I don’t watch Glenn Beck. To clarify, I don’t watch anybody on TV. But I do recognize common sense when I hear it. And I hear it in this segment with Mike Rowe.
This isn’t a purely academic issue (pardon the pun), as the father of three young children. My wife and I talk regularly about why we do what we do with them (home schooling), and what our goals for them are. We have to talk about this regularly because there are so many pressures in any number of other possible directions. It isn’t that any one of these other areas isn’t good and wonderful to a certain degree, but none of them can substitute for two primary goals.
The first goal is that they have a healthy, life-long, vibrant relationship with God the Father who created them, God the Son who redeemed them, and God the Holy Spirit who is with them every second of their existence now and forever.
The second goal is that they be able to function well as independent adults. They’ll know personal finance, how to do the laundry, how to cook, how to keep a living space clean, how to interact with other people, and hopefully how to love and be loved by one special person for the rest of their lives.
Do they need to go to college? It depends on their giftings, their abilities, and what they want to do with their lives. If they don’t need or want to go to college, I’ll support them in pursuing a career that doesn’t require it. If the job is honest, and they enjoy it, I need to overcome my biases for or against any particular line of work.
The reality is that there are a lot of jobs out there that don’t require degrees. Our school systems are set up to drive students less towards meaningful lives and occupations and more and more just towards college. When I was in high school I knew that there was such a thing as vocational coursework, but it always had a stigma attached to it. In hindsight, perhaps such a sigma is unavoidable in a system that seems designed (and funded) to specifically reinforce itself and the values of test scores (which dictate funding).
If one of our kids really wants to go into a trade or other arena that doesn’t require college, I pray I’ll be supportive enough to overcome my own biases and encourage them, while also offering whatever advice I have based on my life experiences and observations. But just telling them that they have to do college because that’s what everybody does these days doesn’t seem to make much sense, and could become a dangerous distraction from our two main goals.
I’m grateful for the folks who do the jobs that nobody else wants to do. If I want my children to value these people and jobs as well, I need to be careful about what I say about those kinds of jobs. I need to make sure my kids know that picking up garbage or driving a truck or any one of myriad jobs that don’t generally come up in home-schooling circles for discussion are valuable and honorable because they are, even if they aren’t as glamorous as being a rocket scientist, engineer, or even a pastor.