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.

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!

Who Says… We Need To Graduate?

Part of the series Who says…
Written by Léo Gaumont, published on 2015-05-18.

Graduation is best described as a school exercise celebrating mediocrity.

Building on a foundation that God is, that He created the universe and that He ultimately is responsible for our children’s being, should provide ample substance upon which to build our faith. This lengthy series will identify the secular thinking that has eroded that faith.

Bible Reference: Phil. 3:12-16

Being a high school teacher over a twenty-five year period provided me the privilege, more truthfully, the obligation, of attending a number of graduations. They were always referred to as graduation “exercises” and probably for good reason. It was a show that paraded a lot of school rhetoric and where students went through the motions, or exercise, of having accomplished something. I often asked myself what, exactly, were we celebrating as I knew that many of the graduates were not actually prepared for the real world they were about to enter. Those who were prepared were not really ready as a consequence of their experience in school, but in spite of it. If they had been able to apply the “home education philosophy” of taking the opportunities presented to teach themselves, they had a better chance of success. Some had the appearance of having succeeded, but I knew that often the best of the class were really only good puppets, adept at doing what they were told to do, but who would often flounder and fail when they no longer had others to “pull the strings”. These students often went on to college, but I questioned whether or not they were going to obtain a higher education or to continue in an environment in which they were comfortable.

One thing that struck me about these events, was the hoopla that went on in preparation for the big night. It was not uncommon to see students, girls especially, put more thought and effort into these preparations than what they were willing to give to their studies. The girls loved to get dressed and guys loved seeing the girls all dressed up, some even going to great lengths to also look good, another surprise for us teachers!

Some lip service was always given to having “completed” all those years of study and to thank the parents for the part they played in arriving at this juncture in life, which I well knew was usually minimal in school, now being credited with a “job well done”. But, there was always something far more important than the exercises to the vast majority of the students… the graduation party. Although I kept my distance from this event, I heard plenty about what went on. It can be said that it usually demonstrated a profound level of immaturity on the part of some of the “graduates”.

Why the party? What were they celebrating? What would you have heard, if you would have been able to spy on the festivities? You can be sure that in the commotion of celebration, you were not likely to hear “hurray for us, we have demonstrated proficiency in English”, or “finally, we have reached the required standard of education”, or “good on us for our academic achievements”! No, more likely, you have heard “hurrah, we are done with that… (bad word), or “no more pencils, no more books…”, or “now we can get a life”! The students would be obviously not celebrating the completion of their education as much as the fact that they were finished with school. The grad party became the parole party. The celebration was based on acquiring freedom from a twelve year sentence of school which most viewed as bondage. Now that was worth a celebration!

Graduations have always been tied to school. Home education providers that offer graduation exercises are simply manipulating parents and students by carrying school dogma into their home education “offerings”. It is mostly the girls who want a graduation “exercise” because they love the opportunity for a new dress! Few boys care and nearly nobody is actually looking for that piece of paper stating that their education is “over”.

Who says we need to have a graduation? Those who would have us believe that there is a point at which students are “qualified” to carry on with higher education; those who would use it as another marketing tool and girls who want a new dress. Home educated students are usually far more interested in taking their education and their lives to the next level when the time is most appropriate for the individual rather than with a “herd” known as the graduation class, who have all supposedly reached an undefined goal, all at the same time, all in the same place and all in the same way. If a graduation is required, invite you friends and family to a private celebration when the time is right. And don’t forget to buy your daughter a new dress!


Written by Léo & Faye Gaumont, published on 2014-05-26.

Graduation from what? Have we stopped learning? Time to rethink what we are celebrating.

We often refrain from being honest because we do not wish to offend those who need to hear the truth. Opinions expressed in this blog are intended to offend those who would advance anything, other than the truth, in order to benefit themselves.

Bible Reference: 1 Cor. 9:24

How quickly and easily do we accept things as normal. All that has to happen is for something to have occurred once and it can quickly become an unquestioned habit. Take graduation as an example. School graduation is a celebration, when a piece of paper of questionable value is given to students as a reward for having completed or endured the prescribed 12 years of programming. I attended over twenty such celebrations but I never really saw a celebration of accomplishments as much as an implication that the learning program was now over. Usually, the graduation took on more of a celebration of having been paroled! I cannot say with confidence that teachers and parents, who must have been questioning what, exactly, their children had learned in school, really liked these events, but girls generally liked it because they could get dressed up in nice gowns and be the center of attention for a day and guys generally liked it because the girls were attractive. I believe most of them were looking forward to the follow up graduation party at which time they could demonstrate the level of maturity they had reached after twelve years of preparation for the “real” world!

So why do home educators think they need to have a graduation? Did something come to an end? Certainly not learning, I hope. Since we are doing our own thing, why do we need to have the same conclusion as the world we left? Maybe it is something like Halloween. Instead of exposing it for what it is, we create a “Christian” version, which is then normalized because we celebrated with candy and gifts in the church rather than by going door to door. We do not have to do the same thing as the world! If we are doing something different, like home educating, lets do something different to mark the transition from learning at home to learning away from home. If it is necessary, why not simply have a family celebration when the child turns sixteen, at which time most home educated students have completed curricular work, are old enough to drive and go to work. Home educated students are better educated, more mature and adept at getting along in a real world, so if we are to celebrate, why not celebrate a coming of age? Something that includes the fact that God is part of every child’s future, even if they don’t know it. Something that celebrates life, independence and faithfulness, not just something stating the program is over and that you will now have to learn how to get along in world you were not really prepared for. There is only one graduation that counts and that is the day we graduate from this world into God’s world, unless, of course, there is no cause for celebration. Most of us kept our children home so could celebrate, in the end.