We had the bible school boys over Sunday night, they actually come over every Sunday night...the house seems empty when they are on break. I had a really interesting experience with one of the boys and I've been mulling over it today.
A new young man, I'll call "M" struck up a conversation with me after noticing some of our Abeka math charts on the wall. He found out we homeschooled, and told me about his experience in a homeschool-like cottage school his first years of schooling before moving on to several other forms of schooling. M also went on to share with me how homeschooling for all of the school years was a bad thing, how "studies" have shown that solely homeschooled kids can't go on to function at University or in the real world...
Ahem. Can you in any other way more clearly mark a big ole' target on your forehead... Could you get a rise out of a in-the-trenches-homeschool-mom, any faster?
I did pause- for once- before opening my mouth to enlighten my new friend, before challenging some of these popular assumptions and faulty lines of reasoning. He even threw in the family of homeschoolers he knew who did not go on to achieve anything... Now, I do enjoy a good, intellectual, friendly debate, and when I was young and much less wise, I actually believed such was possible. Looking back at such debates, my opinion now is that it is not feasible unless the two debating are very good friends with a good sense of humor and good understanding of each other. In all other instances, even if the two walk away amicably, something is lost- one walks away put down a little, one walks away feeling a sting, the other walks away feeling a little too wise in her own eyes, or maybe even a little ashamed for the win.
This time, I paused, and made a decision to simply 'be kind'.
I looked M in the eyes and nodded and "really-ed!" and gave many "hmmm's" and I smiled, and I asked about his school experiences.
The amazing part of this little conversation...he actually corrected himself over his anecdotal evidence of homeschool failure, and remembered a family that had fantastic results.
The best result of being kind proved to be the very rich conversation centered around this young man as several of them talked of such things as the different manuscripts used for bible translations, groups of texts, the King James version, the dead sea scrolls, recent archaeological finds, carbon dating, it was just fascinating. Apparently, the physicists, linguists and engineers sitting around our table-harbored several interesting hobbies and lines of study.
I really wondered if I had not chosen to practice kindness (when I really wanted to be offended and defensive) would the free-er flow of topics occurred? Would M felt free to share or would he have felt put in his place, or even merely sat with the feeling of not being liked by his hostess? Would the evening ended much quieter and would we have lost the richness we enjoyed sitting in on those conversations?
sometimes we adults need to remember those words, too.