canada investigation of post-secondary admission practices for non-accredited home educated students, so the term post-secondary was front and centre in my mind. When I gave this serious thought, I realized that something was wrong with our way of describing the steps one takes in his or her learning journey.

The status quo educational system describes them this way. A child “starts learning” in play school, moves on to pre-kindergarten, followed by kindergarten, eventually “graduating” to the elementary level, then on to junior high and finally high school before advancing to the post-secondary level.

I found these steps a bit non-descriptive and confusing! I questioned how one could have a post-secondary level without having a secondary to “post” from, and if there were a secondary, it could only mean it came after a primary!

I then deduced that there are only three levels of formal learning before one embarks on his or her adult journey in life: a primary level where basic skills are learned, a secondary level, where these skills are applied, and a post-secondary level where skills are specialized for, and/or in, a particular field.

This means that “everybody goes through two main levels of formal learning to arrive at the post-secondary level.” Put another way, everybody is post-secondary bound in life. We all reach the post-secondary level where we will learn what we need to know, to do what we need to do, when we need to do it.

Nonetheless, the education industry has confused most of us into believing that something is only post-secondary if it involves institutions of higher learning. This is not necessarily true.

Photography and physical labour require specialized skills. Taxi driving is a specialized skill. Landscaping is a specialized skill. Mothering is a specialized skill. All of these things are just as much “post-secondary” as those careers requiring higher levels of education and training.

Now some careers do involve higher education, but whether a student goes through an apprenticeship to become a journeyman, goes to college for a diploma or certificate, gets a university degree, goes directly to work, starts a business, invents a widget, or starts a family, all involve specialized skills at a post-secondary level. Everybody eventually reaches the post-secondary level.

Understand that the world has a top-down manner of describing the importance of careers, thinking that the more education a student gets, the more successful he or she will be. This may be true, but only in a limited sense.

The world may see a PhD recipient as more advanced than a graduate student, who is seen as better than the undergraduate, who “towers” over the student who has been to a community college, who trumps the apprentice or the tradesman, who is smarter than the labourer, and that person, of course, is better than those at the bottom of the pile, which would be the “unsophisticated,” housewife and mother.

God simply does not see things in this vertical, top down fashion. To Him, everybody is important. There is no job or career that is more important than the other or that does not have merit. He only requires greater levels of responsibility in keeping with one’s attributes.

Think about this: Where would the doctor be if there was nobody to fix his malfunctioning toilet, or to deliver the goods that he needs to do his job, or to take out his garbage?

Nearly everybody will learn the basic skills. Most will learn to apply these skills and all will eventually learn a specialized skill set, to be employed at the post-secondary level, excepting, of course, those whose physical and/or mental handicaps prevent them from doing so. Even then, there are very few who are incapable of at least some task requiring at least some level of post-secondary skills.

God recognizes that every legitimate task is necessary and valuable. He knows that everybody will specialize in their knowledge and skills. He is the one who gave us this ability. He is the one who provides us with opportunity to incrementally advance our skills and knowledge from beginning to end.

Even if the world insists on controlling how this will be accomplished, by breaking this natural, continual process into increments, the “post-secondary level” of learning will still be a part of most every person’s learning journey. Every student is post-secondary bound.

General Post-Secondary Issues: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 2)

The most common educational hang ups are a result of the unquestioned authority of government over parents in education. This seemingly universal acceptance leads us to believe that unless the government has approved of our education, we have no education, no passport to the post-secondary level, and no hope for the future.

Somehow not getting a high school diploma has been equated with educational “suicide”! This is an urban legend. Please understand that a high school diploma is simply NOT necessary to advance in life.

The one and only thing that can be said of this diploma is that it took at least twelve years to get. No other guarantee given or implied!

If and when a diploma is requested by either an employer or a post-secondary institution, simply assure them that you have been well educated at home, that you are able to meet challenges head-on and that you complete what you have started. These three assurances are what is being sought for by those who request it.

Now that we have dealt with the myth of having to have a diploma to advance in life, let me repeat myself again by emphasizing the importance of not going to any institution of higher learning unless it is absolutely necessary. Many of these places are bastions of Godless, unbiblical, anti-Christian philosophies and political beliefs. Proceed with caution, if you have to.

Should you desire or need to go to a post-secondary institution, be sure that you are properly equipped with a defensible Christian worldview. You will need to be able to stand on your own spiritual two feet or you could be sucked into a godless vortex.

When you have understood that you do not require a diploma and have determined that you need or want to go to an institute of higher learning, and you are spiritually prepared for what will come your way, you will need to proceed with applying for admission. Before doing this, there a few things that you should know.

Several years ago, when we were just starting to advance the acceptance of unaccredited home educators into the post-secondary arena, I became involved with the admission process of a 25 year old student. He had been home educated, completing a program of high academic rigour and had been in the work force for several years when he decided to apply for admission to a two year technical program.

Unsurprisingly, the institution rejected him for not having standard high school credits. He then asked to see the registrar to ascertain what could be done to fix the problem.

I had a good relationship with the registrar at that time so he contacted me for advice.

It turned out that he was not nearly as concerned about the student’s academic qualifications as he was about his having been accompanied to the interview by his mother, who had dominated the conversation. He wondered if the student was mature enough to handle what was needed for success.

Really? Was Mom needed to defend her twenty-five year old son or was she defending her decision to home educate? Neither was or is necessary.

There is a moral to this story. Unless you are prepared to do the entire admission process by yourself, without the need to have your parents back you up or defend you, don’t even start.

Speaking of interviews, let me make a few suggestions for success, aside from advising you to go to it alone. A well dressed, self-confident person who knows what he or she wants, is bound to make a good impression. Be firm, yet considerate.

Insist on speaking to someone who understands home education and be prepared to back your claims to being qualified with a transcript, a portfolio or some other proof of proficiency.

Now what should you do if you are not accepted? For starters, don’t take it as a personal rejection. Failing to gain admission can be for any number of reasons, most of which can be fixed.

If the problem is not having prerequisite courses, get them. If it is because they don’t understand home education, help them. If it is because the program is already full, plan to remind them enough times to make sure you are part of the program next year. In the meantime, go get some work and earn some money towards the education you want, without amassing debt!

Accept rejection as a challenge to try harder next time. However, let’s not omit the possibility that rejection is the hand of God protecting you from doing something that is not in keeping with who you are or what you can do.

We have seen many an example of broken hearted students later being thankful for having not been accepted in a career in which they would have been miserable.

The most common mistake home educated students make is failing to make their home education known when they are applying. The second one is just giving up if initially rejected.

If you really believe that this is what you want and that it is in keeping with who you are, don’t take no for an answer. Persistence will eventually win. Just don’t quit.

Work, Business or Apprenticeships: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 3)

Now that we have established that everybody is post-secondary bound and that all careers, jobs and placements are important, let’s discuss the matter of what has to happen to get beyond the post-secondary level to the world of adulthood.

Simply put, what is needed is training. No matter which way or where you go in life, if everybody is post-secondary bound, then everyone will need to specialize in some skills, somehow.

There are two possibilities for obtaining these needed skills: with or without further institutional training.

Some folks simply go to work, like their jobs and stay there. Training will likely be required to learn how to do the job. It may be “on-the-job-training,” but training nonetheless, even if it does not involve attending an institution of higher learning.

A job may require taking a few courses in order to safely do the required tasks, such as special licenses, safety training or first aid. These courses are available to everyone, regardless of the academic level attained in their learning program.

There are other placements that require little, if any additional institutional training, including taking over the family farm or fishing business, or other family enterprise. It is not that you won’t be learning in this case, just that you will not need to go to school.

It is important to understand that even though we can and do learn on our own, it almost always involves other people. Some are paid professionals delivering courses, while others are simply those who are more experienced, teaching the less experienced.

This can be “unofficial” as in a parent teaching and training a child, or a co-worker teaching you the skills required for the job, or more “official,” such as going through an apprenticeship.

Either way, to be mentored is likely the best way to be trained as it is always directly related to the task at hand. There is no specific academic level required to be mentored.

Apprenticeships are a great way to use the power of mentorship to gain skills and knowledge in a specific field.

Some apprenticeships can be conducted outside of official government programs, such as an experienced artist teaching a novice. The most common and well known apprenticeships are administered through a provincial or national board directing students through a process that results in a license to do the job.

Some trades such as electricians, plumbers and mechanics are required to be trained in this way, while others such as carpentry, millwright and bakers are not required, although encouraged to do so.

Any trade that requires a license in order to practice will likely require some combination of on-the-job and school based learning.

Although there are different requirements for different trades, it is pretty safe to say that if a student has a school grade equivalent of level ten, he or she is likely ready to do an apprenticeship.

Keep in mind that a school grade level ten is not a very high standard and that most home educated students are easily beyond that level by the time they are old enough to start working at age sixteen.

The process for engaging in an apprenticeship is simple. Get a job working within a trade. If you like it, work hard and show yourself capable and dependable. Then ask your employer to sponsor you in an apprenticeship.

Once the paper work is done, you will need to collect enough hours on the job before applying to attend school.

Depending on the trade, you may have to do an entrance exam to be able to proceed. This is done in order to ascertain that you have the potential to succeed at trade school and should not cause you any anxiety.

I understand that many of you who are good with your hands don’t usually like the “book learning” approach, but take confidence in the fact that any test required for an apprenticeship, indeed the entire process, was likely created by people who don’t like tests, for people like you, who may even hate them!

Also keep in mind that the reason you likely did not like tests was that a lot of the tests you have written actually had nothing to do with “life” as you saw it! Shakespeare is not really connected to plumbing, if you know what I mean.

Tests associated with the apprenticeship processes are meaningful as they are testing what is needed to practice the trade. In other words, there is a practical application of what is being tested, to what you are learning and doing.

I suggest you go to our web site under Resources and click on Apprenticeships for a more detailed description of what is involved.

Understanding College Admissions: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 4)

Once it is determined that you need to attend some institution of higher learning as part of your career plans, you will have to investigate what it will take to gain admission. I need to remind you that I addressed this issue earlier in this series and suggest you go back and review this information before proceeding.

Institutes of higher learning have rules for entry which vary from program to program. These are known as prerequisites which usually include specific courses you will need, to show you have sufficient knowledge to succeed in the program of choice.

Diplomas may be mentioned as needed, but they are not necessary, as it is not so much a requirement, as a measure of your ability to finish what you have started. Having completed a home education program is certainly proof that you can finish what you started.

No institution in Canada, that I am aware of, will refuse a student who does not have a diploma.

Every student in this province is given an Alberta Student Number (ASN) to which are attached records including a provincial transcript and whether or not a diploma has been awarded.

Home educated students who have avoided provincial programming (credits) at the secondary or high school level have an ASN like most every other student, but will not have this transcript or diploma, which is actually a good thing.

All students who have earned at least some credits will have a transcript created in their name associated with their ASN.

It is very important to understand that any transcript containing some but not all the required credits for a diploma may actually be a hindrance to post-secondary admission as it could come with the stigma of being a dropout or of not being able to finish what you started.

For this reason, we very highly recommend that home educated students stay away from public programming.

Please listen carefully! Colleges, technical institutes, universities, etc., have two sets of admission criteria: one for students who have attended government sponsored schools where students work towards credits and diplomas, (known as standard admission criteria), and one for those students who have not.

Alternate admission criteria is used when assessing any student who has not followed provincial programming, including inter-provincial, international and home educated students.

If you have followed standard government programming and earned the correct combination of credits to earn your Alberta High School Diploma, you will be assessed for admission using standard admission criteria.

If you have earned credits, but not enough to earn the diploma, you will also be assessed using standard admission criteria, but you may encounter some challenges, which are not insurmountable, as long as you have good marks in the requisite courses.

Unaccredited home educated students are not any more disadvantaged than their public school counterparts, but usually have to help admission personnel understand the need to assess them using their alternate admission criteria. This is often simply done by informing the admission person of the fact that you have been home educated.

If the institution you are applying to is a large one, it may be necessary to ask for a more senior person to assess your qualifications for enrolment. Alternate admissions are often handled by those who have more experience with registrations.

Diplomas aside, whether using standard or alternate admission criteria, every post-secondary institution will have prerequisites for entry into all their programs. Prerequisite courses are non-negotiable and they should not be treated as unnecessary.

Usually these are communicated in the language of school, such as English, Math or Biology at the 30 level, but once again, this is a standard measure of subject proficiency. It is not that they require 30 level courses, but rather a certain level of understanding of a particular subject.

Home educated students need not concern themselves with these specific 30 level requirements as you should be assessed using alternate admission criteria. However, you will have to demonstrate that you have an equivalent or better level of training.

Keep in mind that home education programs usually have a much higher level of academic rigour than school programs, so it should not be difficult to prove that you have the equivalent to school-based 30 level programs.

Once you clearly understand how post-secondary institutions of higher learning work, you need only ascertain that you have what it takes to be accepted and to succeed at the program being taken.

Registrars are looking for the best candidates to fill the limited seats in their institution. Your job is to convince them that you are one of those candidates.

Gaining College Admission: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 5)

Everybody is an expert in something. Some feel they are experts in most things.

I say this because we once had a great way of preparing unaccredited home educated students for post-secondary admission, but the idea was stolen, sabotaged and made useless. I am talking about the portfolio.

We taught parents and students how to make a simple portfolio of accomplishments within a home education program. We developed it on a KISS principle which was to keep it straight and simple.

It started with a résumé, expanded to a transcript and ended with specifics on pertinent subjects. It was simple, easy to use and mostly accepted by registrars and admissions personnel.

This happened a long time ago, when most everybody was sending their children to school to be completed with credits to meet the standard admission criteria of colleges, etc. Wanting to help the home education community, I naively presented my secrets at the provincial conference.

A mom who was not a part of our organization, but rather an integral part of another that did not have experience with moving unaccredited students to college found the idea fascinating.

By carefully following my directives, she managed to create portfolios for her two children who were then accepted into college on their strengths.

Unfortunately, this success got to her head and she presented her board with her finding as though it was uniquely her idea. Normally we would call this theft, but the portfolio idea was shared with the objective of helping others.

What should have been a good thing for the home education community became a problem. It was not that the portfolio idea did not work in gaining admission. The problem was that this wannabe leader thought that a good thing would become better with more.

What began as a simple little half inch portfolio most admission people found helpful, grew and evolved to became a four inch scrapbook that represented every detail of everything the student had done or even hoped to do.

There was not an admissions person anywhere who had the time, nor the inclination to review a giant tome of useless material. My great idea was destroyed and portfolios were no longer accepted by most institutions which had come to equate portfolios with a lot of work, time and energy.

Is there a moral to this story? Yes. First, one always has to be wary of self-appointed experts, as their focus is usually more a matter of self-aggrandizement than the welfare of others.

More related to our topic, the lesson is that most solutions are not complicated. Most of the time, very little needs to be done to meet the admission criteria of college programs.

Admission to college is accomplished by presenting what the college needs to properly evaluate your potential for success in the program. This is especially so with prescribed one, two and three year programs usually offered in colleges and technical institutions.

Since English proficiency is always required, make sure your English skills are good. Need math, biology or chemistry? Again – no problem. It does not have to be 30 level courses. Prove that you have the required skills by having followed a different program.

There are a number of ways to meet those requirements and if you have not done that within your home education program, do it some other way. Remember that going to school to get those missing courses is a silly way of going backwards in order to advance.

If biology is a requirement that you don’t have, take an online course from a reputable university or college. Make sure that it can be transferred to the college you want to attend.

The good thing about doing it this way is that, not only do you demonstrate proficiency, but you are likely to be able to apply the course to your program, eliminating the need to take that first year course.

Alternatively, you could always challenge the institution’s first year biology program, and if successful, establish your proficiency while already having completed a course required within the program.

Understanding that colleges are businesses looking for people who will pay tuition for the entire program is critical to understanding why they are so fussy about who they accept for the prescribed programs.

Students who fail or quit the first year of a two year program will not be paying tuition for the second year of the program. This creates opportunity for a resourceful student to go directly into the second year of a two year program.

Why go through the pain of creating a four inch solution for a half inch problem?

Gaining University Admission: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 6)

Universities are generally more arrogant than colleges and technical institutions, thinking that they have all the “high end” programs. We have all heard horror stories about how these institutions have wreaked havoc with students and parents over their perceived need for properly accredited students.

One has to keep in mind that, just like arrogant people, arrogant universities want you to believe they know more than they do. Generally speaking, they have no idea of the power of home education.

Home educated students know how to read! This may seem like a silly statement, but there are students who complete high school without being fully literate. This doesn’t happen at home because mom won’t let it happen.

Ivy League institutions in the United States realized this early and started recruiting the home educated, years ago.

Unlike colleges and technical institutions which often have limited space in prescribed programs, universities are generally institutes of higher learning where students collect courses towards a degree.

There are certain obligatory courses that must be obtained, along with optional courses to arrive at the right combination for a specific degree. Understanding how this works makes university admission much easier, especially when desiring to go to one of those big “arrogant” ones.

Since degrees are granted on the basis of the collection of courses, if those courses can be taken in another institution, you are wise to go to a friendlier university to start and then transfer these courses into the arrogant one later on.

Last week, I mentioned how the portfolio was initially invented and advanced by me and how it was robbed and sabotaged. Although we were initially discouraged by this event, we quickly found a much better solution to facilitate the post-secondary admission of non-accredited home educated students.

Insisting on being evaluated using the alternate admission criteria of an institution of higher learning, then presenting a well-documented transcript, proved to be a much simpler and more effective way to gain admission.

I must admit that I am very proud of the cumulative, online transcript we invented for students using Education Unlimited for their home education program.

These transcripts have been very well received. In fact, I am not personally aware of these transcripts having ever been rejected, when they have been delivered to the institution of choice using our sophisticated encrypted digital delivery method.

Making sure that you have the appropriate courses that meet the prerequisites of the institution and program of choice, and then to properly document it in our transcript, has been a successful formula for our students, but there is one other thing that needs to be in place.

Every new adventure usually causes anxiety. Anxiety is largely caused by things we think we have no control over. Putting yourself under the “authority” of an admission person can encourage him or her to get a false sense of self-importance, which may result in an unpleasant admission process.

If the university was paying you to attend, then they would have a greater claim to what you have to do. The truth is you are the one paying them. You are the client. They are providing you a service.

This is not to say that you can negotiate admission criteria, but if you talk to them with a “golly-gee, cap-in-hand, please-feel-sorry-for-me-approach,” you empower them to be more miserable or demanding.

You are the customer. If you were buying a car, you would not be going to a single dealership and allowing the salesman to tell you what you want and how you will get it, now would you?

If you know what you want, have a positive attitude and the confidence that you will succeed in getting it, you are much more likely to do so. I certainly discourage students from shopping for a career, but I do encourage shopping for an institution that will give you value for your money.

Far too many people have put universities in an almost god-like position and allowed them to dictate what students will do. Perhaps, it is time for confident, self-assured, unaccredited home educated students who understand the “university” game to play as the winners that they are.

Home Educated Post-Secondary Students: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 7)

How do the home educated end up? Are they weird? Can you tell that they have been home educated? Do they have a target on their back that says “loser”? Are they productive members of society? Can they handle post-secondary level courses?

Actually, home educated students are generally the same as those who are school educated, with one notable difference.

Like every other group, there are winners and losers. There are some home educated who swear by home education and others who swear at home education! There are some incredibly good home education stories, but there are some very sad ones too.

I would love to manipulate your understanding and tell you things are all good with home education and the home educated, but that would require me to have bad motives. The truth is, I cannot guarantee that home education will eliminate the heartaches and grievances the rest of the world has to endure. We actually live in the same world.

Home education is not the panacea or antidote to all the evils of the world, but it is the best way to at least minimize the potential wrecks we see in this world. Let’s just say that since children are made “at home” by parents, they are likely best educated at home by those same parents.

I don’t believe that any caring person wants to see students become wrecks, but it happens. Indeed, the very reason that parents decided to home educate is to eliminate the risk of wrecks. Home educating parents will never eliminate wrecks, but they will greatly reduce the potential of students making the wrong decisions.

It would be unfair to say that school teachers want to direct students into making bad decisions.

It is, however, fair to say that a system designed and delivered by a disconnected government bureaucracy will want to have students serve government rather than God. That is one of the biggest differences between the schooled and the home educated.

A solid biblical foundation of what God has decreed to be right and wrong will go a long way towards building a solid life.

This is not to say that all home educated students are raised in a Christian environment, nor am I saying that secular home educators have a greater potential for failure. I am saying that children equipped with a knowledge of the truth will make more solid decisions respecting life.

A faith foundation aside, home educated students, whether instructed within a Christian or secular environment will, on average do better, as parents are better qualified to meet the individual needs of their children.

Even the very best teacher simply cannot be mom or dad. Again, this is not to say that teachers will not influence students, whether positively or negatively, but teachers may not share a common worldview and objective with parents. Regardless, there is no replacement for the unconditional love of a parent for a child.

Home educated students are generally more confident in themselves and more certain about what they want. They have usually taken personal responsibility for their own education at an early age and generally have a better work ethic.

Not only do the home educated usually surpass their school peers in academic abilities and confidence, but generally display a higher level of overall maturity, which is that one notable difference mentioned earlier.

I have advocated post-secondary admission of unaccredited home educated students at post-secondary institutions across Canada for many years.

This longstanding direct experience has brought me to the understanding that the home educated generally do better, on average, than their school counterparts. They may initially display a need to become acquainted with the “school” nature of post-secondary institutions, but they quickly learn, adapt and rocket to the top of the class.

In fact, the most common concern I get from admissions people is that the home educated tend to be overachievers. How that can be seen as an issue has remained a mystery to me to this day!

I could tell you dozens of stories about the incredible success of the home educated.

These stories would not just be about those who have gone on to institutions of higher learning, but also about those who went to work and were quickly promoted to management, those who started successful businesses, and those who chose to serve their fellow man in some way, not to mention those who chose to advance family over career.

After over forty years of real experience in pretty well every manner and method of education I can say, without reservation, that there is no better preparation for life than being home educated.

I can also unequivocally state that my faith in God and experience in home education has led me to have no doubts about the home educated’s potential for success and there are plenty of objective studies to back this up.

The home educated are still free to make bad decisions, which does occasionally happen. But even without the government’s accreditation and approval they end up doing just fine.

A Wife, Mother and Homemaker: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 8)

You may remember a story I told earlier about a student who was afraid to share her career ambitions because she thought I would disparage her choice. She wanted to be a wife, mother and home maker!

In a world that is questioning the importance of, or openly attacking the traditional nuclear family, it is not hard to understand how this young lady could have thought that her desire to spend her life in this way would be looked down upon in our modern society.

When children are asked what they want to be when they grow up, they will answer based on the limited knowledge they have and most will be thinking of themselves and the benefits their “career choices” will bring to them.

Prepubescent children are too young to understand the gravity of this question, not having the capacity to understand who God is, what His character is like, what He expects of “grown-ups” and how temporal things may not advance eternal outcomes.

Adults making decisions based on feelings while failing to take God into consideration, also unfortunately, end up thinking and acting like children. Feelings require no knowledge or understanding, so it is much easier to go by feeling than thought. This is something that manipulators clearly understand, but I digress.

What does “God is love” mean? Does it mean that God has a responsibility to love, or is obligated to be consistent in His application of love, perhaps implying that we don’t? How does God’s love manifest itself in our lives?

Sure, “God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son”, but “greater love has no one than laying down his life for his friends.” Both instruct us in what love is.

Jesus taught us that love was the voluntary giving of oneself. He personally demonstrated His great love by giving us His very life that we might have eternal life through Him. Our faith in His action is best summarized by an often quoted cliché of “love is not love until you give it away,” which brings us back to our original story.

The young lady I mentioned was concerned that her decision of how she was going to spend her life would be scorned by others.

I want to emphasize the fact that she wanted to “spend her life” being a wife, mother and homemaker. What exactly does “spend her or our life,” mean? We may state this, but do we clearly comprehend what we are saying? Let me help with that.

Suppose God gave you forty million dollars, with the stipulation that you spend it any way you want by a specified time. How would you spend it? How much of this money would you spend helping others? How much on yourself?

Considering that the money is actually God’s and knowing that His measure of right doing is in keeping with the fact that He is the personification of Love, how would you accomplish this task?

In a way, God has given you forty million! Consider that there are 60 minutes in every hour, each day has 1440 minutes and each year has nearly 526,000 minutes, 525,960 to be exact. Assuming that you will live until you are 76 years of age (an arbitrary assumption), you have about forty million minutes at your disposal.

How are you going to spend this forty million? Like money, your life is finite. Like money, no matter how you spend your life, you are indeed “spending” it. Like money, you have been given a limited amount that will eventually run out. Like money, you spend it, until it is gone.

Considering these things, how will you spend yours?

Using love as our measure of Godliness, what do you think will bring the greatest fulfillment to your life, spending it on yourself or on others? Would spending it on immediate self-gratification be as fulfilling as investing it towards the future?

Put another way, what do you think you will be able to bring to heaven? Money? Fame? Prestige? Title? How about a life-long career of advancing yourself ahead of others? No! No! No!

The only thing we can possibly bring with us and even then it depends on the decisions of others, are those people we have influenced in some way to accept the way, the truth and the life.

Is there a better way to do that than in serving others? Is there anything more important than doing this within a family?

Our young lady had chosen to give her life away, to spend it as a loving wife, mother and faithful homemaker, rather than by having another career.

Spending one’s life with an eye to eternity as it affects not just ourselves, but generations to come, is to have God’s own heart beating within us.

The very best post-secondary option for any person is to aspire to do what God has created them to do. For young ladies, that likely includes wanting to spend your life being a wife, mother and homemaker. There is no higher calling and there are no academic levels or prerequisite courses required. At least, not yet!

Change of Plan: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 9)

Life has a way of changing things. “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” it is said.

Indeed, I have seen many examples of this, not only in my life, but in many others as well. It only goes to show that as careful as we are in determining how we are going to spend our lives, something will always be there to help us find our way. That something is actually a someone who is the Holy Spirit.

If you have not already figured this out, God is ultimately in control. Not many people find the right place and stay there for a lifetime. As we grow, age and learn, we find that our priorities change, which may indeed dictate new directives in our lives.

Many years ago, my wife and I had the opportunity to befriend a specialist medical doctor, a podiatrist, to be exact. This highly educated lady had a very successful and lucrative practice, but that all changed when she gave birth to her first child.

Obviously, like any other mother, she took some time off to recover and get acquainted with her new born child. She also had the opportunity to get acquainted with herself. Even though she had only intended to take a month off, several months later, she had still not returned to her practice.

This lady had invested a dozen years of her life in schools and practicums to finally get to the point of fulfillment in her career.

None of her education was lost or wasted and even though she had a career and placement most people would envy, she had come to the stark realization that education, position and career was not an appropriate measure of success. She was forced to re-evaluate how she would spend her life.

We seem to be constantly bombarded with the idea that we make better citizens if we have gone to college. So normalized has this idea become that it is a rare day when people do not measure themselves or their children through their education or careers. Sadly, this is also the most prevalent measure among professed believers in Christ.

I was attending a church service for several months, largely incognito since I was new to the area and the church. I cannot say that I was mistreated in any way, but once it was discovered that I was educated as a bilingual biologist and teacher, I received far greater honour from the “big shots” at the church than when it was assumed I was just another grunt.

Nobody seemed to be concerned about my spiritual health, as much as by my societal status. The epistle of James came to mind!

Somehow, we seem to have lost our calling to prepare ourselves and our children for the eternal Kingdom of God. We have replaced faith with fear, adopting the idea that our temporal placement in this world is more important and that only the government knows how to best accomplish this.

Still, living as part of this temporal world often brings us to the need for further education. There is no doubt that education is a good thing and that the more you get, the better your options will become.

However, we cannot equate more education with greater success, but we do need to understand that there are a great many jobs, careers and placements that require advanced education available only through institutions of higher learning such as colleges, technical schools and universities.

Worth repeating is the cautionary admonishment to avoid going to college, etc., until you are clear what it is you need to do the job you want to do. Otherwise you are wasting your time and money which is not a great way to “spend” the limited minutes or money of your life.

It is also important to understand that even if you are highly trained and successful in your position, things can happen that cause you to change directions as my podiatrist friend discovered.

After giving birth to her baby, she fully intended to return to her practice. The problem was that when she began looking for someone to care for her baby, she could find no one as qualified as herself. It was, after all, her baby and no surrogate mother could do the job as well as she could. Only she could love the child as a mother. She did not return to her practice.

I cannot tell you how this story ended as we moved before it played out, but I can imagine that when the children were old enough (whatever that means!), she did return to practicing podiatry. Her education was never wasted, but her priorities where changed.

She temporarily adjusted the way she was spending her life. A highly educated and successful professional, willing to put her career on hold to fulfill a higher calling showed me that her desire to please God through service was more important to her than pleasing man in service to him. Both are important, but need to be in the correct priority.

In the meantime, I can imagine she had a meaningfully fulfilled life and her children likely had very healthy feet and ankles!

Summing It Up and Launching Into The World: A Practical Guide to Home Education – Post-Secondary Options (Part 10)

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.