The Secret to Success

    By Elizabeth Veldboom

Today I’d like to take the time to look at the varying means of higher education, and just what it takes to succeed.

I know a lot of parents who are worried about the “post-high school phase” for their children, and though in today’s culture we are very blessed to have more than one option available to us, those same options can also be very overwhelming. Traditional colleges, trade schools, online schools-how do you choose?

There are many arguments surrounding which course is the best one to take, but I’m not here today to shove a bunch of statistics at you or plead any one path.

Success, I believe, comes down to the individual. Can a 4.0 student from a prestigious college do very well and succeed in a career? Absolutely, yes. Conversely, can another student attend that same college and leave thousands of dollars in debt and no better off than when they first arrived? Yes.

Same college, different experience. Why?

Because education is and should always be unique to the individual. What works for one person will not always work for another.

For me personally, the right choice was an online school for writing. Not only would a traditional college have been financially difficult for my family to maintain, but my focus was also in one very specific area. I didn’t see the point in trying to get a degree in creative writing and then be required to take numerous other classes that actually had nothing to do with writing.

Although the school I ended up choosing is not technically accredited and recognized by the majority of people, so far not a single editor has worried about that or even asked me if I have a degree. Instead, they look at the product: is it good writing?

I have another friend who graduated high school and started her own clothing store without taking a single business course. You might think that would spell disaster. Instead, her store took off and has been named “Local’s Choice” for three years running.

A family friend failed to graduate from high school by one credit, and yet, within a year’s time he was promoted to a high-paying managerial position. How did he do that when he didn’t even have a high school diploma? His work ethic. He was good at his job and he didn’t stop until the job was done.

Another friend found her life’s calling through attending a local college and getting involved in a nonprofit organization, and yet another started her own photography business after taking just a few classes.

All that to say this: success is not defined by the education or lack of education you receive. It’s what you choose to do with the education you’re given.

It’s not the college you go to, the degree you receive, or even pursuing higher education at all. Although our culture would have you think differently, I believe it’s much more simple than that.

Benjamin Franklin knew the secret. So did Albert Einstein. The pioneers and inventors and founding fathers knew it, and this is the “it” that we’ve got to get back to: be good at what you do. Know how to work hard. Learn how to learn, and have integrity in your work.

It may be a simple formula, but it’s a formula that’s been tested and proved.

So if I can encourage you at all today, maybe I can encourage you by saying this: don’t worry about training your child into a certain model of education the world says they should fit into, but rather, focus on training a hard worker of good character. Do that, and you’ll have trained them how to succeed in any situation they’re given.

And as just one final thought? “Commit your actions to the LORD, and your plans will succeed.” (Proverbs 16:3, NLT.)

Commit your child to the Lord’s loving care, and you’ll see them soar.

How do you define success?

(Dear readers: I just wanted to let you know that my devotion “No Higher Love” will be appearing in the July/August edition of “The Upper Room Magazine”! If you’re interested in ordering a copy, you can find out more at their website: You will also be able to view it online at the same place on next Saturday, July 6. Thank you, and I can’t wait to see you there! -Elizabeth)


    Elizabeth Veldboom is a 2009 graduate from The Garden School, and a student in Jerry B. Jenkins Christian Writers Guild. She has previously been published in places like Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Mothers and Daughters, and She has a huge heart for homeschooling families and would love connecting with you, so visit her blog anytime at


My Brother, My Son

    By Patrick Koschak

journey-1[1]Is my son actually my brother? Is my daughter my sister?

No, I don’t live in a shotgun shack in the Appalachians with my wife and the hunting dogs. This is a real question that has been stuck in my craw for some time. Allow me to explain.

Since I began the journey of parenthood over 13 years ago, my attitude about parenting has evolved. When my offspring were very small, I tended to consider them much like pets. They made strange noises, broke things, and just generally needed the basics of discipline to mold their behavior into something more “human-like.” As they grew out of this stage and gained more forms of intelligible expression, I began to think of them more as carbon copies of my wife and I. They parroted back much of what we said, and I saw more of myself or their mother in their actions and words.

The carbon copy stage passed, and my kids just kept growing. I have tried not feeding them, but their pant legs and sleeves just keep getting shorter. Their personalities are growing as strong as their abilities to express them. My kids are more and more distinct from their parents with each passing day. Because their hearts and dreams are still so tender, I find myself acting a lot more like a cheerleader now, encouraging them in their own interests and talents.

I think I can see the next evolutionary stage, and this stage is where I wanted to focus. This phase is the brother/sister thing I was alluding to above. Follow with me here.

The Scriptures tell me that I have a Heavenly Father. I am a new spiritual creation and this relationship with Him is at least equal to, and in many ways greater than, my biological relations. It’s not spiritual incest; it is a relational redefinition. As my children grow in body and faith, they have the same Father in Heaven. They are as much the Father’s as I am. They are my siblings in Christ. I feel this is especially impactful as they journey through their teen years with me. Let me offer a picture of what this “siblings” relationship looks like to me.

As they begin to wrestle with their burgeoning adulthood in earnest, I am not burdened trying to act like I have all the answers. I am freed from feeling that I must always be “above” them somehow. They have transitioned from seeming like possessions, to my parental responsibility, to disciples, to friends.

I can talk to them as a fellow traveler on the Way. I can talk about my failures, past and present. I can tell them what I learned about God’s grace in those times. I can share the things I love with them, and learn to enjoy the things they love.

Now, all of this is not to say that all of parenting completely evolves into being friends. I am not advocating that parental responsibility dissolves into being pals who wear the same clothes and play the same video games every day. Frankly, that is lame. Every child needs a parent, no matter what age.

What I am offering is another facet of the relationship I hope develops between parents and their teenage adults. As adulthood descends on us, adult thoughts and concerns come with it. Parents know this, but don’t always recognize it in their kids or know how to assuage it. I hope that as we interact with our brothers and sisters in Christ (those that are our offspring), these interactions will bring more understanding as equals.

I think Dad would approve.

What are you looking forward to as your own fellow travelers begin to journey into adulthood?


    Patrick K.Patrick Koschak has enjoyed more than 15 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Rachael, and they share three children, ages 9-13. Patrick studied Biblical Studies and Greek at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon.

    Mr. Koschak has been teaching Humanities since 2008 at the Garden School, where he is affectionately known as “Mr. K.” Mr. K’s teaching is occasionally unorthodox, often cerebral, but always heartfelt.

    “Teaching has been one of the deep joys of my life. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to influence and inspire these young leaders. I am very blessed.” – Mr. K

A Return to Chivalry

    By Renee Miller

Many of us are lamenting our culture’s quick descent into coarseness and vulgarity. How do we even begin to slow this free fall so we can inject some civility? One area we’ve given some thought to as a school are rites of passage for our teens.

One rite of passage most of us are familiar with is High School Prom. I’ve begun to wonder: when did reasonable parents decide it was okay for their daughters to dress like street-walkers, spend all night in the company of a boy of questionable morals (or even a boy with impeccable morals), and have the school hire cops to police the craziness? Having worked with teens for years, I can assure you most of the fun has gone out of the event. I think it’s time to take another look at what these events could be like for our children who are coming of age.

Here are a few examples of how we’ve tried to do this in the Garden School community:

First, we teach the teens how to dance. We have some people in our community who have been willing to teach them how to swing, waltz, folk, and contra dance, all while interacting with several different age groups. This has the added bonus of teaching lifelong skills that will give them confidence at things like weddings and other social and cross-cultural events.

Next, we encourage them to learn manners. Yes, the young men open the doors for the young women, pull out their chairs for them, learn how to ask someone to dance, and even how to hold their forks. The girls learn to be gracious and how to dress so as not to scandalize everyone present and even be comfortable when dancing. Indeed, it is the ancient beauty of chivalry that has currently been thrown aside-and for a poor substitute.

And then we take them out to a classy community event. Our local symphony has a yearly fundraiser where they play big band music. The dinner is first-rate. Once our students experience dancing to a live orchestra, dressed to the nines, it is pretty hard to beat. We call it promenade. And not just the students attend, but their parents, too. We all look forward to this yearly event.

Garden School's promenade on March 19th, 2013. Image courtesy of Rachael Koschak.

Garden School’s promenade on March 19th, 2013. Image courtesy of Rachael Koschak.

What are your ideas for bringing civility back into our communities?

    Renee is the founder and director of The Garden School and Cornerstone Classical School (as well as “The Miller Family School.”) Though trained in the public school model–she has taught everything from first grade to junior high science–Renee’s first foray away from this system resulted in The Garden School. Renee holds a Master’s Degree in Teaching and Learning from Point Loma Nazarene College. She is a strong advocate for classical Christian education and an accomplished public speaker. The Millers currently live in a busy multi-generational household immersed in classical and Christian ideals and a whole lot of love.

Teenage Adults

    By Patrick Koschak

TeenagersTeenage men. Teenage women.

Do these phrases sound a little funny to you?

I like these phrases.

I like them because I coined them.

I like them so much, I’m getting shirts made.

Look for them in stores. They’re going to be huge.

What? You don’t think these will catch on? Why not? Because teenagers aren’t men and women yet? Really?

Okay. I’ll grant you that until they are eighteen, they are not legally considered adults. Sure. However, is legal adult status to be confused with being a man or a woman? Geez, I hope not.

Why can’t we call these young people men and women?

Before you decide I am way off the deep end (I probably am) and you dismiss this article (please don’t), allow me to explain. I am not aiming for widespread cultural change (that would be cool though.) I am asking you, individually, to consider how you look at teenaged people. How are you helping them to see themselves as men and women?

These questions are most important for parents of teenaged offspring, and that is who I am aiming at with most of this. However, all of us interact with teenaged people, so I hope this would be important to those of you without teens, as well. After all, it takes a village to raise a child… or a Viking to raze a village… or something like that… I digress.

How do you see teenaged people? Are they just awkward, overgrown kids? Are they hopelessly, excusably childish? Is it okay that they contribute little to those around them? Are you supposed to just kind of put up with them until they (hopefully) move out? Be honest.

The way I see it is that the end informs that beginning. In other words, the goal we have in mind as parents will determine the way we treat teenagers. My thinking is that we are in the business of producing successful adults-not just tolerating teens. They are not boys and girls, but young men and women capable of making adult choices and learning adult responsibility. No, seriously… they really can.

My observation has been that most parents don’t expect enough from their teenaged progeny. I suspect a part of this problem is the thinking that they are not ready to make adult choices. They are still kids, and not really men and women yet. The fact is that they will act like children as long as we allow them to.

teen-girl-driver[1]The danger here is to mistake “wishing they would act like adults” with actually expecting them to function as adults. The former is hollow frustration, the latter takes a lot of consistent effort. The former is common among parents, while the latter might seem strange. But remember: we are trying to train men and women to handle adult responsibilities.

Let me offer a few examples.

Money. An awful lot of adult life has to do with financial responsibilities. When you consider how to teach teenage adults, do you give them money, or do they earn what they receive? Kids get an allowance, while adults earn a wage.

As a general rule, give them nothing if they can earn it for themselves. This goes for stylish clothes, a cell phone, a car, a laptop, or even college. This might sound harsh or unrealistic at first. But let them own the challenge and grow from their successes or failures. You might be surprised!

Earning and spending money is only half the battle, though. Knowing how to do so responsibly is another facet of being an adult. Hold them accountable for using their car, laptop, or cell phone responsibly. Help them with a budget. Just like any other adult privilege, these can be revoked or lost if abused.

My experience is that if you talk to teenage men and women as if they are adults, and if you offer them adult challenges, they will grow into the role. If they are allowed to take responsibility for their own lives, they will. Isn’t this ultimately what parents want to see for their children? Absolutely!

On the other hand, if they are consistently given that which they have not earned, their esteem and self-confidence will be stifled. If they are allowed to hide behind flimsy excuses, they will learn to avoid personal responsibility. Adulthood will continue to fit them like an ill-tailored suit. This is the kid who never moves out of mom and dad’s basement. (Eek!)

So… back to the question… why can’t we call these young people men and women? How do we perceive them and their abilities? Who do we want our teenagers to be in ten years? In twenty?

Think about it.

I’ve got shirts to make.


Patrick K.Patrick Koschak has enjoyed more than 15 years of marriage with his high school sweetheart, Rachael, and they share three children, ages 9-13. Patrick studied Biblical Studies and Greek at Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon.

Mr. Koschak has been teaching Humanities since 2008 at the Garden School, where he is affectionately known as “Mr. K.” Mr. K’s teaching is occasionally unorthodox, often cerebral, but always heartfelt.

“Teaching has been one of the deep joys of my life. I am deeply humbled by the opportunity to influence and inspire these young leaders. I am very blessed.” – Mr. K


Population Bomb Fizzles?

    By Dave Miller

(So we’re better than three weeks into the new year. How many of you have already reneged on some of your New Year’s Resolutions? I know I have. Blast that old human nature! Nonetheless, one that I am working hard to keep is to post a blog here as often as Lizzie will let me.

While this post is not specifically a “how-to” on homeschooling, it really illustrates a key tenet that most homeschool families will want to adopt; that is, “A faulty understanding of history can lead to an incorrect or downright destructive worldview in the present.” In a quote credited to Sir Acton, “He who knows not the mistakes of history is doomed to repeat them.” One of those errors is the one I have written about below. This would be a great lesson to talk through with your older students. The main idea I want to get across is-as the follow up essay brings home-“With every new mouth to feed comes a mind to think.”


PopulationPopulation Bomb Fizzles? (A history lesson for your Junior and Senior High students)

Have you heard of Thomas Malthus? Here’s a brief bio:

Malthus, Thomas Robert (1766–1834), English economist and clergyman. In “Essay on Population” (1798) he argued that without the practice of “moral restraint,” the population tends to increase at a greater rate than its means of subsistence, resulting in the population checks of war, famine, and epidemic.

Problem is, his theory (Malthusianism) has been proven wrong over and over again ever since he came up with it. In fact, great damage has been inflicted upon the human race in the name of the “population bomb.” Even in Malthus’s time, this “bomb” threatened to explode in England and cause unspeakable devastation. In some instances of government intervention-or lack thereof-disease and squalor were allowed to run rampant throughout poorer villages in hopes of slowing down population growth, especially among this less desirable segments. Then the industrial revolution happened and increased the amount of food available to the population a hundred-fold.

In the early 20th century, Margaret Sanger mixed Malthusian ideas with a generous portion of social Darwinism to create Planned Parenthood. Few are even aware that the vast majority of abortion clinics are located near high minority populations. In Sanger’s writings, her goal was to control the less desirable races, kinda like old Adolf himself.

Do you remember the “vicious beast of Angor” with its “huge and nasty teeth” in one of my all-time favorite films, Monty Python and the Holy Grail? The beast was nothing more than a cute little bunny rabbit. But as Tim, the Enchanter, warned, and the knights of the Round table discovered: “That rabbit’s dynamite!” So were the filmmakers just being silly, or were they interested in pointing out that something so cute and cuddly as a rabbit could really be a ferocious threat? For what is it that rabbits do prolifically? They multiply. And how is the beast of Angor destroyed? With the holy hand-grenade of Antioch, of course! A bomb if you will. And what was one of the issues in the 70s? The coming population bomb!

puzzle brainWhile the world’s population continues to increase, at least in the third world, the food supply has more than kept pace. By and large, starvation is a political crime, as the following essay mentions. I hope you will take the time to read this fine piece of journalism by the folks over at the S & A Digest. If you can’t take the time to read the whole piece, I can sum it up in one sentence: “With every new mouth to feed comes a mind to think.” Do you agree or disagree with this statement? Explain your answer below.

Weekend Edition
The Best of The S&A Digest

The streets of Mumbai, India, are so congested, you can’t walk on them. So the city is going to spend $300 million to build 50 elevated steel walkways to allow pedestrians to get where they’re going. Mumbai has nearly 18 million people and its sidewalks are crowded with street vendors, some of whom have been selling their wares on the same spot for 20 years or more, according to the Wall Street Journal.

I hear the word “infrastructure” thrown around a lot, especially when investors talk about China and India. But I rarely hear anyone tell me what it really means in simple terms that anyone can understand.

A city of 18 million without enough sidewalk space… that I understand.

Mumbai’s space problem reminds me of Julian Simon, economist and author of The Ultimate Resource II. The ultimate resource Simon refers to is human beings. Peak Oil proponents and other environmental alarmists don’t get that with every new mouth to feed comes a new brain that thinks. Though there can certainly be short-term shortages of various goods and services – like walking space – over the long term, the rule for humanity has been abundance.

Think about New York City. Today’s population (19 million) is roughly similar to Mumbai’s. But 150 years ago, the population of pre-Civil War New York wasn’t near its current size, and the city would be hardly recognizable compared with today’s metro area.

Given Mumbai is starting off with enormous population resources, imagine what 150 years of progress will look like there. New York to the 10th power? It boggles the mind.

From a reader: So exactly why do you feel ‘Peak Oil’ is rubbish?

Some concepts we simply get tired of explaining in detail because to us the ideas have become like part of the furniture. In the same way you wouldn’t explain in detail how to use a chair, when discussing economics, we sometimes forget to explain the inter-workings of supply, demand, price, and replacement (human ingenuity).

The germane fact about Peak Oil is: It doesn’t matter. We are not going to run out of energy – that’s all you need to know. We have already discovered vastly more efficient sources of energy (uranium). Thus, were we to “run out” of oil, we would simply become far more reliant on electricity, generated largely by nuclear power (if not by coal or natural gas). This might happen even if supplies of oil increase, simply because uranium is a better (more dense) source of energy and, in theory at least, ought to provide lower-cost energy.

The prophets of doom are always wrong because they truly don’t understand how economics works.

Consider the fate of the worrywarts who said we would run out of copper by building telephone wires. It never occurred to them we’d discover a better way to transmit information. Well, of course we did – light waves through pure glass tubes. As recently as the early 1970s, Paul Ehrlich – a tenured professor at Stanford University – was predicting widespread famine by the end of the 1980s in his book Population Bomb. Why people believe this nonsense, I’ll never understand. (There hasn’t been a famine in modern times that wasn’t caused deliberately as a war tactic. And there won’t be: We’ve gotten vastly more efficient at growing crops, thanks to better farming techniques and better seeds.)

Whether or not we will literally run out of oil produced with geophysical tools simply doesn’t matter. Assuming people are free to invest in the creation of alternatives, we won’t ever run out of energy. That’s all that matters. Free markets and the laws of economics provide all that we really need. The supply of everything actually flows from human liberty and free markets. These are the forces that create innovation and technological replacement.

You see, the folks working on better energy sources aren’t limited by the physics of geology. More importantly, they aren’t hamstrung by the lack of Hubbert’s imagination. (Hubbert was the original Peak Oil theorist.) Scientists like Craig Venter have already proven algae can be genetically altered to produce oil from sunlight and salt water. Whether this is commercially viable in the next decade or not remains to be seen. The point is, supplies of oil and other useful forms of energy are not truly a matter of physics. Supplies of useful energy are a matter of economics, where human ingenuity comes into play. That is what is so important about human liberty and free markets.

As long as people are allowed to save, invest, and invent as they choose, the problems of the world will be rendered into what they really are: opportunities.

S&A Research


    A professional educator since earning his teaching credentials at San Diego State in 1985, Dave’s 26-year teaching career has been both challenging and rewarding, often in the same day. He and wife Renee have lived and taught in San Diego, Germany, and Colorado, traveled to dozens of countries and are still raising six great kids. Along with his role as Guidance Counselor at The Garden School, Dave has been reinventing himself as a work-at-home dad and recently promoted to Vice President at Lightyear Wireless. Now he gets to teach people how to live the life of their dreams.