Actress Sam Sorbo, a home education advocate who's also taught her own children from home, has offered tips for teachers and parents during these unprecedented times of virtual learning during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns.
Sorbo has written two books on the subject of homeschooling and parenting — They're Your Kids and Teach From Love, a devotional and a book that chronicles her family's experience with homeschooling. Sorbo’s book, Teach from Love: A School Year Devotional for Families provides practical tips for parents and teachers on how to promote godly qualities in children.
Sorbo’s passion for homeschooling comes from her desire to provide a strong foundation of faith and knowledge for the next generation. The actress maintains that failing public education is the reason why so many children are having problems with morals. And she believes it’s why they're turning to atheism.
The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post’s interview with Sorbo, where she offers advice for parents and teachers in these times of widespread homeschooling or corporate digital learning.
CP: You've been an advocate for homeschooling for many years, and in this season of lockdowns, many people have been forced to learn how to homeschool. What advice do you have for parents who feel overwhelmed?
Sorbo: Well, first of all, parents who were forced to school their children at home because of COVID were not practicing traditional homeschooling inasmuch as it was certainly under duress and very stressful, and they were being directed by the schools.
The thing that people have to realize is there's homeschooling and there's home education. Homeschooling is best described as doing homework with your child that he or she is assigned by a school teacher. Home education is parent-lead learning. The goal of a home educator is to instill and cultivate a love for learning that will last a lifetime.
The good news from the test that we just underwent was that parents were exposed to the joy of being with their children more than not being with their children that schools impose. My hope is that some of that joy shifted their thinking to want to try home education.
CP: Can you share why you think home education is imperative?
Sorbo: School forms a wedge between the child and the parent. But when the parent chooses to home educate, the parent becomes the lead teacher/learner for the child which strengthens the relationship in a way that the school necessarily destroys.
When a parent drops his child off at kindergarten, he is tacitly telling the child, "I am incapable and the school now has authority over you." When the child returns home with a permission slip and says, “Daddy, you have to sign this!” or “Mommy, the teacher says you need to sign this,” the parents' authority in their own home is undermined.
Then, when teenagers rebel against their parents’ strict rules, we roll our eyes and claim, “It’s just what teenagers do.” I refute that. It’s what they are taught to do, by a system that denigrates parents and undermines their authority.
Another reason I think homeschooling is imperative is because of morals and values. We have ceased to teach those things in public schools. We teach the very opposite: Evolution and survival of the fittest. What do you suppose that means?
It means that our children are accidents of nature and there is no good higher than the personal good. That necessarily devolves into bullying, and people wonder why we have a bullying problem! It's all we teach! I would argue that it isn't that homeschooling is imperative more than it is a moral imperative to not submit children into any form of public education because public education denies the moral good.
CP: In your book, you go beyond teaching to talk both to the hearts of teachers and parents. Why was that something you wanted to do?
Sorbo: We need to be teaching children that there is good and evil, right and wrong, and that they should aspire to things outside themselves. Godly values and moral instruction can do that.
CP: Many schools are against teaching about God. Can you share why you believe the opposite should be implemented when educating youth?
Sorbo: This goes with what we were discussing before. And I can simplify it even more. God is Truth. He is the Word. Logos. Any school that refuses to teach my child the truth is a school willing to lie to my child.
Think about teaching children survival of the fittest and then contradictorily telling them not to bully! On a fundamental level, the child will never trust any authority. Not the school's, because clearly they lie with that contradiction, and not the parent who has subjected the child to that authority. And we wonder why there is looting and rioting in our streets today. It's what they’ve been taught.
CP: What can parents do to help schools that are now providing online learning for their children?
Sorbo: I struggle to advocate for online learning as a replacement for in-person instruction. The benefit of in-person instruction is the personal contact and the facility to answer questions and engage the student directly. If this can be achieved in an online forum, then fantastic! But I would caution parents that trying to simply take a classroom that used to be in-person and put it online. It is not a panacea and doesn't always work.
If I were parenting young children right now, I would not want my child to be sitting in front of a computer screen several hours of the day. I would take this opportunity to expand my provincial views on education that I inherited from a system in which I grew up and seek to offer my children a wider range of options for their education. There are, after all, many pathways to the truth.
CP: How do you think teaching from a place of love influences students?
Sorbo: How can you learn without love? Love opens the heart, and the heart opens the mind. That is, in part, why Jesus showed love to the world. If He showed anything else, what would we possibly have learned from Him?
But you also want to show your students a love for learning because that is the value that you ultimately are trying to inspire within them: A love of learning.
Finally, we must love our children. That's why it is so important to cultivate a strong relationship with them and not allow external institutions to interfere with that relationship.
CP: What do you want people to really take from your book, Teach from Love?
Sorbo: A reconnection to the godly values with which they were raised and on which this nation, and the future of this nation and its people, rests.
CP: What else would you like to share with parents or teachers?
Sorbo: I really want parents to understand that they don't know education. Parents who feel incompetent to teach their child a grade school subject matter must understand that they have not been educated, because the mark of education is the ability to impart what one has learned. Otherwise, what good is an education? And so, if you feel incompetent, it's because you weren't educated, you were schooled, which is an entirely different proposition.
In fact, I would argue that you were schooled to believe that you couldn’t (do anything you haven’t been formally instructed in.) Because you probably think you can't do anything in which you haven't been schooled, even though there's ample evidence that you can. Did anyone instruct you on how to buy a car, mow the lawn, use your cellphone, or teach your child his ABCs? No.
You don’t need a gold star to prove you can do something you set your mind to doing. You simply need confidence and an understanding (intrinsic) of how to learn. That’s what home education seeks to impart in our children, together with the familial relationship prescribed in the Bible.
You taught your child to dress himself, to tie his shoes, and to eat properly, but the moment he turns 5, the school says, “Our turn! You’re incapable!”
I am here to tell you, you are perfectly qualified to teach your child. Children are a gift from God. Why would you send a gift away for someone else to open? And if it's a question of any particular subject matter, understand all the teaching is in the textbook.
If you personally struggle with math, then this is an opportunity for you to overcome that while relearning it with your child. Incidentally, why do you think there are so many math tutoring places popping up everywhere? Because even the schools can't teach math anymore, it would seem. So if there's any area which is too great a hurdle for you, then find a tutor for your child. But don't subjugate your authority to anyone else’s where your children are concerned.