One of the amazing things about homeschooling is the ability to daily pour into our children – to mentor them, disciple them, watch them grow, and laugh with them. We get to be a part of both the little, random details and the major milestones in their lives. While the daily side of it might get a bit chaotic at times, I honestly can’t think of a higher privilege.
That niggling little thought looms, though, and it pops up at the weirdest times: what about when they leave home? Did I do enough? Will they be ready?
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So we try to shove every course and elective we can think of at them. Personal Finance? Check. Consumer Math? Check. Anything else we can think of? Check. These are all important life skills, and we should teach them.
However, there’s something that many of us either forget or leave off the list because it seems intimidating: Worldview. Whether we decide that it’s unnecessary or figure that it will be handled in college, we often just don’t find time for it in high school.
Personally, I think that worldview is an incredibly important subject to teach – so much so that we took other subjects off the list in order to make time for it. Now that my son is in college and the workforce, I’m glad we did.
What Is Worldview?
The most common way to define worldview is “the lens through which you view the world.” Profound, huh? Everyone has a worldview, even if they don’t realize it.
Worldview studies, however, goes deeper. This subject not only brings you through the process of understanding your own worldview, it teaches you how to understand the perspectives of other people. This is an incredibly important skill in today’s world, for a number of reasons.
While our kids are at home, we can pretty easily keep track of what influences they come in contact with. Because we pay the bills and buy the electronics and other resources, it’s fairly easy to keep control over what happens with them. We can set down rules and hand out consequences when they’re not followed. We have the final say over which activities our kids are involved in and who they hang out with.
Eventually, however, they are going to leave the house. And then, we simply have to trust that we’ve taught them correctly.
After High School
Once they leave our nest, though, a lot of different ideas, philosophies, and worldviews are going to come at our kids from every direction. This will happen through college classes, friendships, political statements, the media, and the entertainment industry.
Sometimes, these influences only con our kids out of the price of a movie ticket or new best-seller…but often, they can have consequences that border on drastic. Kids who once seemed strong in their faith leave it all together after hearing opposing ideas. Young adults who had no previous interest in politics are suddenly on board with a candidate or agenda, even though they can’t explain the platform they’re fighting for. They can work buzzwords into conversations and answers, but they can’t answer the deeper questions.
Quite frankly, this can have serious consequences. It can cause them to make life-altering decisions based on emotion, rather than reason. This can result in them walking away from relationships and support systems based on agenda. It can make them decide to walk away from a belief system they once held dear.
I’m not saying that we should fear our kids turning away from our ideas. They are going to make their own decisions as adults; some we will agree with, and some we won’t. We can’t keep our kids from disagreeing with us once they reach adulthood…but we can prepare them to make those decisions wisely.
We can make sure they are equipped to understand what’s behind those ideas before they decide to follow them wholeheartedly. We can prepare them to tackle what life will throw at them. And we should.
Many parents will teach their own beliefs to their children, which is the right thing to do. As parents, it is our job to mentor and raise our children, and passing on the belief system that we believe is right is an important job.
Today, however, it’s also important to teach our kids to understand how others think. They’ll come in contact every day with information that they’ll need to analyze, and it’s difficult to do that if they can’t tell what it’s really saying. And in order to communicate their own beliefs to others, they need to be able to understand how that person sees ideas. But how do you teach a belief system that you don’t follow, or perhaps don’t understand?
Fortunately, there are some amazing resources that will help you do this.
First, it’s important to understand that there is no such thing as a “neutral” worldview resource. There just isn’t. That would require the author to have a worldview, and that just isn’t possible. However, any quality worldview resource will state its approach up front, and many will teach opposing worldviews by allowing proponents of them to explain it.
For instance, Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews is written from a Biblical Christian worldview, but it also presents Islam, Secular Humanism, Postmodernism, Marxism, and Cosmic Humanism. It does so by allowing scholars or leaders who hold those beliefs to explain them. The book will then lead students through analyzing each point, bringing each worldview out to its logical conclusion. By doing so, it teaches students how to think through what they hear rather than telling them what to think.
By the way, Understanding the Times: A Survey of Competing Worldviews is easily one of my favorite resources; it’s recently been updated and also has two sister volumes, Understanding the Faith: A Survey of Christian Apologetics (Understanding the Times) and Understanding the Culture: A Survey of Social Engagement (how to approach current events and issues). I highly recommend these books!
Additional Helpful Resources
Some other books I’ve found to be extremely useful include:
Prevailing Worldviews of Western Society Since 1500 by Glenn R. Martin.
The Compact Guide To World Religions by Dean C. Halverson.
Once a student has a foundational understanding of the different worldviews and is able to reason between them, I really do suggest reading and discussing excerpts or full works by authors from differing positions. Have your student read both things that they agree with and things that they really don’t – and read those things along with them. Then, discuss them. Reason through them. Show your children how to work with differing views and how to decide whether or not to support them.
Don’t just teach them a belief system…help them to build their own. Teach them the importance of understanding why they believe something to be true. And teach them to be able to support their stance.
After going through this process with my own son, I can definitely see the benefit. As a double major in Theology and Politics & Policy, he comes across information all the time that requires pretty serious worldview analysis. Almost everything he deals with is cleverly written to appeal to the largest possible audience, but has an underlying worldview that influences the outcome.
However, even in daily things like watching music videos on Youtube or reading a new novel requires worldview analysis. Daily conversations over current events have more meaning, once the worldview behind them is understood. And being able to discuss his beliefs became a lot easier once he understood the viewpoints of others.
I encourage you to look through these resources and see what might work for your kids. They really do make a difference! And if you have any questions about how to tackle this, comment and let me know. I’m more than happy to help!