Sometimes this question comes hard because we lack a context.

Are we talking about our student compared to other students his age? Are we addressing his particular talents and questioning whether he has buried them or multiplied them? Are we asking the question relative to some other standard - if so, what?

Let’s consider measuring success by comparison with other students his age. Before I go any further, please let me assert that in a tutorial context (home schooling) this is the least valuable approach to student evaluation. However, this is the type of evaluation we grew up with, it is the criterion our child (even if he didn’t ever attend school) is very familiar with, and it is possible that it is the primary means by which he views his progress. Realistically, for much of our population, this is the only means by which success, personal value, even life choices are measured, valid or not. A form of relativism, the flaw is evident.

When I completed high school I received an armful of awards that meant nothing. I’m not being humble here; it’s a fact. I received the award for the highest overall average in my graduating class. I also received the Science award and the Math award. This all sounds impressive until you compare my marks with the graduating class three years prior. That particular class was loaded with high academic achievers, many of whom rightfully scored very well in their final grades. Had I been among that class, I would have received not a single award. What’s more, I wouldn’t have seemed very good at the non-academic activities either, for the class three years ahead of me also shone in sports, debate, and public speaking.

Scripture tells us it is unwise to compare ourselves with each other (2Cor 10:12), and wisdom of the ages agrees (the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence); yet we persist. The same circumstances that saw me win all kinds of honour in grade 12 also define achievement - and its lack - in the lives of many people. Students who compare themselves to others will be discontented and frustrated or they will become puffed up, possibly complacent. In any event, their self-concept will be flawed.... (continued by clicking on the link)

Eye On Curriculum

For some reason, teaching writing is or has been perceived to be an arduous and formidable task for most. I recall, with dread, introducing my classroom students to the Writing Process - a nebulous construct that was meaningless and impractical for many students. Planning (mapping), prewriting, revising, editing, and finalizing the draft seemed to be a logical and systematic approach, but unfortunately it lacked the elements of a scheme or strategy a child could easily follow without constant supervision and continual qualification. Will the frustration ever end?

Although it is entirely speculative by its nature, the FUTURE is a big subject to talk about. In fact, perhaps because it is so big, it sometimes dominates our present. The future presents us with a plethora of "what if's" at every turn, and if we aren't careful we can become overwhelmed by its possibilities: intimidated, scattered, swamped or even terrified. On the other hand, because the future is speculative, it is possible to desire it more than the present; because the future contains a glimpse of the eternal, it is extremely appealing to the believer.

Influence has directed history, enabled art, effected education, formed lives; in short, influence is significant. It is the means by which we are prompted to make decisions in our lives, it is the means by which we grow, and it is certainly required if we are going to be able to impart anything of value to someone else, especially our children.

In the 21st century, influence is something people write books about, recognizing the benefits it can provide and profits it can garner; but effective as techniques of influence may be, they leave most people quite cold. Influence is more valuable, effective, and permanent when it is a by-product of something greater, rather than a goal in itself.

Observations of a Large Adoptive Family

In May 2005, having an approved international home assessment in hand and seeking God about international adoption, we connected with a relief organization (WACSN: West African Children Support Network) working in Liberia, West Africa. Their work involves, among other things, finding homes and processing adoptions for abandoned/orphaned children living at the WACSN orphanage in Monrovia.

Preparing For Fall Facilitator Visit

The following are a few tips to allay anxiety, concern, and apprehension of your facilitator’s home visit with you. (Click on the links for more.)

  • Conference with your spouse - and children if appropriate - concerning the goals, planning, and overall vision for each child’s year. Write it down in order to refer to it when your facilitator comes. Keep it simple and to the point.
  • Review previous assessments (ie: Spring 2006) and education plans in order to reflect and evaluate ‘where we’ve been’, ‘how we’re doing’, and ‘where we’re going’. Some parents have even filled out the new assessment right on the previous form. If you are new with WISDOM or have misplaced the previous assessment, view education plan samples and the blank assessment form.
  • E-mail or call your facilitator within a reasonable time frame prior to the visit for special requests, concerns, scheduling preferences, or anything that will assist the facilitator in making the most of the visit for all involved. If you do not know who your facilitator is, please contact the WISDOM Office to find out.
  • Make samples of the children’s work available for your facilitator’s perusal.
  • If possible, have a preliminary written draft of each child’s education plan.
  • Pray for God’s guidance and for the effective use of the limited time available with your facilitator. We’re praying for you, too.
  • Enjoy your facilitator visit, and the start of your new year of study!

When I look back on my years of home schooling through high school, I am sure that I will have many fond memories of WISDOM’s Online Courses. Since the autumn of 2003, I have taken seven online courses, all of which were profitable. I take one every season – In fact, one season I took three at the same time! My plans are to continue into my eighth course in the upcoming school year. I do not wish to stop!

I was not sure that I would feel this way when I first signed up for a course three years ago. This was the “Introductory Great Books” course. When I looked at the reading list initially, I was uncertain as to whether I could manage the weekly reading assignments, or discuss them adequately. After all, books such as the “Iliad”, the “Aeniad”, and, at that time, “War and Peace”, can seem rather intimidating to a nearly-thirteen-year-old! I thought that the conversation might be over my head, especially as there were students in the class several years older than me. However, encouraged by my parents, and made hopeful by seeing that such favourite authors of mine as Shakespeare, C.S. Lewis, and J.R.R. Tolkien were on the list, I took a deep breath and signed up for the course.

Marriage has taken a beating, and it has more than a bleeding nose.

We have all known of marriages that seemed doomed from the beginning, and sure enough didn’t survive the test of time. But something has changed. Many strong and healthy mar-riages that have been an example to others have collapsed. Christian matrimony has not been immune to attack. What is going on and why now more than ever?

Committed couples are suffering the same difficulties that are afflicting our world. As Christians, we may think ourselves separated from present culture, but we are ill affected, aware of it or not. We are living in a world where pleasure, entertainment, and the avoidance of suffering are top bill. Man is at the center of this worldly culture. We live in the “disposable society”. Cultural forces and destructive spirits have the marital camp surrounded. But isn’t the devout Christian immune? Doesn’t faith insulate us and protect us?

Often, history education consists of a short study of ancient history and several years of study about the time since the discovery of the Americas. There is so much information about the last 500 years that the sheer volume overwhelms earlier history. This emphasis is what most of us of the last generation experienced in our schooling.

There is a danger in this. We begin to think that the time before 1492 is in the same realm as myths and legends. Biblical stories, and perhaps Christ himself, are not seen as historically true. But if we have a more complete picture of history, preferably chronologically from the oldest known civilizations, we can see how God prepared the world for His coming, and how mankind responded. His Incarnation can be seen for what it is: the central event of all history.

The power or capacity of causing an effect in indirect or intangible ways. (Webster’s Dictionary)

My first thoughts seem to be on the negative forms of influence. For example, when I am a stumbling block to my children because of my bad habits and failings I have a negative effect on them or when a moodiness creeps in on one child’s attitude it can influence the attitudes of the others.

So how do I nurture the capacity of causing a positive effect on my family and they for each other? Doesn’t it simply boil down to ‘right living’? When I fall isn’t the best witness to pick myself up, to acknowledge my failing to myself and others, to ask forgiveness and carry on? Isn’t it to teach my family, using words only when necessary, generosity, a warm heart and a spirit of service; and doesn’t this course of action produce peace and joy? Don’t peace and joy profoundly influence the world around us?

I know these things, yet I need to read an action plan to myself at the beginning of the day, the middle of the day and at the end of the day that each moment must be deeply lived for the glory of God and that I am responsible for leading (not pushing or cajoling) my family into that understanding.

In the final analysis doesn’t this translate into the fact that, it’s NOT all about me?

I’ll need to thank Ken for continually reminding us of the JOY theory: Jesus first, Others second, Yourself third. Marlane, are you putting yourself second, or worse yet first? So, if we do first things first all will fall into to place and I won’t need to worry about whether I am being a good influence on my family and the world around me.