Sour Grapes or Turned Around Truth?
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By Tammy M. Cardwell
"You get so much done because you're homeschooled. I don't have as much time to work on it as you do." Words similar to these were spoken to Thomas, my oldest, a few years ago when he earned a special Royal Rangers' award - one that no other boy in our outpost had ever earned. I'm sure the words were repeated right up until the day he left the program, as Thomas helped set standards that had never been set among our group of young men.
I remembered the other young man's remark on a recent Sunday evening when Terry, who seems intent on breaking all of his older brother's records, was presented with an award that none on our outpost had ever earned. It occurred to me that, while others might also be accusing him of having 'the homeschool advantage', he doesn't - or not the way they would mean. Where Thomas had worked through many of his advancements (required for earning awards) as part of our homeschooling, Terry has chosen to complete the bulk of his during the regular outpost meetings. So homeschooling hasn't given him any advantage after all.
Or has it?
Even as the awards ceremony was going on, I began to look around me - to really look at the young people I know. What I saw surprised me, even though it shouldn't have. Being in the music ministry, I naturally turned to the choir loft first. The tenor section is the strongest of all - the most faithful, the most inclined to serve as a body, the hardest workers where learning their part is concerned...the most filled with homeschoolers. The 1998 music ministry member of the year is homeschooled. The director of our youth choir, who is also a strong leader in our youth group, was also homeschooled for part of his life.
Are all homeschoolers destined to excel? No, I suppose not. It is clear, however, that homeschoolers seem more likely to excel. Perhaps, after all, there is a 'homeschool advantage', but if so, what is it?
Consider a baby. He will learn to crawl, by golly, and yes, to walk too. And do you know what else? He will likely learn to unlock what is meant to stay locked, to dismantle that which is intended to be a unit, and to boldly go where no toddler has gone before.
And then he's enrolled in school.
Suddenly he is thrust into a place where the only acceptable vision is that of conforming to the norm. In striving to become what everyone else is expected to be, he puts limits on (or has limits put on) his own visions, goals, dreams and ambitions. He becomes - as one friend so elegantly expressed it - addicted to mediocrity.
It is a sad truth, but one worth realizing. Against the homeschooled child who has never been forced to fit within the parameters of a pre-measured box, he hasn't got much of a chance at all. So yes, though he was off in why my homeschooled son seemed to automatically have an advantage, the young man was right in the end. The difference is that Thomas still has a vision. The difference could also be called ambition, I suppose, though ambition seems a vital part of vision to me. Vision is something we're born with - something we either hold and nurture or see fade away. Thomas and Terry have never experienced the fading.
It has taken me half a lifetime to cast off limitations and boundaries my sons will never know, to regain visions they've never lost, and to realize I can become what I had once dared dream of being. Thanks to our homeschooling, my sons are about twenty years ahead of me. And I thank God for it.
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