Fifteen Minutes of Fame

Artist Andy Warhol is credited with creating the phrase “fifteen minutes of fame.” It refers to Warhol’s observation that within pop culture the relentless drive of the media creates fleeting celebrity for everyone sooner or later- before the media focus quickly moves on to an even newer subject. From Billy Ray Cyrus and the “Achy Breaky Heart” dance, to Kato Kaelin, the long-haired house guest of O.J. Simpson, it seems that everyone is a celebrity for fifteen minutes- but fame is fleeting for most.

The same thing is true for educational philosophies. Every year the homeschool market is flooded with 100’s of new products and dozens of new curricula promising instant results and unimaginable academic achievements. And like sheep it seems, homeschool parents line up to dutifully purchase this year’s newest academic cure-all. But like fame, new educational philosophies are fleeting too. There’s a reason why centuries of committed educators hadn’t suggested most of these new products and philosophies: Because they don’t work.

Again and again you’ll hear me harp on the power of reading; the importance of books and caring human teachers as the foundation of all true education. No “distance learning” program, no CD-Rom or DVD or software driven learning system can provide the human interaction necessary to nurture a child’s heart as well as their mind. Only skill-driven areas of learning such as typing, playing the piano or perhaps arithmetic drill can benefit from these latest miracle teachers of cyber-learning.

From art to science, from history to creative writing, from geography to philosophy, there is only one enduring approach to successful education. It requires human interaction and a library card- and if you’re really blessed, a comfortable sofa. With these timeless tools and a lively interaction of thought, discussion and activity, young minds blossom- and so do young souls. An appreciation for human history is birthed the same way a compassion for our fellow human beings is birthed- by reading and talking and debating with someone else. A mentor or tutor can provoke eager young minds to grab hold of the amazing world which surrounds them in a way that no hand-held game, computer software or video program ever can.

If we want our children to have more than fifteen minutes in the spotlight, we have to invest the countless hours that it takes to nurture young minds and young hearts. If we want our children to make their place in the world and to have an enduring impact we have to be willing to read and talk with our children as if their life depended on it- because it does. If you’ve fallen victim to the latest “celebrity curriculum” it’s not too late to get back on track. Yes- I know you spent a lot of money. But if you spent a lot of money on mushrooms only to discover they made your children sick, would you insist they finish eating them all- or would you throw them out before any more harm was done?

Talk with your children about the fleeting nature of fame and the human tendency to want something “new” to distract us from our human responsibilities and our divine purpose. Tell them about a time when you “just had to have” a fad toy as a child or teenager- and how quickly the fad wore off and those “had to have” items ended up in the attic or trash. Have them make a list of the five things they want most right now- and then ask them how many of those things they think will matter to them a year from now. Now go to their room and invite them to pick out at least three items that seemed vitally important two years ago that they haven’t touched in at least a year.

Read these verses about fads, trends and time and talk with your children about them…

James 4:14

Acts 17:21

Mt. 6:19

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