Tuesday, June 02, 2015

From the archives: Homeschooling and commitment

First posted May 2014

A local newspaper columnist published a piece today about, of all things, food trucks.  You know, mobile cafes, burgers on wheels.  She mused, "No one wants to be tied down.  Everybody wants to do what they want, when they want...Churches are selling their buildings...fewer want to subscribe to a newspaper...It's harder and harder to get a commitment for anything." What does that have to do with food trucks?  That we will grab a sandwich and go, but at the expense of sit-down places that have some "commitment" to the community.

Now, I'm not so sure that she isn't stretching the idea of bricks-and-mortar diners as cornerstones of community--after all, they can close up shop and disappear almost as easily as food trucks.  In a small town, you may get Rosie the waitress and Joe the grocer year after year, but here in the city you are more likely to find that the local coffee shop or corner store is suddenly under new ownership--again--and that all the old staff are gone as well. (Mr. Fixit's favourite family-run sub shop changed hands and is now a pale vestige of its former mayonnaise-laden self.)  And I have nothing in particular against food trucks.  But I appreciate her lament over the general lack of commitment in society.

And I hear a similar "aversion to commitment" from some homeschoolers who have trouble understanding a willingness to stick with one particular educational philosophy.  If you centre on one philosophy or method, you risk being called closed-minded.  You may be told that since what works for one child does not always work for another, there can be no overall approach that is "best." You may even have your religious faith questioned, because studying one person too much might mean you are respecting them more than God, or their books as more valuable than the Bible.

Well, it might.  It could also mean that what you have found seems to work, that it contains common sense, that it lines up with your worldview, that it enriches and supports your faith rather than distorting it.  It could mean that you are opting for focus rather than fashion.

Yes, it might mean you're not adventurous or willing to try new things.  Or it could just mean that you've found a road and that's the way you're travelling.  If we're headed to Lake Ontario, we don't have time to worry that we're not going to see Point Pelee or Wasaga Beach.

In an age of pluralism and "wanting it all" that extends, as our columnist says, across everything from  marriage to group memberships, from investments to the taco truck, embedding yourself into any particular anything or anywhere seems risky.  Choosing one thing over another implies that we have already judged the rest negatively. Public schoolers get defensive around homeschoolers, even when we haven't said anything bad about school, because we have committed ourselves, at least for a time, to a different choice.  Non-Christians can't understand how Christians can be so arrogant as to think that one belief is true and others are not.  The presence of one vegetarian can throw a wet blanket on a whole tableful of steak-eaters.

But it is not arrogance that allows commitment to an idea. It's not about us. It is simply being convinced of the value and truth of the idea itself. 

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