Thursday, July 17, 2014

Why do I teach at Zacchaeus Learning Opportunities? (ZLO)

Really, I should be asking why I don't teach in a K-12 setting anymore.

1.  It's the people.  The homeschoolers we attract are amazing, wonderful people.  These are parents who are deeply invested in their kids, who love being with their kids.  The world sees that as parents living through their children and calls it a mental aberration and will tell us that we need to get a life so the kids can have their own lives.  But the attitude that kids need to be raised by daycare and school and not the parents is promoted by people who either run those operations or by parents who  resent the impact that kids have had on their lives.  Dropping a kid off at daycare isn't giving the kid a life, it's just parking the child.

The gospel of Christ turns people outward, to develop relationships with other people.  Jesus treasured everyone and taught us to do the same.  He specifically named the children as models for members of his kingdom.  The people at ZLO are people I'd like to find in heaven.  They open their hearts and resources to needs, and they show the world what the Kingdom of God looks like.

People who are willing to sacrifice their own desires for their kids raise people who are willing to sacrifice.  The kids are self-confident, willing to help, willing to try unusual activities.  Because they don't have to pursue 25 hours of school each week these families have time to learn new pursuits as a family.  Their broad experience means they have rich experiences to share.

2.  The setting is 75 minute classes with ten or fewer children meeting once or twice weekly.  Are you kidding?  As a former public school teacher, this is like I've died and gone to heaven!  Yes!  I can accomplish the same amount of curriculum in 2.5 hours per week.  The small classes lets me get to know these kids.  I bust my rear more for that than I ever did for a class of 35.

3.  Truth is what we seek.  This week I listened to a college math student tell of a humanities instructor who assigned students to go touch some of the older buildings in town, so that students could feel the story the building had to tell.  After their field trip the instructor asked if anyone had tasted the building.  Students are like the population of citizens in the story of the Emperor's New Clothes.  In trying to be deemed worthy of their station and the emperor's approval, all agreed they would 'see' the emperor's new clothes.  How many students will write something the instructor wants to read, despite the evidence before them?  We want students to seek truth, and not what they wish to be true.  Truth starts with the Word of God.  The fear (deep respect) of God is the beginning of knowledge.  It is fools who despise wisdom and discipline.

4.  The model supports families.  The family IS the sustainable model of human existence.  The two-parent family is the model than can reproduce itself!  A strong family can weather illness and disaster.  It can be a safety net for members of other families who are troubled.  It establishes the resources for the offspring to flourish.  In the process, the community benefits, and marriages and friendships that respect the family give both strength and resilience to the overall social network.  We LOVE seeing entire families hanging around, working on their homeschooling in a quiet corner, playing on the large field or in the gym on a rainy day,  the moms connecting to share skills and advice, the dads networking and building their businesses.

5.  It's an environment where I teach the best way I know how.  I'm not delivering a curriculum on the behalf of educationists who believe that parents are incompetent and who show little understanding of how children work.  I meet parents and hear their concerns.  I hear their hopes for their kids.  I have few restrictions on what I might do to get a child to learn.  I want them to do well in any class that follows mine.  That is the true test of my competence as an instructor.  I want to share my love of learning and the subject matter I know.  I don't have to pretend knowledge I don't have because I was assigned a class outside my expertise and training.  My goal is to get kids to want to learn, for that will take them anywhere God wants to take them.

You are welcome to join us.  Check us out at  We offer classes at a church near the middle of Whatcom County.