Monday, September 08, 2008

Homeschooling and World War II

With the start of the new school year I've been thinking a bit about what are our ultimate goals for our children. In Alice in Wonderland is this famous exchange:

“Which road do I take?" (Alice)
"Where do you want to go?" (Cheshire Cat)
"I don't know," Alice answered.
"Then," said the cat, "it doesn't matter. If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.”


Here are some of my goals:
I want my children to be happy and productive members of society.
I want them to help make the world a better place.
I want them to be good parents when they start having children.
I want them to follow God.

I haven't read a military book for maybe a year, but for some reason I've been thinking about World War II. One interesting fact has stuck with me for several years. With hundreds of thousands of soldiers fighting, statisticians were able to generate numbers on how effective soldiers were in the war.
In Europe the Germans were tops. On average it took ten Russians to kill one German. There many factors. The Germans were better armed, better supported, and better motivated. In the Eastern front the Germans faced ill equipped men, often with little food and clothing. This was only a generation after the Soviets took power and there were many Russians who hated the Soviet government. Initially some of the troops surrendered to the Germans, proposing that they be given guns and they would fight for the Germans. Unwisely the Germans threw them into prison or killed them, and thus the Soviet troops decided it was better to fight the Germans than to surrender.
In the Western front the statistics were better, it typically took two or three allies to kill one German.
Except for the American soldiers working under George Patton . It took two or three Germans to kill one soldier in the Third Army. As a military leader Patton, few are his equal. (Of course I'd never let him near my daughters.) His men had the same equipment that most other Americans had. With tens of thousands of men Patton had not sifted out the elite. He was a very gifted leader who was able to motivate. He had spent decades learning how to be a military leader.

I want my daughters to have internal self drive. This will make them ten times more effective in what every endeavor they choose to work. If they are passive, then they will accomplish little in life. If they wait for things to happen or for someone to tell them what needs to be done, they will make little difference in the world.
But if they are actively looking to make a difference they will accomplish great things. If they will learn take the initiative they will help make the world a better place.

When I was growing up I was pretty much a loaner. I rarely invited friends over to play. I am happy to see my daughters often asking if it was OK to have friends over, and then calling up and arranging play dates.

Academics is important. Children need to know history, math, reading, writing and science to survive in the world. But to thrive, to really make a difference, they'll need to learn to take the bull by the horns and charge ahead with a project. This way they'll be ten times more effective than others.


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5 comments:

Curt said...

Great post. I like to show our children how we budget and pay for curriculum each year. That way they learn that education is not free, but a privilage. They also take better care of their material when they know what we paid for it.

I also show them the books that I buy for my business, so they realize that learning is a lifelong process.

Carletta said...

Self-motivation is so important. My husband and I really want to teach our children to take responsibility for their own education and goals.

Our children are still young, and we know it will be a process. But we are already teaching our oldest son that this is his education and the results are up to him. We already how to spell, write, etc. and if our son wants to accomplish some of the things that his father and I have accomplished, he will have to learn those things as well.

Right now he is very motivated to learn the things we're trying to teach him. I hope that motivation continues, and eventually gives way to self-directed learning.

Kim said...

I believe self- motivation is really the foundation for any future success. With this, their dreams and successes will no little if any bounds. Thanks for posting this.

catherine said...

Great, but how do you instill that in your children? How do you get rid of a bad attitude about learning? What if your kid always gives up when things are hard, and stops from boredom when they're easy?

Henry Cate said...

Catherine, I've tried to answer your question in: Suggestions for helping children to learn self-motivation.