Wednesday, February 9, 2011

College, languages....

Kerri, I have a couple quick questions on which I hope to get your input (and your readers' input, too!).
1) How important is college education for you for your kids? What part do you see college playing in their education?
2) When and how do you introduce foreign languages in your home-school program? I'm interested in both ancient and modern languages.
              Thanks, Tim


There's two ways of looking at college. There's the "It isn't about training for vocation, it's about getting my child the best, biggest education possible" view, and in that case I see college more as a luxury than necessity. Not that it's a bad one, it's a really good one, but I would have to weigh the cost of sending a kid to say a school like New Saint Andrews against what sacrifices would have to be made to send them there. Right now, as our finances are, the things we would have to give up at home are just far to great to even think about it. But if I had a more liberal income and the child was a motivated scholar and looked to me with imploring eyes "Oh, PLEASE I just really want to study under Peter Leithart," I would really do my best to try to give them the opportunity to go. After all, *I* would love to go too, so maybe they could pass me their books when they were done...

But I also really want my kids to realize that learning is something we ALWAYS do. I love to learn new things. Learning makes life interesting. It makes you more interesting (unless you start getting a big head about it, then it makes you a colossal bore.) My kids accuse me of not being able to have fun because I don't like fiction, and if they let me pick out a movie solely based on what I'm interested in it will probably be a documentary (which is why I almost never get to pick out the movies. :) I think college can be a great, GREAT asset to an education, but I don't want them to get that helpless mindset that it seems like most Americans have that says if you want to learn something you have to take a class. 

Also, just because I think some colleges are worthwhile, it doesn't mean they all are. Unless you have a real clear vocational reason to go to something like a state school it could be a big waste of time and money. 

Which comes to the other reason for college-vocational training. In which case it would depend on what the kid wants to do. My son is training in landscaping with his uncle and general contracting with his father. Either one of those vocations could give him a living that he could support a family with if he chooses to do so. But he is also very interested in art and he is going to a small, private art school for that. I think it will be better for him to do that and build a portfolio and experience because in the art world people judge you more on what you can do than where you went to school. I think getting his education done and getting an early start on gaining experience will be better for him than poking around for four years in a proper art college and spending a whole lot more money. 

But then, that same kid also entertained ideas about becoming an economist and really wanted to go to Hillsdale for while. It that case I would get praying and really drive him to get the best transcript possible because college would be an absolute necessity. 

So, in short, it depends on the kid, what they want to do, how studious they've shown themselves to be, what they need to equip themselves for their calling, etc. 

Foreign languages....

Mostly, I just have to prioritize my time and money. We've dabbled in languages but I think the modern languages are really hard to learn on your own at home. My son tried to teach himself Japanese and got a little ways with it, but that is one thing that I think it's easier just to go ahead and take the class. I haven't had time to try Latin. I have a lot just trying to teach my older girls algebra and speech (and learn it along with them) and drag my boys through their school work. But if I had a bright kid and started with it young I think it would be fun to do the "Cat in the Hat" in Latin books with them. 

Our church has a private school and they teach the kids Greek and Hebrew. I have had one daughter express interest in going, so we'll see.

I guess that isn't much help. But I did think the ideas for teaching the Classical Languages in the Bluedorns book Teaching the Trivium seemed really workable though. That might be worth reading for you. 

So, I guess my all around answer is.... It just depends....


  1. Kerri, good thoughts as always. Wish you were a little more prolific, but I'll take what I can get.

    We are thinking a lot about college now, not because it it imminent for us, but just because our expectations are changing.

    I earned my bachelor's degree at age 32 as an adult student, working all day and taking one or two classes at night. 3 years later I was married and a stay-home mommy. I'm still glad I finished my degree, and I've always thought that my kids would go to college too.

    My husband was an engineer for many years; he of course was college-educated. Now he's a seminary student. He doesn't regret any of his education either.

    But as we look at the way the world is changing we wonder if it's a given for our children. In 5 years, when my oldest might be ready, would he be better off apprenticing with a plumber? Will his interest in robotics get him into a university degree program, or might he do just as well if continues learning through robotics clubs and competitions? Will my artsy/crafty daughter do well at a university art program or, like your son, do better at a specialized school?

    They both know they can learn whatever they want on their own. We are not unschoolers but they both spend a lot of time doing their own thing.

    Hard to know what to do, or how to think about it.

    We like Latin here. We are studying it very casually but I hope to move on when we finish our basic course. It's true that it helps with English. And it's fun. The seminarian wishes he had learned it, though it's not required for his M.Div. Greek and Hebrew are his languages.

  2. Thanks, Kerri. I appreciate your thoughtful response. It seems that higher ed is almost always viewed in a vocational light. As a liberal arts student, I found that my higher ed to be entirely non-vocational... and I still glory in that fact!

    Thanks, again,

  3. It is true that college is most often seen in a vocational light, and I think we have to acknowledge that aspect. Say, if a boy is really good at science, wants to go into engineering or medicine and you say you want him to do the liberal arts college that could be really discouraging. But if he wants to be a pastor or a teacher than a liberal arts college would be right up his alley. And (to throw another wrench in the mix)if we say a young man has to be vocationally ready before pursuing any relationship with a girl...

    But I've also seen a few of the NSA graduates struggling with what they ought to do post graduation. They are educated, they really are. Nobody can deny that. But they don't have a sell-able education, they often have to go back to school for something else... I'm just not sold that it's the best option for everyone in how I see it played out. It just depends on the kid.

    BUT if we parents are doing our job showing our kids that God's world is an interesting place, that you CAN learn what you want to learn if you try, that learning in itself is gratifying and not only that, a godly reflection of God's image in man, then we need not worry that our kids won't get the education they need because they will be internally motivated to achieve it.

    I'm also saying that we don't all have the same position in the body of Christ. He has room for the plumber, the mathematician, the artist, the teacher-all are a reflection in His glory and not one of us is vast enough to reflect His glory fully, so we NEED different kinds of people. And our kids will be their own different kind of people, and our job as parents and educators is to find Gods reflection in them and polish it up and bring it forward to bless the Body of Christ.

  4. It's late/early and I'm going back to bed. I'm not sure if I'm making myself clear but I'll read this later and see if there's anymore I want to say.. :)