The most recent assignment for my writing class was to write a persuasive essay. Something that would persuade people to think the way you do about any controversial topic. So far, this has been the most FRUSTRATING assignment.
Is it the topic? No. I love the topic I chose… it’s homeschool.
But seriously… 2-3 pages double spaced?! That’s ridiculous! Too long? Heavens no! It’s far too short! How in the world do they expect me to fit in all the reasons that a family should consider homeschool within a mere 2 or 3 pages? I could go on and on…. and on. For real.
I had all these ideas floating around in my head about which avenue I should take for this paper. It got me all excited. And then… I started to write. After only the first two paragraphs I realized that I would have to eliminate a huge chunk of my thoughts. So, while this paper doesn’t express my passion for this topic or anywhere near my complete thoughts on the subject, it is a tiny sampling of what I feel.
“I am opposed to free education as much as I am opposed to taking away property from one man and giving it to another… Would I encourage free schools by taxation? No!” Brigham Young had very strong opinions about education. His views on the subject were very clear and inspired by the Lord. He was not on board with the idea of sending children to public schools where they might be taught the ways of the world. President John Taylor said that Latter-day Saint children should be taught by Latter-day Saints. The thought of Latter-day Saint children being taught by teachers of varying faiths, or perhaps no faith at all, appalled him. All Latter-day Saint families should consider homeschooling as an option.
Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are well known for praying over almost every aspect of life. When a young woman wants to know whether she should marry a certain person of interest, she prays. If there’s a question about whether a young man should do a year of college before leaving for a mission, he prays. A prayer is said almost any time there is a decision of significance to make. However, most people do not think to pray about the education of their children. There’s usually a perfectly acceptable public school right down the street, or an even greater charter school that everyone is talking about. Society says that’s just what is done; children reach a certain age and they go off to school. That’s how education happens. Many parents are unaware that there are other options.
Children are able to learn far more in their own homes under the loving care of parents who are looking out for their well-being. Secular learning, along with the spiritual teachings a parent can provide, is sure to go much further than that of a teacher only able to teach the worldly view of all things. President Eyring says, “It is clear that our first priority should go to spiritual learning. For us, reading the scriptures would come before reading history books. Prayer would come before memorizing those Spanish verbs. A temple recommend would be worth more to us than standing first in our graduating class. But it is also clear that spiritual learning would not replace our drive for secular learning.” Secular learning has its place. Heavenly Father has asked us to know the events in world history. There is much to be learned from the sciences, math, and foreign languages. Knowledge of all things secular is a wonderful thing, but only if the emphasis is placed on the most important learning to be done first. Spiritual education should take precedence, and it starts in the home. President Eyring goes on to say that spiritual knowledge can motivate students to work even harder to learn the secular side of things. The more an individual learns about Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the gospel, the more knowledge he will desire to gain in secular matters.
There is a downside to homeschooling: People. Many people just don’t understand why a parent would make such a detrimental choice as to homeschool their children. Educators often take it as an insult that someone would choose to keep their children away from a government-run educational facility such as a public or charter school. What these people fail to realize is that it has nothing to do with the educators themselves; there are great teachers in every school. The problem is that they are only allowed to teach what the state and federal governments mandate.
There is no right way to educate children. They are here on the earth to learn just as every adult is here to do. Education is highly individual, and the only way to know if homeschooling is the right option for any family is to study it out and pray about it. Heavenly Father will guide each family to the path that is right for them. Just remember that there are options. Is it worth sending a child to the public school, where there is sure to be no spiritual gain, simply because it’s what everyone else is doing?
Young, Brigham. Journal of Discourses, vol. 18 p. 357, General Conference 1877
Smith, Joseph Fielding. Church History and Modern Revelation. 4 volumes. (1946-1949), 2: 98-99
Eyring, Henry B. “Education For Real Life.” Ensign Magazine, October 2002