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School, 24-7?

by Matthew Henry

When did you stop learning? Did it happen in high school? College? When the bell rang for that last time in that last class, were you finished? Walking across that aisle with the tasseled hat and garb, did you say, wow, it's finished? I remember thinking, wow, it’s all over now! No more tests, no more books, no more learning. I’m done! Yahoo!

The other day when I came home from work, my son was on the couch reading a book. I said, "Son, what are you doing? Isn't school over?" His normal response when his daddy says this is a smile and then his nose goes right back in the book so deep you can hardly see his face. Of course, my daughter is constantly begging to "Read Book!"

What is homework? What is schoolwork? Where do you draw the line? Why do we who choose to school at home even have the label homeschoolers? Who decided that there should be a school time to your day and then a non-school part? Do our minds somehow have a learning switch and a non-learning switch? When do the billions of neurons stop building their networks and when do they start?

Dr. Howard Hendricks in Teaching to Change Lives said, "... [T]he name of the game these days seems not to be teaching, but covering material. And as a result, we see unmotivated students who, rather than be engrossed by the lesson and enjoying it, merely endure it...at best... The effective teacher always teaches from the overflow of a full life."

Dictionary.com says the word "school" "...traces back to Greek skhole "lectureplace," but earlier it meant "leisure," "learned discussion," and "study." This very old word appeared in English by 1000 AD and it has cognates in nearly all Celtic, Romance, and Teutonic languages. It became Latin schola, "school," and then Old English “scól." Wow, we've come a long way from leisure or learned discussion!

When you got that new computer or, better yet, when you brought home that new big screen TV, did you spend hours going over the manual, trying the new buttons, pressing the special features on the TV? This time spent enjoying your new big screen TV, would you think of calling it school?

Admitting that we have fragmented our lives into two parts, learning and non-learning, is a first step in a change of lifestyle that will never end. I often wonder if the popularity of the Learning Channel, Discovery Channel or History Channel is not somehow a rise of conscience. Do we feel guilty that we think we have stopped learning? Do we feel good when we are learning again?

Yes, we have to count "school" days to fulfill the South Carolina laws, but let’s get out of the ‘school’ mentality. In our home, we have attempted to change even our wording about the work that is done daily. We refer to any daily required activities as lessons. We don't do ‘school.’ You may say, oh, that's just semantics. Yes it is. However, when you force yourself out of the mold that has surrounded you for life, changing the words is a great start.

God was clear to the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:7 when He said "You shall teach them diligently to your sons and shall talk of them when you sit in your house and when you walk by the way and when you lie down and when you rise up." We have houseschooling, walkschooling, liedownschooling and riseupschooling! It's learning all the time. The time for learning is all our time but sleep time. Dr. Bob Jones, Sr., used to say that there is no difference between the secular and the sacred. I would propose that there is no difference between school time and non-school time. All of life is learning.

As a dad, I enjoy choosing our children's curriculum books or methods of learning. In particular, I have been studying history right along with my son. I have learned more history with him than any of my previous "school' days. Part of our dividing up our homeschooling into "school" leads us to believe that the daily process of "school" is somehow moms, the coops, the satellite dish, the video tape or the DVD's job. But it's not. It's our job, dads. We must never stop learning. We must learn right along with our children. God works in our lives hourly--sometimes, second by second--teaching us, making us more like Christ. This is the process of learning; this is what we should call "school". A 24-7, every day of the year, every year of life, learning, understanding, gathering more of the knowledge that first begins with the fear of God.

Alan Melton is a home schooling parent and the director of Family Together Ministries. FTM is a non-profit organization that uses biblical principles to strengthen families through articles, workshops, and coaching parents. Mr. Melton may be reached at FamilyTogetherMinistries@yahoo.com.

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