Friday, October 7, 2011

Sound Doctrine

It might be time to repot the pineapple plant. I think it was two years ago that we followed the instructions to lop of the top of a pineapple and stick it in dirt. We would soon have our very own pineapple tree, the start of our do-it-yourself jungle. I faithfully watered the pineapple plant, along with my other plants, about every other week, more often if the leaves started to droop. It is a testimony to the hardiness of the plant that it has survived in my home of benign neglect for so long. But yesterday as I was watering it, I realized it is about 2 feet tall. It is time to give it more palatial digs. My little pineapple is growing up before my eyes. When did that happen?

I have been assigned the job of "New Member Buddy" in our homeschool group. I was given 4 names of new homeschoolers who have requested a veteran homeschooler to guide them and encourage them through the difficult first year. I began my conversation with them saying, "I am your new member buddy. I understand that this is your first year of homeschooling. I have homeschooled almost longer than you have been alive. I am here to answer your questions, if I can...if I can remember what it was like to have tiny pineapples ready to soak up the educational waters of a new homeschool."
or something like that....

But I might not be the best person for the job. Honestly, I don't remember much of what it was like to have all those little ones milling about, eager for hugs, fieldtrips to firehouses and petting zoos, playdates at the playground. It seems like that was someone else who did all that with her kids. And even the highschool years with my boys were  8 years ago now. I don't remember how I managed to navigate SATs, AP classes, Driver's Ed, college selections, transcript writing, Dual enrollment, assigning credits.... I must have done all that, because both boys made it into good colleges and graduated commendably. But how I did it has vanished from my memory as completely as my well defined chin. How will I be able to steer these bright eyed young newbies through the treacherous waters of successful homeschooling?

Fortunately, they had few questions. The questions they had, I was able to handle.
What art curriculum for a 6 year old?
Hand him a crayon, paints, and paintbrush, and go read a book in a distant corner.

I wonder if they will end up requesting a new different buddy. However, one made me feel really good.
"Oh hooray," she said, answering the phone, "I had heard the new members could have a buddy, and when no one called, I thought I was out of luck."
"Well this is your lucky day! I am your new buddy! I am here to answer whatever you need to know. I probably won't remember or even have ever known the answer , but if you keep your questions simple, we should get along just fine. Do you have any questions? It would be best if we keep them centered around topics like dog training or we could even branch off into cross country skiing."
"Well, I did have some questions but they are about the best math curriculum for my 12 year old."
"Ah, you probably should have checked off the box that requested a new member buddy with useful knowledge."
"Is it too late?"
"I think all the good buddies might be assigned. That's why you got me. Suck it up, buckeroo. Beggars can't be choosy. Do you have any other questions- maybe something having to do with the best places to snowboard within a 3 hour radius of Charlotte?"
"Can you help me with a good language arts program?"
"You are in luck! I actually can help you there. I used one called Easy Grammar...but I think it is out of print now."
"Oh, how old is that one?"
"Mmmm, about thirty years old, but you know, nouns haven't evolved much in that time. As far as I know verbs still denote action."
"Are you familiar with any language arts programs I can still know, maybe written this century?"
"No, but I am sure someone is. Let me get back to you on that. Any other questions?"
"Well, as you have so much experience, can you guide me in testing?"
"Oh, I never tested."
"How did you know if your kids were learning?"
"Hope and prayer."
"But, how did you evaluate progress?"
"Look, perhaps we need to discuss some more basic tenets of homeschooling.  First of all, a very wise mentor long ago told me I needed to develop and explicitly state my philosophy of education. I needed to first know why I was homeschooling, and then I could deal with the how."
"That makes sense. So what is your philosophy of education?"
"That my children would grow up loving God, and would write home once every two weeks. You see, to love God, you have to learn and know all about His world, because the proof of His presence is in every miracle of design- from the irreducible components of the seeing mammalian eye to the repeated patterns of the swirl in a sea shell.The history of mankind is the history of God's redemptive work and revelation, and to know history is to know how desperately we need God. To write home, you must know how to read, write, and spell, as well as construct a sentence. And to do so every two weeks, you must know math. My philosophy incorporates every aspect of education."
There was a long silence, and at first, I thought my new buddy had hung up on me. Finally she spoke.
"Can I ask one more question?"
"Well, you may have maxed out my full extent of advice and knowledge, but you can give it a shot."
"My little boy wants to grow a pineapple. He claims you just start with nothing but the top of a pineapple, stick it in dirt, and water it, and it will grow into a tree. Is that really true?"
I glanced at the photos of my own young men, photos that i have littered across my home. Some are in soccer uniforms, with gap toothed smiles, some are in cap and gown, shaking hands with  distinguished looking scholars, some are in tuxedos with a gorgeous bride at his side....
"Yes, I said. It's true. Plant it, water it, love it, and before you know it, it bears fruit!"

Titus 2: 1-4,  11-15

 1 You, however, must teach what is appropriate to sound doctrine. 2 Teach the older men to be temperate, worthy of respect, self-controlled, and sound in faith, in love and in endurance.  3 Likewise, teach the older women to be reverent in the way they live, not to be slanderers or addicted to much wine, but to teach what is good. 4 Then they can urge the younger women to love their husbands and children, 5 to be self-controlled and pure, 11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
 15 These, then, are the things you should teach. Encourage and rebuke with all authority. Do not let anyone despise you.

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