Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Wonder and Worship of Teaching

When I was in 9th grade, I attended a tiny school run by my church.
So tiny, in fact, that I was the only 9th grader.
And I was bogged down in Algebra I.
Seriously bogged down.

The school availed itself of church members who had talent to share with the kids, and they started appealing to math lovers to come rescue Noel from her pit of despair. Not even the math-major-turned-math-teacher could sufficiently explain to me the magic I was missing.

Summer came...and still I trudged on with x's and y's.
And still it continued to mystify me.
So when I took my annual month of vacation with my grandparents, I arrived with math books in hand...and gazed longingly at the golf course out back. sigh.

That's when the miracle occurred...in the form of my Granddad. He sat down with me and my x's and y's and patiently explained the mysteries of algebra.
And suddenly--bing!--the light went on. Today, I love algebra.
Turns out, I didn't need that math major after all.
I needed Granddad.

But that didn't rescue me from geometry.
My family moved the year I started geometry. And I found myself in a regular private school similarly mystified by math, but this time involving theorems and postulates and givens and aaaahhhhhh!!!
This time, Granddad was 18 hours away.
And my geometry teacher was a bad communicator--no matter what letters he had after his name.
Here we go again...
I never did conquer geometry, though I at least managed to pass.

Fast forward 22 years.
I'd already had six years of homeschooling under my belt, but I was scared. This next year, like it or not, geometry was coming to my home.
So I did what any self-respecting homeschool mom would do (I thought). I learned geometry. I stayed a couple steps ahead of my son and...
I got it. Not only that. I loved it! Why hadn't someone told me how amazing geometry was? Why hadn't anyone ever explained to me how logical it was? how it always worked?

And I worshipped. I kid you not. I worshipped. I was in awe of my God who was the Mind Behind Math. I would stand at the white board and sing God's praises to my kids. Who can comprehend this inscrutable God? the only wise God? the King Eternal? Does this not amaze you, kids?

Well, I didn't exactly pass on the wonder. They still complained and still do complain about the proofs...and the Base Angle Theorem...and Oscar's Heap of Apples.

But one day they will find the wonder, too...
if they are homeschooling their own children.
That's what it looks like in a home where God gently leads those that are with young.
That's what it looks like when we sit at the feet of the Shepherd and trust him with our frailties and our fears and our ignorance. He equips us.

Homeschooling is the only approach to education that claims it disciples its students.
University model schools don't.
Parochial schools don't.
Government schools sure as heck don't.
The others don't make that claim because they can't make good on that claim.
And they know it, too.

Why can't they disciple our children?
Why? Because there is a theology behind every academic pursuit.
If we are to rightly pursue our academics, we must rightly pursue our Creator/Redeemer.

It makes a difference to a mom with math phobias when she knows that because there is a Mind behind math, math will always work.
Does your math teacher teach that?
It makes a difference when we explore science and we rightly repudiate evolution
and believe in a literal six-day Creation Week
and point to the order, much of it knowable, in every branch of science.
Does your science teacher teach that?
It makes a difference that we know the Lawgiver when we teach government.
It makes a difference that we know the Invisible Hand when we teach economics.
It makes a difference that we know Jesus, the Word made flesh, when we teach our children language arts and communications.

To teach a child any branch of knowledge is to teach theology.


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