I’ve just finished reading a book called ‘Better than Good’ by Zig Ziglar. It’s a bit preachy and religious for me but otherwise has some great and heartfelt advice.
I bought this book because I’ve been seeking my life’s purpose for some time and it said on the cover ‘Creating a Life You Can’t Wait to Live’ and I thought that sounded fantastic. However, I didn’t pick this book up until the other night which is ironic really because since buying it and reading it, I’d nailed down my life’s purpose (at least for the next decade or so!) – home educating my beloved children. I had said to myself one day, ‘What do I really, really want to do? What do I really, really care about? What do I want to spend my days doing?’ And the answer came back as clear and as loud as a bell, a siren actually, ‘I want to spend my days with my kids. I want to home educate them’. It was as simple as that.
But I’m still really enjoying the book and funnily enough find it speaking to me probably more profoundly than before I’d found my purpose because it’s reaffirming and supporting a new choice that’s still shaky from lack of confidence (the confidence is fundamentally there but I’m suffering emotionally from having it so doubted at every turn, even if in the end it is unshakeable, it’s still uncomfortable and I’d like to stop feeling that discomfort. Stop feeling full stop really about what other people say).
Anyway, Ziglar starts the book off talking about purpose, passion and inspiration. His aim in the book is for everyone to find their purpose and then pursue it with passion and inspiration. I’d only just started reading the book when I put it down and said to myself, ‘Bingo!’ and I had one of those wonderful life-affirming ‘lightbulb’ moments; as not just a lightbulb but a warehouse full of fluorescent striplights went off in my head and I thought, ‘That’s it! Home education is my purpose because my children are my passion and inspiration. Wow! This is going to be so much fun, so great, so successful because this is MEANT to be!’ I’m not religious but when Ziglar says that the best purposes are the ones that are ‘God given’ and that help others, not just yourself, I felt that my home education passion fits the bill.
I felt a bit demoralized over the next few days, after my initial uplifting enthusiasm that accompanied our decision to home educate the kids (and we quickly stopped calling it ‘homeschooling’ and switched to the much-more-appropriate-considering-how-we want –to-educate-them – ‘home education’). So when I started reading Ziglar’s book, in the dark, with a tiny booklight, at the end of the day, whilst accompanying my 3 year old to sleep, I was so grateful to have picked that book up just when it was needed.
Ziglar says so many things that are apt for this adventure…
He quotes Charles Buxton, ‘Experience shows that success is due less to ability than to zeal. The winner is he who gives himself to his work body and soul’. I love that word ‘zeal’. That’s exactly how I feel. So many home educators are derided for not being qualified teachers and yet we have so much zeal, passion and purpose – and hopefully inspiration (I’m waiting for that to come, to give me some guidance as to how the kids and I are actually going to spend our days productively and enjoyable but I have faith it will come!) Funnily enough, I’ve often felt guilty about what I’ve achieved with my Cambridge University degree. However, it’s now going to really come in handy – not in terms of directly educating the kids, but to help stave off criticisms about my lack of qualifications (as if formal teaching qualifications were needed to teach two kids at home!)
Ziglar quotes from Biblical scripture, ‘Live creatively, friends…Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others’ (Galatians 6:1,4)
The home education adventure (as I like to call it) is a path that people everywhere you meet unfortunately feel very vocal about. Many take it as a personal criticism of their decision to school their children conventionally. Others feel they have to attack your choice in order to defend your children (if they’ve actually met them or not). The latter strongly voiced opinion, as annoying as it is, I do have sympathy with, because I feel the same way about things like breastfeeding and I sometimes feel like behaving the same way too (and may indeed have done so, in my passion). But, we home educators have to remember not to compare ourselves to the vast majority of ‘others’ out there, the conventional educators whilst indeed not feeling too self-satisfied either, in order to keep ones’ mind open to new educational ideas.
Ziglar says that the ‘better than good’ life (the title of his book) is ‘lived by those who have passion for changing the world they live in’ even if it is ‘just’ their family and I know I have the passion to do this and I believe that it’s my life purpose to do this.
Ziglar quotes William Faulkner ‘Listen to the voices’. There were definitely voices there in my head for years whispering of my disquiet with schooling. I had briefly looked into alternative schools like Waldorf until I’d seen the cost of them and they weren’t local either. But if I listened to those voices more carefully maybe we could have worked something out, after all, you don’t know until you ask i.e. until you research further. But I didn’t and I think Edward suffered and I am so, so happy that as from this week his suffering has ended.