Saturday, August 27, 2005

Speak Your Mind

We spend so much effort training our children to think, to analyse, to envision; and often we spend so little on training our children to express those provocative thoughts. What good will it do our world if our children can't form an argument or tell a story that will actually appeal to their audience - be it one friend or a whole auditorium?

In our homeschool, both writing and speech are required subjects. Training Minds Ministries publishes my textbook on debating about the values that undergird all our choices. My children have all greatly enjoyed and benefitted from participating in the homeschool speech and debate league, NCFCA. It has given them not only a set of lifetime skills, but also a network of dynamic peers across the country.

It has given them both confidence and practice in speaking their minds. Take for example, this new literary blog, CatchWord, written by my high school senior. Of course, some of us have more innate confidence than others....My son has never had trouble speaking his mind.

Lofty Ambitions

Have you ever noticed how when one takes the wheel of a car filled with one's children and their best friends, one becomes invisible - as unseen and dependable as indoor plumbing or central heating? If one maintains silence, one can keep up the illusion of vacant duct-ness for the entire round trip.
While some feel this is demeaning to parental dignity, I value my plumbing disguise very greatly. It is astonishing what the conversation of little people will reveal once they have forgotten that their chauffeur is a sentient being.
There was just such an occasion not long ago, when I was relieving the tedium of the interval between piano lessons by driving Winston and his good friend, Caleb, to the library. After the usual buckle-your-seatbelt pre-flight chitchat, the boys settled I for a "Dinosaurs Succumb to the Flood" adventure. Sadly, this palled rather quickly, since the dinosaurs could scarcely get in a good hunt before the Flood washed them all into the unsearchable crevasses of the back seat. The boys stared out the windows in stunned silence feeling the full weight of the loss.
I suppressed the urge to chirpily recommend some other entertainment, assuming by best lead pipe expression, sensing that this would be a likely moment for deep revelations. I was not disappointed.
"What do you want to be when you grow up?" asked Winston.
"Oh, I don't know," mused Caleb, "Maybe a concert violinist or a rancher or something."
"Don't you want to be a DAD?" demanded Winston, in a voice which implied the insanity of disagreement.
"Well, sure. I guess…." stuttered Caleb, becoming aware for the first time, that perhaps there was a wrong answer for the when-I-grow-up question -- at least when answering to this crusader.
"I want to be a Dad," he declared, infusing that word with all the glorious passion of a true worshipper. "I want to teach my children, and train them to honor God and fight for Christ's kingdom!"
"Oh!" bleated his bewildered friend.
"And if I have any time left over after that, I want to be an astronaut and a paleontologist," finished Winston.
Well, I enjoyed it. But it occurred to me that, at least where sons are concerned, the dependable/invisible central heating disguise is probably not an option for fathers. Difficult as it may be for idols, who shine like Apollo into their son's consciousness, if you fathers want to be invisible, you'll have to get your own disguise.

Kim Anderson
June 2001

1 comment:

Perspicacity said...

I hope that this generation will carry on the work that the last had begun. May we never forget that our ambitions fly on the wings of those who have gone before.


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