One of my favorite books that built my motivation for homeschooling was published in 2005: The Joshua Generation: Restoring the Heritage of Christian Leadership by Michael Farris. Farris speaks to many concepts that were already rooted in my soul about the reasons why I homeschooled my children. It's always great to find a book where the author is on the same page as the reader, a kindred spirit as Anne of Green Gables would say. I knew in my heart what was important and what my goals were, but Farris builds on that with history and current events in such a way that helped me to see more fully and clearly what I was working for. As homeschoolers, the better we understand why we do something, the better our stamina will be to endure the race.
The defining moment for me was in chapter 1 on building vision where he compares what he calls the Moses Generation to the Joshua Generation. Suddenly the title of the book has weight for those who know the history of the Israelites. As worthy as it is for us to homeschool a Moses generation, our purpose becomes deeper and perhaps more meaningful when we raise our children as the Joshua generation. This clarity alone defined what I had been seeking all along. Now that I had a name and direction, I had a better focus.
The remaining pages detail why we need a Joshua Generation by looking at current events in this world of postmodernism. To further understand how postmodernism can hinder our course, there are two other books that would make great companion books to this one. I have already blogged about them. One is called The Universe Next Door by James Sire, which I blogged about at the link. Another is Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture by Gene Edward Veith.
In the forthcoming pages is a detailed analysis of the goals of ivy league schools today. The facts are not pretty.
"College is far more about philosophy and worldview than it is about the transmission of factoids. And that is the way it should be. However, unlike facts, philosophy is never neutral. Philosophy takes sides and promotes a larger agenda that we often call a 'worldview.'" (The Joshua Generation, p23-24)
This is why I taught worldview to my children when we homeschooled. That is why I've done two posts so far on worldview (linked above). It's rather complex for me to give a fully detailed analysis, so I thought I'd leave it to the experts, who are well respected authors that we all know. But I am most happy to point the way (towards great resources). Furthermore, I'll be alluding to worldviews in future posts.
My son attends Patrick Henry College, which Michael Farris founded. The college is rooted in the facts of primary source documents. They study deeply and aggressively. They read real books. Not textbooks.
On the other hand, my daughter attends a state college. We'd have loved for her to attend PHC. However she has struggled with many learning delays which she overcomes more and more each year. She can do the work on a smaller scale at a slower speed, but not to the rigor of PHC. And sadly, when I reread The Joshua Generation a few months ago, I saw evidence of many of the postmodernism details in the colleges she has attended (junior and four year colleges). Sadly, she had to explain to her English 101 instructor the correct definition of primary sources. The instructor didn't agree. My daughter came home and printed out a definition from a university to show her instructor. The instructor still didn't believe her. My daughter finally went to the dean who said she'd talk to the instructor and that worked. Then the next week there'd by another basic concept the instructor would misteach and my daughter would start all over again trying to prove established facts. The basic concept of postmodernism is that truth is relative and that definitions change from person to person. I share one example, but we could write a book on the postmodernism my daughter has endured in college. It irks me, as a parent, that I pay money for these errors to be taught. I'm thankful though that my daughter has been well rooted in historical fact, morality, and her faith. A lot of her friends like to hang with her because they think like her. (So all is not lost!)
I think my favorite chapter is chapter 5, "From John Adams to Alan Dershowitz: The Devolution of Legal Education." Well, anyone who knows me knows why I like this chapter so much! Farris goes into a bit of 18th century history! I feel so at home in the 18th century whereas I feel quite lost in the 21st century. Our Founding Fathers lived in an era where education was not only important, but based on facts and morality as defined by God. Many of our Founding Fathers were lawyers. Farris goes into great detail comparing the lawyers of the 18th century to the lawyers of the 21st century. It's quite a contrast!
Chapter 6 details journalism...to media bias. Enough said on my end. For all the scoop, read The Joshua Generation!
Chapter 7 is another favorite of mine, "The Patriarchs of American Education: Colleges in the Early Republic." I have spent a lot of time hanging out with 18th century and early 19th century gents who were vastly educated in the classical method. I've had deep discourse with George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, and James Madison. (You can too at Colonial Williamsburg where actor interpreters who are actually historians deeply study and memorize primary source documents that their personas wrote!)
I am a teacher by trade. I still have my teacher's license from Texas. When I was in college taking education classes, I learned about the history of education. However I have learned so much more from all of my time-travel jaunts to Colonial Williamsburg, talking to 18th century gents and by reading the books they have recommended for me. I'll share more details in posts to come, but this chapter is a great starting point for anyone who wants to understand the education system of yore and how it compares to today!
Farris closes the book with chapters on leadership, a strong work ethic, and wisdom v. knowledge. Wow! How could I not be encouraged, motivated, and strengthened?!!
There are even Joshua Generation clubs throughout America who are politically involved in their communities!