Dispelling The Myths About Family Education, and what you should know about homeschooling!
--By Marc and Claire (for the North American PR Board), FSM#398 CM/FM January 2003
After having worked in Family public relations for the past ten years, we've often been called upon to explain our Family's educational system to people outside of our movement. We've also replied to allegations by some detractors who claim that Family schooling does not provide an adequate education, due to usually not being in a traditional nine-to-three institutional classroom.
Such questioning often reflects ignorance of the effectiveness of homeschooling, its policies, its requirements, and researchers' findings about it. Nor do these claims take into account the unique aspects of Family education and Family-acquired skills, aspects that would only be available to students of higher education in System institutions. We have also encountered a number of CM/FM young people who have been somewhat affected by these negative comments and conclusions, while being unaware of the facts.
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Thank the Lord for the wonderful education He has provided for our Family-for the second generation as well as new disciples who have benefited from the CVC and Word studies available. Along with godly training from study of the Word, there are the many treasures of the Spirit He has given us! As spokespeople who interact regularly with many university professors and professionals, and who are called upon often to speak about our beliefs to reporters and former members, we can only say that we have come to treasure the blessings the Lord has given us in His education plan, when carried out faithfully according to the requirements in the Charter.
Of course, as in every aspect of our lives for the Lord, if we as parents or young people don't do our part to live up to those requirements and make the needed efforts to ensure that our children (or we) receive an adequate education, it won't bear the fruit it could. We must carry the responsibility for this. However, we have seen that if we are faithful to follow and avail ourselves of the wealth of counsel, materials, Word, and experience at our fingertips in the Family, Family young people from a wide variety of backgrounds have no problem excelling in high school testing, college entrance exams, etc. The vast majority of Family young people, despite the many changes inherent in missionary life, have nevertheless received a very good education, and in many cases, an outstanding one that far surpasses a "normal" education.
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One academic met with Peter many years back and asked an interesting question. He asked if Peter foresaw the second generation becoming college-educated. Peter answered in a noncommittal fashion that some might end up going to college. The academic exclaimed strongly, "Don't ever send your kids to college or university, or they'll end up talking like me!" This academic has continually shared with us how important and unique we are in our beliefs and faith.
On another occasion, we were discussing Ph.D. students with a professor.§ We have heard of several Ph.D. students along the way who have had nervous breakdowns. They have literally cracked up during their graduate years and never returned to their studies, deciding to pursue an entirely different path in life. The stress involved seemed pretty alarming (one such student literally went insane, poor fellow), and we wondered why this happens. The professor's reply was unforgettable. "We holders of Ph.D.s are the 'survivors.' We are the very few that make it through the entire program and receive our degrees." The difficulties and dangers involved in going this route confirmed the truth of the pitfalls of higher education explained so clearly in the Letters. (See "Conviction vs. Compromise, Pt. 5," ML #3365, GN 963. There are many other MLs on this topic; check 'em out!)
It also reminded us that, like Ph.D. students, being professional Family members takes investing all, forsaking all other aspirations, and focusing all our energies on the goal. And in our case the goal is to follow the Lord all the way and be the best professional missionaries we can be.
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§ Ph.D. is the abbreviation for "Doctor of Philosophy." In the U.S., college or university students first study for a bachelor's degree, which usually takes about four years of solid study; during that time they are referred to as "undergraduates." As graduates or post-graduates, they go on to studying for a master's degree that usually takes one or two years more. After a master's comes study for a doctorate, which can take three, four, or many more years, depending on the requirements of the field of study.
Facts about Family education
A lot of the education second-generation members receive in the Family cannot be measured by "pencil pusher" standards, such as learning foreign languages, performing arts, office skills and computer science, personnel management, teaching, counseling, as well as vocational skills such as auto mechanics, electrical engineering, carpentry, construction, culinary arts, home management, and more. It's sad when folks aren't able to appreciate all the educational and vocational skills that they have learned in the Family. Of course, many of those who have left have taken those skills and used them professionally, from hi-tech computer programming, to working with film studios using Family-learned filming skills, to professional performing, acting, management . . . The list is endless.
Many former members of the second generation have opted for higher education, availing themselves of the multitude of scholarships and grants available to them. Many have excelled in university and ended up at the top of their class as valedictorians or honor students. Some have become lawyers, nurses, teachers, and managers. Others have started their own companies.
There are also some former-member young folks that move into manual labor, flipping burgers, and even stripping. The question then arises as to why, if they had received a good education, would they not be able to secure what are considered better jobs?
As the statistics above show, actually only a small percentage of people in the System attend college or university. Only 88% graduate from high school, and of that 88%, less than 30% will complete college. As such, it would be very unrealistic to expect that each young person who leaves the Family must either become a college graduate or be deemed a failure.
Once young folks opt for a career other than that of a Family missionary, they face the same obstacles to success any other person in the world does, and will discover that it is not an easy route for any, regardless of their upbringing. It is unrealistic to expect that every young person who leaves the Family will secure a high paying and prestigious job; surveys will show that this is not the norm even in the world.
It is to be expected that every parent who sees his or her children move on to another lifestyle would like to see them succeed and be outstanding in some way. The choices, however, depend on the individual. Just as it requires a measure of self-sacrifice and dedication to be a professional missionary, the same is required of those who wish to "succeed" in the secular realm. So the fact that some young people do leave and start off with such seemingly low-level jobs (albeit high paying-which is another part of their attraction) is not surprising, as a person's success will depend in a great measure on their own efforts and goals.
It is also true that according to the Charter, it is the responsibility of the parents to assist their children as much as possible when they leave the Family. In line with this, Family parents have taken action to help their children get set up and established on a new path in life. We can thank the Lord also for the power of prayer invested on behalf of those moving on.
There are a number of former-member young people who are successfully going through university and earning degrees. Were they exceptional? In most cases, no. Most have taken a GED test, a college-entrance examination, and entered on the same footing as any other student, except with the added blessing that they have acquired a lot of skills, poise, languages, and experience that most young people have not had the opportunity of acquiring with a public school education.
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