by Rebbecca Devitt
When I was six I stole a Barbie doll. It wasn't the first thing I'd stolen. I nabbed anything that took my fancy really. I even stole my cousins prized cabbage patch doll.
Why? Peer pressure. At school, there was a group of girls I used to hang around with. They all had Barbie dolls. Therefore, they were the cool ones. I wanted to be cool, so I had to get a Barbie doll. After nagging my parents, (who were very poor at the time), I decided it would be easier to steal one. And so I did.
It was a rewarding experience. Apart from having to hide the Barbie dolls every time Mum and Dad walked in the room. But then I began to lie and tell them that I'd borrowed the Barbie dolls from the girls at school. Easy done. Everything was great now. I'd just steal everything I wanted. I was becoming popular at school! There was a downright thrill to stealing things which were forbidden. Augustin talks about it in his book on Confessions:
"There was a pear tree close to our own vineyard, heavily laden with fruit, which was not tempting either for its colour or for its flavour. Late one night–having prolonged our games in the streets until then, as our bad habit was–a group of young scoundrels, and I among them, went to shake and rob this tree. We carried off a huge load of pears, not to eat ourselves, but to dump out to the hogs, after barely tasting some of them ourselves. Doing this pleased us all the more because it was forbidden. Such was my heart, O God, such was my heart–which thou didst pity even in that bottomless pit. Behold, now let my heart confess to thee what it was seeking there, when I was being gratuitously wanton, having no inducement to evil but the evil itself. It was foul, and I loved it. I loved my own undoing. I loved my error–not that for which I erred but the error itself. A depraved soul, falling away from security in thee to destruction in itself, seeking nothing from the shameful deed but shame itself."
Eventually, I got caught. Mum and Dad asked me if I'd stolen them. I knew a lie here wouldn't further my predicament. And so I confessed. They said I would have to apologize to the manager at the local supermarket where I'd stolen the Barbie dolls. I was so scared. I thought something terrible was going to happen. They bought me shaking and crying uncontrollably into the supermarket.
When we arrived, the large supermarket had never looked more scary. The manager was summoned over to the front counter. Dad told the confused manager I had stolen a Barbie doll and I wanted to say sorry. The manager came over looking confused and trying to look stern. Through my tears I began, "I'm really sorry I stole a Barbie doll..."
I stopped to cry something between a cough and a cry and continued, "...and I'll never do it again." The manager had mercy on me and said, "That's ok."
At school, I was a companion of fools. The girls I spent time with in my Christian school all came from non-Christian homes. 1 Corinthians 15: 33-34 says:
'Do not be deceived: “Bad company ruins good morals.” Wake up from your drunken stupor, as is right, and do not go on sinning. For some have no knowledge of God. I say this to your shame.'
I stole Barbie dolls to be popular with my peers. I was a servant of man and sought their approval above Gods (Galatians 1:10). I began to ignore my parents teachings about not thieving and listened to my peers who thought popularity was about having things. This was the beginning.
Dad and Mum soon woke up to this. My father recently told me that this was the jolt which got him looking into homeschooling. He began to think of Matthew 6:33 which says, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
In truth, my father really believed all his children would become educationally retarded if they were homeschooled. Yet, he said, "I don't care. So long as they know Christ in the end." He thought, "For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?" If we knew our education subjects well, yet forfeited our souls, what good would that be?
I believe God has blessed our parents for their brave steps. Despite the criticism they received at times, they began homeschooling. As a result, and despite their own fears, we all grew up as educationally competent. My brothers particularly so.
This is consistent with Brian Ray's study. Ray has shown homeschoolers perform 15-30% better than public school students in America. Australian studies also show homeschoolers perform equally or even better than student in the school environment.(1)
And so, I would like to assure readers, homeschooling does not educationally stunt its students. It does the opposite. It teaches them better than ever, whatever the parent wishes to teach. Therefore, if parents want to teach children in the way of the Lord (Prov 22:6), homeschooling is often a better educational option than school.
(1) Glenda Jackson 'SUMMARY OF AUSTRALIAN RESEARCH ON HOME EDUCATION' [PDF submitted to the parliamentary enquiry in NSW] 1st August 2012, Faculty of Education at Monash University.