For I can testify about them that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not based on knowledge. Since they did not know the righteousness that comes from God and sought to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. (Romans 10:2-3)
Here’s a good stuffy, scholarly-sounding quote to throw around next time you get into a discussion about Karl Marx’s theory of economics: “The relative values of commodities are, therefore, determined by the respective quantities or amounts of labor, worked up, realized, fixed in them.” When I first read that I thought, “What the clunge does that mean?” Upon further study, I deduced that Karl Marx believed the value of a product is determined by the amount of labor involved in producing it. If a wooden nickel took the carpenter ten hours to make and the going rate for carpentry is $10 an hour then the wooden nickel is “worth” $100, according to Marx—no more, no less.
Of course, Marx reckoned without reality. In the real world, if 25 people all want a wooden nickel, and there’s only one available, those people will be willing to pay a lot more than $100 to get it. On the other hand, if there happen to be 40 wooden nickels available and only 2 people want to buy them, the nickels may end up being sold for a lot less than $100. A stuffy, scholarly-sounding way of saying this would be, “Value is determined by market desire.”
“Okay, so Marx’s economic system is out of touch with the real world,” you’re probably thinking. “What the clunge does that have to do with homeschooling?” Aha, my friends, that is the question I propose to answer.
It is just slightly possible that we use the same faulty, Marxist theory when we evaluate our homeschool progress. We might say, for instance, “I’ve put hours and hours into lesson plans, fields trips, extra curricular activities, classroom time and grading papers. Of course we’re doing a good job homeschooling!” But perhaps, like Marx, we’re looking at the wrong end of the equation. The amount of time and effort does not necessarily determine the value of the end product. Remember, we said, “Value is determined by market desire.” In other words, how badly does anyone want the end product?
Look at any overly busy homeschooling family and you will generally find this end product: the children are often tired and cranky, academics (good old reading, writing and ‘rythmetic) is done in a sloppy, undisciplined fashion, and the kids would rather be entertained by friends, activities and movies than enjoy a quiet day at home with their family. Is this how we are laboring for our children to turn out? Would God be pleased with these results? Is there a “market desire” for this end product?
As the Apostle Paul noted, zeal is fine but you have to know what you are zealous for—the righteousness of God. When we calculate our homeschool’s progress solely on the amount of zeal we show, rather than on whether the end product meets God’s standards, we are substituting our own idea of righteousness instead of submitting to God.
Rather than blindly putting more man-hours (or Mom-hours!) into homeschooling to make it “worth” more, we should instead strive to make our end product—the kids—meet the “market desire,” God’s standards. This may mean more time and effort on your part, or it may mean a different kind of time and effort. But the amount of effort is not the standard—God’s Word is.
So, the next time you feel that you should be “doing more,” ask yourself why you feel that way. You may have succumbed to Marxist Homeschooling!
Heather Sheen is a homeschool graduate who also completed her college degree at home. If you would like to read more articles by the Sheen family or contact them, please visit www.HomeschoolFamilyForum.com.