This article is not an attempt to slander school teachers. There are many fine teachers, including my aunt, who do the best they can with the resources they have and under the limits imposed upon them by others. They are working within a system that has very little Light.
I am listening to my children play outside. They are picking the last of the golden raspberries and discovering that the plant is nearly done giving for the year. Earlier today we were outside discovering nature, wasps and all. A week ago we were stung by wasps after my boys decided to climb on a fallen log that happened to be their home. We studied bees not long before and although they knew about “stingers” there is a deeper lesson to be learned about stingers when you are stung.
“Adam fell that men might be. Men are that they might have joy” (2 Nephi 2:25). We have an overarching message in the scriptures that we are here to realize righteousness and find this joy. I would like to point out here that there is no age qualification from the Lord on when this “joy” should be realized. We are, in this moment, to have joy. Our children, in this moment, are here to have joy.
Throughout the world, joy is usually hollow. Money is the pervading essence of happiness-or so we are taught. Children are taught early on that they have to attend school even though it can be boring, lonely, and mindless-without joy. When children start school they quickly start to compare clothes, backpacks and haircuts. There is instant competition for the teacher’s favor and, unfortunately, most parents either praise or punish a child for how well they perform in class. Although there are some children that find it compelling to be in that type of “learning” environment, most kids just feel compelled. Compelled to read; compelled to spell; compelled to be friends with kids they do not share interests with; compelled to eat at certain times; compelled to stop their play to do something deemed by the Department of Education as more “instructional.”
Compulsion is not the Lord’s way and never brings joy. Alma states, “And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal, always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive” (Alma 7:23).
This quote from Alma sounds like children, usually before they have been through the school system. They are humble, patient and they ask for things when they need them. The Department of Education sets unrealistic goals for children to meet which more often than not squashes these traits. They have high expectations that very few children reach at the age appointed. Slowly people are realizing that the godless institution of school is not the place to raise a child that continues to be humble and helpful, courageous and independent, holistic in thought and loving to the core. Most products of the school system follow main-stream society, do not think beyond the mainstream thought and cannot quite figure out how to love – just take a look at the current divorce rate. The social experiment of children being subjected to spend most of their youth with children the same age as themselves (aka socializing) has completely failed.
What is the goal of school? William Torrey Harris, U.S. Commissioner of Education from 1889-1906 stated, “Out of the savage state man ascends by making himself new natures, one above the other; he realizes his ideas in institutions, and finds in these his ideal worlds his real home and his true nature.” The goal of school is for children to let go of their “savage” state (humble, loving, diligent, patient) and instead focus on forgetting their divine nature in exchange for finding their “true selves” in the ideas of the institutions. “Behold, there are many called, but few are chosen. And why are they not chosen? Because their hearts are set so much upon the things of this world, and aspire to the honors of men, that they do not learn this one lesson…the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness…when we undertake to cover our pride, our vain ambitions, or to exercise control or dominion or compulsion upon the souls of the children of men (literally the children), in any degree of unrighteousness (compulsion and taking away their agency), behold, the heavens withdraw themselves; the Spirit of the Lord is grieved” (D&C 121: 34-37). How can we escape this exchange?
The Lord gives us freeing instruction. “And as all have not faith, seek ye diligently and teach one another words of wisdom; yea, seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom; seek learning, even by study and also by faith. Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of God…Therefore, cease from all your light speeches, from all laughter, from all your lustful desires, from all your pride and light mindedness, and from all your wicked doings…see that ye love one another; cease to be covetous; learn to impart one to another as the gospel requires. Cease to be idle; cease to be unclean; cease to find fault one with another… And above all things, clothe yourselves with the bond of charity” (D&C 88: 118-125). It is almost as if Satan heard this revelation from the Lord and decided to do the exact opposite.
What’s the easiest way to implement the opposite of these? To force children (around the world) into Godless institutions, away from their parents and extended family and into a building filled with other children waiting to have information imparted on them.
They are left alone and, for the most part, defenseless. They are rarely in a building of faith, prayer and fasting. They are never in a building filled with the Glory of God. They are in a building that creates and extends their “light speeches” (mindless chatter), coveting, wickedness, lustful desires and pride. It begins the cycle of idleness because the children are forced into sitting still for too long, going against their body’s natural, and good, desires and learning that they need to listen to someone else tell them what is important to learn. They need to learn to wait. They are taught to face forward and only focus on the information at hand and to not allow their minds to wander to the beautiful butterfly that has landed on the windowsill. The idleness sets in as they let their minds shut down and wait for someone to give the answer to them or solve the problem for them and then are expected to recite back this information verbatim. They are agents being acted upon instead of agents unto themselves.
Here is one question for homeschoolers who have taken responsibility for the learning of their children: if this institution is not where we want our kids, why do we continue to follow their model of “education”? We are so programmed to think learning happens fragmentally. We learn reading, science, arithmetic, history and art in separate spaces (within school buildings and within our minds). Children have a more holistic approach to learning. They try to see how everything is connected. They observe, problem-solve, love and ask for humble help when they need it.
Trusting that these qualities do not fade when children turn five is like trusting that a baby will know when it is time to wean. They understand themselves, until we tell them they cannot trust their own thoughts, opinions and curiosity by telling them everything they need to know in life will come from the Department of Education, which in turn comes from curriculum that the parent(s) deems important.
Learning happens naturally. Children have innate curiosity. They have a beautiful way of experiencing the world and for knowing what they need to know and understand and when.
We started homeschooling in a more traditional way. I had unit studies that changed monthly. It grew into something a little different. We have covered the moon phases several times. We have talked about the earth rotating around the sun. All of this was compelled by me upon my children. They did not ask to study the things we learned about. I chose what I thought was most important. Most of it was forgotten pretty instantly and very little was memorized for future use. It was not until while we were driving that my son was staring out the window and asked me if the sun moves around us and I replied with the correct answer. Then he noticed that the moon changed shapes and asked why. Now he remembers. Our bee study was sparked after visiting friends that have beehives. The husband gave us a long, and very interesting lesson on beekeeping. The kids were enthralled because it was an extension of this friend’s passion that he was willing to share organically with my children without any expectation that they would remember it for a future test.
When we stop compelling them to fit the picture in our head, we allow them to explore their own virtues and true characteristics. We learn they are humans with real potential to become eternal beings that want and choose on their own accord to return to their Heavenly Parents. We allow them to explore the spirit inside of them and trust that it is guiding them to make real contributions in this life. We also allow them, and ourselves a greater opportunity to see how the Lord fits everything together so neatly and in his own way.
Is it better to read about raspberries in a book and ask your mom to buy you some at the store so you can try them? Or is it better to plant a raspberry bush, water it, let it grow on it’s own and take the fruit and leaves that it gives and watch as it goes into hibernation after it has given all it could for the year? We learn valuable, eternal lessons when we observe our children in their natural habitat, which is their home. We learn that we can trust them to retain any information that they need to excel in life as they go along with us facilitating and offering resources so that they can help themselves. We learn to allow them to trust their own spirit and the Holy Ghost that will be the one that should truly be guiding them into the eternities. We learn that we can finally let go of unrighteous dominion over our children and instead use persuasion, longsuffering, gentleness, meekness and love unfeigned, kindness, and pure knowledge. We allow nature to teach them and hope they learn to stay away from bees that sting and that golden raspberries are a true gift.