home schooling paths
E-journal February 16, 2010

Avatar and Homeschooling

by Ellyn Davis

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Yes, I admit it. After months of reading and listening to all the hoopla surrounding Avatar, James Cameron’s fantasy film about an alien world called Pandora, I finally went to see the movie in IMAX 3-D.

What an experience! Now I understand why it has created a post-movie phenomenon so widespread it's called "Avatar blues" because so many young people consider suicide after watching it. As my son James commented when the movie was over, “If I didn't love my life, that movie would have made me extremely depressed. I wouldn't have wanted to leave the world James Cameron created and re-enter the real world."

Why? Because the film takes you into the wonder-filled world of Pandora where the natives are in harmony with themselves, with the animals and plants, with the earth, and with their diety. And in that world every aspect of life is permeated with deep meaning. Not only that, but Pandora is amazingly beautiful and magical. And seeing the movie in 3-D, especially at an IMAX theater, immerses you in that world.

As I watched it, I wept because it touched something deep inside of me from when I was a little girl. My sons wept too, because it seemed to touch that same place in them—a place of longing for connection with all of life. And I realized that people are contemplating suicide after watching the movie because they come out of the theater into a world in which it is very difficult, if not impossible, to find any kind of meaningful connection at the deepest level of their being, much less a life filled with beauty and wonder.

I’m not recommending that you go see Avatar. But you might want to. Yes, there is semi-nudity, and yes, there is cursing, and yes, there are battle scenes, and yes, there is worship of an earth deity. But there’s also a lot more there. And if you really stop to think about it and to analyze the emotions that the movie evokes, you will discover that they are the same emotions that contributed to us homeschooling. Why? Because, no matter what other reasons we might have had for deciding to homeschool our children, the real reason was that we wanted to create a world for them in which they could find the connection, beauty, and wonder that is their hearts’ deepest longing—and ours too.

Why did we choose to homeschool our children?

Over the years, as I have been asked this question, I’ve usually spouted off reasons such as: “We want the freedom to select teaching materials that reinforce our religious beliefs and moral standards. We want to provide the academic superiority of a one-on-one teaching situation. We want the ability to monitor our children’s socialization experiences. We want to tailor the course of study to the individual. We want the flexibility to create more family time.”

These are the reasons I clung to as I tried to convince our family, friends and even curious strangers that we were not really crazy for keeping our children out of that traditional and highly revered American institution—the public school.

I, oh so seriously, would list these reasons and add a few statistics and stories about the success of homeschooling so that my decision sounded very rational and well-informed.

But, when I’m perfectly honest with myself, those are just secondary reasons why I chose to teach our children at home. The real reasons are matters of the heart.

Homeschooling was and still is attractive to me in part because of the images it evokes: children snuggling on the couch as I teach them to read; little boys’ faces alight with excitement as they assemble model rockets; my son absorbed in a book while lying on the back of his pony; cross-country trips in the station wagon learning about the Oregon Trail; acting out the battle of Yorktown with boys who have muskets slung over their shoulders; twilight adventures collecting lightning bugs; the pride in a child’s voice as he calls out, “Mom! Look how well I wrote these letters!”; and the joy of watching them grow into the extraordinary, unique, intelligent, interesting people I had hoped they would become.

To me, homeschooling speaks of close family relationships, highly valued home and family life; happy children who love learning; meaningful traditions; simplicity; nurturing, mentoring relationships; restoration of excellence; freedom to pursue individual interests; entrepreneurship; recapturing meaning and purpose to life; and discovering one’s destiny.

After over twenty years, the academic portion of our homeschooling journey is completed. Our boys are now in their twenties and are all wholly committed to and in love with God. But the "heart" portion of our homeschooling journey continues.

During the past twenty or so years we have seen a profound shift in homeschooling as well as in our culture at large.

We grew up in an era when there were very few latch-key kids, where neighborhoods were safe because you knew all your neighbors and they shared many of your same values, where kids could play games of kickball in the streets after dark and could have sleep-overs at their friends’ houses without the parents having to worry what might happen to them; and where families were far less stressed and far more stable. In other words, we grew up in homes where there were parents present most of the time we were home.

But we are seeing whole new generations of parents embarking on the home schooling adventure who don’t come from that base of home and family.

Many of you come from homes that were filled with tension or with various forms of dysfunction. Your image of a father may be a busy, negative, pressuring, authority figure, and your image of a mother may be a distant, distracted, but somewhat nurturing career woman. Even worse, your parents could have been abusive. Or perhaps you don’t have any strong images of a particular parental role because you come from a broken home.

The other difference between your upbringing and ours is that your lives were lived primarily in a series of institutions: daycare, school, after-school care, church, recreation centers. As a result, you may be not only disconnected from a sense of real family, but are also disconnected from a sense of meaning and purpose in this life.

A large reason home schooling is so attractive to your generation is that it carries with it the promise of providing that sense of connection—the family-oriented feelings, experiences, and identity-shaping you missed as children.

But what we all have in common is the desire to make right some wrong in the upbringing of children—not just for ourselves, but so that our children can have the type of home life we believe is possible, but may never have fully experienced.

We all long to restore something that has been lost. In this case what has been lost is the hearts of the parents for their children and the hearts of the children for their parents. We home school because we want to reconnect to multigenerational values, to relationships, and to a sense of meaning and purpose for life.

So, in the end, no matter what the generation, teaching our children at home has a lot to do with academics and with shielding them from secular influences. But it has even more to do with our desire to turn both our own hearts and theirs. And we turn hearts not by the pushing, demanding, shaming, or competition of an institutional setting, but through the drawing out of true identity in an intimate, open, trusting, emotionally safe, relational environment that we try to create in our own homes.

So, when my son James left the movie Avatar saying, “If I didn't love my life, that movie would have made me extremely depressed," I felt that, in some imperfect way, I had done an even better job than James Cameron. I had helped create a world for my children in our own home that made Avatar’s world fall short.


How you can become a "James Cameron" in your own home:

What is a Family? What is a Family and Hidden Art by Edith Schaeffer. These two books are on my "must read" list and are probably the books you want to start with because they present such an inspiring vision of what family is and can become. Sometimes life seems overwhelming simply because we've lost touch with the importance of what we are doing. Homeschooling our kids is no small feat. It is a choice that can have eternal implications. In these two books, Edith Schaeffer paints a picture of what we are really creating when we take the time and care to create a home.

The Path of Least Resistance and Your Life as Art by Robert Fritz. Robert's work is about recognizing what really matters to you, and then creating your life based on that just like an artist creates a painting or a symphony. He teaches you to nourish and equip your deepest desires and highest aspirations so that you live a life centered around those. You are a creator, whether you acknowledge it or not. You create your relationships, your attitudes, your surroundings, your career, and yes, music and paintings and inventions and sculptures and books. So why not create the life you really care about? These books are about looking at your own life as a work of art that you create based on what really matters to you.

Margin and The Overload Syndrome by Dr. Richard Swenson. Picture living a life where you didn’t feel overextended. You had the time you needed to spend on things that were important to you; the emotional reserves to develop deep, meaningful relationships; the financial reserves to spend on what would enhance your life and your relationships; and the physical health to be able to do what you love to do. Defining margin as the space that exists between people and their personal limits, Swenson tells us how we’ve squeezed that space out of our lives so that most of us live chronically overextended lives wishing for more time, more energy, more money, and deeper relationships. This book is one of the best books we’ve ever read and it clearly explains how we let margin slip out of our lives, what it does to us as people to live without it, and how we can regain it.

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Organic Play Dough at great savings!

Our friend Susan is a home schooling Mom and she is very concerned about her children's health. Her son, Liam is allergic to almost every chemical known to man, so Susan has to be very, very careful what she allows him to play with. When he gets together with other children and they play with Play Doh, Liam can't play. The dyes and chemicals in the dough can not only make him very sick, they might kill him.

To read the story of how Susan solved Liam's problem and how you can benefit from what she did, GO HERE>>

Home School and Home Business

Let Your Mortgage Make You Rich.
A friend in my internet marketing group discovered this technique for paying down your mortgage incredibly quickly without making an extra payment or refinancing. Using her method, people are cutting a 30 year mortgage down to eight or nine years. It’s true; without extra payments or refinancing – you could save tens of thousands of dollars - even hundreds of thousands - on what you pay for your home. And the best part is that the book comes with a money-back guarantee. If you don't save more on your mortgage than the book costs in the first 18 months of using the techniques, you'll get your money back.
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I Saw the Angel in the Marble

With over 4,000 copies sold in just a few months, I Saw the Angel in the Marble is becoming a home schooling best seller!

This book represents the best of 15 years of Elijah Company articles. Find our more HERE>>

Turning Hearts: Davis Seminar Set (8 CDs)

The Best of Chris and Ellyn Davis, this set contains seminars given by Chris and Ellyn Davis of The Elijah Company at home schooling conventions. The set contains all of the favorites that home schoolers ask for over and over. People have told us this set of CDs changed their lives. Find out more about them HERE>>

Angel in the Marble/Davis Seminars Set
Order a combination of I Saw the Angel in the Marble and the Davis Seminars CDs HERE>>

Building the Home School of Your Dreams is a 6 CD set taken from the From Home School To Home Business Seminar and features sessions by Chris Davis and Mary Hood. Find out more HERE>>

From Home School to Home Business
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If you missed one of our From Home School to Home Business Conferences, you missed a great time.People who attended told us that it changed their lives—not only in the area of home schooling, but also in the area of creating their own sources of home income.This set is huge and filled with useful and encouraging information about how to be successful at home schooling and at home business! Find out more about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

Building the Business of Your Dreams (8 CD Set) We've had requests for just the business portion of the From Home School to Home Business Seminar, so have developed a set of the business CDs from that set. It contains 8 CDs and includes sessions on The Entrepreneurial Mind, Multiple Streams of Home Income, Discovering Your Ideal Life and Ideal Business (2 CDs) , Developing a Business Plan (2 CDs), and The Importance of Business Relationships. Plus, there is a very important and insightful interview on Redeeming the Marketplace. Find out about this life-changing set of CDs HERE>>

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We have the following WRITING IN NARRATIVE books available: The Reluctant Writer, Writing Man 1 & 2, and WIN Twin.

Left Brained Finance for Right Brained People is hands down the best book we've ever found about money and finances and how to manage both. It could be used as the core curriculum for a Money and Finance unit with junior highs and up or by parents to have an overall understanding of money and how it works so they can teach their children. GO HERE>> to order.

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