In six weeks or less, I knew which students were home schooled in my college courses. I never had to ask who they were, because these students did the most impressive work on their first assignment and all tests. They were self-motivated, respectful, diligent, independent learners, and had a strong sense of direction in their lives. They were socially adept and everyone really liked them, even the younger ones who were only fourteen or fifteen years old. These students were always fun to teach, because they were so mature and had so much more life experience and sense of identity then their older peers. Their questions were impressive, and their ability to think critically was impressive. Plus, I never saw a single one of them succumb to the negative influences and pressures that, unfortunately, thrive on college campuses.
I have colleagues who spoon feed their self-serving agendas and worldly identities to unsuspecting college students. Instead of teaching the curriculum objectively, they used their professorship position to instill their personal philosophies and theologies into curious minds. The goal was to have their students think like themselves, instead of teaching the students to think for themselves.
The college campus, even the religious ones, are the front lines of the clash of two worlds. It’s the front lines of spiritual warfare. Seriously. When we all know that the battle is in the mind, the college campus makes perfect sense. There is a surplus of passionate youth ready to change the world and wanting to learn what their professors have to teach them. Yet, what they don’t see with their acceptance letters and over the campus is the great big invisible sign that says:
“Welcome to Warfare.”
I honestly believe that it takes much more than just intellect to make it through college. There are a variety of character traits and abilities that are needed to achieve success unscathed. So, what do our kids need these days to succeed once out from under our roofs? What is it that homes schooling families know that makes their children shine in college life?
They know that children need the academics, ample experiences, travel, hands-on opportunities, and to not be stuck behind a desk all day. Children need to wiggle while they work. They need to have mentors, apprenticeships, and the ability to find pleasure and earned value in their accomplishments. They need to learn at their own pace, dig deep, understand instead of memorize, and master concepts instead of grasping them enough for a passing grade. Children need to have fun while learning without the fear of “not fitting in” or being bullied. Children need parents who have the courage to let them fail so that they can learn how to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and grow resilient.
They need to be taught how to learn, how to do, and how to be. Seriously. Let’s break this down a bit together. Students need to learn how to think, how they best learn, and how to use Wisdom to filter through all the information (true and false) that will be thrown in their face daily. Today’s youth need to know how to think critically without becoming critical. They need to know how to face adversity without being disrespectful. They need to know when a hero submits to authority and when he/she needs to stand for Truth in spite of their authority’s position. To do this, they need a strong identity and confidence in their gifts, talents, and other abilities prior to stepping foot on a collegiate campus. And, they need a strong faith to keep them from crumbling under the weight of anxiety.
Our youth need to know how to do things beyond googling it. They need to know how to read a map and do math without a calculator. They need hands-on experience building, creating, and transforming what they learn in theory into tangible realities. They need to never be reliant on the internet or on having a signal. Technology enhances their lives, it doesn’t rule over their lives. They need to know how to pick up a book and read it, stay focused, write legibly, and have an innate desire to do more things instead of passing the buck to whoever is willing to do it for them instead. They need to be able to balance a checkbook, think like an entrepreneur, take calculated risks, and know how to keep oneself motivated so success and accomplishments are not trivial, but worth celebrating. They need time management and self-management skills, so that they don’t fall into the trap of “lying to their professors or employers” and becoming manipulative to cover their lack of self-control.
Today’s students need to know how to be. This means that they need to have a STRONG identity. They need to know their callings, their passions, their likes and dislikes, weaknesses and strengths, and they need to be resilient in the face of adversity. They need grit to make it into the category of positive world changers and Heroes in life. They need the ability to swim with the sharks without getting bit. They need opportunities to fail, so they can acquire grit. They also need the ability to get along with different personality types, work on teams, work independently, and stand for Truth without coming across offensive to others. Thus, they need a strong sense of humility…even among all their accomplishments.
All these characteristics, plus so many more, are put to use at Acton Academy Salado. We unschool children so we can best educate them. We believe in Heroes. We believe in family. We believe in God. We even believe in homeschooling your kiddos or taking them to a Montessori school until they are self-motivated enough to take on the challenges of our studios. We believe that the one-room schoolhouse can still produce Tomas Edisons, Albert Einsteins, and Wright Brothers Today just like it did years ago. We believe in children, and we believe they are destined to be our heroes. Our world needs them. Let’s unschool them together, so they can thrive in college life. Let’s equip them to change the world for Good.