Up on my Soap Box Again

Here’s a curiosity: in my circle of homeschoolers, there are more former classroom teachers than there are not.   One of my homeschool friends is married to a Christian middle school principal. Why is it that some many of us in the teaching profession have chosen to stay home and be teachers to our own children?  The partial answer to that question can be found on the front page of today’s Dallas Morning News.

The Dallas ISD has sent down from on high the new grading rules for the next school year.  In a nutshell, these rules proclaim that:

  • Students who fail a test are given retests until they pass it
  • Teachers are not allowed to penalize a student for turning in assignments late
  • If low homework grades pull down a student’s average, teachers are required to throw the low grades out
  • Teachers are not allowed to “give” a grade lower than a 50
  • Teachers are not allowed to give a student a zero for work that is not turned in; instead, they are required to contact the parents

I would laugh if this wasn’t so serious.  The real world is right around the corner for these kids.  My child is getting ready to launch into her first double-digit year, and it seems as if the time is moving so swiftly I can’t catch my breath.

When I shared this news article with my daughter, she started laughing and said,

I wouldn’t want to hire any of those kids to build my house when I grow up!

And isn’t that the truth?

Future DISD Student Turned Builder:
Oh, so what if we miscalculated on our first try and your wall caved in.  We’ll just prop it back up.  Don’t worry about the 2x4s scattered all over your floor.  We’ll hammer in any exposed nails so you can walk around safely at night.  And that  AC works 50% of the time for you.  Yea, it’s August but this is Dallas and it’s always hot around here this time of year.  And I forgot to tell you that the water line to your house is riddled with rust and holes and we mis-measured your windows so you’ll have to put up plastic instead.  But you still owe us 100% of our fee, because we did try.  We showed up.

That story goes into my Hall of Fame notebook of Why I Homeschool.  We serve the Lord in our household, and we follow the very wise instructions found inside the Bible:

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.  Col 3:17

Servants, obey your earthly masters in everything you do. Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. Serve them sincerely because of your reverent fear of the Lord.  Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ.[e] But if you do what is wrong, you will be paid back for the wrong you have done. For God has no favorites. Col 3:23-25

In today’s world, any of us who has a job is, in essence, a servant.  When I was teaching in a classroom, I was a servant of my students, setting aside my needs for theirs.  I was a servant to my principal and to the school board.  Even if you are Donald Trump and own your own company or companies, you are, in essence, bound to something — whether it be to the company itself or to customer service.  The key verses here tell us something essential that students today — as the article linked above makes clear — are not learning in any way, shape or form.

Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you.

This is a lesson my dog has not learned, either.  He knows it’s against the rules to jump up on the kitchen counter to grab whatever food is up there, but he does it anyway…as soon as my back is turned.  If I’m watching him, he won’t do it.  But as soon as I leave the room or turn my back, he’s off like a shot.  Bye-bye fresh baked loaf of bread!  Now, my dog is a dog.  I can’t sit down with him and teach him these verses, but I can teach them to my daughter.  In fact, I can make these verses the central part of everything we do.

And that brings me to my next point.  The English language does not adequately capture the meaning in these verses:

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.

The Greek words used here are ek psuche, and they mean a great deal more than the bland “willingly” or “heartily” found in most English translations.  From Blue Letter Bible, I learn that they mean to let all our work come out of our very breath of life, our vital force, the part in us that is our essence, our life, our soul.  This means we are to throw ourselves into whatever work is before us–whether it is washing dishes or sweeping floors or changing a tire or programming software or teaching children or learning multiplication facts–we are to go all out, full speed ahead.

Why?

Because, as this verse goes on to say, we are to do it as though we are doing our work for the Lord rather than for men.

The children of the Dallas Independent School district aren’t even being held accountable to people anymore, much less to God.  These children will be our future.  I wish I could scoop them all up and homeschool them myself.  Instead, I will be in prayer for them and for their teachers who have to, once again, figure out how to teach kids how to learn with even more restrictions on their methods.

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