As parents of two wonderful children, my wife and I are deeply concerned with their education. We made the decision to home-school them and as our little girl approaches her first year of formal teaching, we are scrambling to figure this out. I wonder how many parents will relate to our current situation.
My lovely wife is handling 99% of the work in reading books on the subject, researching the best curriculum, buying the materials, and dragging me to home school conventions. However, the education of my children is a primary concern on my heart and mind as well. Over the past few months I have begun to consider what I want my children to know when they leave home.
Following are the results of my reading, research and thinking. The sheer quantity of topics, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t get everything, might be overwhelming, but when you consider that much of it will be covered in the curriculum already and also that we have 10+ years to do it, the task becomes manageable. I want my wife and I to return to this list at least every year and come up with goals to focus on for the upcoming months.
The first half, Topics for Parents to Teach, are the categories in learning that will rarely, if ever, be covered in school curriculum. These are things that it will be the parent’s sole responsibility to teach. Do not be discouraged, however, all God’s forces for good are fighting for you!
For the most part, these topics can be taught outside of school hours. Some of it might be taught by simply encouraging your teenager to read particular books and then discussing it with them. Bottom line, these are the things that I know my child will need when they go out as lights into an unbelieving world.
Our second half, Topics for School to Teach, are categories of knowledge that our children will mostly learn in school. However, and largely depending on the curriculum we choose for them, some of these topics will need to be supplemented.
Before you have a heart attack when looking at this list, let me qualify one thing. As with any topic, three different levels of education can be assigned each of these topics: Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom. Each family will need to determine where these topics fit based on the desires and aptitudes of the children:
- Information being just simply knowing the general outlines of what a topic includes. For myself, I would put things like Criminology, Earth Science, or Political Science in this category. I want my children to know these topics in general terms, but unless they show special interest in them, that is all they need.
- Knowledge means being able to use the information in a topic in real life. Things like mathematics, logic or philosophy would fall in this category, for me.
- Wisdom means (for me) how to apply the knowledge you have to life in a way that will further the Kingdom of God, bring glory to God, and help people. This is obviously the toughest thing to teach and it will be by the grace of God if my children leave my home with true wisdom.
Without further ado, here are the lists:
Topics For Parents to Teach
- Biblical Studies – Do they intimately know the stories and larger themes the Bible holds? are they able to effectively understand what they read using interpretation techniques? are they reading it every day?
- Community – Are they aware of the needs of the community around them and the community of the world at large? can they make a significant difference in their communities?
- Critical Thinking – Can they logically think through issues presented to them? can they research ideas and teachings? can they debate false ideas?
- Life – Can they defend the absolute sanctity of life?
- Multiculturalism – Can they deal with crass multiculturalism and explain how it will never serve a society well?
- Relativism – Do they know all four forms of relativism? can they name and deconstruct them?
- Sexuality – Can they defend traditional Judeo-Christian sexual ethics?
- Tolerance – Can they deal with a situation where tolerance is demanded by society in a situation where intolerance is necessary?
- Worldview – Do they know the three basic components of a worldview? can they detect a false worldview and compare it to Christianity?
- Associations – Do they understand and can they maintain the associations necessary to life: family relationships, friendships, companionship, comradeship, love, community, networking…?
- Exercise – Are they fully trained in a regimen of daily exercise? do they understand fitness and the importance of taking care of your body?
- Finances – Do they understand the fundamentals of money management, including budgeting, saving and investing? can they faithfully manage money without giving into spending foolishly?
- Healthy Eating – Do they understand nutrition? do they understand why eating healthy is important? can they cook their own meals? can they grow their own produce? can they hunt?
- Housekeeping – Can they maintain a household in all the essentials? can they clean, mend, fix and organize?
- Loss Management – Do they know how to grieve? can they complete losses?
- Medicine – Do they understand the basics of the human body? can they employ natural remedies for illness? can they protect against common diseases? are they equipped for medical emergencies?
- Navigation – Do they thoroughly understand maps and directions? do they understand geography? can they draw a helpful map?
- Relationships – Are they able to form and maintain healthy attachments? do they understand the biblical roles in marriage and are they ready to fulfill them?
- Scientific Endeavors – Can they discover truth for themselves through the rules of evidence, not by memorizing the opinions of others?
- Self-support – Can they detect needs around them? can they support themselves by meeting those needs? do they have a vocation based on meeting needs?
- Shelter – Can they build and maintain basic structures? can they build and maintain furniture? do they understand general appliances and can they do basic maintenance on them?
- Transportation – Can they handle a car, motorcycle, boat (and plane)? can they perform basic maintenance on them?
- Work – Do they understand the value of work? can they work hard and persistently? do they understand the connection between working and having? are they free of entitlement?
QUALITY OF LIFE
- Balance – Do they understand and maintain the balance between variety in life and unchanging responsibilities?
- Boredom – Can they entertain themselves? are they seldom at a loss what to do with time? are they comfortable being alone?
- Consumerism – Can they detect and resist the varied techniques used in sales?
- Creativity – Are they empowered to create new things, have new ideas and experiences?
- Death – Do they understand and accept the significance of time, the seasons in life, and their own mortality? are they able to continue learning through each moment?
- Grounding – Do they intimately know the history of their family? do they understand and value their family, ancestors, background and local and larger cultures? do they understand their limits and possibilities?
- Physical World – Have they explored (not merely taught) as much of the physical world as possible?
Topics for School to Teach
- Computer Science – Are they well versed in theoretical computer science? can they write a simple machine-control program?
- Linguistics – Do they fully understand the four aspects of grammar? do they understand how to extract meaning? do they understand semantics?
- Logic – Are they able to think logically through complex ideas? do they understand the basics of logic? can they debate both sides of an idea?
- Mathematics – Are they fully able to use basic and advanced mathematics in real-life situations? algebra, geometry, trigonometry?
- Statistics – Do they grasp decision theory? can they collect, organize and interpret data effectively? can they effectively quantify information?
- Art – Do they know art and how it has evolved throughout history? are they able to create art in various forms to the best of their abilities and preferences?
- Dance – Are they familiar with popular ball-room and classic dances? can they dance to the best of their natural abilities?
- History – Are they thoroughly familiar with biblical, church, US, and world history? do they understand historical precedent?
- Language – Do they know a second or third modern language? can they read an ancient language? can they detect a language when they see it?
- Literature – Are they avid readers? can they detect good literature?
- Music – Do they know the different types of music? are they able to perform music to the best of their natural abilities? can they enjoy music thoroughly?
- Philosophy – Are they well versed in biblical philosophy? can they detect and deconstruct modern philosophies?
- Religion – Are they well versed in the teachings of modern religions?
- Theater – Are they able to act, direct or produce to the best of their natural abilities? do they understand the process of bringing a story to the stage or the screen?
- Writing – Are they able to write clearly and correctly? do they have neat, readable handwriting?
- Astronomy – Do they fully understand the celestial objects in our universe and beyond? can they model the universe? do they grasp distances and modern techniques at measuring them?
- Biology – Do they fully grasp the complexity of modern organisms? can they effectively prove creative design through biology?
- Chemistry – Are they well versed in the known elements? can they conduct experiments and manipulate materials? do they understand the basics of matter?
- Earth science – Do they have a basic grasp on geology, geophysics, hydrology, meteorology, geography, oceanography, atmospheric and soil science? do they understand the scientific arguments for and against the old-earth and new-earth theories?
- Physics – Do they understand the fundamental elements of the universe and how they interact with each other? can they explain the modern theories and compare them with a Christian worldview?
- Anthropology – Do they understand the origin of mankind? can they explain what makes us different from animals? do they appreciate and have they experienced cultural differences?
- Archeology – Have they experienced a dig? do they understand the cultures of the past? can they prove ancient man was similar to us in mental abilities? do they appreciate achievements of the ancients?
- Business Administration – Do they already manage all aspects of a small business?
- Communication – Are they able to use timeless forms of communication: writing and speech as well as current and upcoming forms?
- Criminology – Do they understand biblical, traditional and modern theories employed in behavioral sciences? can they deconstruct purely humanistic or purely natural explanations of behavior?
- Economics – Do they understand the differences between the four major economic theories? can they explain the interactions of various economic agents.
- Education – Do they understand the different ways of learning? can they explain the pros and cons of government, private and home education? do they know how to learn on their own?
- Government – Do they understand the various systems of government? can they determine pros and cons between each form? can they explain how all of the aspects of US government? do they understand the Christian stance towards government? do they understand international relations?
- Law – Do they understand basic laws and the consequences they produce? are they fully aware of the punishment breaking a law will entail? do they understand when a law should not be obeyed? do they grasp how the US law system works?
- Political Science – Do they local, state, and national politics? can they determine which current political stances are best and defend them?
- Psychology – Do they understand elements that influence behavior and mental processes? are they prepared to deconstruct pop-psychology and anti-biblical arguments?
Please provide your feedback on any of the items above or any missing topics that you consider an essential part of your child’s education.
Absolute Truth by Nancy Pearcey
Weapons of Mass Instruction by John Taylor Gatto
Why Are There No Hittites on The Streets of New York by Dr. John Patrick
Wikipedia entries on Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences and Formal Sciences
Deuteronomy 6 by Moses