I write about the things that used to keep me up at night.
My first book takes on a topic that’s affected most of us to some extent and poses an even greater risk to the next generation: school stress.
Dying to Win was inspired by my family’s move to Asia where I expected to find the secrets to great teaching. Instead, I discovered the horrifying truth about our competitive global education system.
Then I turned back home, to my own unconventional upbringing, to uncover seven principles we can use to inspire a love of learning for the children in our lives.
In an age when we can compare our lives with those all over the world, it’s difficult to keep what matters most in perspective.
I’m on a mission to help families experience the joy of learning together.
I also provide encouragement to homeschool leaders, educational choice advocates, teachers, and other educators passionate about impacting students and families in a stressful world.
Teri Capshaw is a former journalist and homeschooling mother on a mission to help families overcome limitations imposed by an overstressed world.
She knows what it’s like to be held back by fear—and the incredible opportunities available to families courageous enough to live life differently.
Teri authored Dying to Win: How to Inspire and Ignite Your Child’s Love of Learning in an Overstressed World, and helps families craft their ideal lifestyle at HomesteadLarder.com.
Dying to Win: How to Inspire and Ignite Your Child’s Love of Learning in an Overstressed World provides parents with a “big picture” view of international education issues—and simple, practical, strategies to implement at home.
Grasping for academic success takes a toll on families around the globe—with parents in China spending up to 30% of their household income on tutoring and students spending up to 17 hours per day studying.
Moving to Asia opened my eyes to the dangers of emulating a system so intense it pushes some students to the brink of suicide.
When we give our children freedom in how they learn, we fuel them with a passion for life and equip them for academic success.
Dr. Brad Miller back with you here on the pathway to promise podcast where it is our mission to help folks overcome adversity in their life in order to achieve their life or God given life of peace, prosperity, and purpose. And we do that in many ways by teaching you leading and helping guide people to resources including great authors. One of those authors is with us here today on the pathway to promise her name is Terry Capshaw. She is dealing with the issue of stress in the academic world. In her book, dying to win, how to inspire and ignite your child's love of learning in an overstretched world. She comes from a background of education and broadcasting and of homeschooling, but most of all, she is a dedicated mom and she's on a mission to help families to overcome limitations imposed by an overstressed world. Terry CAPTCHA was pathway to promise.
Teri Capshaw 1:00
Thank you so much for having me. I'm excited to be here.
Brad Miller 1:05
Well, awesome. It's good to have you with us here on the pathway to promise I have to admit I'm a little bit biased in that you are an educator and a teacher and a person who loves learning. I come from a family of teachers and leaders, two of my sisters are educators. And my mother is retired educator, my dad who's deceased now was an educator and a pastor. So and I have a daughter who's got a master's degree and I went to school for longer than I want to admit. But so it's good to have you here on the on the, on the on the pathway to promise but we're talking today about the stresses of the academic world, particularly on younger people. And but why did you write this book and why is this issue important to you?
Teri Capshaw 1:51
You know, I have an interesting personality in that I was raised to think differently to question everything. Yet I really like to please people. Right? And so, when I first went to Asia, I was so excited because I was finally going to learn how to give my kids that education that was really the best education. Right. And so,
Brad Miller 2:20
just as positive as I assume you had heard or learned, or just been around this, this vibe that Asian education was somehow different, in some way superior to American education. Is that a part of what you were thinking?
Teri Capshaw 2:35
Absolutely, yes. I wanted to, you know, help my kids catch up. It's one of the least controversial political endeavors out there is our kids need to catch up with the rest of the world right. Very few people will argue with that concept, right. And I had grown up being homeschooled, it started out it was not very well accepted. And at this point, In 2014, when I was heading to Taiwan, homeschooling was now accepted, but as Plan B, because our schools weren't good enough. It's an acceptable alternative, right? And so now I was kind of like going to the part of the world where people had it together, right? I was going to see these perfect schools because this is where kids were facing these tests. This is, you know, this is what we're aspiring for in America. Right. That's why we had no child left behind. That's why we had Common Core, agree with or disagree with it. That is the goal of these education reforms is to catch up with the rest of the world. So I was excited to find what I would find there. And I was horrified when I actually got there,
Brad Miller 3:46
you found something different. So what did you find that was different than what your expectations were?
Teri Capshaw 3:52
So I expected that children's learning was being inspired right. You know, you mentioned you come from a background of People who really took academics and learning and it's it's something that I've always treasured, I've loved learning, right and, and I expected to find kids being taught that when I got there, I found kids, even young kids in school from 8am and finishing up activities and tutoring around 10pm at night. And there was not a love of learning.
Brad Miller 4:21
And not much of a life I wouldn't think outside.
Teri Capshaw 4:25
No, I mean, we're not talking about a sit down dinner, we're talking about grabbing a snack on the way from school to tutoring or activities every night. And one day I was watching kids cross the street on a weekend in their school uniforms. And I thought to myself, isn't this making them suicidal? And the answer is, yes, not so much in Taiwan. My friends in Taiwan would describe themselves some of them described themselves as kind of slackers in their region. But if you look deep, you find long lots of stories of students suicide in that region of the world. And in China, China's this big economic power that we're all worried about catching up with, right? In China, the government says that there's about 500 kids a year dying because of academic pressure committing suicide.
Brad Miller 5:20
that's a that's a big number. And yet, I wouldn't be surprised if it's an underreported number, just we probably don't know, anyway, knowing that, but a lot of times those things are
Teri Capshaw 5:31
absolutely and even the government number said about 24% of kids are considering suicide. And, you know, putting out this book, I was very, very careful to make sure that I had these numbers I didn't want to exaggerate. And a couple weeks ago, you were there I spoke at I spoke at a conference. And I'll tell you, I think my numbers are way low. That anecdotal evidence is really terrifying that number of stories. I've heard of kids in the US that there's one story that's just heartbreaking. You know, one story, that's all it takes for this to be unacceptable, okay? It's not about the numbers, right? But there's one story a family member told me about her community where a young boy I believe he was 14 years old. His dad talked to him about his grades. And in this was a kid who was always you know, that kid who can't sit still can't listen, can't you know, whatever they're all over the place is data, talk to him about his bad grades. And he went to a church meeting. And when he came home, his son shot himself. Oh my gosh. And I mean, I don't know how much this is out there because it's not being studied to my knowledge. And if anybody knows about it, please send me an email because I
Brad Miller 6:53
read a lot. It's been a long time. I read a study a long time ago when I was doing some research and some of the stuff I was working on about basically high level academic schools, Ivy League and so on where the suicide rate of those folks there is, you know, really greater than, like a state school, for instance, or something like that. So I don't I don't, I don't want to speak to too much. I want to hear more what you have. But I just want to affirm that I agree with you that there's probably nothing more devastating than a young person suicide. And we're talking here about how pressure that may be able to be avoided or dealt with in a different manner can be the case. And that's apparently what you're working on here in your book and what what you're about. But I'm also interested in your story, Terry, about some of the things some of the things difficulties, you've had to deal with an overcome in terms of getting to the point where this was your passion? What did you have to do within your life in order to overcome that you knew that you had to do something about it? And maybe this book was one of those things you had to do?
Teri Capshaw 7:54
Absolutely. Well, you know, I'm, I'm one of those people that I do. Well with the dramatic challenges in life, right, and, you know, I have seen, you know, the growth that I dealt with as a young child dealing with deaths of my grandparents, different traumatizing events. And, you know, those things are always hard to deal with. But you always see so much growth over time, right. But what is really difficult and I think what I wasn't prepared for as an adult, was dealing with those little everyday pressures from our society. And I think those pressures lead to anxiety and depression, those kinds of things, you know, everything a mom is expected to do today,
Brad Miller 8:43
you know, give me example what you mean by those little everyday pressures can be some, like some of those things that may stack up and impact you.
Teri Capshaw 8:51
Right. So we have a lot of modern traditions and one thing that I've I am not like the Pinterest Mom that goes out and does these big birthday parties or all these types of things. But there are a million of those little things that are expectations for parents. So even just from the moment, you know, you're having a baby, like the number of things that people these days worry about, that our parents never worried about our incredible you know, it's this access to this world of information. That now it's really overwhelming. And one of the hardest things that I have and one of the things I had to process that helped me help push me to write this book is wanting to give my kids all the experiences wanting to give them the best, because
Unknown Speaker 9:44
Teri Capshaw 9:46
there are too many good opportunities to the point that we can involve our kids in so many things that we would not even have a relationship.
Brad Miller 9:55
Let me give you a quick example of my own life here because I just resonate what you're saying so much Today, as we record, this happens to be my granddaughter's second birthday. And I just know that in the last three years since I knew where I was just my only grand child, and my, my daughter is probably about the same age as you. But so her experience of being a mother was much different than my experience of being a father when I was, you know, when she was cooking a wall. For instance, I had no idea about this whole thing a couple years ago of the reveal party, you know, the gender reveal whole new thing to me, and I couldn't believe in every birthday and every Christmas and every, like, you know, every is all these, like, the biggest thing for her right now. One of the biggest things for my daughter was, are we going to get Disney streaming channel or not for all the things from my granddaughter, but But what I'm getting at is the myriad of opportunities is making my head hurt. And I'm the grandfather and I'm only involved with a miniscule part of it comparatively to everything else, is I'm having a hard time managing the stress that people are going through. So they may interrupt you too much, but I'm just was thinking about that today but what I need to do for my own granddaughter, so go ahead.
Teri Capshaw 11:04
Absolutely. So part of looking at this is I really had to start asking myself a lot of deep questions. How am I going to raise my kids? Are they going to be in T ball gymnastics ballet for age scouting? You know everything imaginable? Are they going to do everything under the sun? And how am I going to handle that? How am I going to handle having the Smash cake for the first birthday and I did do the Smash cake. Okay, that's probably like the only cutesy Pinterest E and it was not Pinterest. You know these things, but these things might not seem that traumatic. But I truly feel like they are oppressing so many people today stack don't
Brad Miller 11:49
they they stack
Teri Capshaw 11:50
right and they pull us they suck us into this vortex of comparison. And that's really what it comes down to. If you look at To the international testing, and you look at what's happening on Instagram and Pinterest and Facebook feeds, there's very little difference. It's people comparing themselves to other people, which is an excuse not to recognize their own importance and potential, and to look at them that look at themselves the way God looks at
Brad Miller 12:22
them. That's awesome. That's awesome. So you've got this stress in your life, and you experienced that. So it sounds to me like part of what you're trying to help us to discern here, out of your own experience and your experience with the educators both here in the States and in in in Taiwan, is how to discern how to narrow that focus down how to have quality as well as quantity in your life in order to get a good education with well rounded and still have a well rounded human being not just a an academic machine. So tell us what are some of the ways that you sorted this out? What are you doing here in your book or what are some things that weekend, some applicable principles that we can apply to our lives.
Teri Capshaw 13:05
Absolutely. Well, what I think is most important is for people to have this solid understanding of, they need to have the courage to go against some modern traditions in our life, and really choose what's best for their child to look at their child. And one thing I talked about in the book is that you need to both be an authority over your child, because we've had, I think, a few generations of people who have felt this sense of abandonment. And so it is important that we're there as authority figures over our children, but not nearly as this person who is in control, but to actually be authorities on our children.
Brad Miller 13:51
Hmm, interesting turn of a phrase Yes.
Teri Capshaw 13:53
So we actually know them well enough that we know deep down what this individual trial takes And the biggest thing that we need to be able to do that is to protect their time. So that's the number one thing I talked about is protecting your time but also protecting your children's time so that they have downtime to get to know themselves. You know that Blaise Pascal, quote, I'm going to push right here, but basically all of humanity's problems stem from a man's inability to be in a room alone.
Brad Miller 14:29
Oh, yes, I was sort of trying to sort that out for a second to state remains still is such an important manifest manifestation. It's a meditative practice, really, you know, it's learning how to meditate into focus on something on a deeper level.
Teri Capshaw 14:47
Absolutely. So that's one of the biggest things is in our busy world to really say, okay, we're going to put up boundaries, we're going to put up borders and we're going to have time for kids to you know, be bored to Get to know themselves to get comfortable with themselves and both active time and quiet time.
Brad Miller 15:08
Yeah. Yeah, that's the thing dude. There's something to be said for being bored. When I mean by that is there's something to be said for that times of quiet and, and without distraction. Of course our world is all about distraction, you know, whether it's 1000 thousand TV channels and you know social media and you know all those activities you mentioned, you know, t ball and ballet and all that good stuff. Absolutely are pressures. Go ahead
Teri Capshaw 15:34
and then. So what I actually ended up doing is I was looking at this situation where in China we have kids studying for up to 17 hours a day. If you look online, you can find pictures of children sitting in a classroom with IV tubes hooked up to them. That's crazy. I know But there's fetchers actually delivering amino acids directly into their bloodstream so that they can study a little longer without stopping for lunch break. That's how intense this crazy academic rushes and. And you know, there's another thing that just killed me. There was a picture of suicide barriers, they put up in these open air balconies at one of the best schools in China. And they put up the suicide barriers just before their big high stakes exams, because they'd already lost a couple of students the year before that year, I don't remember perfectly, but they put up the suicide barriers and then they put these huge banners on them. And so I showed the story to my Chinese tutor at the time I was living in Taiwan. I showed it to my Chinese to her and she looked at it and she said those banners said Study hard
Brad Miller 17:01
Okay, I'm not following in a way, study hard and but forget seems like a mixed message there doesn't
Teri Capshaw 17:07
absolutely they put up barriers, metal barriers to keep them from jumping, and then added a message over those barriers saying study hard. It's just the pressure is non stop. It just simply doesn't let up. And so I looked at this and I thought, okay, you know, this is one of your moments in life where you look back, you say, my mom was right. So here I am in Asia, looking for the perfect education system. And I'm thinking, Wait a minute. I know homeschool students who study for four hours a day and they graduated with master's degrees at age 18. It doesn't take 17 hours a day to excel. And I think this is the biggest thing that's keeping people from reducing stress on our kids. It's this concept that you have to choose between success and have penis that you can't be successful if you're not stressed out. Wow. It's what I consider a glorification of the type A personality. Right.
Brad Miller 18:11
Okay, interesting, interesting glorification, which is always demanding to some degree. But it seems to me what you experience was just magnified and multiplied into your experience in Asia, but certainly happened here in our culture as well. You know, that glorification of that, you know, success and so on so forth. Yeah,
Teri Capshaw 18:32
absolutely. And there's nothing wrong with wanting to be successful with wanting to go after things. There's a huge difference between being driven by fear and being a soul on fire.
Brad Miller 18:45
Hmm, awesome. Awesome. So
Teri Capshaw 18:47
world the difference between that and so I went back and look through homeschooling and you know, homeschooling is as good as you make it right. It's purely individual. And but I looked and I thought, what The tenants that the few things that make homeschooling work really well. And so I really thought about it and came up with a list of things. And then I interviewed tons of people who are successful at either homeschooling their children or they had been homeschooled or something like that. And I interviewed them and talk to them about it. And they all agreed with these things that I brought up. And so I brought up seven things one is protect their time to set expectations. Three let your children dream for teach goal setting five work smart, six, encourage independent work. This is so wonderful. And seven practice contentment.
Brad Miller 19:44
Yeah. And that's the basic concepts you're teaching your book I'm aware of. And I really liked that one. You said there the last couple there about practice practicing contentment? Because it seems to me for a lot of folks, we would Yeah, I think what you experience was the sense of ability that could tibbett would be a result of your hard work, rather than something that you actually, you know, practice and work at, make it a part of who you are. So that's an awesome thing.
Teri Capshaw 20:13
You know, it was interesting because my pastor recently brought up something that really, it really made me think, right. So he talked about the verse where it says, I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me. What he said is he said, Look at what that's referring to. It's actually referring to the part of the Bible, where Paul talks about being content, whether he abounds, or if he laughed, he was still content in this.
Take strength to be content.
Brad Miller 20:50
Very interesting. I just preached on that two weeks ago, the pastor a church that is present same verse, about being content in all things, but you still have to have a sensibility about about giving your best and not settling, but also putting things in proper perspective. If your ultimate goal is to be, you know, contented life, it's not to be stressed out is to be accomplish things and, and that love, love that and you touched on something that I think is a couple things I want to just circle back with you about and I think we're really talking here a lot of ways Terry about a well rounded person, a whole young person, whole young man or young woman, holistic who leaves I'm talking about and, and as opposed to being only you know, you experience kind of the academic skew that way other people are get skewed, you know, whether it's music or athletics or whatever, you know, going out and hanging out with your friends, whatever it is. So I'm building this whole person. I think there is an element of some taking some bold action, you've indicated some of those things but there's also elements of drawn on some power greater You're done yourself and you've touched on that a little bit. What role do you think that plays, if any, in helping build these whole persons, some sort of a higher power involved? Can you speak to that for a second?
Teri Capshaw 22:10
Absolutely. I believe it's the foundation. You know, it's really, for me, especially, I feel like my relationship with God is the foundation of what I'm able to do. And it's important not to get too wrapped up in any system, you know, we can have these things that I list and these things that you're supposed to do. Sometimes God's gonna call you to do some things that seem absolutely crazy to everyone around you. Right? And yet, if it's what he's calling you to, that's something we should be doing. And so, we do have to be bold, we have to be courageous, and we have to take steps and for me, I know, some people thought I was crazy, but we had one child where my husband I talked about it, and we removed her from most social issues. situations for almost a year. And people thought that was crazy. But we knew our daughter. And we saw something that worried us in her personality, that very young age. And you know, a year later, we'd work through these issues, and we're ready to go. And she's in all these social things again, but there are going to be times when you have to take bold action, and it doesn't look like a movie. But it's absolutely important.
Brad Miller 23:26
And so the best, we're talking about education, true education as a learning experience, is often those bold actions, those dramatic things that we do, that maybe against the norms, that often the best learning experiences, and that's what you're sharing there, but your daughter, she's not going to forget that she may, you know, not like it for a while or whatever it would be you know, a lot of things we adversity is often about facing things that we don't like and so on, so forth and getting through that. So spiritual stuff is awesome part of the holistic person. Let's talk about relationships for a minute. Because as I heard you describe the young people you encountered in Taiwan and in Asia and some here. I hear a lot of loneliness, a lot of isolation, a lot of pain, this type of thing. What role do you think healthy relationships come into play here? you describe your own relationship with your daughter for assist your husband evolved, parenting child, child, parent, peer to peer, you know, advocates, teachers and so on, described to me the power of the role of loving nature or perfect relationships and helping education to take place.
Teri Capshaw 24:41
Absolutely. I think the biggest problem we have today and I'm sure it is exacerbated by social media, the biggest problem is that we tend to look at things on the surface on the exterior and that keeps us from having deep and true and real relations. ships. And so that's the biggest problem that I see. And, you know, I see it in Asia, I see it everywhere really, you know, as much as we can look at things and say, Oh, well, that's this group of people's problems. Actually, we have a lot more in common than we could ever imagine. And we actually, one thing I didn't mention is how the suicide rate in the US actually tracks with the school calendar year. There's one really good study about that, and a lot of stories that seem to back that up. And that's the biggest thing that we have to look at is when we're looking at the way things are supposed to be and we put laws and rules in place. We tend to focus too much on those laws and rules. And that keeps us from having the relationship that we should have. I mean, if you look at if your highest good in parenting or in teaching is consistency, and following rules, then you look At the Old Testament Bible, yes, we had the law. And we also had something called Pharisees.
Brad Miller 26:07
Yeah. And we know that the breaking of the law and the you know, the, that pattern of breaking and coming back and forgiveness and so on was all about the Old Testament. And it wasn't always the healthiest thing in the world was it? We have the focus in the New Testament covenant about relationship. I think it's where you're going here.
Teri Capshaw 26:27
And it doesn't mean that we don't have standards. You know, we have these rules. We have standards in place for our children, we have all these things in place. But what is most important is to not just look at the outside, does it look like this child is following the rules? Does this child Look how they're supposed to do they make me feel smart when my child is talking to my friends, you know, the deeper thing is, is to really get to know inside that child and you know, that involves spending time with them and It's an imperfect art. I'll tell you I talk about these things. I write about these things. And then I look at my home every day and I say, am I getting to those children? Yeah. Will they be writing a memoir about their life someday?
Brad Miller 27:17
Will it be a tell all about what mom did to me or whatever? Oh, well, I won't go too far down that rabbit. But we can all of us parents could scare ourselves to death if we go too far down that way. So,
Teri Capshaw 27:29
but I think what we have to focus on is being willing to not look at what people think we're supposed to do, as much as look at our individual children take the time to know who they are.
Brad Miller 27:45
Okay. Let's talk about it for a second about how to do that. And then we'll just kind of bring us round where I want to go here for our last few minutes together. If we're going to apply your principles here to a real life circumstance Dance. It's to say you're talking to that. That mom of that elementary age child who just, you know, has some concerns and this kind of thing. What are some disciplines? What are some prints? Have you already mentioned some of the principles, but what are some kind of day to day habits or, or actions or disciplines that they can do that they can apply in their life right now?
Teri Capshaw 28:22
I think one thing that's really important is something that you talk a lot about is the importance of overcoming adversity. And I actually rather than creating a lot of expectations and stresses in my child's life, I like to actually create a little bit of adversity in their lives. Awesome. So I give them a problem. I create a challenge for them, or there's just a challenge that they encounter in life. And I'm kind of like, well figure it out. Yeah. And that's really important because that's part of that independent work that they end up doing, but it's also part of life. Learning who they are digging a little bit deeper. And I think it's really important to give our kids to not just feed them everything they're supposed to do and everything they're supposed to know. And then measure how well they're copying these patterns. That's a lot of what we consider education, yes, but to create real life challenges for them, and say, Well, how are you going to deal with that?
Brad Miller 29:26
Yeah. How people think it through figure it out. I have a phrase I use with my with my own children who are all adults now. Fact for my 25 year old son just came in the house and left to do something but my every week we kind of get around I just go, they got a problem. Whatever I say did DWI, which has nothing to do with drinking, it says deal with it, you know, deal with it. And most times they do, most time they do now, of course when there's crisis, you can you step up and that kind of thing. But I just think you're offering some practical tools here for people To not settle. One of the things I like to one of the books I enjoy a lot. Terry is is teaching Jim Collins which is good to great, you know you don't. The good is the enemy of great, you'd be great when you choose to go above and beyond things, and his is about the process and how you think, you know how you thinking about not settling and you sound like you haven't settled for what this expectation was of this very regimented form of education, which actually literally, given the title, your book is killing kids, isn't it? I mean, literally. And that's, that's a tragedy that's almost beyond to take your breath away when you think about that. So what Carrie, how can folks understand a little more about what you're working on about your book? How can they get ahold of it? If somebody wants to, if you're going to speak into someone's life? How can they How can you do that? How can people get connected with you?
Teri Capshaw 30:54
Well, they can head to my website, Terry capshaw.com, or send me an email It's really simple Terry at Terry cap show calm. That's Terry t ri, that four letter word.
Brad Miller 31:09
We will we'll put the connections to your website in our show notes as well at pathway promise calm. And you got some great things to share here. You know, one things that I really appreciate is you are helping deal with the common experience of education. Right? Everybody has education. And there's we didn't get into this, it decided we talked earlier about the stress on the high achieving end of things. There's stress on the low achieving end of things to you know, people that are underserved. And that's all nother deal. That is tremendously stressful as well, with, you know, poor educational systems and all kinds of things that are out there. And we could have another episode about that. Maybe Maybe that'll be your next.
Teri Capshaw 31:50
Absolutely, actually, my book is dedicated to my mother who homeschool me because she was underserved in her schools. So yeah, it's the flu. flipside of the same thing, but the biggest thing is, is just calling parents to do whatever it takes. It's not just about sending them to the right school or homeschooling or whatever just doing whatever it takes to know where your kids at and to reach your kids.
Brad Miller 32:15
Well, I think it boils down to the way I look at it, it's kind of in your subtitle of your book, which is how to inspire and ignite your child's love of learning in a stressed world. And we have that right now. And if we can ignite that level of learning that will serve everyone well for their lifetime if you have a love of love of learning, so we appreciate what you have to add to this conversation about how to overcome and deal with stress as one of the adversities that we deal with in life and, and we thank you for being our guest today on the pathway to promise Terry captial, the author of dying to win