This year in our homeschool curriculum, we are using a book called Window On The World. This is a fabulous book that I highly recommend for families wishing to help their children embrace and understand the needs of people groups all around the globe. Each two-page spread features a particular country, with a map and key facts about that country, a summary of the issues being faced by the people both physically and spiritually, and a list of prayer needs to remember. My 8-year-old focuses on a different country each week; this week, the subject was Haiti, which of course has been in the news so much in recent years due to the recent earthquakes.
I did a little more research online to see if I could help my son understand the realities of life there even more. We both learned today thanks to a recent Unicef report that only 8% of the children in that country go to school. Eight percent! I explained to him that this means if you gather a group of 100 children, only 8 of them are fortunate enough to go to school. He was truly touched by that fact and understood anew how different life is for so many children around the world who live in great need.
Children have such tender hearts at a young age. It’s never too early to start building in care and concern for those who are in the greatest need in our world. What are the ways in your family that you help your children understand and pray for the global needs?
When I was in college, I knew of a handful of professors whose very names could make you quake in your shoes. One of these professors, Mark Taylor, was a religion professor and was known for regularly eating students of faith up and spitting them out, all before lunchtime. I was too scared to take a class with him; I was sure I wouldn’t be able to handle it and I just did not want to go through life with a C or worse on my college transcript, which is what I expected I’d get.
Fast forward 20 years (!), I just read an editorial this legendary professor posted on the New York Times on “The Perils of Being the Perfect Student.” In this piece, Taylor hits on the head what had been my problem in college and what appears to be an ongoing issue: a fear of being wrong, complete bafflement regarding what to do post-college, and a resistance toward “experimentation that is necessary for creativity.” Students now, as back in my day, had been “programmed to perform well so they could get to the next level.” But they had not given any real thought about what the point was of it all.
A missional mom, however, does think about what the point is of it all. As we encourage our children to pursue excellence, we do so to help them discover what their God-given gifts and talents are so they can develop them for his service. We stand against the notion that success comes from excelling in one’s grades and scores from cradle to college entrance exams, and we encourage our kids to dabble, play, spend large quantities of time in unstructured recreation, and just enjoy the wonder of being children. God knows that too soon they will have to face the realities that come with adulthood, but it would be so sad if along the way they lost any semblance of what the joy of childhood was all about.
What are ways in which you try to help your children not be “perfect students”?