You know the story of the frog in the kettle, right? The one where the frog remains in wa- ter that used to be a healthy
temperature? As you remember from
that story, not being aware of the rising
heat in your circumstances has a very
Across our modern culture, there is a
similar increase in the “temperature” of
our daily tempo. We scurry here, we run
there, and we have impossible to-do lists
that never get done. Fast food, fast travel,
movies on demand, and instant books
on e-readers allow us to go through life
at a dead run. The pressures of daily living have risen to red-hot, but—like the
frog—we remain in this environment.
To this “normal” pressure-driven life,
hundreds of thousands of us have added
homeschooling our children. And, because of the massive expectations placed
upon homeschoolers to have perfect
children with phenomenal academic
success, we feel an incredible weight
added onto our shoulders to do all of
this and more. The highly pressured, 21st
century pace of life applied to school becomes fast education.
My definition of fast education: Know
it all; do it all; finish it all—better and
more quickly than ever before.
The problem with fast education is
not only that it does not work, but that
it can actually harm the development
of our children. 1 As much as fast food
negatively affects our physical health, so
fast education negatively affects a child’s
curiosity, creativity, and problem-sol-
How, then, do we combat this educational pressure in our homeschooling?
Begin by rethinking the learning goals
for your children. Choose which of these
is more important:
Finish the textbook by the end of the
Have an engaged discussion with your
students about something they learned
in the textbook—one which demon-
strates not only memory but mastery of
Get 100 percent on a standardized test.
Demonstrate an ability to take what is
presented in a textbook to a deeper level,
asking questions and pursuing answers
beyond the book.
Begin college at an unusually early age.
Show a vibrant approach to life; be in-
terested in many topics; be able to learn
independently, and be confident and
The purpose of these choices is to highlight the fact that, when it comes to education and child development, the path
is more important than the destination.
Taking the time to follow a passion (like
art or science experiments or writing or
sports) often provides a richer, more balanced, and stronger foundation for adulthood than rushing through academics at
the speed of light. These pursuits develop
endurance, patience, self-motivation,
and a delight in learning—all of which
are extraordinarily helpful in any endeavor. So, rather than the destination
of graduation (with university or career
afterwards), we focus first on the path of
learning—loving to learn and knowing
how to learn independently.
With that path in mind, here are two
practical suggestions (though you will
discover many more) as you start down
the path of s-l-o-w-i-n-g down.
Make room in your daily or weekly
schedule for letting your kids brainstorm
something interesting to do or some creative project they would like to make.
Sometimes this would connect to something they are studying, but sometimes it
can be self-directed.
When my high school-age daughter
was studying the Roman Empire and
the early Church, she decided to capture
Dealing with Pressure?
The Benefits of
When it comes to education and child development,
the path is more important than the destination.