Persuasiveness vs. Contentiousness – Guiding vital truths around another’s mental roadblocks (II Timothy 2:24) – Bill Gothard
One of the goals of homeschooling, for ATI and I’m sure other communities that homeschool, is to forge tighter bonds within the family unit. As my teacher and the only other female in the house (prior to the first sister), my mother and I developed a very tight bond. I looked to her as my mother, of course, but also as any small child looks upon their teacher – I thought the sun rose and set with her. She, in return, shared similar feelings about me. I was the girl she longed for (secretly). A wish fulfilled, she would say during the quiet moments we shared together.
One of the quiet moments she insisted on, in a house full of chaos, was our “reading time”. I was always allowed to stay up later than the boys. This was something they always wanted to express their opposition to but rarely did because of the consequences of questioning an authority figure. After all, I was younger than three of them! Yet, the boys were all bedded at precisely 8:20 every night. As I said, the reasons for my later bedtime were several. For one, I helped my mother get everyone ready for bed. She and I would give the smaller ones their snack and supervise their baths. Then, I would dress the smaller ones for bed while she got the older boys in bed clothes and tucked them in.
After the boys were in bed, mother would come to my room and climb into my bed. She’d continue my “homeschooling” by reading to me for thirty minutes. I have no doubt that, had it been allowed, she’d have done the same for the boys, but when my father was home, the routine was for him to go have “Bible study” with the boys (after they’d been put in bed). When he wasn’t home, they were made to listen to inspirational and devotional tapes.
Mother would always read one passage from the Bible and then put the Bible down and read to me from a collection of fictional novels she’d saved from her girlhood. The books were always approved by my father, so they usually weren’t modern, children’s literature (I never read Judy Blume or Beverly Cleary, for example). I was, however, exposed to Laura Ingalls Wilder, Jack Wild, Lewis Carroll, E.B. White and Patricia McLaughlin. She didn’t just read to me, either. She would expand upon what we were reading and talk to me about vocabulary, history, and the bigger theme of the books. It was heaven. (See! It wasn’t all bad.)
Still, the “formal” homeschooling was ruled by Bill Gothard’s ideas and (at the time) new trends and trials. Because of this lack of rigor, when I left ATI and started looking at colleges, I was overwhelmed by what I didn’t know.
Science. I was hopelessly lost. I was educated as a strict creationist. We learned the scientific method – sort of.
Step 1: Read the Bible.
Step 2: Ask a question.
Step 3: Form a hypothesis.
Step 4: Read the Bible to find evidence to support your hypothesis.
Step 5: Devise an experiment.
You get the picture. I’d been taught the anatomy of the human body in Wisdom Books but that was limited to coloring pictures of the organs and knowing, generally, what it was that they did. I didn’t understand “how?” they did what they did or what the scientific reasons were. If you asked those questions as an ATI kid, you were told “God made it that way” and shushed. Evolution was strictly taboo and mocked incessantly.
History. I’d been given a neo-conservative, white-washed, Christian evangelical version of history. My version mentioned nothing of the founding father’s deism or the Treaty of Tripoli. I didn’t know that slavery was as bad or as rampant as it was. I was taught that the civil war was a Godly war over state’s rights. I wasn’t taught about Martin Luther King. I knew about the Crusades, but I didn’t know about the Black Plague or pre-Biblical peoples. Ancient cultures were briefly discussed and the caveat was always tossed in about how they couldn’t have existed in the times ’secularists’ claimed they did because there were no men on earth further back than about six thousand years ago. Dinosaurs? They walked with humans before the fall.
When I left and decided that I wanted to continue my education, I had a long row to hoe. I was over the age of 18, by the time I decided I wanted to repair the damage my ATI education had caused, so I had to go through an adult school. I had a GED, but I needed refreshers in basic high school courses. My math skills were exceptional (all thanks to my mom!). My writing skills were so-so. Reading comprehension was great. History and science – the counsellor looked crestfallen as he told me the results of my evaluation. I took two years of remedial courses through the adult school before I could take college placement exams.
I know not all ATI kids come out the way I did. Sadly, I know most of them come out worse! They’re “educated” in only the barest sense of the word. They’re educated in the same way a talking parrot is educated. They can regurgitate. Most ATI kids are horrible at advanced math. They know how to balance a checkbook and “figure”, but unless they were being apprenticed for careers involving higher math, it wasn’t offered to them. I know girls who went through the midwifery training that BG approves and to say their midwives is to say it using the 19th century understanding of the term. They can deliver a baby, sure. I think most of us could if we had to. They’re taught most of the skills that modern medicine would teach and certify a doula to provide. They are not taught true anatomy/physiology classes. It’s all practical experience.