Wednesday, August 1, 2012

What we teach our children

I've been meaning to write this post for a few weeks now, but life has been pretty busy.  I've been taking a college course this summer on Chapter Book Reading.  Four or Five years ago, I took a continuing ed course on teaching PK-2 mathematics.  It w helped me understand what my children needed to grasp.  Then, last summer, I felt nudged to dig into writing and what my children needed to grasp.  I wrote several posts about it.  This summer, the subject has been reading.  I am hoping to write several posts over the next few weeks about what I learned from the course and what I learned about teaching reading to our children.

But, there have been other things on my mind as well.  It all began with the link I posted to a review on BJU Press' site for the book, Dead End in Norvelt.  As we were driving away for a weekend trip, my husband and I discussed the book.  He was alarmed by my reaction to the book.  He was very concerned about what he would call my moralist perspective on the book. We discussed his concerns and mine.  He rather vehemently stated his opinions actually.  The topic of discussion was cuss words and literature.

Interesting topic.  Difficult topic.

As parents we want to shelter and protect our children.  Cuss words seem at first like a no-brainer.  Of course you shouldn't let your children see movies with them and read them.  Right?  Well...  I want to talk about it.  I want to share what some folks, particularly my husband, have been challenging me to think about.  And how they ultimately changed my mind.

I want to start with where our kids are headed.  I hope that my children will go to college.  So, I choose curriculum that I hope will prepare them and be the stepping stones to get them ready.  There's a lot of things that they will need to know in order to understand their coursework and complete their assignments.

There's one thing that isn't in any Christian curriculum that I know of.  That's cuss words.  Why will our kids need to know them?

My brother in law has been taking a lit course at community college this summer.  Are there cuss words spoken in his class discussions?  Yes.  Are they in his texts?  Yes.  So, what would happen if he didn't understand them?  Well, he'd struggle.  He'd likely be laughed at and not understand what he's reading and even miss meaning from the text.

I asked a gal who'd been homeschooled last week about her experience in college and if this happened to her.  It did.  She often had people laugh at her when she didn't understand what people were saying until she figured it out.

I've also discussed this with other friends.  One family I know talks about them whenever they come up.  That can be as early as 4th or 5th grade.  Another family intentionally started addressing and explaining them when their son encountered them on the middle school parks and rec baseball field.  Each of these families has explained to their children that they don't use the words.    

It's something to think about.

We often want to veer far away from the things which are bad so as not to tempt our children.  But, I wonder if that is wisest.  As I was discussing the matter of cussing with one friend, she brought up another subject.  Her son recently graduated from college and she asked him what he wished he had learned.  He mentioned to her that he wished he had learned about evolution.  He said it was difficult to understand where many of his professors were coming from and the foundation of what was being taught.  

Evolution, like cussing, is something we often avoid as Christian homeschoolers.  Last year, I reviewed a book titled Who is God and Can I Really Know Him?  My husband did not like the book because he felt it bred a sense of Christian intolerance.  It painted people who believed in evolution as idiots and only out for a good time.  My husband only works with 1 person who is a Christian.  He is concerned for Christians who look down on others who believe otherwise.  Yes, evolution is wrong and we need to help our children understand why, but they also need to understand why people believe it.  

Tolerance is such a politically correct word.  We must "tolerate" different beliefs children are taught in school.  Implied in that tolerance is also accepting and condoning other beliefs.  That is where Christians diverge.  We do not need to condone or agree with theistic or deist belief systems.  But, our children need to understand the world they live in.

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