I have tremendous respect for school teachers, particularly those who treat their vocation as a ministry. I also have great respect for parents who excel at raising children who attend the public schools (and there are many, many of you out there). There are also moments, however, where I’m glad that our family is privileged to do home education.
Today, by chance, I overheard my wife talking to our eight year-old girl about the assasination of Abraham Lincoln.
Our eight-year old is a very tender-hearted girl, and so a lot of what I observed had to do with helping her to understand why a person would want to shoot and kill a good man, a president, in cold blood. On one level, it was a moment for education. But it was also a moment that affirmed what is good about the whole home education process – Sheila knows our eight year-old. More intimately than anyone else. She knows how to address this subject in a way that doesn’t avoid the unpleasant, but that also finds an appropriate way to gently point her toward some of the harsher realities in life. They can come to understand and accept things of this nature together, as a part of a family. In that context, history can become more textured – it can be seen for its joys, pain, and uncertainties. It isn’t simply a series of cold, hard historical facts to be memorized and regurgitated on a test.
It also, of course, gave them a chance to talk about racial justice, about fighting for equality, and about how people can risk and face death in noble ways.
This might seem ironic in light of the immediate subject matter, but it was – in a way – a very, very good moment for me. Our eight year-old and my wife, sitting side by side, learning about life, death, racial justice, and courage together.