Educating for Worldchange
Google “Skilled Labor Shortage” and you will read article after article about how difficult it is for employers in the mining, manufacturing, farming, construction, oil, gas & utility sectors to fill their skilled positions. My husband works in an industry where this is a stark reality. Most of these positions are high paying, support-your-family-on-one-income jobs with great benefits. And for the most part, they don’t require a college degree.
1 Corinthians 12:4-6 tells us: ‘There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.’
I don’t see anything wrong with encouraging our kids to dream big, to shoot for the stars and believe they can accomplish something extraordinary with their lives. The world needs authors, brain surgeons, lawyers, microbiologists, politicians, and astrophysicists. But I think we do our kids a disservice when we assume the only path to that success is a direct route through a 4, 8, or 10 year college career following high school graduation. Our journey to my husband’s career took a twisty-turny, wild and scary path; and I beam with joy when I tell people what he does for a living, but that road needn’t have been so fraught with peril. Had we not believed that college was a necessary component to lasting career success we might have spent a lot less time feeling ashamed and guilty at our lack of it.
As homeschooling parents I believe we have the opportunity, no, the responsibility, to recognize talents and interests and giftedness in our children. We have the privilege of, hopefully, having the kind of loving influence on our children’s lives that can help guide them and assist them in planning to use those gifts to achieve their career, family, and spiritual goals!
My kids are still young, but my husband and I have felt from the very beginning that we were homeschooling for the long-run, for the end result….not the day-to-day. What I mean when I say that is that we decided we were going to teach facts, of course, but facts and memorization would come firmly in second place to character training and a nurturing of their spiritual gifts. Because more than I want them to be simply happy, successful, and secure; more than I want them to marry beautiful girls and give their dad and me lots of precious grandchildren; more than anything at all (and believe me, as their mother, I do so want it all)…….I want them to be worldchangers.
So today I’m going to teach my boys about multiplication, prepositional phrases, food chains, Inuit soap carvings and national flags……but we’re going to spend an extra few minutes reading our Bibles and talking through a devotion. We’re going to learn about those people, past and present, who use their gifts and talents to make a difference, to make Jesus famous! I pray they may learn, absorb, and grow into their own men of character. I pray they use their God-given strengths and let their love of Christ set the world around them on fire!
Wow! My sister and I have talked extensively about this very subject. For my children, I hope to teach them how to learn, and to have a desire to learn. I want them to see the value of a college education, but to know that they can learn so much more in many different ways. What really cemented this way of child rearing was a conversation I had with my Dad. He has driven semi trucks for a life time, a Marine, a very long beard and hair. Sort of hippy looking, but votes conservative. That is his back ground. He was the “Pusher” (aka truck boss) for a job rebuilding a road in southern New Mexico. He called me totally wound up because, the “engineer” ( aka, the newly graduated son of the man who owned the company doing the road building) had jumped all over him because his trucks were not making their trips fast enough to load, drive back and unload material. Being the diplomat that my dad was he suggest the young man purchase some rockets and strap to the trucks to obtain a faster trip time and as a side note my dad told the kid, you do not have enough fill dirt to complete this rise in grade. The young man was so ticked that this lowly truck driver was telling him what to do , and was not very nice about it. Needless to say the relationship with the two men floundered. When the young man ran out of fill dirt a few days later he was he more upset about the situation. My dad said, ” that young man got ripped off, paying for his degree. I really thought he should have been able to climb on a pile of dirt and measure it.” My dad had to figure how much dirt he was going to have to haul, so he could bid accordingly. The same calculation was needed for both ends of the job. He just checked on the pile of dirt verse what the contract said. While he told me all about this incident, not only did I laugh about it but I really wondered if the young mans education was worth it. Was the engineers mistake, just that a mistake, did he not know what he was doing, did he graduate with the knowledge that he needed to succeed ? Who really knows.
I have also wondered why the military does not have something like a degree plan or diploma to give our soldiers a list the things that they accomplished, and skills learned while serving. Just something that would help an employer to see all that our veterans have learned and have to offer,
It is so cool to hear you speaking about teaching our children worthwhile skills, not just the pie-in-the-sky dream jobs. Sounds like you all are doing a great job. If you are interested in some new curriculum, that will help teach your students the processes required to become intelligent thinkers, communicators, and really engaged in their learning, check out our website.
Thanks for this article. Very nicely written. As a homeschooler and a Mother with an advanced degree from two very well known and distinguished universities, I struggle with this topic exactly. I feel like it’s my responsibility to prepare my children for whatever they want to do in life. It’s clear, in order to get into a Smith, a Brown, Williams, Amherst, or Bowdoin, there are things that are needed to prepare. You know, you have to be able to take a timed test – take information and process it accurately within a certain amount of time. At the same time, in order to be successful students at these colleges- they need critical thinking skills. When they get there, their professors are not going to ask them what 2+2 is – and expect 4. They require you to be able to know facts, think critically, synthesize a bunch of information to answer a more complex question. That’s what we are talking about – right?
I mean in college and graduate school, I was reading peer reviewed papers – critically. From that – create experiments that would further the field and my scientific goals. It’s not really about memorizing a bunch of facts – even being pre-med. You have to be able to think – push your mind – and explore other possibilities on your own. If you can’t do that, you’re in trouble.
My husband, who has a PhD, said once to me that he didn’t want a bunch of plumbers. My question to him was – well, we all need excellent plumbers. Our plumbing breaks down – can you fix it? Of course not. Duh!
We need doctors, we definitely need good teachers and role models, we need good plumbers, trash men, etc. I try to prepare my children to do very well and excel in whatever they do. It’s my job to prepare them to do what it is they need to do to achieve their goals – whatever they may be. So, yes, if my son wants to go to Williams – my gosh – he will go to Williams. You can trust me on that!