“Could you home school him?” my friend asked nervously in a phone conversation. I remained quiet. She needed to re-enter the workforce and her son was miserable in public school. I thought “no”. How could I possibly home school one more? I had a reluctant homeschool daughter, special needs son, three-year-old son and a one-year-old daughter. I was overwhelmed as it was.
I have a wicker rocking chair in our sun room. Each morning, before my children awoke, I sat in that chair reading my bible and sipping black tea. Each morning God specifically placed on my heart to home school this boy. I would feel a sense of peace and calmness with the prospect. By the end of the afternoon, however, chaos of my constantly screaming special needs son, arguing with my oldest and caring for two rascals had drained me. There was no way I could add another.
One morning, right after prayer, my friend called. “He really needs out of this situation, could you start next week?” “Yes” somehow slipped from my lips. I fretted and worried all weekend.
He arrived at nine, Monday, sweet third grade boy. Around one, my children went to their rooms for reading or rest. My new charge and I watched youtubes on Colossus of Rhodes; part of our history lesson. The first video asserted that the builders constructed platforms as they built the statue from the feet up. Another insisted that sand was pushed against the statue as it was being constructed. A third stated, with quite the pompous air, that the statue had straddled the harbor of Rhodes.
“Which one is correct?” my new one asked. I did not know. I suggested that we keep looking. He became more and more agitated. “I don’t want to keep looking at different answers, which one is the right one?” He was actually quite anxious.
He “needed” a right answer. His mind was not open to possibilities or theories. He needed the black and white, this is the answer, now quit thinking about it. My explanation that no one know exactly how the Colossus of Rhodes was built was frustrating and caused him anxiety.
Schools are placed in the position of having to choose a right answer so that they can test children. Students in schools hear short summaries of subjects, memorize them and regurgitate the information for exams. Those who regurgitate well are considered scholars. Few, unfortunately, learn to think.
I stumbled upon Hebraic thinking along my journey with my sweet, now eighth grade extra. Hebraic learning is experiential. Students find many sources for each subject. Our Algebra text is supplemented by Khan Academy, youtubes, a fantastic tutor and other texts. Eden Hope Academy’s History cards lead him to internet searches, books, youtubes (we like youtubes) and even a few trips to the Library of Congress (we are privileged to live right outside of Washington, D.C.). He never asks for the “right” answer now. He explores. He discovers. He finds his own answers. It never occurs to him that he is limited from learning anything.
My eldest daughter, a reformed arguer who at fifteen is more mature than most at forty, was never inhibited by the “right” answer. She is equally amazing as my extra. The other day, I purchased two bushels of peaches. My mother mentioned that I could have paid less at the grocery story. I wasn’t sure. Normally, we would have dropped the conversation and chatted about something new. Without a word, my reformed arguer started her familiar click click of her iPhone. “Mom, a bushel of peaches is approximately 50lbs. If they cost $1.28 at the grocery store, and you paid $20/bushel, you got a great deal!” Beyond constant overages for bandwidth, it is wonderful to see my daughter connect concepts, quickly learn and apply her knowledge.