18 November 2012


One wonders what our lives would have been like had we decided to put our children into a local school in Yap.  Might they have become effectively native speakers of Yapese - at least natural second-language users of the language?  Would we, as a consequence, have left Yap sooner than we did?  Would we, perhaps, never have left Yap at all?

The natural place for the children of expatriates in Yap would have been the Catholic Mission School - and that, for me, at least, would not have been thinkable.

By now - 1980 or so - the idea of home-schooling was being discussed in at least some of the literature we read - by now including National Review, which our dear friend Charles DeWolf had subscribed to for us, as well as the Tyler theonomic crowd's newsletters, and the John Birch Society magazines that we subscribed to ourselves.

Although I am confident that home-schooling was the right choice for us to make, given our - or at least my - deep-set anti-Catholicism.  Nevertheless, it was a very great challenge to undertake this - a challenge, specifically, for Susan.  She had never taught before.  We knew no one who home-schooled.  There was no support network.

I remain a keen advocate of home schooling for elementary-aged children in many cases.  The advantages of it are clear: you are in charge of what your child is exposed to - no small benefit in today's world!; your children may remain in a nurturing home environment when they are very young; your children may proceed at the pace that is right for them.

The in many cases mentioned above is important.  There are things that, I believe, make home-schooling a workable thing.  A very important consideration, to deal with a problem raised by many opponents of home-schooling, is the need for socialisation.  When we moved back to New Zealand, this need was met almost immediately by the formation, by Susan and a few others, of a home-schooling group here in Pukekohe.  Mothers with their children got together fortnightly for the sorts of things that growing children need.  That sort of socialisation - together with another that applied in our family's case (the music schooling, to be described later) - meant that they were able to learn to be part of a group without the faults of modern early schooling: bullying, competitiveness at too young an age, and a rigid approach to education.

In Yap we had some difficulties providing these advantages, yet, on the whole, the children of other expatriates provided something of the requisite environment.

But Susan bore the burden of this.  We purchased a home-schooling course - one that was very consciously Protestant, Americanist, and - how to put this? - one that seemed to believe that the height of perfection in Christian culture had been reached amongst Evangelicals, in the United States, and in about the year 1955.  Even for the two of us, who, after all, had grown up in that country and at that time, if not in that religious context, some of it was a little difficult to take with a straight face.

Nevertheless, we did become home-schoolers - and continued home-schooling when, in 1984, we returned to New Zealand.  One of our children - who may choose to comment on this post! - believes this to have been, I think, a mistake.  The other three?  Well, I have heard nothing negative from them, at least!

By this time - mid-1980 - I was becoming restless.  I had been hired to work on Yapese linguistic matters.  I did so - but increasingly it was the computing side of this that occupied my time and energies.  In addition, as the administration came to realise what could be done using the computer setup we had - as things were going at the time, quite advanced, and particularly in that location - I was being asked to do things on the computer - statistical calculations, for example - that had nothing to do with the Yapese language.

The government was moving away from the use of expatriate workers, as well.  In 1979, a plebiscite was held throughout the Trust Territory, to decide the political future of each portion of it.  Yap, in particular, had chosen to be part of the Federated States of Micronesia.  It began to seem likely that my days as an expatriate employee in Yap were limited.

Sometime in early 1980 - about the time Eddie was born, I suppose - I wrote a letter to Gary North, in Tyler - he and I had corresponded for quite some time by now - in which I bemoaned the facts that I was doing less linguistics and more computing now, and that my job might not last in any case.  Gary replied by suggesting I move to Tyler and help him to computerise his publishing business.

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