K-44 Maiden PinkThe Stitchery


An Analogy for

A Season of Re-education

& Renewing of the Mind



by Barbara Edtl Shelton






Everyone in any given culture is immersed in that culture's ideas and attitudes whether they have ever studied them or not. The ideas are just there, firmly in place in their minds and hearts, never to be changed much, except ~ and only except ~ by one of two things:  A) an experience that proves differently than one's beliefs, or B) a concentrated focus on changing those beliefs.


As we approach homeschooling, we will naturally bring with us all sorts of preconceived ideas about what "education" should look like. So if the "old" is not exposed, the "new" will be nothing more than a "cheap ~ or, more likely, expensive ~ imitation."


I liken the whole process to a stitchery.  As parents starting to homeschool, we start out with a fully completed stitchery of our idea of "education."  Even never having pushed a single needle or thread through our stitchery canvas, we still have one.  And it does not like to be disturbed or challenged.  I know I'm veering away from the analogy here, as stitcheries are inanimate, but start poking around the threads of this one, or try to pull any out, and the thing comes to life ~ FULL animated life!!! ~ much as a bear woken up mid-hybernation might wake up. 


Don't believe me?!?  OK, let me pull on a few threads with a few "needley" statements made by John Taylor Gatto who was named "New York State Teacher of the Year" in 1992.  I heard him speak at a homeschool convention maybe three years later.  His ideas absolutely "blew me out of the water"!!!  They did much to form my ideas about education, and, as well, to blast apart my old ideas of education and thus free me to pursue "true education" for my children without feeling I needed ~ or would even be smart ~ to imitate the school system, whether public or private. 



      "I donít think weíll get rid of schools any time soon, certainly not in my lifetime, but if weíre going to change whatís rapidly becoming a disaster of ignorance, we need to realize that the school institution "schools" very well, though it does not "educate"; thatís inherent in the design of the thing. Itís not the fault of bad teachers or too little money spent. Itís just impossible for education and schooling ever to be the same thing."


      "School is a twelve-year jail sentence where bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned." 


     "By preventing a free market in education, a handful of social engineers - backed by the industries that profit from compulsory schooling: teacher colleges, textbook publishers, materials suppliers, et al. - has ensured that most of our children will not have an education, even though they may be thoroughly schooled."



WOW!!!  Yeah, New York State Teacher of the Year!!!!  I'm very curious as to how that happened, especially since he went on the homeschool convention circuit after that and preached all this!!!  Just for the record (if anyone's keeping one), I don't personally feel that "...bad habits are the only curriculum truly learned," but this is a public school teacher talking, not me.  I'm just wanting you to feel free(r) to let go of the idea that school is the best place to learn.  (For more on this, read But Aren't Schools the Best Way to Learn? by Michael Pearl.)


If we want God to give us His picture, we will have to submit our stitchery to a seam ripper and a rigorous "make-over" process. First, all the old threads will have to be pulled out. No need to totally cut them up or discard them all, set them aside ~ God may use some of them in the new tapestry picture He will be creating. But at this point they do all have to be pulled out. This is where books like Dumbing Us Down, The Great Escape, Home Education Myths, The Right Choice: Homeschooling and my CD set, "The Foundation for Homeschooling Duo  ("The Heart of True Education" and "Preparing Heart 'n' Soul 'n' Guts NOW to Homeschool to the END!!!") come in handy.  (And Better Late Than Early and For the Children's Sake for the younger ones.) These will help extract all those long-imbedded, tenacious threads, one by (stubborn) one.


As the threads come out, we find ~ what? ~ a clean and blank canvas?  No!!!  The original print is stamped ~ in almost indelible ink ~ onto our canvas!  Note I said almost indelible!  This is nothing that a heart emptied of its self, a mind ready to be submitted, washed, and renewed to God's ideas rather than its own can't handle.  (Click on this picture to go to the artist's blog!)     


Your imprinted canvas will need to be bleached and washed clean and new.  And this is for what?  Just to have a nice, clean canvas?  No ~ it's so that God will have a fresh clean canvas on which to create a brand new painting of His own design.  Secrets of Solitude, "Let Go," "A Time to Seek God"... all of these will help with the "bleaching" to make your canvas "whiter than snow"! ~ that is, if you go through it with God!


This season is going to take some time, as you might well imagine.  So in the meantime, you may be in need of a "temporary canvas" so your kids have some way of productively spending their days during this time of Mom (and hopefully Dad) getting their bearings in this new way of approaching education.  You may not be ready for complete freedom; there is much reading/listening you'll be doing that will help you know what to do, though it will mostly help to start "seeing" differently ~ which in turn will help you know what to do.  The idea is to get to the place of allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you so that you "do not need a teacher"; you will just be letting Him lead you along.  (Note that this will be in much more than mere academic, formal or informal, pursuits.  Much more importantly, you will learn to walk with your children as HE does, with HIS heart, purifying and sweetening all  your interactions within your family, lovingly helping them learn to relate in a new way with each other.


This "interim" time ~ like a bridge from one world to another ~ is what I created the "jumpstart plan" for high school for ~ specifically the very first "pre-chapter" in my book, Senior High: A Home-Designed Form+U+la.  And for your younger children, I created Real-Life Homeschool Learning & Organizing Tools for Younger Children (age 4~12).  You may use several "threads" out of these jumpstarters later, after you have learned and unlearned some things, but these resources will help you come up with a temporary "canvas"; a "bridge" to something better without totally cutting you loose.  :-)


Alright, so let's say your canvas has had quite a bit cleared off of it, and is now at a place of being ready for the "new," but now what? There are several things God will be doing, exciting and fun things, most of which He was not free to do before. Some will be a bit scary at times, as a walk of faith IS, and He will be doing them in a unique order for each one. I'll just identify them so you can be aware of what will likely be happening to you at some point...


For one thing, God will begin teaching you a variety of new "stitches" that you had no idea were so easy or so beautiful!  And He will teach many of these stitches directly to your children, or have you involved in doing with them!  He's the "Master Tapestrar" so no need to fear that your tapestry will be anything less than lovely and perfect-for-you!


He will also begin showing you a new variety of yarn and thread types ~ there's an unbelievable array of textures, thicknesses, colors and combinations you never knew existed! And you'll learn about the various needles and hoops to use, to keep your canvas nice and taut, (the organizing and child discipline books) and to keep from "poking" yourself or others. 


To encourage you along the way, He will also allow you to see in-process stitcheries of a few who have allowed God to start from scratch on ~ or RE-start and REDEEM ~ their canvases. But be aware that, even as He shows you these beautiful works, He does not want you to be trying to trace or copy their patterns onto your own now-blank canvas, no matter how "perfect" they look!  He's just showing you that it can be done without the world's pattern, and will then help you create your very own!  Or rather, cooperate with Him as HE does the creating ~ and leading. 



All of the resources in the "Season of Re-education and Renewing of the Mind" will contribute in one way or another to all this, many in several ways. The main one that will contribute to or touch on almost every aspect is Wisdom's Way of Learning. 


Well, it's time to get out the scissors, bleach, seam ripper, embroidery yarn, and...  a good pair of walking shoes!  You're in for a wonderful journey!







I got the (real) stitchery at

the top from Carolyn at

K-44 Maiden Pink

...the counted cross-stitch hoop, and the floral wallpaper from:




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