What We Teach and Why

GUEST ARTICLE

What We Teach and Why

[This article is offered for any good that the reader may derive from it.  While we may not agree with every single particular mentioned in the article, there are many points offered that are helpful and wise for all parents to consider and implement. RH]

As partners with God in creation, we call our children into being.

Certainly, God designs them. In his marvelous wisdom he takes cells from our bodies—every one with a pattern that calls for certain looks and character traits—and fuses them into brand new individuals. New personalities. New souls—unlike any other that lived before or since.

Every child is a miracle of God’s creative design!

But after God formed Adam and Eve he has never again created a human being without human parents making the first moves. We parents decide who to marry, when to get married, and how often to invite the birth of children. Even though God retains the right to give or not to give us what we desire (to bring or not to bring our seed to conception), he holds us responsible for every child we help him create.

Our children are the fruit of our decisions. For that reason they are our responsibility before God. They are not “children of heaven,” nor the church or community’s children, and certainly not the government’s children. They are our children to “bring up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

How shall we best do that?

1. We teach our children at home.

The first thing we teach our children at home is restraint. By the time a child is from six months to one year old, it should have learned to “give up” and lie or sit quietly in its parents arms, when expected to do so. Crying or screaming children (even if they cry because they are hurt) should respond positively to restraint and settle down quickly. Long before a child is old enough to spank, it should have learned the lesson of restraint (by holding it firmly in the arms, restraining it from flailing its arms and legs or rubbing its eyes). A child that has learned restraint will sleep better, eat better, and learn everything much more quickly than the child left to “express [himself or herself]” with loud demanding cries. Restraint, taught by parents at home, opens the door to normal and healthy development. It prepares a child for school by five or six years of age.

Parents that raise their children in a controlled and stable atmosphere will see them prosper in school and grow up to be self-controlled and stable teenagers. Our goal is to have the parental restraints of early childhood develop into societal and communal restraint as our children enter school age. During that time we want to see them being restrained more and more through their consciences, by God, until restraint gives way to new life, new motivation, a transformed personality and conviction from the heart in the new birth. Only then may restraint and self-control give way to the all-encompassing control of the Spirit of Christ.

2. We teach our children about God and the Bible.

Long before a child is old enough to remember, [he] should learn, on a daily basis, to sit quietly while the Bible is read, while parents sing and pray, and while everyone in the house is silent, reverent, before God. This special time, given to God every day, sets a pattern for the child’s life and helps to establish its values and priorities. The respect parents have for God sets the tone of their children’s spiritual development. Wives and older children respecting the head of the home (the husband and father) build respect for God. Husbands need to live, speak, and make decisions in a way that commands respect and leads their families to God.

In school, every day of instruction begins with a song, a prayer, a Scripture, or some other recognition of God’s presence. All subject matter in school needs to be taught in the light of God’s rule over heaven and earth. While we do not stress the conversion of our children in school (leaving that work to the Holy Spirit and the influence of the parents) we teach them a basic understanding of the Bible that underscores whatever they may learn at home and in our worship meetings. By the time our children are seven years old (in Grade Two) they should be familiar with the basic stories of the Old and New Testaments. By the time they are eight years old (in Grade Three) they should be familiar with the entire story of the Bible from Genesis to Acts.

Memorization of the Scriptures, in all grades, should follow a pattern and be rehearsed year after year in such a way that students remember every Scripture they learned in school, for life. It is not as important that they memorized large amounts of Scriptures as that they memorize what they learn completely and permanently. Memorization of Scripture needs to be given a high priority from Kindergarten through High School. “Thy word have I hid in my heart, that I may not sin against thee” (Psalm 119).

By the time our children are twelve years old (ready for High School) they should know every book in the Bible by name, and the order in which they come. They should know what kind of book everyone is (history, prophesy, poetry, an epistle, or the Gospels of Christ). They should have a good grasp of where to find what in the Old and New Testaments. The longer they go to school, the more familiar they should become with using their Bibles—able to turn quickly to what they want to find, able to say what is in the Bible and what is not, able to apply Bible truth to real life situations.

We do not want to burden our children with dry meaningless repetition of facts, to where they find the Bible a tedious or repulsive subject. Rather, we want to teach from the Bible in such a way that they become eager to use it as a map through life to find God.

3. We teach our children to follow instructions.

By the time a child is two years old and walks well, [he or she] should obey instructions to come when told, or to go here or there as instructed, no matter what the occasion (even if to come involves a punishment). Parents need to be sure that children know how to follow instructions before they send them to school.

In Kindergarten we expect children to learn how to sit at their places, follow worksheet instructions, and to stay quiet when told. Children unable to follow these simple instructions should not come to Kindergarten.

[Many would question the advisability of having children in kindergarten, especially at such a young age. RH]

From Grade One through High School, all instructions given by the teachers are to be obeyed. Teachers are to be reasonable in giving instructions, and at the same time consistent and firm in seeing that they are carried out. Following instructions quickly, carefully, and with a good attitude, is one of the keys to successful living as an adult. Wherever our students fall short in this, they need to be worked with until a change occurs.

We need to place teachers in our school that know how to motivate our students to follow instructions carefully and do good work.

4. We teach our children to submit to authority.

From an earliest age our children learn that obeying mother and father may involve the denial of their own interests. Mother and Father need to be obeyed not because it is fun, not because it brings advantages and gifts, not because others do it, but because it is right. Mother and Father have a rightful place in telling their children what to do, and children are to obey without questioning.

As a child approaches school age [he] learns to obey caretakers, teachers, and other adults in the community to whom it is responsible. In the beginning all authority is associated with the parents (“If I don’t obey the teacher, Mother and Father will find out and take care of it.”). By the time the child is in the elementary grades [he or she] should assume personal responsibility to the teacher and recognize how both teacher and parents are under the authority of God. Then, by the time he or she finishes the elementary grades (12 years old, approximately), every child should sense personal responsibility to God and his church community.

Whatever authority comes from God must be submitted to, no matter what we feel like doing. Whatever authority stands in opposition to God, we dare not obey. Not even at the price of our lives. To please God and be of service in his Kingdom, our children need as clear an understanding of one as of the other.

5. We teach our children to read.

Because God chose to communicate with man through writing (the Bible), we give reading first priority in our formal education. By the time our children are through Grade Two they should read from a contemporary English version of the Bible (like the NIV) without much help.

By the time they are in Grade Two they should read fluently and easily. Children should all take turns reading out loud from the Bible with the family at home, where parents can monitor their reading skills and where they are continually motivated to read correctly and well.

By the time children are in the lower elementary grades they should find it captivating to read simple story books, informative books, and the captions of illustrated texts.

Our children should be motivated to read (both by parents setting an example, and by their teachers) to where in the upper elementary grades they choose reading as a frequent pastime activity. Teachers should take an interest in what their students read and give them opportunities to speak about it, preferably on an informal basis, but the writing of obligatory book reports should be kept to a bare minimum. It may discourage rather than motivate.

Our goal is to see our children take a real interest in reading, and to supply them with as much profitable and balanced reading material as we are able (including the controlled use of public libraries, after they get into the upper elementary grades). Our own school library is to include the kind of material that encourages and stimulates good reading habits. At the same time, our school and homes are to be absolutely free of literature that features elves, witches, magic, fairies, and violent cartoon stories of the type that appear on television. Because they cheapen the truth and reduce Bible stories to make-believe or fantasy, we do not make use of  “Bible cartoons.”

We are not opposed to all audio-visual presentations, but we do not want the use of video-tapes to replace our children’s appetite for good literature. All video tapes borrowed from the public library, or shown in school, pass revision by the colony leadership beforehand.

Teachers are to make sure their students read at least five books of their own level, every year, and shall choose good books to read orally to them, day by day.

Every child is to read orally, beginning with Grade One and continuing through High School, on a weekly basis to develop good expression in reading, good pronunciation, and good comprehension (from listening to others read). Teachers need to be models of good oral reading habits.

6. We teach our children to write.

So that they may express themselves like God’s people have always done, we teach our children to write at the earliest possible age. By the time they are through Kindergarten they should be able to write the alphabet, identify and sound out all the letters, write their names, draw simple shapes, and cut, color, or paste, as worksheet activities may indicate.

When they are through Grade One, they should be able to write and punctuate simple sentences. In Grade Two they should begin to write cohesive paragraphs on their own. By Grade Four they should be able to write multiple paragraph compositions, following rules of form (indentation or block form, opening and closing sentences, the ordering of subject material). By Grade Six they should be able to take any material, sort it through, and develop their own outlines.

By the time our children enter High School they should be able to write intelligent notes on any subject of instruction (in particular Social Studies and Science). The taking of good notes receives top priority in our High School.

Emphasis on the phonetic method, beginning in Kindergarten, is to be pronounced through the first elementary grades. Our children learn to sound out words, phonetically, in order to spell them correctly. Words are not to be taught by the “sight reading” method. Children that do sight reading need to be corrected at an early age. [Some may question this instruction. RH]

Spelling exercises are to continue through High School, with an ever increasing emphasis on broadening our children’s vocabulary. Their vocabulary, by late adolescence, should stand at 12’th grade or college level.

The simple parts of speech shall be taught, beginning in the mid-elementary grades, and shall be followed up with grammar exercises—not more than one a week—through High School. We want our children to speak English correctly and politely. Emphasis shall be placed on correct speech and writing, but tedious grammar lessons (diagramming sentences or graphic analysis) shall be avoided. We believe they are counter-productive and a waste of our children’s time.

Neat printing and cursive handwriting are to be taught in the early elementary grades. Sloppy printing or writing is not acceptable and children using it need to redo their exercises. High School students should all be given the opportunity to learn how to type.

We believe every one of our children needs to be equipped with good writing skills to use in evangelization, record keeping, personal expression, and the building of God’s Church.

7. We teach our children to count and calculate.

Counting, adding, and subtracting, need to be mastered in Kindergarten and Grade One. Multiplying and dividing follow in Grades Two and Three. The multiplication tables (up to x 12) should be introduced in the early elementary grades and thoroughly memorized by the end of Grade Four.

Because a basic mathematical knowledge is imperative in real life situations (buying or selling, farming, machine work, sewing, cooking, plumbing, carpentry work, construction, electronics, etc.) we want all our boys and girls to have it.

Emphasis shall be given to applied mathematics (story problems) that reflect life in our community. Geometry shall be taught, along with weights and measures in both systems (English and Metric) and in the High School, Algebra. We believe the study of advanced mathematics will help our children to order their thoughts and think logically. Some may pursue the subject further than others. But we do not want them to spend more than one hour a day on the subject (including home work)—not even at the high school level. Students shall learn to work steadily in class periods and avoid home work wherever possible.

8. We teach our children how to work and play together.

Beginning at the Kindergarten level and before, we make it a priority to teach our children good social skills and the value of teamwork. For this purpose, the sharing of toys and equipment is absolutely necessary.

We do not reward individual achievement or praise it as highly as group achievement. To develop really “smart” children or to have them take pride for excellence in certain fields of study is not our goal. Our goal is to see every child–slow learners as well as those that learn quickly and well–become all they can be for Jesus and the Kingdom of Heaven. That, we believe, cannot be accomplished alone.

Every child, to become a fulfilled and happy child, needs to learn how to find its place in the wider society of the home, the school, and the church community. For that reason we do not let them grow up alone, or under the sole influence of their parents. [Even home educated children can have contact with families in the believing community if this is available. RH]

We believe children need early and constant interaction with others of their own age group, with older children and young adults that serve as role models, and with mature believes that in the community that help to train them for life. Our children need to learn early in life how to respect, obey, and follow the instructions, not only of their parents, but of other men and women in authority. This makes it possible for them to function in our church community as adults. It virtually guarantees their social adjustment and makes life incredibly much easier and pleasant for them. [It is important that children not have too constant a contact and relationship with their own age level alone, as is the case in public schools.  There should be exposure to all age levels. RH]

Teachers shall guide our school age children in deciding what to play and where, in recess time. They shall direct our children in common art or classroom construction projects. Designated brothers and sisters shall teach them how to work one with another in peace, in the barns, in the kitchen, and around the Hof. [farm RH] By the time they reach 12 years of age (the end of the elementary grades), they should be able to decide and work together on projects of their own. They should be able to entertain themselves together in ways that include everyone and please God. They should think first of the common welfare of the community, and have learned to put their own interests in second place.

We see value in physical exercise and games our children can play together–volley ball, soccer, yard games for the smaller ones, and we encourage the use of bicycles for recreation. We see no value in computer games and wish to see our school and homes kept free of their influence.

9. We teach our children how to care for themselves.

After getting toilet trained our children learn how to carry and use hankies, for what to say “excuse me,” and how to put on shoes, boots, and overclothes, before they go to school (six years of age).

By three years of age, children’s teeth are to be brushed regularly, and by school age they should be brushing their own teeth every day. Parents and teachers need to see to this.

Not only do our children need to be kept clean (clean teeth, ears, finger nails, etc.), they need to know why we must stay clean. We stay clean to avoid germs and disease. We stay clean and well groomed to avoid offending others. We keep ourselves as clean and our surroundings as tidy as possible, to glorify God.

Early in the elementary grades our children begin to learn the basics of health and sanitation in science class. This continues, for the purpose of learning how to care for themselves, through High School.

Studying health and biology in High School prepares our children to safeguard the health of others and to keep our community a clean and safe place.

Our children need to learn, at an early age, about healthy and unhealthy foods. Children under two years of age are not physically able to handle the eating of candy (too much sugar at once for bodies that size, with the problem of sticky candy lodging between small teeth) and should not be given any. If a child does not eat candy before it is two years old, it will have less of an appetite for sweets, for life.

Children should never eat candy or sweet foods after the evening meal. Teeth should be clean before going to bed (through brushing them, rinsing them, or eating an apple, etc.). Going to bed with a sugar film on their teeth will cause them to rot.

Chewing gum, for all ages, should be kept to a bare minimum. Any child caught anywhere, chewing gum with his mouth open (revealing the gum being chewed) should promptly be asked to get rid of it. It is an anti-social and disgusting habit, not suited to the Kingdom of Heaven. No one should give chewing gum to small children.

For children to need cavities filled before adolescence, normally indicates a failure on the parents part to care for their teeth.

Our children need to learn how to eat balanced meals–eating something at every meal, never skipping the first course–and to avoid eating so much at home, during snack times, that they have no appetite in the dining hall.

A glass of milk, fresh fruits, cereals, or wholesome baked goods (low on sugar and lard) make good snacks. Those buying for the community need to avoid foods that damage our children’s health and encourage bad eating habits. Obesity (to be overweight) does not complement godliness. It may, in fact, indicate much wider and deeper problems (failure in social adjustment, unstable home conditions, nervous or moral problems). To have our children gain too much weight points to our need to take better care of them.

By the time our children leave school as young adults they should know what and how to eat for the glory of God. All their appetites should be under control.

10. We teach our children how living things survive and multiply.

As soon as they can talk our children show interest in other forms of life (plants, animals, insects, birds, and fish). Baby animals are of special interest to them.

Before they go to school our children already know the importance of animal life and observe how we care for our livestock. In the early elementary grades they learn about the habitats of wild animals and how to protect them. They learn how to observe and identify wildlife right here in our community (in the garden and fields, down by the creek, in the woods). We see value in taking our children on nature hikes and to the zoo. Some wildlife may best be learned about in the library, or through electronic means (slides or videos).

The study of living things leads to questions about their growth and reproduction. This naturally leads to questions our children have about their own bodies and where they came from. All questions from the earliest age should be answered accurately and completely, at a level suitable to the age of the child that asks them. This will put our children to rest and be the greatest safeguard against misinformation and wrong sources of information, later on.

Long before they reach adolescence (most likely by the time they are from six to eight years old) the basic facts of life should be clear to our children. As they grow older, they may learn more and more details about this area of life, in the controlled, godly, atmosphere of the home. In our High School they may study the facts of life in biology class, but when it comes to human reproduction there shall be no class discussion, no writing of reports on delicate subjects, and minimal (if any) input from the teacher’s part. We expect our parents, not our school teachers, to handle this aspect of our children’s education.

Unless a complete and totally comfortable relationship has been established between parents and children before adolescence, speaking about the facts of life will be difficult. By the time our children reach their early teens they should be well-informed, settled, and secure in their roles as young men or women, and know how to handle themselves, along with everything God has given them, for his glory.

11. We teach our children the basics of stewardship.

Saving paper, glue, crayons, and marking pens may be one of our children’s first lessons in Sparsamkeit (frugality). Putting their toys, shoes, and bicycles in place after using them follows soon afterward. Putting out light switches, closing doors in cold weather, not letting water taps run too long should all become important to them in the early elementary grades.

By the time our children are in High School they need to understand why we conserve energy and resources for the good of all men, as stewards (not owners) of what God has entrusted to us. They need to know about the global availability and distribution of resources, and our responsibility in it.

Even though we do not teach our children to accumulate personal wealth, we instruct them in the use of money, and by the time they finish High School they should know how to handle it (on trips, in town, or among friends) for the glory of God.

Our young people need a good understanding of our colony’s finances, why we buy (or do not buy) what we do, and how God expects us to use our finances for the good of others. They need to know that we do not always buy the biggest and best of everything, and why. [The context of this writing is a fellowship living on the same land and having close and constant interaction with one another. RH]

The concept of frugality and responsible use of resources (everything I spend unnecessarily on myself, I steal from the one that needs it) is woven through our children’s education all the way from Kindergarten through High School.

12. We teach our children about human society, how it developed, and how it works.

Human society, in the beginning, was communal. Structured under God, it consisted of the home, the extended family or tribe, and regional groupings as described in the book of Genesis. Beginning with that Biblical account, and the story of the first civilizations in the Middle East and Africa, we teach our children how human society took shape and developed into what we see around us today. We teach them how God meant for society to function, and how he plans to fix it (through the death, resurrection, and teachings of Jesus).

Through all this, right from the start, we teach our children about God’s special society–that of his chosen people. We follow this theme through the upper elementary grades and our High School, helping our children to understand the place of our communal society in God’s plan for the human race.

By the time our children are through High School we should have familiarized them with all major societal groups in the world. They should know about major world religions and cultures, and have a sympathetic understanding of human society and the challenges it faces today.

We give social studies, with their historical, geographical, and cultural dimensions, a place of priority in our teaching. We believe it more important for our children to have a good understanding of world history, for instance, than for them to understand mathematics or know how to write English correctly. [This is a debatable position since math and English are such basic subjects for life. RH]

Because it affects their understanding of life, their goals, and the choices they will make as they serve God through years to come, the teaching of Social Studies is to occupy at least fifty minutes of every day of instruction from Grade Two through High School.

13. We teach our children about the Church of Jesus.

A bare understanding of human society is not enough for our children. Woven through the story of world events we see God’s redeeming grace in calling his sons and daughters into a beautiful, special relationship with him. A covenant relationship. We begin to see this in the story of Abraham, and follow it through the return of the Israelites from Babylon. But it does not reach completion and perfection until the birth of the Church of Jesus at Pentecost.

Beginning with the Book of Acts, our children receive thorough teaching on the events and sequence of Church History from then to now. We focus on groups of believers that served the Lord Jesus and one another in transformed Christian societies. We teach them how Christian groups (Catholic and Protestant state churches with their descendants) apostatized. We teach them how churches spread and changed. We recount the story of persecutions, evangelism, and new awakenings in widely varied times and places around the world.

By the time our children leave High School they should have an excellent understanding of how the Church survived from Pentecost to now. They should understand that there is only one true Church, who belongs to it, and who does not.

14. We teach our children practical skills.

No greater disaster could befall us than to have our children gain large amounts of knowledge without learning how to apply it.

Every brother and sister in our community that has mastered a particular skill stands responsible before God and this church to teach that skill to others. We want our boys to learn a variety of skills, including such things as the care of livestock, construction with wood and steel, metal fabrication, electronics, the handling of farm machinery, road building and maintenance, landscaping, machinery upkeep and repair, the keeping of accurate records, and learning how to organize work, time, and space. We want our girls to learn the principles of good housekeeping, food growth and preparation, the designing and fabricating of clothes, and above all, how to care for infants, toddlers, and growing children.

Our young people may develop talents in any area, but their training in the church community has no other purpose than to prepare them for a meaningful life’s work among us. We consider our calling (that of building communities of peace in a strife-torn world) the highest calling of the human race. Everyone that heeds this calling, whether born into this way of life, or coming into it as an adult, chooses not to pursue any profession (medicine, law, politics, finance, long-distance transportation, commerce, etc.) that would bring conflict or take us away from our brothers and sisters. Even though we make use of these professions and appreciate them, we do not see them as fitting for us, nor for our children.

We count our life together a great gift from God and train our children to find their highest joy in being and doing whatever his church community stands in need of. This, we believe, is the most rewarding career.

Our High School students learn practical skills (woodworking, sewing, baking, welding, mechanical repair, electronics, etc.) one day a week from qualified brothers and sisters.

15. We teach our children responsibility and industry.

To know much and have mastered many practical skills is of little benefit to the person that has not learned responsibility and industry (how to stick to a job until it gets done).

Beginning with coloring a picture until it is finished, we teach our children to do one thing at a time, to do it well, and to finish what they began. In school we see to it that all assignments (given according to ability) are completed.

By the time our children leave High School they should willingly present themselves for work in the morning (on time), and stick to whatever jobs they are given without being told. They should recognize work when they see it and do it voluntarily.

Teenagers standing around with their hands in their pockets while others are at work have not been properly trained and will suffer the consequences for life. Willing, quick-to-catch-on teenagers, on the other hand, have a head-start on everything they undertake to do.

16. We teach our children how to sing.

We sing when we worship God. We all sing together. For that reason we teach our children, of all varying degrees of musical ability, to sing.

Already in Kindergarten, our children memorize and sing songs together. During the elementary grades they need to learn how to read shaped notes and identify them. By the time they reach the upper elementary grades and High School, they learn to sing in four-part harmony, following the notes, respecting timing and pitch, and how to blend their voices in a pleasing harmonious way for the glory of God.

All grades have at least one music practice and singing period a week during the school months. After they turn fourteen, our young people begin choral practice under leaders of the youth group, and continue with it after they leave High School.

We encourage our young brothers and sisters (regardless of whether they are married or not) to take part in the community choir until they are at least 25 years old.

17. We teach our children how to express themselves (in speech and creativity).

Many of the children in our community come from bilingual homes. We encourage bilingualism by teaching languages other than English in our school, from an early age.

By the time our children are in Grade Three, they should know how to read or speak to the whole class in a calm, distinct, manner. As they progress through the elementary and secondary grades that ability needs to be developed. Our boys, in particular, need to learn how to speak clearly in public, how to organize what they will say, and how to present a speech with expression and effect.

Expression through non-verbal means gets encouragement and direction in our school. From the earliest stages of their formal education our children learn to express themselves in drawing and painting, in writing, in singing, in the construction of useful articles and crafts. But we do not see artistic expression as a career for any of our children. Rather, we expect them to be creative and artistic in the work they do around the Hof [farm, RH], for the enjoyment of the whole community and the glory of God.

Only as it gets used for the enjoyment of others, not for the exaltation of self, does artistic expression find its rightful place.

18. We teach our children how to think and learn.

By the time our children leave High School they should have developed areas of special interest they will continue to explore and expand, far beyond the limits of their formal education. “The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder.”

Parents and teachers should never feel they must tell their children everything. Or teach them everything. Of much greater importance, they need to teach their children how to observe, how to draw conclusions, and what to make of them.

By the time our children have reached late adolescence we should avoid drawing simple conclusions for them. Even though we may keep telling them what we think is right and why (along with what we consider dangerous, and why), we need to risk taking them places, exposing them to situations, and letting them see things from their perspective.

The further we trust them (if they have been properly trained), the more they will strive to be worthy of that trust. Letting them draw their own conclusions, and deciding many things for themselves, greatly increases the possibility of them choosing and deciding what we would like to see.

An overbearing, suspicious, or condescending attitude on the part of parents and teachers produces rebellion.

When our children are little we treat them as little children. When they grow up, we treat them as equals. That is the genius of our completely voluntary society. That is how we live together in the peace and blessing of God.

(It is also why we make sure to train our children, for the most part, before they are six years old. When they get older we can do little more than polish what is already there.)

19. We teach our children how to plan their lives and make the most of their opportunities.

Even though we train our children with specific goals in mind, we discover, as they become young adults, that every son or daughter has a mind of his or her own. It is not right for us to manipulate or coerce those young minds.

If we have failed in our training and our teenage children go astray, no amount of force or pleading will correct what we have done wrong. On the other hand, if we have done our work well, the use of force and pleading will be unnecessary.

Our children, by the time they reach their early teens, should have their priorities in order. They should be ready to put God first, the church community next, and themselves in third place, in every decision they make. At the same they should be ready to stand for conviction. If their parents or church community turn against God in anything, they should be ready to obey God rather than man.

We teach them that way, we may expect the consequences.

Deciding to give their lives formally to Jesus, through baptism and taking membership in the church community, becomes an issue for our young adults. We dare not force them, but we should expect them to make that decision promptly when the Holy Spirit speaks to them. Then we need to recognize it, and act upon it (baptizing them and involving them fully in our church and communal life).

By their mid-teens our young men should have formed a clear picture in their minds of the life they want to live, and more-or-less when, and perhaps to whom they will get married. For some, this may come later, and for some not at all. But we encourage no young man to wait until he is twenty, or older, to begin deciding what he wants to be or do.

We expect our young women to be no less mature or able to make decisions and stick with them, than our young men. The entire education of our children points to living a blessed and functional life as mature believers.

20. We teach our children how to help and teach others.

Our children’s education is not complete until they have become teachers and helpers of those that come behind. Like others taught us, we teach them–and expect them to keep on teaching.

We do not look to worldly professionals to teach in our school, or to tell us how and what to do. We depend entirely on God and on the gifts he distributes to every local church.

By the time our children finish High School they should be well prepared to help in the teaching of the younger grades. Young teachers should not be given sole responsibility. We consider experience, along with emotional and spiritual maturity, a prime requisite for teachers in our classrooms. That only comes with time. But young teachers learn to develop their gifts, and gain invaluable experience by working alongside those with many years behind them.

Every responsible adult in our community, to some degree or another, holds a teaching position for the glory of God.

What we do not teach our children, and why.

We do not teach our children to pass a certain examination, hold a particular title or degree, or so they will be able to pursue the career of their choice. We do not aim for college educations. Rather we aim to have our children serving God in his Kingdom community.

Responsible to God for our money and time, we cannot have our children studying any subject they will never need to know or use. Our need for education is highly qualified and specific. For that reason we have little use for conventional education (secular or religious) and its goals.

Our children begin their formal education at five or six years of age, depending on their maturity. We like to see them in school until late adolescence (fifteen or sixteen years of age). Then we believe it is best for them to become fully integrated into our communal work force for several years. [We believe that some may choose to pursue education much longer than this, depending on the field of study and the goals for life. RH]

To have young adults spending long hours of study (during an age when they need an extra amount of sleep) is not only counter-productive. It tends to make them irritable and lazy.

When our young men and women reach their late teens or early twenties, we encourage them to resume formal studies–through correspondence or evening courses. We encourage the boys in particular to acquire their General Education Diploma (GED), and will do everything to make the necessary time and resources available to them.

By the time our sons and daughters have reached adulthood (possibly already married) they have developed particular skills and will profit from taking courses in technical skills (plumbing, electrical wiring, accounting, animal health, agriculture, electronics, etc.). Some may pursue further orientation in teaching or writing. We see value in learning to do well whatever we do, and some work around the community requires licensed individuals. Our aim is to fill those positions with our own children.

Who qualifies to teach in our Community School?

Teachers to whom we entrust the education of our children need to understand what we teach and why. Their goals must coincide, in every detail, with the goals of the parents in our community.

We do not look to the world to educate or qualify our teachers. The highest education the world has to offer is not high enough to qualify anyone to stand before our children in our school.

We require godliness.

We want humble teachers that walk with Jesus every day. We want cheerful, resourceful teachers, men and women that will know what to do in every situation. We want teachers that have learned how to apply what they teach to real life situations. For this reason we accept no one as a teacher that has only intellectual but no practical experience.

All our teachers must be willing to work in the barns, in the kitchen, with others their age and those that are younger and older. Their lives need to be models of functional practical living with Jesus. How could they teach our children otherwise? How could they demonstrate a way of life if it did not work for themselves?

Far beyond their academic capability, our teachers serve as role models for our children. The way they talk, dress, react, and handle themselves can be nothing less than what we expect of our children when they reach maturity. Our teachers need to be friends to our children, people our children look up to and imitate. For this, they must be emotionally mature–not “picking” on anyone or favoring one student above others.

Our teachers need to be reasonable and fair. Experience will tell them how much to expect of our children, how to encourage or discipline them as necessary. They need to be humble enough to work closely with the parents and older experienced members of our community.

Our teachers need to be spiritually mature, not leaning toward any false or dangerous doctrine, not undermining our church community by calling its leaders or practices into question.

In all things our teachers need to set an example in punctuality, responsibility, neatness, creativity, and wholesome speech. They are to be members of our community, or brothers and sisters of confidence that live and speak in total support of it.

Our goal is to produce and equip our own teachers. Whatever that takes, we as a community are willing to do.

We bring our children into the world, we teach and train them to glorify God through meaningful, productive, and socially functional lives.

Thank you, Jesus, for making that possible!

By Editor at 07/03/2009

thecommonlife.com/node/116

 

 

 

   

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