Monday, November 07, 2005

Real Grown-ups Part 4

Melissa's interview continues....

Mother-Lode: What ambitions do you have beyond high school and what has most shaped those ambitions?

Melissa: First, I want to be a godly woman; second, if God wills, to be a godly wife and mother; third, to raise godly children. But you already knew that!
My two other main ambitions are 1) to teach a world-changer and 2) to write at least one really good book—one that challenges and informs and educates in a witty, pithy package.
My first goal has been shaped, in part, by the realization that I have a real gift for teaching. My ability to communicate well is an enhancement of that gift, but merely an add-on nonetheless. And since it has always been my goal to be the best at whatever I do, I started to think about what is the highest goal for a teacher. Sure, to be a good teacher is nice, and to be famous during my lifetime would be pleasant, but what would be the most effective thing I could do as a teacher? I could teach someone who took what they learned, left the cave, and civilized the world. That would be a worthwhile legacy indeed.
My second goal has been shaped by, unsurprisingly, reading great books and wanting to be like the authors. My hope for this future volume is that it would be something set on people’s shelves next to works by the Inklings, because the members of that fabled club have influenced my writing and thought life deeply. There are other writers I admire, but I really like the way Dorothy Sayers, C.S. Lewis, G.K Chesterton, and Charles Williams wrote, and I choose them (especially the first two) as my literary role models for their accessibility of style and mastery of English, and for the intellectual rigor of their content.

Mother-Lode: Do you plan to pursue higher education? Why or why not?

Melissa: Most definitely. My vision for the purpose of my college education was given to me when I was about 14 and Dr. Michael Farris spoke at our state homeschool convention. On the first day, he was given an hour and a half to plug the college he had just founded in Virginia: Patrick Henry College. Dr. Farris spoke of his goal to provide a college major that would prepare young women to be home schooling mothers, and about the classical liberal arts major that PHC would offer to fulfill the need he saw.
Since then, I have focused my quest for higher education on one idea—that my college education should train me to teach my own children. It’s really that simple. There is a world of knowledge out there that isn’t mine (yet!) that I want my children to have, but I can’t give it to them unless it is mine to begin with and I can’t lead them where I haven’t already seen the track. Hopefully, my education will give me a head-start on my children so that I don’t have to read the lessons the night before class until my children are mature enough to have patience with me.
To that end, I am hoping to attend New St. Andrew’s college in Moscow, Idaho beginning next fall. NSA is a trinitarian, reformed, classical college with one major: Classical Liberal Arts and Culture. When I looked at their course outline, I fell in love. They teach languages, rhetoric, and music (among other courses), and the capstone of the entire program is a two-year in-depth look at Thought and its expression in Western Civilization.

Mother-Lode: Do you feel a tension between the careerism that pursuing a college degree usually implies, and your desire to be a wife and mother?

Melissa: I do, especially when asked by well-meaning friends and co-workers “What do you plan to do with your degree?” They mean, of course, “What job will that screwy degree get you?” This is where I get to have fun messing with people’s minds. I start by saying that I want to be a teacher, and most people nod their heads and mumble something about ‘that doesn’t pay very well, but we need good teachers’; then I hit them with the punch line…my “job plan” is to teach/tutor from my home, so that I can work the schedule around my children and family life.
My own method of resolving that conflict, then, is to have a strict value hierarchy. When a “career” and my family are in conflict, my family will come first; nay, they must come first, for this is what I believe to the core of my soul. Still, denying career-ism does not mean that I shun the possibility of a long-term money-making endeavor (whether you call that a career or cottage industry or something else), especially before I am married. I relish the idea of providing extra income by doing something I love, and I believe that I should use God’s gifts both before and after marriage, both in raising my family and in single-mindedness.

Mother-Lode: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to decide whether to homeschool in high school?

Melissa: First, pray--earnestly seek to know what God’s will is for your family. Second, clarify your family’s vision for education. Why do you teach your children? What do you most want them to learn?
Third, inform yourself. Before you automatically reject or accept homeschooling through high school, find out what it involves in your area, what you will be able to do, and what you won’t be able to do. I know dozens of families in our area who put their children back in the government school system because they didn’t know about all the opportunities for their children as home schooled high schoolers. On the other hand, if you expect activities and programs as your entitlement and you want a traditional high school that is just set at home, you may want to ask yourself why your child isn’t at a private school or in the government system.
Of course, this is all directed at the family who is facing that sit-down discussion asking “Should we? Or shouldn’t we?” If you’re like my family was, secure in your calling as a homeschool family, don’t fret about homeschooling through high school. Ninth grade follows Eighth just like Third followed Second, and the process is still basically the same (or so my mom tells me); only the subject matter changes.
A fourth piece of advice comes to mind: don’t worry if your children will turn out “normal”…since when was that ever the idea?

1 comment:

Deb said...

Kim, Thank you! What a great interview with Melissa! I'm inspired by her maturity, honesty, and obvious competency in so many areas. What an encouraging testament to her family and what home schooling can and should be.


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