Why Can’t These Kids Think?
For the next three years, my son coasted along in his public school education. He got A’s and B’s in all of his subjects, but my fiancé and I watched his progress with increasing dismay. Sure, he scored well in French class, but he couldn’t even say “bonjour” properly at home. He wasn’t taught to handwrite (after all, most people type nowadays). He wasn’t taught to spell (after all, people have spellcheck nowadays). He could read but didn’t like to. And worst of all, whenever my fiancé or I asked him a question about anything, we were met with a blank stare. He wanted us to tell him what opinion he should have instead of being asked to use his brain. He could not make connections between subjects. He could not come up with an original idea about anything. In short, he could not think.
There’s Got To Be A Better Way
By the end of my son’s Grade 4 year, I had had enough. I wanted my little boy with his zest for life back. By this time, I had remarried and was in a position where homeschooling was a viable option for our family even with our tight budget. We decided to give it a try, not only for academic but also for social reasons: When he was younger, my son was always the Mr. Science rather than the Mr. Sport type of child, and that made him somewhat of an outcast at school. The other kids also would not play with him because he was a Christian and even bullied him on a number of occasions. Nothing was done about the bullying even when my son went to a teacher for help, and the same kids who bullied my son also got him in trouble with the principal several times. He was not happy. He was not being given an opportunity to reach his full potential. He was not thriving in the public school environment.
In addition, we were becoming increasingly concerned with the radical politically correct agenda being pushed on the kids at their school. In my daughter’s class, one child’s father got married to another man. The teacher made this an occasion for a great celebration. When I got remarried during the same year, there was no celebration at the school. In fact, my marriage wasn’t even mentioned to the other students in my child’s class. I wondered why some forms of family were being celebrated while others were being ignored or even denigrated. Wasn’t it a good thing that my children were going to have a father in their lives when their own father had abandoned them several years earlier? Oh no — celebrating our type of family would be “heterosexist” and “homophobic.” If that was the case, then I wondered why celebrating same-sex-headed families was not considered “homosexist” and “heterophobic.” Hadn’t my children been through enough without having to hear their teachers attack their family structure? Wasn’t their family worthy of respect as well? Why did they have to feel like something was wrong with the family they lived in?
Furthermore, due to the increasing radicalization of the schools, we and others in the Christian community were watching the implementation of several new policies with growing alarm. Under the new equity policy, anyone standing for traditional values and beliefs in the public schools could now be suspended or even expelled for expressing their opinion on any topic. My daughter’s teacher’s aide even once told her that the Board was “trying to get all of the Christians out of the public schools” because they didn’t want us there. In just a few years’ time, our presence had gone from being accepted and desired in the public schools to being completely unwelcome. My children’s values were no longer welcome. My children’s beliefs were no longer welcome. In short, my children themselves were no longer welcome in the public schools.
And so we decided to homeschool, albeit with fierce opposition from our extended family. Despite the ongoing criticisms of our family’s educational choices, though, I have watched my children blossom over the past seven years. They now enjoy reading and even read for enjoyment. They also enjoy exploring their interests, although sometimes they still need a little push to do so. Additionally, they are learning that mediocrity is not the standard at which to aim. They are encouraged to do their best and to reach their full potential, and with that encouragement, my oldest two children are graduating 1-2 years early this year! More than that, my children have a sense of stability in knowing that their values are welcome. They have a sense of security in knowing that their beliefs are welcome (even if they do not agree with my own!). And best of all, my children have the confidence in knowing that themselves are welcome, too.