“It is said that one machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine, however, can do the work of one extraordinary man.” – Tehyi Hsieh
For thousands of years, approximately eighty percent of the earth’s workforce was primarily focused on raising enough food for survival. This percentage still holds true in many Third World countries. However, with the advent of modern machinery and enhanced crops, only 1.5 percent of the workforce in the United States now grows the food that feeds our nation and much of the rest of the world. It has been rightly said that starvation and malnutrition are a result of political and transportation issues rather than lack of production. What happened to all those workers who used to be farmers? For the most part, they moved to the cities, looking for jobs in factories.
Unfortunately, we have seen a huge decrease in the number of manufacturing jobs, as factories are automated with advanced robotics or jobs are moved overseas to take advantage of cheap labor. Actually, there is no reason that a moderately small percentage of the population, given the right tools, could not manufacture all the items the world needs. Short supply of these items, just like shortages of food, is caused or will be caused by political issues and transportation, not by production capability. If manufacturing jobs have disappeared, where did the workers go? To a large extent they have switched to high-technology careers and so brought about the advent of the Information Age.
History is repeating itself. High-technology jobs are moving overseas to tap cheaper labor markets and are throwing the industry into turmoil. We find ourselves entering another new era in which life sciences, physics, chemistry, and high technology converge to create the next wave of human advancement: nanotechnology. Nano, the Greek word for dwarf, means a billionth. To put it into perspective, a nanometer refers to a spatial measurement that is 1/75,000th the width of a human hair. Nanotechnology is focused on building machines at the atomic level, primarily via chemical composition.
In the future, clogged arteries may very well be cleared by tiny, invisible robots that have been injected into the bloodstream. A farmer may treat his fields with a “dust” made of sensors that report the health and moisture levels of his crops. The whole nature of warfare could change. Computer monitors are expected to be wall-sized and only the thickness of cloth. Because the speed of computers is limited by the speed of light, the smaller they are the faster they can operate. Supercomputers will eventually be the size of marbles and cost about the same. Nantero, Inc., a company that is starting to produce nanotubes for computer memory, is building a technology that will eventually be able to store every book, movie, and musical score ever produced in something the size and cost of today’s desktop computer. Add to this trend the uncharted possibilities of the Internet, and it makes one’s head swim.
Where does all this leave home schooling parents, who are directing the education of their children and are responsible for preparing them for what might come? True, we already have some advantages. The current public school system of children segregated by age and led by an instructor is geared for creating a workforce destined for manufacturing jobs that are long gone. If the future gives us the power to hold a world of knowledge in a small box, display it on a wall-sized screen, and interact with it as easily as we do a telephone, then the need for public educational institutions and instructors will cease to exist. Careers of the future will demand individuals whose education is characterized by custom-fitted curriculum, an emphasis on self-learning, a focus on creative thinking skills, and the ability to adjust and adapt in real time to student, teacher, and family needs. These things cannot be provided within the established education structure. Already educational institutions find themselves increasingly unable to produce students who can think and create or graduates who can succeed in the new economy.
In the future, knowledge will become subordinate to rarer qualities such as integrity and self-discipline. Knowledge will be widely available and may be accessed almost without cost; however, character will always be at a premium. With the advance of technology and the universal availability of information will also come an avalanche of entertainment, pornography, games, virtual worlds, and gambling that will drain dry the minds and strength of the masses who are enslaved by it. The temptations will be great. Those who have been trained to keep their minds free and to be vigilant in doing what is right will prosper just as Daniel prospered in Babylon.
Home schooling, by its nature, can be the best environment for producing the kind of men and women who will be needed in the future. The potential for sharpening minds, fortifying hearts, tempering wills, and directing spirits is unlimited, but all that potential comes with a profound twofold responsibility for home schooling parents. First, particularly for fathers, if we want our children to pass on the home school legacy to coming generations, we must make sure our sons have the skills and tools they will need to earn a living for their families. How tragic it would be if we were to send our children into the workplace equipped only for the future equivalent of making buggy whips.
Also, our sons and daughters need to understand that home education is more than school, more than the acquisition of information. It is a way of living. Our daughters must be equipped to pursue that way of life, being dedicated to preparing the next generation for another two-pronged invasion of the future. It is true: no number of machines now, or in the future, will be able to do the work of one extraordinary man. Home schooling provides a wonderful opportunity for the Lord to turn ordinary students into extraordinary people.