Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Most Serious Learning Gap in your Home Education Plan- and How to Fill it.

The most frequently asked question I receive when mentoring young home school families is, "What about learning gaps." We all know what that means because we all have felt that fear, that twinge of panic that churns within making us feel glaringly inadequate and causes some of us to rush to the nearest curriculum fair to ease our panic. Let me assure you first of all, no matter what you teach your children you will have gaps. Mozart and Einstein, Da Vinci and Isaac Newton all had some serious learning gaps. But we don't think of them as being inadequately educated. We know them as being geniuses.

They were specialists in their fields, and probably went well beyond the expertise of their teachers. I think in God's providential design these and other men and women of history were called to fulfilling their calling in their period in time with their gifts, talents and abilities in spite of the label many of them achieved even from some of the experts of their own time.

But there is one learning gap that is very important to avoid in your home educational plan. We must teach our children how to think entrepreneurially. In fact, business should be the natural outcome of your home school. But what to do, we as parents cry out, "I don't feel qualified, I have never operated a business and do not know where to even start."

You may be completely justified in your insecurity. You and me and most of the common people of our age have been educated in public schools and on the left side of what Robert Kiyosaki calls The Cashflow Quadrant. On that top left side is the square is the "employee mentality," those who are trained to exchange "time for money," an hourly or monthly wage. Below that are those who are "self employed," (who work harder than anyone exchanging that time for money). We all know and feel comfortable on that left side of the cashflow quadrant because we all have been raised there and so have our parents and their parents before them. But we also feel trapped,... trapped in the rat race and many of us feel hopeless and unable to get out. How can we lead our children to a place we do not know how to get to ourselves?

Our modern day schools were produced to serve the industrial age, to produce workers for the factories. They are assembly line based and produce assembly line thinking: those who just know what to do but are never encouraged to ask why. We are no longer in the industrial age and yet our modern age schools are still producing workers for factories. It is very difficult to turn around an ocean liner on short notice and a small area of water but home school families can be those small speed boats that have the agility and power to make changes in direction very quickly. As home school families we are not part of the public school system. Let us not follow them in the same direction and yet still hoping for different results. There just may be a Niagara Falls up ahead. Let's capitalize on our ability to turn and speed in the opposite direction back to the way the founding fathers, the pilgrims and entrepreneurs that built this country were educated. Our home and families can be independent and free to make these changes very quickly. I challenge you to learn to think differently yourselves, to think entrepreneurially.

For us as homeschoolers to reach for an old fashioned diploma, the rubber stamp of social approval created by an industrial age government system is not going to produce free thinkers and leaders that this information and recommendation age is going to require. Furthermore a college education is no longer the insurance policy your children need to protect their careers and produce a stable income in the future. In fact, if we as a society continue to produce factory educated workers, our future may be grim indeed. In this coming age, in the age of perhaps severe financial difficulty ahead; may be characterized by a vacuum of free thinkers instead of specialists in creativity, self motivated, innovative, and confident leaders. Instead, we will be waiting someone, anyone to lead us as a nation...into what? Life in the coming age may be very different from what we have known all our lives. Our current economy looks fine on the outside but is extremely unstable. If the current rate of foreclosures is any indication of where we may be heading, we may be in for some radical changes in the coming years.

So, there is another way, and for the most part the wealthy of this country have educated their children differently, on the right side of the cash flow quadrant. On that top right side is the title "Business Owner," and "Investor" on the bottom right. To live and operate on the right side of the quadrant takes another way of thinking and another type of education. But again, you don't feel qualified? That's OK. God has not abandoned us to futility.

God has gifted your children with some very unique giftings and abilities and has called them into a world that needs their calling to be fulfilled. It is our job to help them discover those unique callings and help them develop the ability to fulfill that call, and then learn to turn that gift and call into a profitable business. The purpose of education is to equip them for life, not just prepare them for a job.

So then, what do we teach our children? Even though I may be preaching to the choir we need to look again at our scope and sequence to assess if we really do have our ladder propped up against the right tree. There can be no worse regret than to have certain goals and plans for our children's future only to find that we had a double and opposing paradigms, blinding us into doing things one way and thinking another way. The desired goals could not possibly be the outcome of our operational plan as we were thinking erroneously or being double minded.

First and foremost, teach your children to seek the Kingdom of God and his Righteousness. After that teach them to think and reason Biblically, to humble themselves and to renew their minds on the Word of God. Then fill their imaginations with wonderful stories of heroism and faith and perseverance. Teach them history and HIS providential story on the earth. Teach them to ask why. Teach them to seek to answer their own questions amongst great books and great people.(biographies) Teach them to experience life and do projects and to wonder at the marvels of the world. Oh yea,... and teach them reading, writing and arithmetic as well. And give them that leadership/entrepreneurial education, by allowing them to take the lead in their own education, an education that will produce those who can think and not just parrot.

Our homes are the ideal place to be the seed bed of an entrepreneurial education. 20th century poet and Nobel prize winner,William Butler Yeats said,

"Education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of fire."

That fire is the delight of discovery, the pride of mastering a problem, and the well honed desire to know more.

It has also been said,

"Don't teach your children knowledge, teach them to think and then set them free. Specialized knowledge will be theirs."

Teach your children to specialize in whatever delights their hearts and then teach them how to monetize what they have mastered. That is the key to a healthy, full and rewarding education.

One of the best initial resources that I recommend to home educating families is to read the two book set by Robert Kiyosaki.

Rich Dad, Poor Dad This book is the foundation of all financial education in our family, starting with us as parents, having had to renew our minds on entrepreneurial thinking and then teaching and modeling it for our children. Robert tells his story of his two Dads, one, his own highly educated and intelligent but financially illiterate father (Poor Dad) and contrasts his philosophy with the incredible influence that his best friends entrepreneurial father had on him, who he affectionately calls his Rich Dad. Written as Roberts biography but it is riddled with financial principles. We have found this book to be great fodder for our entrepreneur/business notebook. Try doing a comparison sheet of quotes from each dad and then do a word study on wealth, money and riches from the Bible. What a great exercise. I highly recommend this book and the next in the series as excellent choices for family read aloud time. I assure you there will be lots of discussion!

Cashflow Quadrant The next book in the Rich Dad Series is Cashflow Quadrant and is highly recommended to be read in succession. In Cashflow Quadrant Robert explains the four financial quadrants that we all operate under, but which side you are on and why might surprise you. He teaches you what really is and is not an asset (your house) and how to really learn how to live on the right side of the quadrant.

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