Homeschool Conventions, Teaching, and Repentance

Homeschool Convention

Attending a homeschool convention can potentially lead to a panoply of emotions.  There is the excitement and anticipation.  The glee (extroverts) or terror (introverts) of hordes of fascinating people surrounding you.  The madness of attempting to acquire a time-turner in order to attend multiple speakers’ sessions at once (I’m still coming to grips with not being ubiquitous).  The seas of vendors, shiny objects, and ohbestillmyheart all the books can make you shiver with delight or trepidation.

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Leaving Homeschool Conventions with Joy, not Fear

As the weekend moves forward there is a bit of body-weariness as information overload meets the force of little sleep.  (Side note: pack abundant water and portable snacks.)  But the spiritual weariness can creep in, too.

Perhaps you ended up in sessions listening to those who laid burdens on your shoulders which were too much to bear, and they did not lift a finger to help you.  Perhaps you heard those bringing a message of do-more, earn-favor, achieve your great works, and you will be worthy.  Perhaps you heard odd theology, strange recommendations that do not fit your family, or shame-based teaching. 

Or maybe your own soul, through no fault of those around you, quivered in fear at the what-ifs and the not-enoughs and the loathing of self that comes from navel-gazing and comparison with the green grass of others.

I am a second-generation homeschooler who simply loves (and has always loved) homeschool conventions with all their quirks and with all their oddities.  I can also confess to having all the above negative reactions at some point in my past. 

But what if there were a more profitable response, one of peace and hope?  I suggest it is possible to leave with joy if we view this conference education as one of repentance.  Indeed, we must view the whole process of growing in our vocation as teachers through the lens of repenting.

A Call to Repentance from a Homeschool Convention?

My husband and I were driving home from an epic weekend of conventioning as I scrawled these initial words in my notebook.  When I realized almost all my favorite virtual mentors were to be present in one place, I leaped at the opportunity to attend this particular convention.  My nerdy, extrovert heart thrilled at the thought of three days of non-stop lectures.

And truly, we are leaving inspired, having gained renewed vision, challenged perspectives, and hours of ideas to contemplate in the months ahead.  That I anticipated.  What we have been surprised to discover is that it has also been a weekend of profound repentance within our own hearts.  Not because of any previous gross negligence or depravity in our homeschool, but because once again we must repent of our self-righteousness.

It is especially easy for us as homeschoolers to begin placing our hope in our own good work.  We pick the “right” curriculum, follow the proper procedures, check the boxes, and somehow think God is pleased with us because of it.  Ah, no.  As I have written elsewhere, the hymnist rightly proclaims it is “upon a life I have not lived” that our hope is based.  God’s delight in us is due solely to the perfect obedience of His Son, not our amazing homeschooling.

Is it strange that the God-ness of the triune God and the finite creaturely-ness of man is my big takeaway theme from a series of talks by a myriad of speakers designed to train me in this calling of homeschooling?  I don’t think so.  Indeed, I am leaving here convicted that humility and repentance is an essential posture of the teacher and, in imitative turn, of the student.

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Repentance and Humility Lead to Doxology and Hope for the Homeschool Teacher

Much has been written and said by others wiser than myself about education as repentance.  Indeed, the roots of the word “education” teach us that it is to be lead out of ignorance.  The truly educated human, I’d argue, is the one who humbly acknowledges how little he understands.

Perhaps this is because he not only acknowledges but even delights in his creaturehood in the glorious context of a vast creation and a Creator more immeasurable still.  It is only this sense of humility that can provide an opportunity for wonder and delight in the process of learning.  It is only this sense of finiteness that leads us to doxology when we delve into the wonders of Christ’s works of Creation and Providence.

But if this is true of the one being educated, how much more should it be true for the one who is teacher?  For one, we teachers should be modeling this posture of humility for our students if we expect a similar teachable humility in our children.  But must we not also see how much more in our very teaching itself there is to learn?

No matter our positive or negative perception of our own teaching, we must constantly be led to see how much more we have yet to learn.  There we see our flaws and failures, but not so we can beat ourselves up and leave in despair.  Rather, we repent!

And as we repent we turn away from ourselves and even from our own children and turn our eyes toward the One who alone can form and grow the hearts in our care.  He alone can save us and them.  He alone is the One who can take our broken efforts and cover them with His righteousness.  So teaching as repentance, not just education as repentance, is my new motto.

Where do you go from here?

If you can, find an accessible homeschool conference and attend.  Choose the speakers to whom you listen wisely.  Do not go to those who push education according to the flesh, a message of pull up those boot straps, do a good job, and all will be well.  Like Christian on his way to Mr. Legality, that mountain will tremble, threaten to fall on you, and fill you with fear as the burden on your back grows heavier.

Rather, listen to those who are humble themselves, who even in their own perhaps impressive brilliance still see how much they do not know.  Heed the mentors who can inspire you with ideas of truth and beauty (while also challenging your own lazy, sinful habit patterns) in such a way as is consistent with the gospel.  Maybe cry a little in joy and sorrow.  Laugh.  Wonder.  Ponder.  Question.  Process.

Then repent, and continue to repent in the days ahead.  Pray to the God who is far above and yet Who has also come down and dwelt among us.  His yoke is easy and His burden is light.  In the presence of the cross and the tomb the burdens of our sins and of our supposed righteousness tumble off our backs.

And if we confess our sins as teachers, He is faithful and just not only to forgive our sins but also to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 

So relish your convention in repentance, leave in peace, and move forward in joy.

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2 thoughts on “Homeschool Conventions, Teaching, and Repentance”

  1. My husband and I really enjoy attending our homeschool convention, even though our religious beliefs always differ from those presenting. But, I find when we come prepared to listen to the Spirit we always leave with ways in which we can learn and do better.

    1. Destiny, thanks for sharing! So often listening to those who approach things from different perspectives actually helps clarify and refine our own ideas. I’m glad you have a homeschool convention you enjoy attending!

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