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Doing Well Enough, and Won't Leave Others Alone

February 26, 2012 | Comments: 0 | Views: 120

If you're like me, you keep score every day. We "keep score" because by doing so, we can gage how we're doing. Scoring, or measuring performance, characterizes many of our home schooling activities to one degree or another. It often takes place through asking questions. When scoring ourselves, we're often more generous and forgiving. When scoring others (and we all do this), we typically place them in one of two categories: the "many" who don't seem to fair as well as we do and the "few" who are on their way to some version of the home school hall-of-fame.

Most students ask these kinds of questions:

How many pages until I'm finished with my math book? Can I be "finished" with my book without doing all of the lessons, just most of them? And, if the answer is "most," just how many is "most?"

How many questions will be on the test and over what? Do I have to answer all of them? What's a passing score?

How long does this composition need to be? How neat does it need to be? How sloppy can it be until I hear the words "do over."

How much more work do I need to complete before I can go outside?

Parents, likewise, have their own set of questions, often like the following:

How do I grade this essay? There are so many variables... spelling, mechanics, grammar, the ideas, etc.

This math problem isn't totally wrong, so how much partial credit should I give?

Should I count off for spelling errors when grading the memory verse my child has just written because after all, isn't content the main thing?

How many "fact questions" do I eliminate on the history story so that my student can earn a good grade?

The answers we come up with to these and similar questions are important. At least I think so since I write about them regularly. All of us benefit from ideas or practices that work well and can be used and passed on to other home schoolers. However, sometimes the answers we come up with serve as "evidence" to let others know that not only are we "doing well enough to be left alone," but we're doing well enough to tell you how to do it the right way. That would be our way, of course. The problem is pride and if deeply rooted, the next bud to blossom will be unsolicited advice-- lots of it, both spoken and unspoken. It can come in regular doses from those who have "figured it out" to those who are "still in the dark." Those in the dark often feel guilt or annoyance.

Time often corrects this attitude, and tempers it with humility and compassion. By this, I mean that if you live long enough, watch yourself, others, and even your children sin big enough, you'll find out that you don't have as much figured out as you once thought.

The great poet, T.S. Elliot came to Christ around age 40. It was at this time he wrote one of his most famous poems, Ash Wednesday. I don't know much about him, but my guess is that he'd probably seen enough of life centered around himself. At this time, he'd begun to turn his focus toward Christ.

Written in six parts, part one has four lines that especially stand out to me:

And pray to God to have mercy upon us And pray that I may forget These matters that with myself I too much discuss Too much explain

For those of you who do observe Ash Wednesday, I'd like to suggest reading some or all of it to your children, if appropriate, and discussing a few of the poem's ideas. For those of you who don't observe Ash Wednesday, it would still be a benefit to read it inasmuch as Elliot's writing is part of the cannon of poetry high school students should be acquainted.

Thanks for reading! Curt Bumcrot, MRE

Please feel free to forward this to home schoolers you think would benefit. Also, you have permission to copy this article to your blogs, forums, social network pages, or other websites. We only ask that you provide the live link at the bottom of the article that leads back to

Curt Bumcrot is the founder and director of Basic Skills Assessment and Educational Services. He has earned degrees in Biblical Studies from Grace Institute in Long Beach, California, a B.A. in English from California State University at Dominguiz Hills, and a M.R.E. (Master in Religious Education) from Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary. He has been active both as a teacher and administrator in Christian Schools. He and his wife, Jenny, who home schooled their three children, currently reside in Oregon City.

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