Monday, October 18, 2010

Warnings for Homeschoolers: Arrogance

This is the fifth in a series of posts about homeschooling. If you haven't read the first four, you may want to do that first, but here are a few theses about what I'm going to write both now, and in any posts to come:

  • Children must receive an education based on the Word of God.
  • Parents must be involved in their children's education.
  • I believe that if a person decides that, after wisely considering the options, praying, and researching, that they ought to homeschool their children, I am OK with that, and I wish them well. These posts are written in the spirit of graciously warning them about some perils in the path.
  • The key question: What is, in the will of God, the best option for providing quality Christian education to my children?
I want to distinguish here between "wholesome pride" and arrogance, so there is no confusion about what I am describing.

"Wholesome pride" is the emotion which takes a justifiable pleasure in something done well. It is not primarily selfish, nor does it gloat. It is the emotion a parent may feel when his child wins a contest, makes a big play in a ball game, or does something kind and selfless for another person. One can have a wholesome pride in his country (and for those of us who live in America, we should), in the military, in his favorite ball team, in his alma mater, or in his own accomplishments. "Wholesome" connotes that it is not sinful.

"Arrogance," on the other hand, is primarily selfish. It comes with the attitude of "Look what I [or my child, or my husband, etc.] have done, and envy—or be humbled. I [or the other person] can do this better than you." It is quite similar to the pride spoken of in Scripture, in passages such as Proverbs 8:13, 16:18; Daniel 5:20; and Obadiah 3. "Arrogance" is always sinful.

Most homeschoolers I have met fit into one of the two categories. Those in the first category may say (or silently communicate) such thoughts as these, in a humble tone:
  • I am so glad to be able to homeschool my children.
  • My child is now able to ____.
  • Homeschooling has allowed our family to ____.
Furthermore, as they communicate with others about homeschooling, they will exhibit gratitude for the opportunities, blessings, and results which accompany it. If Christian, they will thank God for what happens.

The other group, however, tends to exhibit their arrogance in ways that betray what they are doing. Here are a few common illustrations:
  • "My child can ____." [Comment delivered in a prideful/overbearing tone] Sure, overbearing parents exist in every form of education. But when it's the teacher/parent who is prideful about what his child can do, the impression is compounded.
  • "No one can teach my children better than I can." Maybe so. But there are two big assumptions underlying the statement: You know your child and his educational strengths and weaknesses better than anyone, and you have the pedagogical skill to help him learn better than any other teacher could. The first, to be honest, is likely. The second is not. And on top of it all, your pride will make you a weaker teacher. Humility tends to help us see our own weaknesses more successfully—so that we can improve them.
  • "We do a better job teaching our child than ____ School would." Or, "Our child gets better achievement test scores than the kids at ____ School." Again, that may be true. If "the local public school" goes in the blank, well, you should be disappointed if you aren't. Be careful about comparing your child to the "average" student of any school, though; all schools have their higher achievers as well as their lower ones. Comparisons should be cautious at best.
Most importantly, though, arrogance has a disconcerting way of seeping down to the next generation. If your children see you being arrogant, whether about your skills as the parent/teacher or about their achievements, the seeds of pride will be sown in their own hearts. If your child grows up to be prideful, then were you really the best teacher he could have had?


Brenda said...

Even more noticeably arrogant are the parents who assume that if you don't homeschool (regardless of what the limitations and obstacles are in your home)you obviously don't have as close a walk with God or are missing the "mandates of God" in Scripture that CLEARLY dictate that we must homeschool.

Ken said...

Good point, Brenda. Somehow I missed that one.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the honesty in this post. It's something everyone should reflect on.