My neighbor called today and asked if I would home school her. She’s 23.
Sometimes my privilege smacks me upside the head. Today is one of those days.
Alisha** dropped out of high school in the tenth grade. I don’t know what all has happened between now and then. I’m guessing a lifetime. Now, as a mom of four, she wants to get her GED and I have the privilege of coming alongside her.
You may have seen on Facebook or Instagram, I’m working on a post about homeschooling. It’s woven into my DNA, this deep desire to encourage – particularly women and, more specifically, women who are also moms. My plan was to write a witty little post, busting some myths with the end goal of encouraging women who desire to home school but don’t think they have what it takes.
I quickly realized how heated the conversation of schooling is, how rapidly and violently it will boil over if left unattended. I took a deep breath, a few days, and came to realize I can’t write that post without first writing this one.
Anyone who has the choice of where and how to educate their children is making that choice out of extreme privilege. I’m going to bet, if you are actually making that decision and it’s not being made for you based on citizenship, cultural identity, ethnicity, religion, income, or gender, you don’t take it lightly. You are researching and praying and visiting schools and talking to teachers and administrators and other parents. You’re making educated, albeit privileged, decisions about the education of your kids. And you should.
I refuse to argue over the best schooling method. Frankly, I don’t care if you unschool, home school, public school, private school, world school or if you agree with Classical, Charlotte Mason or Montessori methods of schooling. What I care about is encouraging you where you are AND lifting our eyes to the fact that most mamas in this world don’t have the choice of where and how to school their kids, if they have the privilege of schooling them at all.
Education should not be a special advantage granted only to some, but in our broken world this basic human right is not extended to MANY. 124 million children and adolescents have never started school or have dropped out in the last few years. That’s 1 in 10 children worldwide not in school. Around 30 million out-of-school children of primary school age live in sub-Saharan Africa and 10 million in South and West Asia.*
53% of the world’s out-of-school children are girls and 2/3 of the illiterate people in the world are women. Worldwide 780 million adults and 103 million young people (ages 15–24) are illiterate.
According to Compassion International, one of the biggest contributors to global poverty is lack of access to education. Just imagine the barriers illiteracy and lack of education add to the life of a person already living on the margins. Jobs are not likely. You are dependent on the government, if aid even exists in your country, and your chances of malnutrition increase. Your chances of contracting HIV/AIDS increase 75 percent. Your chances of being trafficked increase – you are one of the most vulnerable people on the planet.*
And these effects not only consume you, they consume your future children as well. A child who is born to an educated mother is 50 percent more likely to survive past the age of five.
Such a strong correlation has been seen between education and contracting HIV/AIDS that education is considered a “social vaccine” for girls in avoiding HIV.*
Friends, let us not get caught up in the division and diversion of conversations about the best way to educate a child when millions of children are not being given the basic human right of education.
I am not saying don’t be wise. I am saying the arguments over the best way to educate our children are divisive and create a diversion from the millions of children who are not being educated at all.
I spent a week at a training in LA last month and a bit of time learning how to tell stories well. Stories that invite you, the reader, into another persons reality. I learned stories do a much better job than facts at engaging areas of your brain that release dopamine, make it easier for you to remember the story, experience the same emotions as the people in the story itself and even allow you to translate the story into your own idea.
Here’s the problem: Our stories are sacred. I cannot tell you the tapestry of my neighbor’s life, the circumstances that engulfed her as a teenager and forced her to drop out of high school… Her story is not mine to share, no matter what it does for your dopamine.
But, I do know this: While there are other people’s stories, there are no other people’s children. Let’s not waste anymore time dividing, let’s lock arms and encourage one another to do the best we can, to keep our eyes on Jesus, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” – Mark 12:28-31, ESV
Take a moment to reflect on this passage and how it effects your views on education for children in your own backyard and around the world.
The witty little post busting some home school myths with the end goal of encouraging those of you who desire to home school but don’t think you have what it takes is coming atcha Monday.