Sponsors of Schoolhouse Rocked: The Homeschool Revolution. These great companies have chosen to support this excellent homeschool resource, a movie coming to theaters in early 2019. We are truly thankful for their support.
“I would like to thank the Schoolhouse Rocked for hosting this important announcement from Classical Conversations to classical homeschoolers around the world. Schoolhouse Rocked and CC have been great partners for many years, and we are so excited for the documentary they are putting together and the journey that have been traveling.”
– Robert Bortins,
Many people who homeschool give up income and careers for their children. Some manage to work full- or part-time, but the vast majority exchange income and validation by society for their children. These moms (and some dads) are focused on their kids and often don’t think about what they will do after they launch their last child.
Although most of these moms are experts at planning, time management, scheduling, delegation, and communication, many employers will only see their gap in employment. Many homeschool moms must settle for minimum wage jobs or entry level positions if they choose to go back to work.
Private schools could benefit greatly from hiring veteran homeschool parents to teach. They know how to help students truly learn, not just how to lecture and give tests. They understand child development first-hand, have a well-rounded knowledge, have studied logic and know how to think. However, most of these positions require college degrees, even master’s degrees.
If you are a first-year homeschooler or a veteran Classical Conversations Director, it is my belief that God has ordained you with love for your children, that you are their first and best teacher. My wife was a public-school teacher for eight years before we were married, so I hear daily from her how different it is to homeschool than it was to teach in a brick-and-mortar school. At her first Parent Practicum she asked, “why weren’t we taught this?”
The U.S. has a growing need for classically trained teachers. Homeschool parents need more options upon graduating their last student. CC needs more qualified CC+ assessors. Three problems, one solution— a master’s degree in teaching aligned with the Classical Conversations programfor CC parents! In order to offer this absolutely unique graduate program1 this fall, Classical Conversations is partnering with Southeastern University (SEU) in Lakeland, Florida.
Imagine graduating with your master’s degree, being hired at your child’s college and teaching him as a freshman. Just kidding, you probably shouldn’t do that, but with a Master of Arts degree from SEU and CC, you could. You are already doing a great job as homeschool moms and dads; you don’t need me to tell you that. But to have a university confirm it with a diploma and tell me that they want to hire people just like you to teach college courses, well, that’s special.
So check out http://www.ccdegrees.com for more information about the program. You must have a child enrolled in Classical Conversations to qualify for this unique opportunity, and other requirements apply2. Don’t miss out on this opportunity starting August 2020.
1 Pending approval by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools
Math doesn’t come naturally for everyone, but there are some secrets to making it REALLY fun and for helping our homeschool students master it. We had the privilege of talking with Nadim El-Rahi, of CTCMath, for a recent episode of The Schoolhouse Rocked. In this interview, Nadim shared his passion for helping students (even the ones who don’t love math) understand it, master it, and even enjoy it.
Do you find teaching math to be a struggle for you or your child? If so, you will be encouraged by Nadim as he and Yvette discuss some of the big mistakes we make while teaching math, the number one roadblock many students face when learning math, how we can make math more fun, and spiral vs. mastery math.
Nadim El-rahi, looks after all things CTCMath and has been working with the team for 7+ years. He has a degree in Math and Economics. He and his wife, Tamara, have been married for 4 years and have 2 children, Emma (3 years) and Chloe (1 year). Nadim’s children are not yet school age, but he has an enormous passion for homeschooling and great admiration for homeschool parents.
Yvette Hampton: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast. As always, we have a great guest on today. And this is going to be a fun episode, because we’re going to talk about math. And you might think, “Uh, we’re not going to talk about math. That’s going to be boring.”
But it’s not, actually, because I am learning that math is fun and if you’re anything like me, you might have grown up as a student who hated math. And when I say hated, I mean despised math. I didn’t want anything to do with it. It was the class that I dreaded most, probably from about middle school on. I just did not understand math. I mean I understood basic concepts, but as it started to get a little bit harder, I just really struggled with it and my brain just doesn’t function that way.
But, believe it or not, there are people in this world who actually love math. And we are talking to one of them today. His name is Nadim El-Rahi and he is from CTCMath. And I know that you’ve probably heard a lot about CTCMath, and so we’re actually going to talk about math, we’re not going to talk so much about CTCMath today. But we’re going to talk about how to make math fun, and how to just engage your kids in and teach them effectively.
So Nadim, welcome to the show.
Nadim El-Rahi: Thank you. Thank you for having me, I’m so excited to be here. As you can see, I’m in my office. Ignore everything behind me, just focus on me.
Yvette: It’s okay. While you are in your office coming to us from Australia, which, I think you told me you’re about 16 hours ahead of my timezone, which is Eastern Standard Time, is that correct?
Nadim: Correct, yes.
Yvette: Okay, so it’s seven o’clock here, so 11 o’clock in the morning your time?
Nadim: That’s it. You’re pretty good at math.
Yvette: Yeah, right? Well, and you’re tomorrow, you’re into our tomorrow. As you and I were talking earlier, you could tell us everything about what happens tomorrow. Winning lottery numbers… If the Super Bowl was on you could tell us who won the Super Bowl. It would be great.
Well, welcome, Nadim, to the show. Tell us a little bit about you and your family.
Nadim: Sure. So I’m married to my beautiful wife, Tamara. Been married for four years now. We have two children, Emma and Chloe. Emma is three and a half, Chloe is one and a half. So I’m just loving the journey. Every day’s something new, something different, and it’s really fun. Parenting’s awesome.
Yvette: It is awesome. I could not agree with you more. I love being a parent, I love being a mom. It is the joy of my life, and as a homeschool mom, I get to experience it 24 hours a day, seven days a week. And I used to think that I would not enjoy that, I used to think, “Why would I want to be with my kids all day, every day?”
But as it turns out, I actually really like my kids, and so I really do enjoy being with them most of the time. But in addition to thinking that I would not enjoy being with my kids, I also used to think that teaching them certain subjects would be really difficult, and math was at the top of that list. Math and science were the two things that I thought, “Man, if we ever homeschool, I don’t know how I would do that.”
And I was pretty terrified of that in the beginning because, like I said at the beginning of the podcast, I did not enjoy math growing up, it was very difficult for me. And I love people, I love nature, I love things like that. But math was just one of the things I struggled with.
And so coming into homeschooling I thought, “I can handle the elementary school years.” But getting into middle school and definitely into high school, I just thought, “I don’t know how in the world we’re going to manage this.” But I trusted that the Lord had a plan. And as He would have it, He has provided programs like CTCMath to come alongside us moms, who, whether we love math or struggle with math, can help us with teaching math to our kids.
So I want to talk a little bit about math.
Yvette: And first I would love to ask you, what are some of the biggest mistakes that you see homeschool moms making in teaching math to their kids?
Nadim: Yes, and math is an incredibly difficult subject to teach and particularly in these old grade levels. But I think there’s a few things that we can just try to ensure that we don’t do during our homeschool day. One of the big things is the long, drawn out explanation. If you take too much time, or over-complicate the explanation, students will often get lost. So we try to keep it short. Try to keep the younger grades three to four minutes, higher grades six to eight minutes.
Another mistake that can sort of happen that’s linked with that is giving too many diverse methods, or too many methods to attack a problem. Now, every child is unique. So if your child loves math, and they want to explore different ways to answer a problem, by all means. You want to expand on their strengths. But what we find is sometimes parents will over-complicate it. So it’s important to keep it short and not go into too many methods. Find the method that works best for your child.
Another mistake that’s often made is getting caught up in the hype of discovery learning, and we’re seeing this more and more often now. Don’t get me wrong, discovery learning has its place, and it is important, but let me give you a bit of an analogy. If you give a student a Rubik’s Cube, and you ask the student, “Hey, try to work this Rubik’s Cube out,” with no instruction, they’ll play with it, they’ll fiddle it, they’ll get it. Sure maybe one, two percent might get it, and that’s fantastic. But the majority, the vast majority, will get frustrated, annoyed, and put it down. And not want to go back.
Yvette: That’s me.
Nadim: But if I was to sit down with that same student, and show him a small algorithm, a small technique, a quick technique on how to solve that Rubik’s Cube, then they’ll be able to solve it. They’ll get excited, they’ll be passionate, they’ll want a bigger one. And then you can maybe go down that path of discovery learning with the bigger one, with the bigger Rubik’s Cube and whatnot. But throwing them in the deep end to begin with can often beat up their confidence.
And again, each child is unique. That sort of leads to learning your times tables. We believe it’s really important to nail down those facts and have those facts at a young age. It’s proven, there’s many studies that if students have a solid understanding of their times tables, math is far easier in those older grade levels, and they can build on that.
I know I’ve talked a lot about mistakes, but this is the biggest one, and this is the easiest one to commit. I want to start by saying this is not a criticism or anything, it’s just a self-awareness. And I think sometimes, and I’m certainly guilty of this, is getting frustrated when teaching. If the child senses any bit of frustration, you can throw things out completely, and you can lose them. So if you’re sensing the frustration, it’s important to get those levels down.
A consequence of this can be that the student is scared or turned off coming to you, and this could be problematic in the future when they’re coming to you with far more difficult problems as they grow up, much bigger than math. So I think trying to avoid any frustration, it is difficult, but.
Yvette: You were just talking about the importance of not getting too frustrated with our kids when we’re teaching them math. And we talk so much on the podcast about how one of the most important things in homeschooling is to build that relationship with our kids. Because it’s all about relationship, and the purpose of raising children in general is to prepare them for adulthood. And so we need to build that relationship with them, and like you said, if it’s something that’s causing a real rift in our relationship with our kids, then they’re not going to all of a sudden think, “All of a sudden I just love math, and I love it when my mom gets frustrated with me.”
That’s never going to be the case. And so, if I you can maybe give some suggestions of, when a child is really struggling with math, is it best to just put it aside for maybe six months or a year? Or back up and take it a little bit slower? Or maybe get a math tutor? I know a lot of homeschool families do that. What do you suggest, in order to protect that relationship that we have with our kids, what do you suggest is a good way to do that?
Nadim: Well certainly, I think if you are struggling, and it is a continual problem, I think you do need to maybe look at other resources and maybe outsourcing the teaching component of it. And you then become, maybe, the tutor, or they get to the bulk of their learning done, whether it be online, a personal tutor. What works best for you and your family. And then they come to you with a few problems.
But in that moment of frustration, I think it’s very important to remove yourself from that moment. I think it’s very important to take a step back and say, “Can we move on to a different subject? Or is there something else we can do today?” This is what I love about homeschooling. The freedom, the complete freedom, to sort of make the decision of what your day comprises of, and what you’re going to set out to do.
I think it’s important to maybe look at if there’s another method, using different methodology that you could try to explain the problem, or explain the question. Or if you don’t want to switch to another permanent resource, just finding a source for that particular concept that they might not be fully understanding.
It might be that, because you know, math is a building block, and it’s important to build on concepts. It might be the fact that an earlier concept was missed. So you might need to do some revision from the previous year’s work. And that’s really important. So just self-evaluate, have a look at the situation, have a good think about it, and trust in different things.
Yvette: So how do you go back? Because math obviously is a subject that builds on itself. And if our kids get to a point where they’re just really struggling, and they just can’t get it, how do you back up? Because we’ve had that happen a couple of times, where I’m like, “Man, I just don’t know what you’re missing, here.”
And partly because I’m not a math geek, I don’t know what it is that they’re missing. So is there a good system in place? Is there a good way to try to figure out like, “Oh, that’s the one piece of the puzzle that fell under the table, which is causing you to not be able to put this whole puzzle together at this point.” Is there a good way to do that?
Nadim: Yes and no. It comes down to the resource that you’re using, really, I think. Because math is structured in such a way, and some curriculums do this better than others, but if you look at the lessons, they’re incorporated within a topic. But within topics, it’s actually a stream of math, so it might be the stream of measurement. Or the stream of algebra, or the stream of numbers, depending on the grade level and whatnot.
But there are particular streams, and there might be only three or four streams within a grade level that needs to be covered. So if a student is having trouble… Simple example. If a student is having troubles with grade four fractions, well maybe something was missing from grade three fractions. So if your curriculum is ordered in such a way that the streams flow through from grade level to grade level, and topics flow through from grade level to grade level, then you can easily identify the building blocks that happened prior.
But, as we know as well, sometimes math draws on, particularly in the older grade levels, draws on other concepts from different concepts, and other grade levels, and if you’re not entirely sure, I would suggest that you… At CTCMath, we would encourage parents to reach out, send us an email saying, “Hey, my child’s having troubles with this.” And we’d refer it on to one of our math teachers, they would have a look at it, and make some suggestions.
So it does require a bit of in depth knowledge.
Yvette: Detective work.
Nadim: Detective work and in depth knowledge of understanding the curriculum and how it’s structured.
Nadim: I don’t know if that answers your question, I hope it did.
Yvette: Yeah, it does.
Nadim: Email me, I’ll help.
Yvette: Yes, it does. And I’m just going to give everyone your phone number and say, “Call Nadim, he’ll help you.”
Nadim: I’m going to give you my email [crosstalk 00:13:45]
Yvette: I won’t do that. So let me ask you this, because I remember, several years ago, for the first time I’d heard … Now remember, I’m not a math person. And I’m sure math was taught one of two ways when I was growing up. But I remember hearing the term “spiral math” and “mastery math”. And I was like, “What in the world? What does that even mean?” Can you explain the difference between the two, and is there a better way to teach math? Or does it depend on the child and their learning style?
Nadim: Sure. I think everything depends on the child. When I make comments, I make them about their generalizations, and the majority of students. So I think everything does depend on child. But I do make recommendations all the time. And they’re based on what we see with the majority of students.
So, quick definition. So mastery approach is when you focus on one concept at a time in math. Okay? As we know, math involves building blocks, but if you just focus on one concept and one particular thing.
Spiral incorporates revision, so incorporates learning with a buildup of concepts, which both naturally overlap. Okay? So what’s important? I believe, both. I believe both are important. But in separate parts of the day. So separate parts of the math lesson, I should say, not the day.
So when it comes to teaching the content, I believe mastery is the best approach. Focus on the one concept. And that way, if you focus on the one concept, and master that concept, you can build on it. Practice problems should be related specifically on that lesson that was just taught.
So if you have a look at your homeschooling day, and I said keep the explanations to three to four minutes. So if we take a math lesson and we say it’s 30 minutes. Three to four minute explanation, 20 minutes or 15 minutes practice problems, where it’s just focusing on that concept. Now, depending on the concept, there will be some spiral learning there, there will be some earlier concepts covered.
But then the last five, 10 minutes, spiral. Revision. Going back earlier concepts, mix-up of problems, what you just learned, what you learned last week, what you learned last month. Change it up. So when it comes to the teaching and the delivery, mastery approach. But incorporate spiral revision towards the end of a lesson. Does that make sense?
Yvette: Yeah, so basically it sounds like mastery is when they’re learning the concept for the first time. They master that concept. And then they practice it through the spiral method, right? Spiraling, to me, sounds just like practice. So you just go back, and you just keep practicing it so that you don’t forget it.
Nadim: Correct, but with the practice problems, I would focus solely on that concept that was just taught. It might be… Let’s take a really simple example. Multiplication, and we’re looking at four times tables. Okay? So questions we’ll just, four times certain numbers. Four times two, four times six, four times 12, and so on and so forth. Focus on that. And then, maybe in the last five, 10 minutes, include earlier multiplication that you’ve learned. So mix it up. Have fours, threes, and twos.
And that would ensure that some revision, the mind thinking, and a spiral approach, a more wholesome approach to the actual… Because when you sit down and you attempt practice problems, you’re not just focusing… A test, for instance. It’s not just one concept, it’s a whole range of concepts.
Yvette: Okay. So in talking about multiplication tables, times tables, have you found that there’s a best way to teach that to kids, or? Again, I’m assuming it’s depending on the child.
But here’s the thing. When you’ve got, as many homeschool families do, when you’ve got six kids, you can’t have six different ways to teach multiplication. So have you found, because you’re a math whiz, I know this about you. Have you found the most effective way that works best for a family in general? Like, “try this with all your kids.” And then you might have the one kid who doesn’t learn that way and then maybe you can try a different approach with them. But does there seem to be a best way to teach multiplication?
Nadim: Rote learning. Sit down, write it out, keep working through it, keep revising it, keep practicing it, keep learning it. Bounce it off siblings, if you do have those six children. Get them to test each other, quiz each other. At the dinner table, throw a few problems there. Rote learning.
Yvette: Okay. Just over and over and over again.
Nadim: Over and over.
Yvette: I remember, we used to do Classical Conversations years ago, and we don’t now because we travel so much. But when we were in a community, that was always a fun thing with rote memorization, is that we would do fun things like toss a ball back and forth, or do jumping jacks. Or, you know, whatever. Just fun things that would get kids to remember those different facts. And so yes, I agree. Rote memory is definitely, for times tables, the best way to get kids to memorize them.
Now, do you suggest doing them where it’s like, do all the twos times tables first. Then all the threes, and all the fours. Do you stack them like that? Or does it make sense to just try and kind of learn them all at the same time?
Nadim: I would learn twos, learn threes, learn fours. Now, you might want to, once you get to the fours, you might want to introduce some other math concept, because they might be sick of times tables, and then go back and do five, and six, and seven, and whatnot.
Yvette: It’s kind of funny, because we’ve covered a lot of topics on The Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast, but math is not something that we have talked about, yet. I mean, we kind of interspersed it into different podcast episodes, but we have not actually done an entire episode focused on math. And as I have been homeschooling my kids, and as we have gotten deeper and deeper into math, one of the things that I have really noticed and that we’ve become really aware of in our family, and I’ve talked about this on the podcast before. But it’s that math, everything that we teach our kids, we want to use those things to point our kids towards their creator, towards Christ.
So one might think, “Well how in the world do I do that with math? How do I teach math and Jesus at the same time?” Well, math is so perfect, because math is absolute. It is in perfect order, and it shows that we have a God, we have a creator who is a perfect God of perfect order, and he is a God of absolutes. And so just like two plus two will always equal four, it has always equaled four, it’s never going to change, it can never be revised by anybody because they decide that they want two plus two to equal five. They can’t do that.
And in that same way, we don’t get to change the order of God’s creation. And so math is just one of those things, that again, points us towards just an incredible, awesome creator. He made up math, we didn’t make it up.
And it’s amazing to me how when you look back into history, you can see how mankind, how humans have been able to develop their minds when it comes to understanding math. And they’ll have these big huge problems, that, in a movie or something, you’ll see them writing a big, some kind of math problem up on the board, and it seems like the impossible problem and then they get to the end and they’re like, “Oh. Well there’s the answer.” And there’s only one answer, you can’t have more than one.
And so I love that about math, because it’s not a subject that I enjoyed growing up, but I do enjoy that I get to point my kids to their creator by teaching it. So I would love to talk about how to make math fun. And I know you’ve got some suggestions on that. So talk to us a little bit about this. Talk to the mom like myself, who does not love math, who struggled with math growing up, and who really wants my kids to grow up not dreading math, but being engaged and excited about learning it.
Nadim: Yeah, for sure, for sure. I think the first thing is to tap into your child’s interests. I think to work out what your child’s interests are, and then try to relate that back to math. An example. Me, growing up, I loved cars. I loved the model of cars, I loved the various types of cars. So one thing I would have loved and enjoyed as a kid was surveying the models of cars on long road trips, just outside my home. And then tabling that, and creating graphs and charts.
So I think it’s important to tap into your child’s interests. So if they like cooking, well cooking is a fantastic example. There’s a lot of fractions involved in measuring. What I really like with cooking is, when you find a recipe for four people, but you’re cooking for six, and just multiplying the quantities, that always makes math fun. You know? It’ll add a really practical element to it.
Another example are board games. And these might be better suited to those students who really, really don’t enjoy math, who really don’t like math. So let’s draw out some fun in board games. My little three year-old, Emma, she loves order, and she loves helping out. So what we get her to do is set the table. And we get her to count out how many people are going to have dinner, so then she’s got to count out the plates, and count out the forks, and count out the knives. Because she wouldn’t have an extra fork, or a knife, or one short plate. She’s a bit of a perfectionist and Tamara and I laugh about it.
So really tapping into your child’s interests, and going with it, my brother loves bargains. So our best buys, when we go to the shops, he’s great at picking out the best buys and the best value for money.
Yvette: Yeah, you know, math is one of those things that is fun to kind of incorporate into just life skills. Because the whole purpose, of course, of raising our kids is not to raise kids, but it’s to raise adults. And so we get to take these things that kids learn in a classroom in a workbook, or in an online program like CTCMath, and they get to use them in the real world.
And you talk about your brother, he enjoys bargain shopping. Well, it’s great to be able to go into a grocery store and look at several different items. You know, you look at sour cream, and see, “Okay, how many different items are there? What is the size? How much do they cost? What’s the better deal?” And just trying to figure out that way. And of course, weighing bananas, if you’ve got bananas and they’re 85 cents a pound and you need three pounds of them, weigh them with your kids and think, “How much is this going to cost if we have three pounds?” And just doing that logical math with them. Because that is really what prepares them for adult life, for life in general.
And so it’s a fantastic… Gas is one of those things, too. You know, when you’re pumping gas, and you think, “Okay, gas is so much per gallon, and we’ve got to put 30 gallons in the car, how much is it going to cost us if we’re on empty?” Those are the things that really will allow kids, like you said, to have fun and to start realizing that, “Oh, math is not just something I do on a worksheet, but this is part of my everyday life as an adult. I have to understand these things.”
You mentioned board games. Do you have specific board games? The first game that comes to my mind is Yahtzee. Our family loves Yahtzee, we play that all the time. That, and Rummikub, those are my two favorite games. I like Rummikub because I almost always win. And I like to win. Are there board games that you recommend that are great for teaching math?
Nadim: I’m super competitive as well. I’m super competitive. Look, any games… I tend to lean towards the games that involve a bit of money transaction. So I always liked Monopoly. I think it gets you thinking about a different side of math. More probably the counting side of things, but Monopoly, any game of strategy really incorporates math, because you’re breaking down a problem. You’re breaking down, “What’s the best way?” So it might not involve numbers, but if it involves some sort of strategy, then certainly you’re using your math brain.
Yvette: Yeah, for sure. Playing games, often times, is really good for engaging kids’ brains with numbers and with math and even with accounting. Are there other activities… Well, first of all, are there any other games you would recommend? And I’ll actually, if I have time, I will do my best before this airs, I’ll try to see if I can find some good math games. Because I know that there are lots of homeschool moms out there who actually, they love games. They love playing games.
And again, that goes back to the relationship with our kids. I mean, how much fun is it to play a game with your kid? And I will say, if you have a child who’s super crazy competitive, and they cry when they lose, that is such a great opportunity to reach the heart of your child.
I remember my oldest, when she was real little, we would play games and she would get upset when she would lose. And that’s natural for most kids. I think most kids do that. And it was fun, well it wasn’t fun for her to cry, but I remember just thinking, “What a great opportunity this is to teach her how to lose at a game, and how to be a gracious loser.” She’s not a loser, she’s wonderful. And so I taught her, when she was really little, I would teach her to say, if someone else won… And I would not let her win. I would never let her win a game. But I would teach her to say, “Congratulations, Mommy, I’m so happy for you that you won.” And it was so funny because she was so little and she would lose, and she would first start to get emotional about it, and then she would say, “Congratulations, Mommy, I’m so happy that you won.”
And over time, it really did teach her that if you play your best, you always want to do your very best…
Yvette: But it’s okay if someone else wins. And when they do, we get to celebrate with them. And so, that’s a little bit of a rabbit trail, but are there any other games that, in thinking through it, that you think, “Man, these are just great games for teaching math”?
Nadim: Yeah, and just quickly on that, I think that’s a fantastic opportunity, really taking the opportunity to teach a little lesson there and teaching our kids to be a little kind, you know? Teaching kindness.
There’s many… Connect 4, is another game of strategy. Again, you’re sort of thinking ahead, and thinking on how to break down the problem, or how to best achieve the desired outcome of getting those four in a row. And again, I’ll reiterate, it doesn’t have to be numbers. So chess, or anything like that.
Yvette: Yeah. And strategy games, like you said, those are fantastic.
Nadim: Strategy games, yep. There’s a card game that I liked to play that I don’t know if you would have heard of. It’s called 400. You’ve basically got to get cards to… I’ll send you the rules, how about that?
Yvette: Okay. Oh, fine.
Nadim: It’s a counting game.
Yvette: Oh, yeah, that does sound fun. I would love to hear that. Our family loves Farkle. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that game.
Yvette: But it’s a really fun math game. You have to count the dice and stuff, and it has a terrible name. I hate the name of it. But it’s a really fun game.
So what else? What are some other ways of making math fun with our kids?
Nadim: Yeah, I think if you’ve got a lot of leaves outside, I think it would be pretty cool to go out and sweep them up and think, “Okay, how many bags are we going to fill up?” Play a bit of a guessing game where you sort of estimate how many leaves you’re going to fill up. That’s another situation of making math fun.
And bringing it out in nature, that sort of stems to nature. Everything follows growth patterns. Even if it’s just researching, just jumping on the internet and researching models of growth of trees, of all sorts of things. Growth and decay.
Yvette: Yeah. That’s fine. And you talk about estimating leaves and things. That’s something that you could even do with pasta, or M&Ms, or something like that. Put a bunch in a jar. I know that’s always a fun thing. Sometimes, we go to the library and they’ll have some sort of goofy jar with candy in it or something and, you know, “Guess how many M&Ms are in this jar, and the winner wins the whole jar.” And things like that. Yeah, those are great for kids, great for them to just learn how to logically think through that kind of stuff.
We have a few more minutes left, so what is the number one roadblock that you see that students face when learning math?
Nadim: I think the number one roadblock by far, it’s a great question, is confidence. They’re a bit down on confidence. That once that confidence is beaten, that once it’s down, a shield goes up and nothing sort of… It’s difficult to get through to them or make any headway.
So confidence. We’ve got to really rebuild that confidence. It’s just brilliant when they see things in a different way or an explanation from a different angle that really gets to them, and then you see the “a-ha” moment. The light bulbs go off. And the “a-ha” moment, and the change of expression on their face. So finding confidence is a big one.
Yvette: Yeah. I totally agree. I’ve experienced that many times with both of my girls, where they’re just struggling through a concept and then they just get it, and they’re like “Ah, I get it! I get it!” And they get so excited about it, and you’re like, “Yes, yes, you get it!”
And it is hard to not become frustrated when you’ve explained it to them so many times, over and over, but then there’s just that, it’s like a switch that just, “Oh, yeah, I get it!” And you know, that happens with many things, whether it’s spelling or math or, I don’t know, just a variety of different subjects. But math seems to be the one that…
Nadim: It’s a big one.
Yvette: That concept just clicking over, and just encouraging our kids along the way. And it’s one the great things about homeschooling is that we have our grade levels for everything, but as homeschool families, and as homeschool students, they don’t have to adhere to a specific grade level of anything. They don’t have to be in third grade math, or eighth grade math. We can cater to how God created them and what their bend is towards math.
I have one daughter who does not like math, and I have one who really likes math, and she really gets it. But my daughter who doesn’t like math, she enjoys other things much more than her sister does. And so it’s great to be able to just see how God has created each one of them with their specific gifts and abilities.
So one last thing that doesn’t actually have to do with math.
Yvette: You’re in Australia.
Yvette: I would love to know, what is the homeschool climate like in Australia? Is it growing? Is it even existent? I know you and I have talked before and you’ve said you thought about maybe homeschooling when your kids are of school age. What does it look like there?
Nadim: For sure. It is growing. That’s the great thing about it, it is growing, and it is getting bigger, which is fantastic. It’s not as big, of course, as it is in the US. I think the difference here is that there’s a lot more options available to parents with just the way government funding works. Every school receives government funding, so there’s actually a lot of parents who go off and start their own schools. A lot of people get together and start off their own schools.
There are more options in that. But I think as things change, and I think when our government, if they start to regulate curriculums and what is taught, I think you’ll see homeschooling just absolutely take off here in Australia. We have very close friends of ours who homeschool their six children. It’s fantastic to see. I can see that they actually tap into a lot of the US resources, which is awesome. With my involvement with CTCMath, I’m getting in touch with more and more Aussie homeschoolers as well, which is great.
Yvette: Yeah. That’s fantastic. Is it something that, if there’s a family who’s homeschooling, do others kind of look at them like they’re crazy? Like, “What in the world are you doing?” Or, because I know here in America, it’s not everywhere. But the majority of this country, I mean I never hesitate to go out in public with my kids during a school day. And never, literally I don’t think there’s been one time where anyone has just said, “Oh, you guys are homeschooled? That’s terrible, you should be in school, you should be in public school or private school.”
People may think that, but no one’s ever actually said that to me. And more often than not, people will actually say, “Oh wow, you’re homeschooled? That’s great. I have a sister who homeschools, or a niece who homeschools.” Or something like that. And it’s very widely accepted here, overall. Is it widely accepted there as well? Or are people still kind of sitting back wondering what this homeschool is?
Nadim: I think it is widely accepted. I think the issue that might sort of play on people’s minds, which is really unfortunately still the stigma of the sort of social ramifications. Which of course, we all know, is not true, and is completely wrong. But just sort of educating people, I suppose. Explaining it out to people.
Yvette: That is one of the big, big reasons behind Schoolhouse Rocked. Why we’re making the movie, why we’ve got our blog and our social media outlets, all of those things are to help people open their eyes up to the just great blessings and benefits of homeschooling. And so hopefully we can help do that down under as well.
Nadim: For sure.
Yvette: Nadim, thank you so much for your time today. I appreciate your math encouragement, and we appreciate you guys. We appreciate CTCMath. You guys have been very supportive of what we’re doing and so we are very grateful for you. And people can find out more about you at CTCMath.com, is that correct?
Nadim: Correct, yes.
Yvette: Okay, perfect. We will link to that in the show notes, of course. I’ll try to find some fun math games, in addition to the ones that you have recommended, and I’ll put those in the show notes as well. And you guys, thank you for listening. Nadim, have a great week, and listeners, you have a great week, too. We pray for you guys all the time and we are so grateful for your support and your encouragement. And we will see you guys back here again next week. Bye.
“I can assure you that all of those things that seem super important, like, “did you get through the math book by the end of May?”, actually, in the big picture, are not all that important. I would say some of the least important part about growing up is the academic side. The most important part is the adventures, and the breadth of knowledge and experience and of course above all the relationships and the spiritual enrichment, that is so much more easily facilitated when you’ve got the time and space and priority to do that.”
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone, I am so excited about our guest today. Before we started the Schoolhouse Rocked podcast, we sent out a question to our Schoolhouse Rocked followers and just said, “Hey, we’re starting this podcast. Who do you want to hear on the podcast? What guest do you want, and what do you want us to talk about?” Of course, many of you wrote in and said, “Andrew Pudewa.” We saw his name over and over again, and so many of you are very excited about hearing him and wanted to hear more of him because those of you who have heard him speak know that he is just full of wisdom and knowledge and insight when it comes to homeschooling and family and education.
Yvette: We, of course, are really excited to have him as part of the Schoolhouse Rocked cast. Welcome, Andrew. We are really excited to have you on today.
Andrew Pudewa: Hey Yvette, it is great to be with you. Thanks for the invite.
Yvette: Sure. Tell our listeners a little bit about yourself and your family.
Andrew: Well, my wife and I have homeschooled all of our children. The oldest now is 39, and the youngest just got married at 18. That’s seven kids, six married, 11 grandchildren. I’ve been at this teaching business for a little over 30 years and the time has flown by. I have a little company called the Institute for Excellence in Writing. We publish video material as well as books and activity types of curriculum to help students with language arts, really to help teachers and homeschool parents help kids learn how to write better, but really, it encompasses all of the language arts, listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
Then of course, the result of good listening, speaking, reading and writing is better thinking, so a little tagline on our company. If you’re go to our website, iew.com, you’d see our little tagline. It’s listen, speak, read, write, think. It’s a good role. I’ve been at it full time for close to 20 years now, working with homeschoolers all over the world. I had the great privilege and pleasure of going with my wife to Russia for the Global Home Education Conference in St. Petersburg in Moscow, Russia last May. Then I went on an undercover trip over to China, I won’t even say where, to do a three-day conference for expat homeschooling families who live in China. We came back, finished up the summer, and then in August went to New Zealand and did a six-city tour of New Zealand to serve the homeschoolers over there. I’m looking forward to when that movie is out and ready and everyone in the world can stream it and see it.
Yvette: Well, we’ll have to, of course, translate it into Chinese obviously.
Andrew: I’d go for Russian first only because homeschooling in Russia is it’s exploding. I mean, it is going to grow so rapidly over there.
Yvette: That is amazing.
Andrew: The government evidently is either neutral or supportive about homeschoolers in almost all places. There are classical conversations, programs, I think. Many dozens of them. There may be as many as a hundred CC communities now across the huge country of Russia, and that’s just going to grow.
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Yvette: It’s been so encouraging to find out that when we started Schoolhouse Rocked, we, I think, had a very narrow vision of, “Well, this is for the United States because we were kind of in our little California bubble,” and that was what we knew. We didn’t realize that homeschooling is growing leaps and bounds across the entire world. It’s not just in America, and so it’s been really exciting and encouraging. Like you said, we really desire to get the movie out. We changed our focus. The movie is obviously filmed in the United States, and all of our cast members are from the U.S. but it has changed our focus to just say, “Wow, this is not just a movie that can change people’s hearts in the United States. It can change people’s hearts around the world.”
That is so exciting. I love that you’ve had the opportunity to go to all these different countries and talk about homeschooling. This is actually not the exact direction that I want the podcast interview to go because I have some questions for you, but can you tell us just in a nutshell what the flavor of homeschooling is? What are parents like in other parts of the country as you’ve gone there and talk to them about homeschooling?
Andrew: Well, I’ve been around a long time. I’ve been speaking at homeschool conferences really 20 years now, and so the demographic has changed, of course, as homeschooling has grown more and varied types of people have become interested in it. Well, I would say once upon a time, almost everyone was homeschooling for moral or religious reasons. Now, we’re meeting people who are coming into it through all different directions. Their primary reason may be academic. They just know they can do a better job teaching their kids one-on-one or three-on-one and in an individualized focus setting than any school and teacher no matter how good the teachers are just because of the nature of institutional education, again, people coming in from that side.
You’ve got people coming in with special needs and special circumstances saying, “this child has this thing going on”, and it could be health. It could be neurological. It could be some type of learning challenge. It could be giftedness. They’re just saying the schools are not equipped to maximize this child’s potential. I can do that better. They’re coming in on that side. Then there are other people that are just looking at the whole situation saying, “Well, there are so many things about that school I don’t like, and I can’t afford that option. And I’m not really sure that I want to homeschool, but I don’t see any better options.” I like that because they come in, and then hopefully, they begin to taste and see the goodness of the homeschool world and the culture and all the resources and opportunities that are available now that weren’t 20 years ago.
It truly is a case where I think more and more parents are realizing everyone homeschools. It’s just some people do it full time. Everyone has to teach their children at home. It’s just are you going to make that a primary part of your life, or are you going to do it on the side? We meet a lot of parents that are coming to conferences now saying, “Well, I don’t know. I don’t know if I can do this. Maybe I can, but I’m not sure I want to, but man, all the people here are so happy.”
Andrew Pudewa on School at Home
Yvette: Yes, and you see whole families together, which is really exciting. That’s one of my favorite parts of going to conventions is when you see mom and dad and kids walking around together and looking at curriculum and going to the different workshops. It’s really exciting just to see that dynamic of the entire family being together.
Andrew: Absolutely. The family is so under attack. In the western developed world all around the world, the family is under attack, so homeschooling seems to be on the vanguard of, “Let’s recapture. Let’s retain. Let’s rebuild. Let’s communicate to the world the great beauty of families functioning, learning, operating, growing together rather than being split apart by the busyness of life and technology. The institutions that can distract us.
Andrew Pudewa – Homeschooling Brings Growth
Yvette: I know for you, because you travel so much, you’re always on the road – I imagine it has allowed you to be able to have a really special kind of relationship with your kids because when you’re home, you’re able to be with them and instead of them being away at school. You actually get that time or got that time, because most of them are adults now. They’re all adults.
Andrew: It was a trade off because when you’re gone for three or four days, 30 weeks a year, that’s a lot of time to be gone. There’s mom feeling like having to do both sides of the parenting, but then when I’m home, I was always home. That was good. I could schedule classes and do things. Then a part of it, in our case because it was a family business rather than me working for other company, I would often take one or two kids with me. In the early days, I needed them. I needed their suitcase space to bring the books, I need them [inaudible 00:09:48] the booth.
Growing up in a family business, I think, it has its pluses and its challenges, but overall, I think all of them gained a lot of very practical, very memorable, positive and maybe a few bitter moments, but it certainly cultivated attitude of entrepreneurship that I can see in all of them now. They’re all grown up, and they’re all very entrepreneurial thinking, and a couple of them have started businesses on their own. It’s great to see. Great to see the… It’s wonderful, Yvette, to have adult children. You don’t have adult kids yet, do you?
Yvette: Not yet. Ours are still young.
Andrew: Well, one thing I would say to everyone who’s in that case of young children or in the thick of it with a teenager and a four-year-old all at the same time is it’s so great to have adult children because I can assure you that all of those things that seem super important, like, “did you get through the math book by the end of May?”, actually, in the big picture, are not all that important. I would say some of the least important part about growing up is the academic side. The most important part is the adventures, and the breadth of knowledge and experience and of course above all the relationships and the spiritual enrichment, that is so much more easily facilitated when you’ve got the time and space and priority to do that.
Although, it’s easy for us as homeschool parents to get caught up and worried about the academic side because we’re responsible for keeping the transcript and having grades and being sure that this kid is going to make it into college and get a good job someday. There’s that anxiety, so we’re always balancing that freedom along with that anxiety about academics.
Andrew Pudewa – Homeschooling is Efficient
Yvette: That’s a real struggle of course for homeschool moms. Our oldest is in seventh grade this year. I’m now starting to think, “Oh gosh, she’s going to be in high school in two years, and I have to start keeping real transcripts for her.” They’re seriously… I mean, there can be a lot of anxiety that goes along with that. Like you said, it’s not about just the academics. I mean, those are important but it’s so much more. School is so much more than just academics. It’s about character building and family and relationships and stuff like you said.
It’s so exciting, but that doesn’t always take away the questions that the moms have. It’s a big responsibility that we put on ourselves and that God gives to us when we choose to take on this role of home educating our children, because it is an important thing in so many areas. I mean, it’s their whole life that you’re holding in your hands. Only by the grace of God can we get this done effectively.
Andrew: That’s what you realize is they were God’s kids all along.
Andrew: I’m a big supporter of HSLDA. They, of course, are strongly behind the support for global home education freedom. In the early days, people would join HSLDA because they thought, “Oh no, if social services comes banging on my door, if the truant officer calls, what would I do? I want this insurance,” so they would join HSLDA for that purpose. I believe that we’ve become a bit complacent in the homeschool communities because we haven’t had too many huge legal problems in most dates. You and I both homeschooled in California for a while and that’s a very homeschool friendly state.
I’m in Oklahoma now. It’s probably the most homeschool friendly state, and even the less homeschool friendly states, which I will not name by name – You out there who live there, you know where you are. We take for granted now the freedoms that we have to do this, but honestly, the Homeschool Legal Defense Association does so much more than provide “legal representation” insurance in case you have a problem. I would just encourage everyone to join the HSLDA, not because you think you might need their services, but because what they’re doing is a tremendously good work and that is holding every single agency or government or office that interfaces with homeschoolers accountable in subtle ways.
Not just, “Is it legal or not,” but do homeschool graduates have the same opportunities and rights? Is someone infringing on that by saying, “No, no, your school diploma doesn’t count.” Then of course they provide some wonderful services. In fact, as having kids going to high school, you might want to look into their transcript service because they have a great little service. It’s not very expensive, and it will help you to stay organized for this next decade of having kids go through high school and all that. I wish everyone would join the HSLDA, because more than any other organization that I know of, they are standing on the front line of the right of parents to direct the upbringing and education of their children.
I fear that right, while we may be taking it for granted, could be not only infringed, but actually cut in many cases very quickly without us even noticing it.
Yvette: I appreciate that, and you’re welcome, HSLDA, for that commercial! That was not planned, but I love that. You and I, last month, I think it was, we were at the HSLDA national leaders conference in Washington, D.C. We’ve been members of HSLDA for many, many years. I guess, this is our eighth year of membership with them. We’re now actually lifetime members because we figured we’re going to do this forever, so may as well just go for the lifetime. I really didn’t know all the things that they offered, and we’ve been members for a long time. There’s so much stuff on their website, but they really are a fantastic organization.
The freedom that they have fought for and the freedom that they continue to fight for and protect for homeschool families is incredible. Like you said, I think we do take for granted that we have this freedom to homeschool. When we started, we really didn’t know all of the backstories that had gone on in all… I mean, there were parents just like you and I who were regular homeschool parents, who were threatened in big ways for choosing to take their kids out of school and saying we’re going to home educate them. They fought long, and they fought hard, and they fought tough to get these freedoms for us today.
Most people don’t know about that. The other thing that I really had my eyes up into two were state organizations. They don’t fall under the leadership of HSLDA, but I know they work very closely sometimes with HSLDA, but on their own, they really work hard to protect their freedoms and their individual states and then they’re there for their own state families to encourage them and equip them and to keep their own freedoms for their own individual states. I think a lot of people… We’re actually going to be doing an interview later this week with Rebecca Kocsis. She’s one of the state representatives for Chia, which is in California.
We’re going to talk with her about state organizations. I agree. It’s so important to stand behind those people who are standing in front of us and keeping those walls broken down so that we can continue to homeschool our kids. Anyway, so I have a couple of questions. You and I could talk all day long. When we interviewed you for Schoolhouse Rocked, I remember, I think I might’ve asked you maybe four questions, and your interview was two and a half hours long. It was awesome, and it was funny we came away from there. We said, “Well, goodness gracious, how do we pull the gold out of this?”
The way we do that of course is we’ve got the Schoolhouse Rocked Backstage Pass, and we will at some point have your full interview up on there that people can view, but I do have a couple of questions for you. Like I said, we had people write in and ask specific questions, and they wanted to know some things. There are a couple that I thought you would be just great at answering because I know you talk a lot about motivation in the homeschool day. One mom wrote in. She said, “How do you motivate the daydreamer to buckle down and complete their assignments quickly but well so that they can have more free time to pursue their passions? We’ve tried everything and even a scaled back assignment will take all day because she has no drive to finish. Do we just have to nag?”
How would you answer that mom? Help her out.
Andrew: It’s hard to give a specific answer to a specific question without knowing a few more details, but I would talk about principles of motivation, which I have studied extensively and talked about and written about. What I have come to understand over these decades is that there’s really four forms of motivation. One, I would call intrinsic, so something has intrinsic relevancy, right? If something is relevant, meaningful, interesting, engaging, applicable, useful to some degree, it’s easier to learn. Wouldn’t you agree?
Andrew: If something is not interesting, applicable, meaningful, useful in some way, it’s harder to learn.
Andrew: This tangible quality of relevancy when you can get it there, when it’s present, teaching and learning are easier, and when it’s less present or absent, teaching and learning are harder, so four forms of relevancy, I would mention here. If anybody wants to listen to this in more detail, there’s a 90-minute talk. You can get off our website called Teaching Boys and Other Kids Who Would Rather Be Making Forts All Day.
Yvette: I love that title.
Andrew: It’s a very popular talk.
There’s intrinsic relevancy. That’s when something is just so interesting that you are totally engaged. You want to learn about it. You lose your sense of time. You’re fascinated. You’re excited. You tell everybody what you’re learning and doing. That’s a super blessing when it happens, but unfortunately, it’s not something you can force. It sometimes happens more often with some kids than others. I mean, there are some kids who are just naturally more inquisitive and curious and will get excited and go pursue something and others who are just a little bit less so, a little more passive, wait around what to do.
To the degree that we as homeschoolers can find things that are intrinsically interesting to children and get them to do that, they’ll be motivated. They’ll use their time. They’ll use their time to be productive, but you may or may not find something that the problem usually comes between what mom believes would be useful learning and what the child believes is relevant and interesting. There could be a gap between those two.
Andrew: On the unschooling side of the philosophical spectrum is don’t ever tell kids what to do. Just let them pursue their interests all day, and they’ll learn and come out great in the end. That feels a little dangerous to most of us. Although, I have families that have done that, and there were schools actually around the world that are based on that principle. In many cases, the kid too seem to have come out pretty good on the other end.
Andrew: I think that total unschooling freedom idea is pretty – Most of us are a little bit, “Well, that’s too risky.” Then there’s things that people have to learn that maybe they’re not interested in intrinsically. The next form of relevancy to motivate with would be inspired relevancy. You may not be particularly interested in something but because someone whom you love or respect is interested in that thing. You hang out with them, and you catch vicariously a desire and interest to relevancy from that thing. I’ve seen this happen in any number of cases of parents who put kids in a class. The kid’s like, “I don’t want to do that class.”
Andrew Pudewa to Homeschool Dads, “Support and Encourage”
Then the teacher or one of their friends or they make a new friend, someone in that environment is so inspiring, but suddenly that kid likes that class and wants to go and want to read more, and wants to study and wants to become good. I would say probably the most frequent story I hear is the public speaking or speech and debate. Kids are very shy. I don’t want to do public speaking. I don’t want to stand in front of people. I don’t want to memorize the speech. I don’t want to do a debate. You just get them in there and do it for a while. Pretty soon, it’s the bug. The bug bites like the acting bug.
That’s, “Wow! That was cool. I got to do that.” Not only do I want to do that. Again, I want to be good at it. I’m going to polish this speech. I’m going to practice this thing. I’m going to do extra research so I can be good. That speech and debate in my world, is the most obvious example of power of inspiring. For us as homeschoolers today, we have a lot more opportunities to help get our kids connected with people who love something. I personally don’t really like science very much. I’d never wanted to teach science.
If you said, “Here, you have to do biology or physics with your kid,” I’d say, “Well, let’s hurry up and pretend we did this so we could do something meaningful,” but now with coops and classes and programs like Aquinas learning, classical conversations, online classes, which are really very surprisingly interactive with experts, teachers, and many of these teachers now were homeschool kids themselves who are now adults teaching online classes and teaching coop classes for the next generation of homeschoolers. This is so exciting because of their enthusiasm.
I’m sure you’ve seen this.
Andrew: You go hear a speaker or a teacher, and you are so inspired to learn more.
“We must be a special creation from an infinite intelligence, because the things humans do, particularly this activity of writing, is so incredibly complex.”
Andrew: Kids are like that, but some things are just not interesting. A lot of work books that kids have to do, they don’t see the relevancy. “Why should I have to mark all the parts of speech in this grammar workbook? Why should I have to do all this math? Math is not part of my real life. I don’t use double digit multiplication in reality. It’s just a few exercises and futility that stresses me.” What could be like that? English spelling stuff, even in our world of teaching writing, a lot of kids don’t like having to stay in one spot and wrangle their brain around the process of thinking of something, saying it to themselves, hearing what they say to themselves, remembering what they say to themselves.
Find a few letters to make a word they might know how to spell and not forget all that while they’re doing it. I mean, I’ve been often about thinking about the writing process. It’s so phenomenally complicated. For me, it’s proof that humans could not possibly have evolved.
We must be a special creation from an infinite intelligence, because the things humans do, particularly this activity of writing, is so incredibly complex. Anyway, so how do we help kids with that stuff? Well, this is where we’d move into the third area, and I think this is most applicable to the person who asked that question. That is contrived relevancy. It’s not intrinsically interesting. Nobody’s thrilled about it. Nobody’s going to inspire you. Now, how do you get wanting to do something? That’s when we can try to change it into a game. Sometimes, it’s a very small shift from a chore to a challenge.
That’s the trick. If chores can shift the thing from being a chore to be procrastinated, avoided, done in slow motion, tedious, complaining, to a challenge, “I’ve got to get this done,” then we see really good success. I’ll give you an example of just the slightest little shift that makes a huge difference. Let’s say you have a grammar workbook kind of thing, and you turn the page, and it says, “Identify all the prepositional phrases in the paragraph below. Underline each prepositional phrase with a single underline, and the preposition itself with a double underlie.”
I mean, who wants to do it? I wouldn’t want to do it. You will write stupid. I mean, what’s the point? It has no relevancy, no bearing on reality, but we have to do it. Well, now here’s the shift. In the paragraph below are hidden 13 prepositional phrases. Find them all and you win.
Yvette: Let’s make it a game.
Andrew: That’s just different. For boys in particular, but also for a lot of girls, it’s like, “Oh, well, I like to win. Okay, great. I’ll play the game.” Now, at some point, just saying you won isn’t quite enough.
Yvette: There must be candy involved.
Andrew: Some kind of economic system.
Andrew: Whether you use pennies or points or pop charts or peanuts, the thing that’s interesting about that is that’s the physical manifestation of something of value to the child that communicates to the child, “Your efforts are valued. I appreciate your work.” Now, some people would say, “Well, you’re bribing the kid to do what he should do anyway.” Well, bribery’s when you pay someone to do something illegal or immoral. That’s neither. You’re creating a game. I love my job. I love working, and I love traveling around the world.
I love teaching, but I’m not sure I would do it quite so much if there wasn’t some kind of economic side to it. Children are… They’re preparing to be adults, boys in particular. If you can set up some type of system to say, “Hey, if you do this much of whatever in this amount of time, then you get these points or these chips or these whatever, and that has value.”
Andrew: You can exchange those for some privilege or benefit. Then just be sure the privilege or benefit is something that you would want for the child anyway.
Yvette: Sure. Well, if you think about that even in life, whether you’re an entrepreneur or have a job where you’re employed by someone else, you do the work and then you get paid for that work that you do, and so you’re still getting something in return. You’re not just going and doing the job just for the sake of doing the job. That’s life. That’s actually a life skill that they’re learning, that you do this because it’s going to produce this result or you’re going to get this in return.
Andrew: If you don’t go that route, then you are stuck going the last… get down to the worst and least effective form of relevancy, which I have termed enforced. Enforced relevancy is when you say you will learn this or you will do this or you will suffer some penalty. I’m not talking about discipline. I am saying, of course, there are things that we all have to do we don’t want to do, and the consequences for not doing them are negative and children need that, but in terms of learning, what happens when you use that type of forced relevancy is you most likely to get the appearance of learning or a very temporary.
I’ll do everything on this page, but when I turn the page, I’m not even going to remember it. I’ll study for the test. As soon as I pass the test, I can forget all that stuff because it wasn’t really important. I really never cared. I just didn’t want to suffer the consequences of getting a bad grade or whatever.
Andrew: Sometimes, we resort to that. I mean, I would be the first person to say… I have said things like, “You’re going to have that math finished or you’re not going to eat ever.” I don’t have an easy solution to that person who asked that question, but I think by contemplating some of these basically principles of motivation, and like I said, I don’t know the specifics. My guess is that this person who has a fairly young child who is probably easily distracted. Maybe as young as six or seven. I don’t know. Maybe as old as eight or nine, but it’s possible that she’s taking kind of this let’s do school at home approach, and here’s the pile of books with the number on the cover, and you have to do x number of pages in each of these things every day.
“Some kids read and do math grade at five or six, but as the schools have pushed the academics lower and lower, we in the homeschool look at that and say, “Oh no, we have to do that. We have to start pre-k curriculum, which to me is the most ridiculous, oxymoronic thing you could ever say.”
Andrew: “So we stay on schedule and get done by the end of the year. And if we don’t do all that, then we can’t do other learning activities or anything else.” Sometimes, people start there, but then, I think, they come to maybe a little bit more organic understanding, especially, of younger children. I think, we start school too young.
Yvette: Yes, I agree.
Andrew: We try to press your kids at five and six years old into reading and doing abstract math when they’re not ready for it. Now, some kids are.
Andrew: Some kids read and do math grade at five or six, but as the schools have pushed the academics lower and lower, we in the homeschool look at that and say, “Oh no, we have to do that. We have to start pre-k curriculum, which to me is the most ridiculous, oxymoronic thing you could ever say.
Yvette: Sure. That’s the stage where kids still need to wiggle and move around. That’s one of the things I have heard you say several times about read-alouds and audio books and things like that is it’s okay for your kids to be flipping around on the ground or playing with Legos or doing whatever it is they do as long as there is moving, because in a classroom, we expect our children to sit still. They have to sit in their chair. They have to sit on their carpet and crisscross their legs and put their hands in their lap and be still.
Well, many kids can’t learn that. They are physically incapable of learning that way effectively. They need to move. They need to explore. They need to be able to do things with their hands and draw pictures. I mean, my 12 almost 13-year-old, she still is like that, and she’s not a real high energy person. She’s pretty mellow, but she still needs, even in church, I mean, she’s always drawing. She has to draw. If she doesn’t doodle on her paper, she’s not going to hear anything that the pastor is saying.
You can find Andrew Pudewa and IEW online at IEW.com.
Andrew Pudewa recommends the following resources in his interview.
“I just don’t want any barriers of entry to any parent who wants to home school. They don’t have to join Classical Conversations. I just firmly believe in homeschooling.”
In teaching study skills for over 30 years to children and adults, Leigh Bortins has written several books including The Core,The Questionand The Conversation, a series which explores the classical trivium from a parent’s perspective. She has also authored complete K-12 curriculum guides for parents and homeschool tutors all across the country.
Yvette Hampton: I am super excited about our guest today, and I know you’re going to be too, because many, many, many of you have asked us to have her on the podcast. Her name is Leigh. I know that that name to many of you is a very familiar one. She is the founder and chief visionary officer of Classical Conversations, and she has had a great impact in our lives and in the lives of hundreds of thousands of families around the world. So Leigh, welcome to the podcast.
Leigh Bortins: Thanks for having me, Yvette. I’m so glad to be here.
Yvette: Yeah. We’re just absolutely thrilled to have you on. Before we even started the podcast, we sent out … I think it was to our mailing list, maybe on Facebook … just a “Hey, who do you guys want to have on the podcast and what questions do you have?” And so, hands down, yours was one of the names that was repeated over and over and over again. People said, “We want Leigh Bortins.” You have been just an inspiration and blessing to me and my family. We did Classical Conversations for three years when we were back in California, and it was the greatest blessing of my homeschool life at that point.
Leigh: Well, thank you.
Yvette: The only reason that we’re actually not in a community now is because we travel of course, because we’re making this documentary, Schoolhouse Rocked, so we’re not settled in a place to be able to do so. But, I’ve actually shared this-
Leigh: Well, I appreciate that sacrifice that you’re making to get this movie out there.
Yvette: Thank you. Thank you. It’s been so great. And, Classical Conversations, you guys have been … I can’t even put into words what an encouragement and blessing you’ve been to us. You have supported us financially, you’ve supported us with prayer. We’ve been really in close contact with Robert and your marketing team, and it’s so great. You know, we’ll talk to them, and they’ll say, “How can we pray for you?” That has just been over the top an encouragement to us, and it’s what’s kept us going. So thank you for how you have come alongside of us and supported us in this endeavor to film this documentary on homeschooling.
But I don’t want to talk about us. I want to talk about you and Classical Conversations and the great things that you guys are doing there. For those who have heard of Classical Conversations, or CC as most people will call it, I would love for you to just give kind of an overview of what Classical Conversations is for those who are maybe just coming into homeschooling, and they’ve maybe heard of it and they’re not exactly sure what this Classical Conversations thing is.
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Leigh: So, we’re a kindergarten through 12th grade educational support organization for homeschooling parents. The parents are our clients, they’re our customers, they’re our community. The children are not our emphasis, though our programs include the children. What’s really important to me is that we work hard as adults to sharpen one another, and our Christian worldview, and in our classical training. We’re trying to recover skills that we’ve never seen before. So, I wanted to put together a business where adults met once a week to try to work on a rigorous classical education together, and of course it’s much more effective if you practice on your children and they’re with you. Then, students and the family go home, and they have assignments for the week, and then they come back the next week and work together again. A lot of parents think that we’re some sort of a school, and we are in the sense of we’re a school for the family.
We’d like to say that we helped but there we’re tutors. And that we would like to help the parents in the room just continue to improve at this mission. The other thing I think about Classical Conversations is, our tagline is Classical Christian Community. That really is what we’re about. But, sometimes I think it should have been Homeschool with a Friend. So many of the moms and dads that are a part of the programs say, “You keep us going because I’m meeting each week with my friends and it’s a little PTA meeting.” So it’s not just about how do you do better at Latin, but also, my child has learning issues or my in-laws are coming and I don’t know what to make for dinner because I’ve never cooked a turkey before. It’s all the things that go along with families that are like-minded, trying to raise children for Christ, because the world is not going to offer us a model to do that well.
And so, we need to meet regularly with each other. And the body of Christ is just an amazing thing to be part of. And you go to church on Sunday to get that really depth in the word of God. And that’s exactly what our pastors are supposed to be doing. And yet still we need to also know how does the world work, and how does math work, and how does language work? All those things that are academic skills that help us to know God’s world better. And so Classical Conversations offers that in the middle of the week for the families that are interested. So we help folks who need help. And we also encourage people who are really competent in homeschooling to come in as directors, and leaders, and trainers and a to avail their services to the folks that maybe feel less confident teaching Latin, and physics and things like that. So that’s a … I would say, about three minute elevator pitch.
Yvette: That was a great elevator pitch. I love this system that you have set up. It has been so effective for my family. When I started homeschooling I, like many moms had no clue what I was doing. I just knew that the Lord was calling us to do this. My husband knew it, and we just dove in and the first two years I really … it was okay because we started in kindergarten and so kindergarten and first grade were, they were just challenging in the sense that I felt like I was trying to figure it out. But you know, my oldest was, she was so little at the time and I didn’t feel like I was really messing anything up too terribly bad.
But then we were going into second grade and I was like, “Okay, I know I need more, but I don’t know what to do.” I wasn’t trained as a teacher and I just didn’t know what direction to go. And so I heard somebody actually who, ended up being my director, my sweet friend Annette, she came in and she spoke at a meeting that I had gone to, a local homeschool meeting. And she started, she just presented Classical Conversations in a few minutes and I was like, “This is it.” And I was so excited and I went home and I told my husband, I said, “We have to go to this information meeting.” That, “I really think this is the thing that we need.”
So of course, we signed on and the funny thing was, that first year I signed, she was in need of a tutor. I signed on to be a tutor and I had never been in a Classical Conversations classroom before. So I started tutoring that year without having seen it, and I was terrified, actually. I will tell you that the tin whistle was the most terrifying thing to me ever. It was the crack. I could do all of the other stuff, and then I had to stand in front of about seven or eight seven-year-olds and teach them the tin whistle and my palms were sweating and I was shaking. I was so nervous and I was like, I don’t know what I’m doing.
But we got through it and I had a very gracious mom who, couple of moms who were with me, who helped me out.
Leigh: Yeah. And see you learn something new.
Leigh: Do all things through Christ. And he pushes us right off the comfort couch every time that you will let them.
Yvette: He absolutely does. But it was fantastic from the academic standpoint, but like you said, the community of coming together with the other moms and the other families was just something that there was no comparison to that. I didn’t even know how much I needed it until I got into it and I realized that they became my family. As a matter of fact, when we left California to travel and start filming for Schoolhouse Rocked, leaving our CC community was by far one of the hardest things that we had to do because they were our family. We did life together always every week. And, so it was such a blessing and I love that it has spread so far and deep throughout the world. I mean, because you guys are all over the world now. It’s not just …
Leigh: We are.
Yvette: In America, right?
Leigh: Yeah, they were … we have a hundred communities in Russia.
Leigh: We are opening up with … I don’t have the final number. They just had been in February in Brazil. And I think that we have a couple of dozen programs there for the first time. They’re working in English in Brazil with the expats while we get it translated into Portuguese.
Leigh: And then in Russia, we’ve already been working on the translations for a while. So it’s in … it is translated. So they’ve got foundations and essentials in A, I think is what they’re offering.
Leigh: In Russia. And then we’re also … we’ve begun translating Mandarin.
Leigh: Because have a Far East market that’s using the curriculum and more and more programs at our first practicum in actually mainland China this year.
Leigh: It was in the kind of a clandestine situation. Very, very fun to hear.
Yvette: Yeah. Okay, so you just mentioned practicum and I would love for you to talk about that because when I first started with Classical Conversations, I heard this word practicum being thrown around and I was like, “I do not even know that word and I don’t know what it means.” So explain what a practicum is because those are going to start coming up, and this is something that for people who are not familiar with CC, would be fantastic for them to attend. And of course those who are familiar with it usually love going anyway. So explain what a practicum is.
Leigh: So, I just don’t want any barriers of entry to any parent who wants to home school. They don’t have to join Classical Conversations. I just firmly believe in homeschooling. And so one of our hallmark events throughout the summer is to offer three day parent practicums where, we basically get together three days in a row and you bring your family and there’s camps and care for the littlest ones. And the teenagers go to camp, but they’re academic camps. And the reason we’re having the academic camps for the kids is because mommy and or dad are sitting in a room also practicing teaching classically. And so every year has a theme. It might be a math topic one year, or it might be Latin. It might be history, it might be English, but you can only do one thing well and you only get the three days.
So, we try to do, in the morning really emphasize just a big overview conversation on what is the Classical Model. And then the afternoon is more training on a specific subject. And that’s where that practice part of the word practicum comes in. And so we encourage not just home schoolers. If you’re thinking of homeschooling, if you’re headmaster of a Classical school, if you’re on a school board trying to figure out what are some better resources for your school, anybody can come to them, they’re absolutely free. And we do charge though for the kids’ camps. It’s pretty cheap. It’s like $40 for three days.
Yvette: It’s well worth it, yeah.
Leigh: Yeah. Well thanks for saying that because we do have to pay that staff and they got the background checks, supplies, cookies, all that. There’s a cost to that part, but it’s … we’re happy to donate our own time for the adults that are there. And so, you know, everyone’s welcome.
Yvette: Yeah. So practicum is just kind of this three day intense, almost like a homeschool conference. Kind of a local with your own people kind of thing.
Leigh: Yeah. We try to keep it between 20 and a hundred people depending on the facilities with the children. Think of if you have 60 adults and they took two or three kids, that’s a big event. Yes. And so it’s just, it’s more focused than a conference where you pick and choose things. Yeah, real particular. And in some ways, it’s both the best and the worst of Classical Conversations. People have to make some real effort to spend three days learning something, so sometimes you just don’t want to do it. But mostly when people get there, they’re so glad that they did it.
And the folks who stay with us the longest of course end up going year after year, and even many times in the summer because they just want to learn how to teach classically. Yeah, it’s, I mean, you can go online. There’s so many ways to learn how to do all kinds of things now, but we just feel really convicted that the best learning is in community. That you have someone to touch your back, and answer your questions, and have a glass of water with. And then the kids running around the playground together and you feel like, “Okay, this Christian Classical Community’s going to really work.”
Yvette: Yes. One of the things I love is, we would go to practicum each summer and you always see those moms who, it’s their first time and they kind of have that deer in the headlights look. And you can point them out every time. And it’s so neat to be able to just connect with those moms and just go up to them and just say, “Hey, are you new to homeschooling? Are you need to see CC? Are you new to classical education?” And it’s a great way to build relationships with these moms, especially with those who are just getting into homeschooling and trying to figure it out. It’s fantastic.
Yvette: I want to back up just a little bit because you explained what Classical Conversations is, but I want to very shortly if you can just kind of give a picture of what a typical day at a Classical Conversations Community looks like for those who have never attended before and they’re like, “Okay, what in the world is she talking about?” Just give a glimpse into, into a day.
Leigh: Sure. So let’s say your community meets on Tuesday at a local church. Your Challenge students, which is the middle and high school program, they may have to be in their classrooms, say eight o’clock. And while you’ve dropped them off, you’re gathering your little guys and getting them to their classrooms, and you’re making sure they have their supplies and the lunches are out of the car and that kind of thing. So your older students are in a cooperative with up to 12 other students. That’s their cohort. That’s who they hopefully will travel through from Challenge A onwards and you know people move. So you don’t have to stay with …
Yvette: And Challenge A begins in seventh grade, correct?
Leigh: Right. That’s our middle and high school program. And so that very much is more peer based with one of the parents that’s already at the facility tutoring. Usually doesn’t have to be this case, but usually the tutor would have their own children in the program. So, me and mom, a mom and dad, if both come are also on the same church campus with their little guys. And we encourage the parents to stay with the children that are four to 12 years old in the Foundations and Essentials program because there’s two things. Those children need the most help. And that’s generally the age group that the parents most involved with and wants the most help with, right? Once you’ve been homeschooling for six, seven years, those older kids know how to do quite a lot on their own.
And so, but we still encourage you not to treat the Challenge program like a drop-off program. Let the tutor know of your older child, how old or what’s going on with your younger ones and say, “Hey, let me know. But, if my kid’s struggling in a course, tell me what time you’re going to be talking about that and then I’ll be there in the room with them.” I’ve also had parents in there, so welcome to stay the entire time with the Challenge program. And they just sit in the back, and they’re quiet, and they do the work and they figure out what’s going on with Latin, and history and, and chemistry and all those things we’re doing, and can go home and help their older child. So at lunch time, the little guys, they’re pretty much finished for the day and sometimes there’s an afternoon nursery kind of opportunity. It’s not really a nursery like you think, it’s more like playground time.
Leigh: And then the fourth, fifth and sixth graders have an additional two hours of the Essentials program where it’s just too hard for the little guys and they’ve been sitting for a long time. They need to get out of there. I mean, while the Challenge students continue. So they, the Challenge students have a six hour day and then everyone goes home around three o’clock and it’s one day a week. And so it’s a big commitment, especially to we homeschool moms. We don’t like anybody tell us one when to be where. So we have to … you got to have lunch, you got to have their shoes on. You got to have the pencils in the case.
And so, it’s this one day of work and hard to work, not just for your own benefit and learning more, but compromising, being part of a community and saying, “You’re good. Yeah. You didn’t get to do your speech today. Did you listen to three other kids?” Right? It’s not all about you. We need a bit of give and take in our school situation and with education. So there’s just a lot that goes on and the older kids are working on six different subjects over six hours, versus the littlest ones through third grade are really, it’s the parents that are doing the work, right? They’re the ones that are trying to understand the Classical Model.
The younger kids are there playing games and singing songs, just doing various activities. And so everything’s kind of designed for the age of that student. And the fact that no matter who you are as a parent, you’re going to juggle between kids and there’s no way to make it perfect for everybody. And so we all come together and work on, just as a community, how do we get better at Christian classical education?
Yvette: Yeah. One of the things I love about the Foundations program, which is kindergarten, so it starts at four years old and goes through eight … yeah. Eighth grade. No, no, no.
Leigh: Well through about 12 years old.
Yvette: Right. Sixth grade.
Leigh: Sixth grade, yes.
Yvette: And, it’s so much fun because these kids get to come together, and they get to learn what Classical Conversations calls memory work. And they just, they memorize different things about all different subjects, science, history, Latin, English. But it’s really fun and so they get to do it, with jump roping and I should say jumping rope. And games and all kinds of fun activities and stuff. And so it really makes school fun. But they also get to do it with their friends and they get to build those relationships as well, which is really, really exciting for them. And so my girls always loved it. We couldn’t wait until CC day, except for the packing of the lunches. That was always the dread of my weekend. My favorite week was always when we had potluck, and I only had to think about bringing one thing and we always had a wonderful feast. It was lots of fun. Or pizza day, so that was fun.
Leigh: Yeah. And also, the only thing is it’s one day a week you have to not wear your pajamas all day.
Yvette: That’s exactly right.
Leigh: You have to get dressed.
Yvette: I always would think, “I cannot believe people actually do this five days a week.”
Leigh: I know. It was exhausting.
Yvette: I could never do it. I can barely do it one day. I want to talk about the high school years. I know that this is even for myself, my oldest is 13 so she’s in seventh grade respectively, and as we’re getting into those high school years, it’s starting to become a little bit terrifying for me. I did not like school as a child and so those years kind of scare me, but I know enough about homeschooling now to know that God has gotten us this far. He’s going to take us all the way through. How can you encourage the mom who is going into the high school years and give her some support?
Leigh: Yeah. Well, I’d love to say, think back to your own high school years. I know that my mother and father were involved in my academic work at that point. They were around for resources. They were around to ask questions. Around to say, “Well, did you talk to the teacher?” That tends to be what happens with homeschool older students, too. They do a lot of the work on their own and they really use their parents as a resource.
One of the things I found very helpful because I had split, right? I had two in the Foundations program and I had two in the Challenge program. Those little guys can take up a lot of your time and home schooling stops being home schooling for the older ones, and can become what some people call loans school and you don’t want that to happen. So one of the things that I would do was schedule specific tutoring appointments with my older two twice a week for two hours each, and we could get so much accomplished in that one. The one time that they were able to do everything else thoroughly the rest of the week.
So academically I wasn’t doing all that much with them, once they got to about ninth grade. And then with Classical Conversations you’re there once a week and their classmates are using the same materials. Their tutor’s trying to help them with the assignments so we would make a list of questions to ask when they got into 6th. And so besides our encouragement and then … it’s your mom and dad are going to be good at some of the subjects that they’re studying. And then of course the program itself, that was adequate. But one of the things that I think that parents forget about, or actually you don’t forget about it, you don’t really even know about it since this is your first time through with having older children. You don’t know what it’s going to be like having them.
And so, you had this in your mind, this kind of imaginary world that they’re about to enter. And a lot of it’s skewed by your own schooling experience. And that’s not what you’re doing. Your life is very different. They’ve been at home, they know the ropes, the part of the team, they enjoy their family. You figured out what their activities are that they’re going to focus on. And what’s really interesting is they’re finally old enough to be responsible and we send them to a room and stick them there and tell them to do it. Some stranger that doesn’t have our worldview wants them to study and to do. So, don’t do that. The high school years is when it’s finally fun to homeschool. They’re finally beginning to think like adults. They’re able to engage in these conversations we’re preparing them for, and they’re able to be trustworthy.
That’s one thing that I just really focused on a lot, especially being the mom of four boys. They have a great dad. He was around a whole lot, but we began looking for mentors that were males and other adults for them to hang out with, and because they were homeschooled, they had the time for it. And so it wasn’t just mom and dad, their CC tutor and their books. They had each other and they took other courses. They all had different interests, whether it was sports or art, or we found other folks and engaged with them. All my boys were very interested in Bible studies and they, every single one of them had jobs and their employer oftentimes became their best friend through high school. Provide a lot of opportunities for them. Sometimes when people tell me their high schooler’s not happy in homeschool, I’ll ask them, “What are you doing?”
And all they did was brought school home. And I would be unhappy, too if I was in high school and that’s what happened. The world really is our classroom. And then if you mean that, raise children who you trust and then stick them on a bus and say, “Go to New York City. I want you to study what it’s like at the art museum there. I’ll see you in three days.” See, people won’t do that with their high school students anymore. They’re frightened by what the world has opted, and we didn’t have that attitude with our boys. They were all over the East Coast when they were in high school. And our one rule was, “You have to tell me what state you’re in.” Just in case they get lost.
Right? We meant what we said. And I think how fortunate people are who live at where there’s like a bus system or like in Europe, I mean goodness, I would never be home, homeschooling. I would be, have a backpack on my back and get on the bus or train and be somewhere different every day if I was in high school. So really mean it that this is the … We’re missionaries to the world and then the opportunity to learn how the world works, get them on planes, trains, buses, and boats.
Yvette: Yeah. Oh. So funny.
Yvette: I love that. You mentioned a few minutes ago, worldview, and it’s one of the things I love about CC is that you teach everything from a biblical worldview. Why is that important, to teach from a biblical worldview?
Leigh: Well, if for me, the point of education is to learn how to pursue truth, and to me, truth is a person whose name is Jesus Christ. So if you’re not pursuing truth, why are you even engaged in that activity? Right? You say what it is, it’s entertainment. So to me, the difference between them and so recognize when you’re being entertained and recognize when you’re actually are trying to understand how the world works. And so the world’s kind of confused in that. So maybe that’s why it’s important because we’re, … I got up every day when the boys were at home and for people who don’t know all four of them, now they’re all grown men. But I literally would when my feet would touch the floor, I would say, “Okay, I’m the Queen Mum. I’ve got these four kings to raise. What am I going to do today with them, Lord?” Because his mercies are new every morning and we will fail throughout the day.
But just thank God that we can go to bed at night and die, and be resurrected again in the morning with this mercy being new. And so if you have that as your worldview, fear just escapes and it just goes away. There’s no place where it’s reside because you know who you’re serving each day. And people, a lot of times they’ll say, “My kids have to be prepared for the real world.” And I’ll say to them, “Do you mean the one where every knee will bow and every tongue confess?”
Yvette: Oh yeah.
Leigh: Is that your real world? We’re confused by what in the world is going on, even when we claim to be Christians. And so this whole trying to recapture worldview and knowing, whose we are and remembering it. It really difficult and no one is going to try to help you in that endeavor except, I would say, your Christian friends.
Yvette: Yeah, and homeschooling gives us the opportunity to continuously train our kids in that. Constantly reminding them you are here for a purpose and, God is so good and he’s so big and being able to teach them all of those things through the things that we teach them, is so powerful. And, I think that moms, I love that you talk about his mercies are new every morning, because I think so often moms just get into the drudge of that everyday homeschooling and just dealing with the responsibilities and pressures of life. And we forget. We forget the importance of what we’re actually doing and what’s in front of us. You said you’re raising four kings and that’s right. We’re raising queens and kings and we’re raising the future generation who is going to … they are the church, they are the future leaders of this world.
And so, it’s so important to keep that focus and be reminded that God has a big job for us as moms and dads, and he will continue to use us as long as we continue to be used by him, and allow him to use us to do these great things. I want to talk really quickly, we’re almost out of time but, about two more things. So …
Leigh: I’ll make it shorter.
Yvette: Okay. Oh no, no. I’m loving your talking. So in Challenge Two, Classical Conversations offers what’s called concurrent enrollment, which is different than dual enrollment. Can you explain that a little bit?
Leigh: Yes. So what we’re doing is we’re working with a variety of universities. One or two in particular who have just looked at us and said, “Wow, your high school students are doing what our college students should be doing. Is there some way we can partner with you?” And we were actually on the lookout for folks that would do this with us. I mean we initiated this and we knew what we were offering. And so concurrent enrollment means that somebody else has looked at our materials and said, “We will credit that. Accredidate that for you.”
So, you don’t go somewhere else or do something else. It’s all CC. It’s all about CC. But a accrediting body has said, “Concurrently, we will call that college credit.” So we don’t have it for every subject, every year. We have it for about two for Challenge Two, Three and Four. And you can pick and choose, you can do them all or you can just do one of them. Because there’s a little bit of extra work you have to do. You got to get the assignments to the person who’s grading them for you. So you just have to be willing to be organized in order to get those credits. And it does cost a little bit more each year for those. And so I’m not going to say what the price is, because I don’t know what it is. It’s not particularly expensive.
Yvette: Yeah. That’s awesome though. Because that gives them the opportunity to go into college already with some credits, that they would otherwise have to do once they get there.
Leigh: And a lot of parents don’t know this, but that looks good on your resume and it’s a good thing to do. But it’s not an important thing to do because think about it, wherever your child goes to school, they’re going to have their own standards. And so the credits may not transfer. And a lot of schools have stopped taking credits from other people because they want your money, and they want you to pay for their credits. So don’t think it’s this great big amazing thing that’s going to solve lots of problems and save money for you. You’re doing it more as a resume builder and it’s something to help your students know, kind of, “Yes, this is college level material. You’re doing a really good job, someone else has approved it.” Then you may save some money by doing this.
Yvette: Yeah. Well we have, in filming for the movie, we’ve actually talked to several college professors and hands down, every one of them have said that they can almost always spot the homeschool students because they typically are our better students in college. Not always, but oftentimes they are, and there’s just something different about the way that they learn, the initiative that they’re able to take. They’re not always surprised by being handed this whole syllabus of something and saying, “Hey, go do this,” and waiting until the last minute.
Leigh: Because you’re self-directed by then.
Yvette: Exactly. Exactly. They’ve learned to be self-directed and so that really will benefit them, not just in college if they choose to go to college, but in life because that’s important in life. I want to ask you about one last thing. So you’re working on a math curriculum. You’re developing a math curriculum right now that maps the structure and learning, K-four through 12 math, from a Classical Christian perspective. I know that’s in the process right now. Can you talk just a little bit about that?
Leigh: So, basically, I feel like, and I know I’m short in time. That may put pressure on me now.
Yvette: That’s okay. Go ahead. It’s okay if we go over for a couple minutes.
Leigh: I have to gather my thoughts and make it quick. So basically one of the confusions about math, why people don’t like math, is they don’t know where they’re going or where they’ve been or why they’re doing it, right? That’s number one question, “But why do I have to do this?” Right? “And I’m never going to use this.” And so most adults don’t know why either. And so we raised kind of kids that are cynics. We make them do something that then they go and they never do anything with it anyway. And so it is, it’s an odd situation. Especially all of us went through K to 12 math. So I feel like one of the reasons we don’t know what’s fun is curriculum is not really well designed. It doesn’t lead you through a specific map, year after year that you recognize. A mathematician will recognize it.
It’s not set up to train the student or the teacher, even if it’s a school situation, to understand why you just did and how it’s going to apply next year. And there’s also, if you have an age range of children, they’re going to be in different books at different levels. And you can’t turn to page 78 in all and say … if you got three kids. In my curriculum, if you turn to page 78 in all three years, the kids are going to be doing the same activity. At a different level. So I as a parent, well no, I have one thing to work on with all of them, whether it’s in calculus or whether it’s in digits. Right? And so that’s what’s unusual about the curriculum we’re developing, and it’s going to be really hard for people to wrap their brains around that. But so far so good. It’s coming along.
Yvette: Yeah. Very cool. Well that’s exciting. We will definitely keep an eye out for that as it is going through development and, I’m excited to see it when it’s done. So Leigh, thank you so much for your time. You are an absolute blessing to us and to many, many others and we appreciate all that you guys are doing and all that you continue to do. I know you’re not stopping anytime soon. You guys, every time we talk to you, there’s something new and exciting and so it’s really neat that God is continuing to use what you’re doing there.
Leigh: And we can’t wait for Schoolhouse Rocked to make it into the screen. It’s not just because my Robert’s in there and I know half of your cast, but it’s really important what you’re trying to say. So thank you very much.
Yvette: Yes. Well we appreciate the encouragement and the prayers very much. God is, he is such a big God and I can honestly say that all the glory goes to him. Because the things that have been accomplished over the last two and a half years make no sense, except that we can just point to God and say, “Only you, God. Only you could have done what you’ve done. So thank you.”
For those of you who, maybe you’re listening to this for the first time and you’re not sure what we’re talking about, go to schoolhouserocked.com and you can see a couple of our movie trailers there. Learn more about the documentary that we are in production on. Many people know this, but many don’t. We are supported completely by donations at this point. So if anybody feels led to support us, what we are kind of like missionaries right now and God has been so faithful to provide.
But if the Lord prompts you to do that, you can actually go on schoolhouserocked.com, under support and can make a donation to help us as we are working on this. A much needed documentary that’s all about homeschooling and debunking the myths and misconceptions of homeschooling and encouraging people to do it. Because it’s a fantastic opportunity that we have and a fantastic freedom that we have in our country to be able to homeschool
Caleb Schroeder is a public school teacher and adjunct college professor, and brings his wisdom and insight from his experiences in the public school system to this important interview for the Schoolhouse Rocked Podcast.
Yvette Hampton: Hey everyone. This is Yvette Hampton. Welcome back to the Schoolhouse RockedPodcast. I am really glad you’ve joined us today. I have a really exciting guest on today, and you are going to be so encouraged by him. He is actually … Well, he and his whole family are good friends of ours. We’ve known them for well over 20 years, and I think you’re going to enjoy what he’s going to talk about. He’s going to talk about being a teacher in the public school system in California, and whey he homeschools his kids. So his name is Caleb Schroeder, and I’m excited for you to get to know him. So hi, Caleb!
Caleb: Hey. How are you doing?
Yvette: I’m good. I’m so glad to have you on the podcast today. We actually interviewed you for Schoolhouse Rocked, the movie a little over two years ago, right?
Yvette: Yeah. And so for those of you who are on … Actually, I want to say who are on the Backstage Pass membership site, but I actually think that your video has been seen by people who are not Backstage Pass members. I think we made that available to people for free. And we will actually do that again. We can talk about that at the end of the show, but people can go to the show notes for this podcast and see your video. But you had a great interview, talked about spiritual leadership in your home, and just about how you come alongside of your wife and encourage her. And so that’s a great video that you guys definitely are going to want to see.
But today we’re going to talk about something a little bit different with you, on kind of the other side of homeschooling, and that is public schools. So before we get rolling on that topic, tell us about you and your family a little bit.
Caleb: So I’m the father of six kids, and all six of my kids are homeschooled. My oldest is 14. She just started high school, just finished up first semester of her freshman year. And then I have a 12-year-old daughter who is in 7th grade. I have twin boys who are nine years old. I have a daughter who’s seven, and then the youngest is four and a half. We use a classical model for education. We love Classical Conversations, and we’ve been doing that for, I think, four years, now.
I’m a practicum speaker. I usually speak at different practicums over the summer. I love encouraging homeschool parents. My wife and I are actually both homeschool graduates. We were homeschooled K through 12, in the ’80s and ’90s, when you had to do that with your curtains closed and the phones turned off.
Caleb: … in California. And we love what we’re able to do with our kids with homeschooling. I’m a public school teacher. I’m really involved in ministry at my church, both in my kids’ ministries, and then I direct the college ministry in my church.
Yvette: Yeah, well you guys are busy. You’re a busy, busy bunch. We love your family dearly. We are good friends with you guys, and as a matter of fact, your wife Leah and I are really good friends. And her parents, the first time we met, I think Leah was 12, and her parents were my and Garritt’s pre-marriage counselors.
Yvette: And that was 24 years ago. That was actually a little over 24 years ago, because we are just celebrating our 24th anniversary so we’ve-
Caleb: Oh, congratulations.
Yvette: Yeah, thank you. Only by the grace of God. So it’s been really neat to see your family grow. I know I got to be kind of a little part of helping with your wedding and so we’ve seen your family grow from the very beginning.
I love your story of having been homeschooled to where God has brought you today. And I was talking to somebody recently, and she said, “I don’t see that a lot of homeschool graduates are doing a lot of things and being really successful in life.” Now, this is someone who does not come from a background of homeschooling.
And I said, “Well, you know, the reason that you may not see that quite yet is because that whole first big generation of homeschool graduates are just now really into their adulthood. You know? They’re in their maybe late 20s to mid 30s, and really starting to shine as adults. And so you’re one of those, where God has done amazing things with you. Talk a little bit, first, about what your homeschool journey was like growing up, because I know you were … I don’t want to say … I mean you might say unschooled, but I won’t say that you were unschooled, but I know you had kind of a loose school structure growing up, and then to where you are today and what God has done with you.
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Caleb: So I don’t know if I mentioned this, but my dad was a public school teacher for 37 years. He was teaching high school. And that’s what sort of motivated him to make the decision to homeschool. It wasn’t necessarily because he wanted to protect us from indoctrination, he just saw the system was broken. Educationally, students were not learning; they were not being taught. And so he realized, “I could do this better on my own,” and he did. I just finished my second Master’s degree. Most of my siblings have Master’s degrees. A lot of us are very successful working professionals. But because his response wasn’t to try to maybe pull us out and protect us from the system, it was very educationally focused, he had some radical ideas about how he was going to educate us. And some people might describe it as unschooling, but it wasn’t, because our mathematics was very structured. So mathematics was something that we did everyday. We had to put in time, we had to work systematically through … He wrote our curriculum for mathematics. For reading, that was very structured. Reading was very structured. And he sort of designed it like those are they keys. If you have your math, you have your reading, you can do anything.
And so outside of that, it was more whatever our passion was. So I remember one year when I was in high school, instead of doing US history, I just spent the entire year doing research on George Washington. He just fascinated me, and so I just did all this research on him, and I learned US history by studying the life of George Washington.
Caleb: And so that was sort of the unschooling bit, is it was a little bit passion-driven. But the math and the English portion were very structured. My dad is a strict grammarian. Even in my Master’s graduate programs, I would send my research papers to him and say, “Hey, can you check my grammar?” And he would always, inevitably, find something. I was hoping after my second Master’s degree I’d finally arrive where he wouldn’t be able to find any errors, but he could always see them.
Caleb: So our experience … Because he really structured the math and the reading, we’re able to excel in anything we wanted to. And we’re also able to keep our passion. So I’m still somebody who’s extremely passionate about learning.
Yvette: Yeah. You learned to love learning.
Yvette: Which is really the purpose of education. It’s not just to put a bunch of facts into our kids’ heads so that they forget them after the test, and then move onto the next subject. It’s really to teach our kids how to love learning.
Yvette: So how did he do that with you? What was the key that you found that caused you to love learning? And how are you doing that with your kids?
Caleb: So I would say the key was having enough structure so that we could acquire the tools necessary to be successful. Let me illustrate it this way: When I was taking a … I was taking a PE class when I was in college, on teaching PE to students. My degree was in education. And our professor was explaining to us … She was like, “This is the most important class you’re going to take,” and a lot of people laughed that off, “Well, this is a PE class. This is not important.” And she explained that people’s quality of life is tied towards how active they are. And she said, “People aren’t active if they’re not skilled enough to enjoy activity.” And so when you teach a child how to throw a ball correctly, when you teach them how to jump correctly, when you teach them how to run correctly, they can then enjoy those activities.
In the same way, with education, is your mind is equipped where you understand the inner workings of mathematics, so you have … Your brain automatically sees the logic in systems, looks for the logics, understands how to put it together, and then you can read, you can do anything.
So the first key was having that structure in place, there. But the second key was my dad and my mom were passionate learners themselves. So their passion was caught by us. They were excited. My dad was a biologist. So everywhere we went, he was just pointing out the wonder of what he saw. And it wasn’t faked at all. It was just like he was in awe of God’s creation everywhere we’d go. We’d spend a lot of our summers up at Mount Whitney here in California, and we’d spend a lot of time on the trails and hiking around, and he’d just be showing us all these things as we’re hiking, and we’d be looking at the stars at night, and he’d be teaching us. So the world was our classroom.
And because of that, everywhere I go, I want to learn. I was going on a run this morning with this lady who was … There’s a local running store, and they do a run there every single Saturday morning. And I was running with this lady who is a … She has a PhD in nuclear fission, and I was like, “Wow. This is amazing. She can answer all these questions that I have.” And so I was just grilling her while I was running. And that’s not something that I’m researching, but it’s fascinating to me. I want to know about it.
So everywhere I go, I’m asking people questions, trying to learn about the world that’s around me. So I just have … We’re born with an innate curiosity, and the school system destroys that. And I’ve been able to preserve that. So I have the same curiosity I did as a five-year-old. I never lost it.
Yvette: Yeah. Yeah, and you’re passing that along to your kids, now, just like your dad passed that onto you.
So Caleb, you are a public school teacher. You teach math. Do you only teach math, or do you teach other subjects, as well?
Caleb: Yeah, primarily math. This year I’m doing a study hall. I teach a lot of dual-enrolled students, so I work for a local community college, and I work for the high school. And so I have a lot of students who are enrolled in the community college classes and the high school classes, so I run a study hall for them to come in and get help with their homework, and just sort of stay on top of them. I make sure they’re getting work done. So it’s not math, per se, but I end up helping them with a lot of mathematics.
Yvette: Okay, so here’s the question: You are a public school teacher, and many would ask the question, then why would you not have your kids in public school? If you own a business, maybe creating … Who knows, I don’t know. T-shirts. You would obviously want your kids to wear that t-shirt that you create, because that’s your thing. That’s your family business. That’s what feeds your family. And so everyday, you go into the public school system, and you have decided that that’s not what right for your kids. Why is that?
Caleb: You know, I guess it might seem strange from the outside, but because that’s how I was raised, that was sort of assumed. It wasn’t assumed that I would become a teacher, but it was assumed that I would homeschool my kids. The system’s broken, and it’s broken beyond repair. Education is a … There’s so much political activism in education now, that the working professionals who actually know what’s best for students and what’s going to help them cognitively, we can’t even do that. We can’t teach students where they’re at; because we’re working with 30 or more students at a time, we have to force everybody to fit into the same cookie cutter mold. And so it becomes indoctrination.
Public school flowed out of the industrial revolution. And in the industrial revolution, it actually made sense for what they were trying to do. In the industrial revolution, they needed a good factory worker. They needed somebody who would clock in, do the same mundane tasks without asking any questions, and then clock out. We don’t have those jobs anymore. We don’t have any careers … Yeah, there are some factory workers, but if you look at it, the majority of what factory workers are doing now, is they’re troubleshooting. They’re working on the equipment because the equipment does the work that a worker used to do.
Our education system is the same as it was 100 years ago. And because of that, we’re still preparing students to go into a job where they don’t think about what they’re doing, they don’t know how to troubleshoot, they’re just really good at, what I call, regurgitating on demand. So the teacher tells ’em, “Okay, here’s everything you need to know. Come back tomorrow and recite it to me.” That’s useless. There’s no value in that at all, in our culture anymore. So no matter what your religious background, but just cognitively, looking at what the brain needs to be effective, for a worker to be able to be successful, those skills aren’t given at all anymore.
And so I made the decisions to educate my kids primarily because I saw how broken the system was. Why I’m in the system, it’s not that I necessarily think that I can change it. I felt like I could. I’m teaching at a small, rural high school. And I have a principal who gave me a lot of freedom, and we were able, for about five years to be extremely innovative. Drastically change, within the confines of what California restricts us to, drastically change how we set up math instruction. And we were really, really successful. I have a student right now at Harvard Medical, who graduated from my program. He’s going to be a medical doctor. And I have students who are at UCLA. And so I was able to create an atmosphere where I was able to sort of salvage the students’ education in their last three years. The school is small enough that I had students for three years, and I could get them to that point where they became autonomous learners and I sort of shocked that curiosity back inside of them. But that’s an anomaly.
Usually, you don’t have a principal who will give you that freedom. And that whole system was dependent upon the administration I had, and that administration just shifted, and my new administration will not work with me at all. And so they’re coming in and they’re dictating, and they’re destroying everything I’ve built, which is sort of … That’s standard fare in California public schools. Education is determined by the politicians.
A big thing for mathematics, every single incoming freshman that I have, I’m required to put them in an algebra I class. I’ll give them an entrance test, and they can’t add a fraction, they can’t multiply single digits, they never got through … If you guys are familiar with the classical method, they never got through those grammar stages. They never mastered that grammar stage. They were never taught to mastery, and they need that. You can’t go on if you don’t understand how the brain works. You can’t go on to that dialectic or rhetoric stage until you have the grammar of a subject down, but I’m required to put them in an algebra class, which is-
Yvette: Wow. It’s like building the roof first on a house before you’ve built a foundation.
Caleb: Exactly. Yeah, it’d be like putting a student in their third year Spanish class when they haven’t had Spanish I or II.
Caleb: And so that’s just because the government requires us to do that, and it’s because algebra is a social justice issue. Instead of being a math issue, it’s a social justice issue. And there are social justice components there, for sure. There’s pockets of racism, where people will put students in a class just to hold them down. But as a rule, that’s really not happening in California, and it really shouldn’t be how you determine what class students are put in.
So really, the reason that I’m there is I never felt called to be a school teacher. I felt called to be a missionary. And that’s how I see it. I think that the public schools are the front line of the culture war in our nation today. So if you want to be making a difference, the biggest difference that you can make is to be right there in the thick of it. So California public schools … I’m on the front line. And how I shine my light in that is not by going out and lecturing my students about their immoral lifestyles. I love kids. I love kids. And students are attracted to the love of Christ. And so what happens is, is I’m able to develop relationships with them. They know that my classroom is a safe space, and they come in there and they share their hearts with me. They share their struggles, and I’m able to share Jesus with them.
Caleb: And you know, one of the young guys I got to share Jesus with. And now he’s a pastor at your home church.
Caleb: So that’s why I’m there. I’m there because … I’ve described it this way: The public schools are the cesspool of our society. If you look around and you think, “Wow, the media’s bad and this is bad,” well imagine the next generation that’s raised by that generation with those lack of respect and any moral compass whatsoever. Those children, their lifestyles, their moral compass, it’s despicable. And to go into that, it’s almost my … I’m passionate about missions. I love to read missionary stories and that’s sort of how I’ve always envisioned it. I’m sort of an anthropologist. I’m studying how these students work, how their minds work. How do I communicate to them, how do I get through to them, so I can communication the gospel to them.
Yvette: Yeah, well you do a good job of doing that. You know, you talk about being on the front lines, and I did a podcast a few weeks ago with a homeschool mom named Misty Bailey and we talked about being salt and light in the public schools, and how often times, that is the argument that Christian parents will say, “We want to put our kids in the public school system because God calls us to be salt and light.” But God does not call the student to be salt and light. He doesn’t call a student who’s not old enough to really understand what they believe yet. I mean, sure, they might believe in Jesus. Hopefully they do. But they’re not really quite solid enough in their foundation as a child to be able to go out and stand against the forces of evil that are taking place in the public school system.
Yvette: And so how do you answer that? I mean, if a parent says to you, “Well, I don’t want to homeschool my kids because I think God has called us to be salt and light, and so I want to put my kid in the public school system so that they can be the salt and light.” What would you say to that parent?
Caleb: I would ask them what they’re doing to have such amazing kids who can go out there and be doing what I’m doing that’s exhausting me, that’s really, really difficult. But at the same time, I do know Christian parents in my school who are very involved. You know, they’re on campus and that’s what I would say is, “Okay, I know that some parents can’t homeschool their kids.” Just, their life situation doesn’t allow them to do that for whatever reason. My wife and I, we just make it happen. California’s pretty expensive to live here, so living on low income, I’ve got to work a couple jobs. But God is good, he provides for us. And so I know … I’ve talked to people, sometimes, where they feel like that’s a necessity and I say, “Well, you need to understand with that, that the responsibility for discipleship still lands squarely on your shoulders.”
And one of the problems is when you start entrusting the education of your children to somebody else, you can begin to think, “Well, maybe because I’m not educating them, I don’t need to be as active in what’s happening in their mind. And part of discipleship, it’s for sure spiritual, but you’re also discipling your children’s minds. And you need to be learning how they’re thinking. And if you can do that as a non-homeschool parent, then more power to you. But for myself, I can’t. I need to be teaching my children at home.
But one of the things that I saw as a homeschool graduate, in the ’80s and ’90s, a lot of my contemporaries, a lot of my peers, their parents were making that decision because they feared the culture. And what happened is they completely removed their children from that culture, and then those children, once they graduated, they weren’t able to engage with that culture. And we have a mandate from our Lord to make disciples, which means we have to be interfacing with people who aren’t yet disciples. We need to be fishers of men, which means we need to have venues where we’re interacting with people who are in the world.
And so I actively pursue that for my children. That’s something my parents actively pursued for me. So my kids, they interact with people outside of just our home, and our homeschool community. My daughter was on my cross country team at my public high school this last year. I think within the first two weeks, she’d shared the gospel with all the other freshman girls on the team. You know?
And I mean, that’s my heart. And she sort of knows, “Hey, that’s why I’m here.”
Caleb: Another untapped venue that I think a lot of homeschool parents don’t recognize is youth groups in the church. Often times, in a youth group, you’re going to have unchurched kids coming in and visiting and homeschooled kids, that can be in a place that they learn to be salt and light.
And so I think that parents who make that argument, there’s something valid there, and we need to own that and recognize that, and think how are we helping our children right now prepare to engage in the culture? We’re training up a child, but part of training up a child is, we need to be teaching them how to make disciples. You know? So to be their friend across the street that they play with.
Caleb: “Hey, let me challenge you to invite them to come to church with you. Let me challenge you to tell them what it means to believe in Jesus, to share your faith with him.” I can remember as a little kid doing that, and making a mess of it with my next-door neighbor. You know, I didn’t know what I was doing. I was trying to … I asked him if he was a Christian, and he said yes, and then I didn’t know what to do, ’cause I knew he wasn’t, and I didn’t want to argue with him. But that was something my parents did for me. They put me on the public parks and rec basketball teams, and I would do swim teams. And so I was interacting with the world constantly, and then learning how to be a witness, but my dad was my coach.
Caleb: So he was right there watching me, encouraging me, but also giving me enough space so that I could learn to do those things.
Caleb: We can’t just bring our children up to the place of being 18 years old, they graduate from high school, and then they go out there and they’re ready to engage in the world. If the first time they ever hear somebody use profanity is after they graduate from high school, that’s a problem.
Caleb: You know? And so … I mean, yeah. My daughter probably learned some new works this last year as a … She’s actually 13, as a freshman in the public school system. And she doesn’t like that, but also I’m not worried about that affecting her, because I know that her light is stronger than those bad morals. And I know that she can stand up on her own two feet. And that’s really a decision you make child by child, year by year; how much you’re engaging them with the culture and how much you’re not.
Caleb: I talked to a mom recently … Not recently. Probably eight years ago, who was … She was really struggling with the decision of whether she should put her son in public high school or in a private school. And what I told her is, the public high school’s the cesspool of our culture. And your son, maybe he’ll learn to stand up for himself, and he’ll learn to share the gospel, but it’s going to be vexing to his soul. It’s like Lot when he was in Sodom. Remember what Peter says in his epistle, he says, “Every day his righteous soul was vexed.” So if your children love Jesus and they’re in public school, everyday their righteous soul’s going to be vexed.
Caleb: And so you need to be figuring out a way to be bringing massive support to them because their soul is just going to be attacked day after day after day. This mom put her son in the public school, and within two months, she pulled him out, and she called me up and she’s like, “Oh my gosh, you were right. It is just a cesspool. His friends are constantly just trying to push stuff on him and challenging him to do all these things that he knows he shouldn’t do,” and she pulled him out and she put him in a private school.
Yvette: Yeah, yeah. It’s tough to put kids in a situation like that where … Often times I think they feel like they’re standing alone, or then, they’re the ones who get labeled as the bully, because now you’re telling this kid that what they’re doing is wrong. Or, whatever the situation might be, and that’s a really hard place for kids to be. And so-
Yvette: I love that. And we’re like that with our kids, we’re very intentional. We travel a lot, we do a whole lot of things that are not homeschool-related, but we get to spend the days and hours with our girls, training their hearts, and training them up in righteousness, teaching them God’s word so that when they go out into the culture, they can recognize good from bad, truth from lies, and I agree completely. I mean, I’ve known kids who were homeschooled their whole lives, and they came out and they were like, “Nope. Not for me.” And did not even know how to interact with culture because their parents kept them so isolated and so protected. And you can’t do that.
Yvette: But it is our job to protect our kids. And so you have to find that balance, and that’s what it is, is a balance. But I think sending them into that cesspool for 35 to 40 hours a week, and then expecting them to come home and be able to undo everything that they’ve been taught and seen, seems nearly impossible to do, ’cause you can’t undo what’s already been done to them.
Caleb: This last year, Leah and I both read a book called The Gospel Comes With a House Key by Rosaria Butterfield.
Caleb: We really enjoyed that book. And she’s a homeschool mom, and how she creates that space for her kids to learn to reach out, is by having a home that’s constantly open. And so her kids are learning to make disciples because she’s having unsaved people in her home all the time, and she’s making disciples. And so they’re seeing that. What happens often times when somebody comes to Christ, within about three years, they don’t have any more non-Christina friends. I mean, either their non-Christian friends have stopped being friends with that, or they’ve just stopped engaging with the world. And it’s important for … One of the reasons I’m part of a local running club is that gives me a space where I can interface with people in the world. My public school lets me do that. My college students … I run a college ministry for my church, and I have them in my home. And they’re constantly going out and bringing other people, and those people are in my home and part of my ministry is, I do it with my kids. My ministry on the context of family, I think that family makes you more effective in your ministry. And kids are learning it.
If I go out and I’m sharing the gospel, I take my sons with me. You know?
Caleb: And they hear people reject us, and they get to see how to share their faith. And so we just need to be making sure as parents that we’re engaging with the world, that we’re letting the world into our home; inviting strangers. That’s what hospitality means.
Yvette: That’s right.
Caleb: It means loving strangers. Also, we’re inviting strangers into our home. That’s how our kids are going to learn to make disciples. Sending them off away from us where they can’t be learning from us and seeing us model it, and knowing how to do it? Not really effective.
Yvette: Yeah, yeah. Oh, I agree completely.
Yvette: Unfortunately we are out of time for the podcast, but if you can stay on with me, I would love to continue this conversation, ’cause I want to keep talking about this. So for those who are Backstage Pass members, this video, of course, will be on, and you guys can view the rest of this interview.
For those who are listening on the podcast, thank you guys for listening today. We are so grateful for you. We’re grateful for the encouragement that you continue to bring to us. Continuing praying for us. God is doing some big things with Schoolhouse Rocked, and with the podcast and with our family, so we would love your continued prayers as we move forward in post-production with the movie and just continue doing what God has called us to do.
So thank you guys, for your encouragement. Thank you for listening. And please, please share this with your friends. It’s always exciting to hear when someone says, “Oh, I had a friend who told me about this podcast.” I got to talk to a dad the other day, and the mom actually said, “Oh, my husband Ryan always listens to the podcast, and he’s always the one telling me, ‘You’ve got to listen to this one! You’ve got to listen to this one!'” And I was like, “That is awesome!” I love that dads are listening as well, so hi to the dads listening, and hello Ryan. I’m glad you’re listening.
But thank you guys for being with us today and we will have a new podcast for you next Monday. And for those of you on the Backstage Pass membership site, stick with us, and we’re going to continue this conversation with Caleb.
So Caleb, thank you for being on the podcast with me today.
Seen regularly on Fox & Friends, Kathy Barnette is a conservative commentator, and proud mother and wife. Kathy Barnette is a veteran, a former adjunct Professor of Corporate Finance, a conference speaker, and a political commentator. In addition to Fox & Friends, Kathy can also be seen on Neil Cavuto, Martha MacCallum, Fox & Friends First and several local news stations around the Philadelphia area. She served her country proudly for ten years in the Armed Forces Reserves, where she was accepted into officer candidacy school. Her corporate career includes working with two major financial institutions and in corporate America. She also sat on the board of a pregnancy crisis center for five years. Kathy is not only a public advocate, but she advocates for her own family. Perhaps her most cherished opportunity to date, besides being a wife, is the ability to homeschool her two children. You can learn more about Kathy and watch some of her media appearances by going to KathyBarnette.com.
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Yvette Hampton: I have a really special guest on today, that I’m really excited about. Here name is Kathy Barnette. I am so excited to introduce you to her, because she is one of those people who, if we ever were to have an underachiever on the podcast, it would not be Kathy. She may be the over achiever. She is just a woman that God has used in big, big ways. Kathy, welcome to the podcast.
Kathy Barnette: Thank you for having me, Yvette. I’m so excited to be here with you and your listeners.
Yvette: Yes, me too. We first found out about you, actually from my father-in-law. He said, “Have you heard of this lady named Kathy Barnette? She’s on Fox and Friends and she’s a homeschool mom, and a political commentator.” And I was like, “No, I’ve not heard of this Kathy Barnette lady. Tell me more.” So of course, I started stalking you on Facebook as we all do with one another. I was just so blessed by who you are, what you stand for, your ministry and the platform that God has given you.
Tell us about what you do, and then I want to talk about just what God is doing in your life.
Kathy: What do I do? Oh my goodness, so much.
Yvette: Or what don’t you do? I should say.
Kathy: Yeah, I know it may be shorter if we go that route. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink. First and foremost, I’m a homeschooling mommy. I’m a momma bear. I didn’t even know I was a momma bear, but I’m a momma bear, Kathy. By the grace of God, he opened up a door of opportunity about two years ago for me to go onto Fox and Friends, primarily, but Fox News up in New York, on the national television station, and to begin to speak to millions of people about truth. Truth is what is so in my heart. There’s so much information out there. How do you discern between what is truthful and what is just downright foolish? And so I’m very grateful to God for that door of opportunity.
Just a couple of days ago, I secured a book deal. I’m so excited. It is with one of the top five publishing houses in the world. And so, I’m just so amazed at how good God is. I often say, “From a pig farm, to the big apple.” Only God can do something like that. And so, I’m very excited.
Yvette: I love that. And you’re also a veteran, right?
Kathy: I’m a veteran. 10 years. I know so you can just keep going. Veteran, was in the Wall Street environment for about four years. I worked in corporate America adjunct professor of economics, in corporate finance. I used to charter buses, before I started doing television to take people to the state capital in Illinois, and show them how to walk and talk to their elected official. Because, believe it or not, these people work for us. Sometimes I think we forget that.
And so that was one of my grassroots … I didn’t even know what was grassroots, until many years later. Like, “Oh, that’s what I was doing?” But it just comes so natural that this is my world. My babies are going inherit this, and by the grace of God, it’s our job as parents, mothers, momma bears to get out there and to let our voices be heard.
Yvette: Yeah, that’s right, and you’re doing a fantastic job of getting out there, and allowing the Lord to use you in that way. Talk to me about your homeschool journey, because I love that with all of your accomplishments, the one thing that you constantly say is, you are first and foremost a homeschool mom. You’re a child of God, daughter of the king and you are a homeschool momma and a wife. That’s your real gig. The other things are just your side gigs.
Kathy: And in fact, I lead with that. I led with that, when I started going to Fox. I will not be ashamed. I remember saying to myself. But, going to the beginning I had just moved from Texas to Illinois and I was pregnant with my second daughter, so this is back in 2008. I was very pregnant, as they say in the south. I was walking around in our cul-de-sac, rubbing my belly, just talking to the Lord. I heard God so clearly say to me, “You are going to homeschool.” And I stopped in the middle of that, and I said, “No, pick something else.” I know, so arrogant.
I’m so grateful to God, and his kindness, his grace and his mercy that he extols on us. But, in all my arrogance and wisdom, I thought I knew better, because I have so many degrees, I have so much experience. Surely, you’re going to use me to make a real impact in our world. And homeschooling just was not on my top 100 things that I could be doing with myself. So, I remember rushing, waddling into the house and I slammed the door, and I said to my husband, “Oh, my goodness. I think God is going to call me to homeschool. Why would he do that to me?” I kind of like children, but oh my goodness, really? Because at that time, I truly was one of those parents who looked forward to that little yellow bus pulling off, with her children every day, so I can get back to real work for the Lord, right? Real warrior-ing for the Lord, so I thought.
At that time I was sitting on the board of a pregnancy crisis venture, and saving babies lives. Just doing the most I thought. Several years later, several years later now, my baby was in my womb, is now six years old, getting ready to start Kindergarten. We are in a new state and I’ve enrolled her into school, because that’s what we do. We go to public school, so mommy can … And I was so excited my last child was going to be in school. That means I have what, eight hours a day to just do me. Within three months, my daughter was pulled out of that environment, because almost immediately I saw, going through her paperwork, that my daughter had a guidance counselor. I thought to myself, “Well, why does a kindergartner need a guidance counselor for?”
I mean, I had a guidance counselor when I was in high school. Discussed which college you want to go to. You want to take the ACT or the SAT, so I was very curious to know what this guidance counselor was guiding my six year old on. So, I emailed her and said, “Please send me your teaching objectives.” And it was 35 of the most ridiculous things. And essentially, guidance counselors go into your kindergartner’s classroom twice a week and they parent your child. They take the role of the parent. They talk to them about how to distinguish between a truth and a lie.
Number 35 was going to come home with a permission slip, because they were going to talk to my six year old about boys anatomies, girls anatomies, and how they work, right? Number 15 was the one that really cooked my goose, is that it was teaching … She was going to go into my six year old daughter’s classroom and teach her how to distinguish between different family’s configurations, and that is buzzword for homosexuality, same sex marriage. I scheduled a meeting, went in, and I asked the guidance counselor, “Show me what you’re going to take into my six year old daughter’s class to teach her how to distinguish between different family configurations.” It was the most beautifully colored, illustrated book about Billy going to his father’s house, and his father’s boyfriend, Henry was there. Or Sally with two moms, or some kid dealing with the divorce of their parents.
This woman, I can tell at any other given moment, I may be her … I could’ve been her friend. She seemed very nice.
Yvette: She seemed very well-intentioned?
Kathy: She seemed very well-intentioned. She was clueless of why a parent would disagree with this. And in fact, she said to me, she’d been doing this for eight years, and not one parent, during those eight years had ever said anything to her. So she was very taken aback that this would have been seen as inappropriate. She just had no idea. We talked, she seemed to realize this, that she would not … She would skip lesson number 15. And in fact, gave me all of her books to go through and to see what I found to be offensive.
I’m thinking, “This is what the Lord has called me to this state for.” Two days later, my third grader, he who’s eight years old, comes home and says, “Mom, what’s a stepmom?” And I’m like, “Why?” Because his teacher, who’s divorced was talking to the kids about his divorce, and his children’s new stepmom. When I talked to this teacher, he too had no idea of just how out of his pay grade he was operating. And I explained to him, “I send my child to you to teach reading, writing, arithmetic, social studies, thrown in some science, and send my babies back to me. They already have a parent. I don’t need you to parent my children. In fact, they have two parents, and we’re doing what we believe to be the best thing for our child.”
He had no idea, so within 45 minutes of that conversation, a light bulb went off, over my head that said, “Take your kids out of this.” That was on a Friday. Monday I took them out of the school system. Tuesday we’re all sitting around our kitchen table, and I’m like, “Okay, now what?” I have a very large social media following. I put it out there, “Help! I’m homeschooling. I have no idea what to do.” This is from a professor. I taught economics and corporate finance, and I felt so woefully ill equipped to teach my kindergartner and my third grader a simple subject.
By Tuesday night, so many people was giving me information. One lady, from Texas, grabbed me proverbially by the hand, technology wise, and led me to Classical Conversations, Set up a meeting for me. I met with them in my community on Thursday, and four years later, five years later I’m homeschooling, and I love it.
Yvette: That is so awesome. Such a great story. Why was it that you felt ill equipped? Because we hear this time and time again, and it doesn’t matter who the mom is, what her background is, what her education is. Pretty much every single mom we talk to, feels like she’s not enough. She feels like, “I can’t do this. I’m not well enough educated. I don’t have the patience. I don’t have what it takes to educate my children.” Why did you feel that way about yourself?
Kathy: Yeah, well I have multiple degrees. Like I said, veteran 10 years, Wall Street for four years, Corporate America taught. I was an adjunct professor of corporate finance and economics. So if anyone should have felt equipped from an education background, and an experience background, should’ve been me. The constant thought that ran through my head, initially was, “What if they turn out to be stupid? What if I make my children dumb? What if I don’t teach something that they should know? And it’ll be all my fault. I won’t be able to blame the public school system. It will be all my fault, if they turn out to be dumb or something.”
So irrational, but it was the constant thought on my mind, at the time. And then the other thing that constantly bugged me, I did not know, as a Christian woman, just how much of this feminist lie I had bought into. I am woman, hear me roar, look at me. Veteran, adjunct professor, corporate America, Wall Street. Look at all the things I’m doing, right?
And I did not know just how much of that was my identity, so when I started homeschooling, and people would get around to that question, “What do you do?” I’d be like … I felt embarrassed. I felt like I was less than. And then, as I’ve mentioned to you before, I remember so clearly a passage that came to my mind, and that is when Jesus was on the cross, he rejected the shame, because of the joy that was set in front of him. I remember thinking that. One day, I was at Fox and someone was asking me, “What do you do?” It was that, “Oh, I knew that question was coming. What do you say?” And I remember feeling the shame creep up in my throat, and I just said to myself, “I reject that shame. I’m going to push beyond that, because I see the joy that is set in front of me.” What a wonderful opportunity as homeschooling moms, we have to truly influence the world. When I was walking around so many years ago with my daughter in my belly, thinking about all the great things I was going to do, for the Lord and the world, how I was going to make an impact. There is no greater impact we can make then on the little lives that are in front of us. The world is going to need what my children will have, and my children will have those things in large part because we’re pouring those things into our children. The character, right?
We’re dealing with the society who are now telling our young children, you cannot trust your own two eyes. You’re looking at me, I look like a woman, I sound like a woman, but I may not be a woman. You need to wait until I tell you who I am. I look like a duck, quack like a duck, walk like a duck, but I may be a sheep. You don’t know, and somehow you’re wrong if you trust your own two eyes. Think about that for a moment. We have a society, a whole culture that is teaching formable little minds, you cannot trust your self. Those little minds, those little souls are going to become our future doctors, our future lawyers, bankers, our future accountants who will test the wind to see which way it’s blowing before they know what is right and wrong.
And, as a mom today, I fully understand that the joy that is set before me or the two little souls that God has allowed me the opportunity to kind of walk alongside and to make sure they have a firm understanding that truth really does exist. And, it’s not based upon how you feel in this moment, right? That’s my role. So yes, I’m on Fox. I get to talk to millions of people multiple times a week. I have a book deal by one of the largest publishing companies, and yet there is nothing more profound, more impactful in this culture that I can do than to raise up these two little ones who will understand there is such a thing as right and wrong.
Yvette: We’re talking about just the impact that we get to make in the lives of our children through having them at home with us. And how, in the midst of all of the other things that you’re doing, that we do, the most important thing is getting to speak into the hearts of our kids. How do you do that practically, on a day to day basis? Because I know you’re all over the place. I talked to you the other day and you were in your chauffeured car on the way back home from Fox, and I think you had your kids in the car with you actually that time. I think they had been on with you, and so I know you’re a mama who is just, you’ve got a lot going on, but how do you focus your attention on a regular basis on your children and really work to help guide their hearts and direct them to living a life that will have a great impact?
Kathy: Yeah. You know what, it’s a moment by moment. I heard someone say, we just celebrated the home going of my sweet aunt. She’s a giant in the faith and I heard one of the pastors say, my aunt did not go out witnessing, she was a witness. Her life was a witness. And, I vehemently agree with that and that is how I earnestly try to live my life. The way I talk, the way I walk, what I read, how I dress, how I eat, just everything about me.
My children are always with me. They’re at Fox almost every time I go on. So, they’re in New York. If I have a speaking event, my babies are usually in the background somewhere. They’re always with me because that’s a part of homeschooling and they watch everything. My daughter watches her mommy interact with other men. Right? The way in which I do that. I’m witnessing. My son sees me on those quiet moments, right? What I’m watching on television, right, in my home. Everything about our lives. It’s not just setting aside 20 minutes a day, 30 minutes a day to speak truth into our children’s lives. It’s every single moment of my life.
I remember when my babies were very, very little and I used to love watching Bachelor. I know. And, when my babies will walk into the room, I will pause it because the stuff that they’re … I mean, it wasn’t even nearly as bad as Bachelor is today. This was six years ago, eight years ago. So, it wasn’t nearly as bad as it is today, but it was still bad enough for me to pause it when they walked into the room. And my son, who was then about four years old said, “Mommy, if I shouldn’t watch it, you shouldn’t watch it.” And, that was so-
Kathy: … so true. I stopped watching Bachelor, the Bachelor, the Bachelorette, eight years ago when my four year old witnessed to me that if I shouldn’t watch it, Mommy, you shouldn’t watch it. Right? So, it’s recognizing that those little eyes are forever open. They’re little sponges. We know that. Right? And so, that’s one of the things that I do is that I am a witness.
Also, just making the Bible practical. I was telling my son the other day that before the foundation of the world, he’s 12 now, before the foundation of the world, God saw you. He called you. He pre-destined you. He created a purpose for your life. And then, in 2006, he put that purpose in a body and we named him Carl. And I said, “So, I’m sure when God was coming up with your purpose, spending four hours on Xbox wasn’t a part of that purpose.” So, it’s using scripture in a very practical way of helping them to see that you’re going to have to give account of that purpose, of that time that he … you want to have so much time in the world to make an impact. Spending four hours a day, quote unquote, probably wasn’t what God had in mind before the foundation of the world when he was designing your purpose.
And so, therefore letting my children see that Mommy don’t spend four hours on Facebook any longer scrolling, scrolling, scrolling. Mommy doesn’t spend four hours watching TV, scrolling, just watching, flipping through channels. So, that’s probably not what God had in mind when he designed me as well. So, our whole lives have to become a witness to our children.
Yvette: Oh, I love that answer so much because we talk about this all the time on the podcast, and sometimes I feel like people are going to be like, yeah, yeah, yeah. You say that all the time. School is not sitting and doing worksheets all day long. That’s not what it is. That is part of schooling our children, and they need to know those basics of academics. But, life is school. Everything that we do from the time they wake up until the time they go to bed, the things that we’re teaching them through our lives and through the things that we allow them to get involved in and the ways that we are serving together as a family, that is what’s the most important.
And, God is not going to ask our children when they come face to face with him, how well they did in math or science or English. How well can you diagram a sentence? He’s going to say, what did you do with what I gave you? Because he has created all of us on purpose and for a purpose. And so, I love that you take your kids along with you on this journey of life and you’re just teaching them in a very practical way what that looks like.
Are you able to talk about your book? Because I know you just signed this book deal, and I’ve been around enough authors to know that there’s always kind of the secrets that cannot be told. Can you talk a little bit about what you’re doing and with what the premise of the book is?
Kathy: The premise of the book, yes, I’m kind of beholden to some of those right now, so I can’t really talk about the name of the book and all of that. And, I’m new to all of this. So, I’ve been learning. I’m walking and learning as I go. But, the premise of the book, it talks about my own life, growing up on a pig farm in a very small rural area. It talks about my genesis. I am the product of a rape, and yet, how God has used my family, my own life, the life of my mother, the life of my father’s side of the family because they all knew each other at the time and just what God has done.
Just the workings of God, right? How he’s able to take ashes and make something beautiful out of it. And, just trusting him. He has plans and purposes we have no idea about. And, just learning to trust him. Learning to say, not my will, but your will. I had a completely different thought in mind about my life, and what I would be doing with my life and everything that I have planned and yet, but God has something completely different. And, I guess that’s what I would love to just encourage your listeners is to trust God.
There used to be that shame in the back of my throat when I had to tell someone, oh I homeschool because I didn’t know how much of the lie of the world I had swallowed in that in order to be important, you have to be doing something important. And, staying at home and raising your children and homeschooling them just doesn’t really qualify as meaningful. Especially when you’re surrounded by a lot of elites like you often are at these various news stations. And yet, rejecting the world’s idea of who I am. According to the world, my pedigree is nothing to be proud of, and most definitely, is it something you want to write a book about? Yeah, God. And so, I love that.
So, there’s an element of how I grew up, the circumstances surrounding my birth, being black and yet not being a Democrat, and how I walked out of that environment. And, just how as Americans not allowing ourselves to be defined by others. Not allowing others, using my own life, my own personal story, using the story of the African American community to kind of put a spotlight on all of us as Americans in this journey we’re walking. And, not allowing people to stereotype us and tell us, you’re a woman, vote for a woman. You have ovaries, so clearly you should vote for Hillary. You’re black, vote for a Democrat. You’re gay, Democrat. You’re this, Republican. I mean, you grow up in the south, okay, you must be a Republican. Just not allowing people to box us in and learn our true identity and to walk in that.
Yvette: Yeah. Oh, so beautifully said. I love what God is doing with you and the way that he’s using you. You have done such a great job of just encouraging us and just showing that God can still do great things with you as a homeschool mom, and he can use you in very, very big ways. So, really quickly, I would love for you to just give one last encouragement to the moms, and I want to ask you, sometimes I ask for encouragement for one set of moms and sometimes for another, but I would love for you to encourage both sets of moms, and here’s the two that I want you to encourage.
One, the mom who’s thinking about homeschooling and she was in that same state that you were in, where you’re like, who me? What? You want me to homeschool? I have other things or better things to do. I would love for you to encourage that mom. And then, the second one is if you could encourage the mom who is in the thick of it right now and she’s overwhelmed and tired and just encourage her to keep going. So, if you could give those last two words of encouragement and then let’s tell people where they can find you, that would be awesome.
Kathy: Awesome. I think it’s the same bit of encouragement I would offer to both sets of parents and that is to trust God. I know. So simple, right? Because we want things to be much more sophisticated. And yet, we serve a God who has made salvation so simple, so much so that he said it confounds the wise. They just can’t get their mind around how simple the gospel message is of salvation, right? And so, that’s my word to you, is to trust God. To trust God. Be silent. Be still. And, just trust him. What was the last thing he said to you? Trust him in that.
Yvette: Yeah. Oh, I love it. I love that you say be silent. I think I shared this with you a few weeks ago when we were talking in that God just has us on this crazy journey of making this movie and doing the podcast and just getting Schoolhouse Rocked up enrolling. And, it’s been a really exciting, but really hard journey for our family and a lot of unknowns. And, we’re kind of in limbo on a lot of things. And so, a few months ago I felt like the Lord kept just bringing Psalm 46:10 back to my mind, be still and know that I am God. Be still and know that I am God, over and over again. I mean, literally he kept speaking that to my heart and then we drove by a church, this one week specifically, we drove by a church and there was a big marquee sign out front. And, of course, we drove by and as soon as we drove by, it popped up, be still and know that I am God. And, then we went to a coffee shop the next day and there was a big sign on the coffee shop wall that said, be still and know that I am God. And so, over and over again, he continues to remind me. Just be still. And, that doesn’t mean don’t do anything. That doesn’t mean sit on your couch and watch TV all day long-
Kathy: Watch TV all day.
Yvette: … and wait for God to just fill in all the gaps. But, trust in him, like you said. He is a faithful God. And, if he has called you to homeschooling and he’s called you to disciple the hearts of your children, he’s going to equip us with everything that we need in order to accomplish that. So, thank you for that encouragement. Where can people find you?
Kathy: I’m all over the place. You can go to kathybarnette.com. That’s Kathy with a K. I’m trusting you have links out there for that.
Yvette: I do. Yeah, we’ll put links on the show notes.
Kathy: Kathybarnette.com. You can also see me on Facebook, Kathy Barnett 4 Truth, or Twitter handle is Kathy4Truth. I’m also on Instagram, YouTube, all out there. I would love to connect with your listeners.
Yvette: I would love that. And then, how often, I know it’s kind of sporadic, but how often are you on Fox and Friends, and how can people see you on there? Do you have some kind of schedule?
Kathy: Yeah, I’m on maybe about two to three times a week. It just depends on what’s going on, and so I’m on there two to three times a week, on Fox and Friends. Neil Cavuto, Martha MacCallum, and a variety of other places. But again, you can go to kathybarnette.com. The overwhelming majority of my hits are out there under the media page or on Facebook.
Yvette: Okay. Awesome. Well, thank you for your time today. You are an absolute blessing and I am so glad to call you friend, Kathy.
“What are some ways dads can help homeschool? Become the trainer of future Dragon Slayers!” – Matthew Bianco
As we have interviewed homeschooling dads for Schoolhouse Rocked we have realized that the role of fathers can’t be overlooked in establishing a successful foundation for training our children. When fathers invest in discipling their children and leading their homes Biblically families thrive.
With all the recent talk of “toxic masculinity” we sometimes need to be reminded that masculinity is NECESSARY and GOOD. Biblical masculinity should be TOXIC to the enemies of family and faith. Men need to protect their wives and children, and train their boys to be literal and figurative warriors – dragon slayers!
It can not be forgotten that the same radical feminist movement that scoffed at and undermined chivalry, now cries foul when men fail to act chivalrous. We can not have feminized, subservient men AND truly civilized society. Real men fight, protect and serve, and in doing so, preserve civilization – and saying this in no way undermines womanhood or femininity.
Matt Bianco writes for Classical Conversations, “Our enemy is a dragon, THE dragon. And Jesus Christ, THE offspring of the woman will crush his head, while he will bruise Christ’s heel. All throughout the Scriptures, we read stories of Godly people crushing the heads of God’s enemies. Samson pulls a pagan temple down atop the pagans worshiping within. Jael pounds a nail through the head of a wicked general. David plants a stone in the head of the giant Goliath. As the great Dragon Slayer, Jesus Christ, would bruise the head of the great Dragon, Satan, so too did these saints follow him in being lesser dragon slayers who slayed the lesser dragons. And this is what we are, (to borrow the language of Douglas Wilson) lesser dragon slayers.”
“Dads, we play a crucial role in training our youngsters to be dragon slayers. This is because we should do it, not because moms cannot. Moms are the intercessors, the protectors, the comforters. Face it, what mom would send her young child out to face a dragon rather than face him herself? But, mom would send dad to face the dragon. She expects dad to protect her, but expects to be the protector of her young.” Take a few minutes to read the rest of this excellent article here.
While the topic of dads’ roles in homeschooling will be covered in the film, we wanted to dive deeper into the subject, so we conducted several hours of interviews with Christian leaders, on the importance of Fathers becoming great spiritual leaders. These interviews have been a great encouragement to both the men and women who have seen them.
We want to give you a 30 minute video – one of our most encouraging interviews on discipleship – for free! Caleb Schroeder is a homeschool dad of six who was homeschooled himself. He has spent many years in ministry and has some great practical advice for parents on establishing a Biblical foundation for education and effectively discipling their children. I know it will be a great encouragement to moms and dads (whether you homeschool or not!).
Photos by Sarah Phillips and Dmitry Ratushny on Unsplash
We are very pleased to announce that Classical Academic Press is now a Gold Sponsor of Schoolhouse Rocked! While they were the first official sponsor of the film, they have chosen to increase their sponsorship level and we are extremely grateful for their ongoing support. Dr. Perrin was an enthusiastic early supporter of the film and he, Rebecca, and the rest of the team at Classical Academic Press have been a huge blessing since we first met them. Classical Academic Press offers excellent curriculum, books (including a Hampton family favorite, Teaching from Rest, by Sarah Mackenzie), online classes, and articles. Please take a minute to visit https://classicalacademicpress.com and check out their excellent resources, then sign up for their newsletter.
We want to thank our newest Sponsor, Classical Academic Press! They have been big supporters of Schoolhouse Rocked since very early on. You will love our interviews with founder, Dr. Christopher Perrin and Classical Academic Press author, Sarah Mackenzie.
Show your appreciation for their support of Schoolhouse Rocked by picking up a copy of Teaching From Rest. It is a fantastic book.