A good article may trigger a lot of responses. Even so, I was surprised at the number of different viewpoints that were bounced back after last week’s when I really didn’t expect any. I usually don’t get much resistance to my regular pro-homeschooling appeals, but one responder took exception on a related matter. Here’s the essence of it. The writer is semi-retired following a long career of teaching at a private Christian school.
Dear Dr. Jones,
Thanks for your article. I liked your comments about Lincoln. You concluded by saying Christian children should be removed from the public schools and that schooling and discipling at home by rolled-up-sleeve Christian parents is the best answer. I definitely agree with your admonition to “withdraw them.” However, why not give some slack and credit to those of us who feel compelled to teach in a Christian setting as professional educators in support of and supported by Christian parents? Home schooling is not the only answer and many times not the best answer. Please keep that option open.
It’s true that my “homeschool only” pleas do disappoint readers who are on staff at private Christian schools. However, if you’ve read my articles in recent months you know that the theologians I rely on don’t offer parents any scriptural warrant for not teaching their children at home during that critical decade between 5 and 15. It’s just the opposite. Scripture points to parents alone being the only acceptable disciplers. (Deut 6:1–9; Ps. 1; Prov. 1:7; 13:20; 22:6; Isa. 54:13; Jer. 10:2a; Matt. 18:6; Luke 6:39–40.) Sadly, 150 years of habituation to public schools has so skewed American thinking that whenever the home-based biblical alternative to public or private schools comes up, it goes against the grain of tradition. But, as is often the case, just because “that’s the way it’s always been done,” doesn’t make this or that right.
During the years from 15 to 18, various semi-advanced subjects can be supplemented at home by internet distance learning, DVDs, (personal reading!) and co-op options without fear of “bad influences from outside.” If it is necessary to turn to outside tutors or to a community college, then most homeschooled children by age 15 have put on enough protective godly armor to enable them to overcome whatever secular negatives might come attached to, say, the higher-level math or chemistry presentation they want to take outside the home. This protection also extends to any anti-Christian attitudes coming from the outside teacher-specialist. But, in many cases even such subjects as chemistry can be taught and learned at home via good curricula and a little imagination.
Beyond all this, however, a fair reading of the Bible shows that youth education is much more than just plain academics. In fact, because academics taught patiently at home is usually achieved quite easily, then, “big picture-wise” as it relates to life-long benefits, the case can be made that daily spiritual, worldview and discipleship training is even more important than academics. To that end, the spiritual side of things should be integrated daily into each academic subject in every class. After all, “God is the God of geography, math and of penmanship,” too. But, even in the best private Christian schools this is generally not the approach. Even if it was, farming the kids out to others is still letting parents off the hook for what they should be doing personally themselves. Kids in that 5–15 age range are too important to entrust to others.
I’m duty-bound to state my serious disappointment with that famous but misleading message from Dr. James Dobson and other fearful leaders: “Homeschooling is not for everyone.” This is personal protective fence straddling and it simply isn’t true. The weak pretext for it comes from trying to please man more than God and defies biblical obedience in which God wants the home to be His school for all His children.
The main reason homeschooling is NOT the 95% norm in what’s left of this once Christian nation is because timid pastors (and leaders) still aren’t brave enough to preach it from their platforms. They fear the humanistic stranglehold that pro-public school thinking has on the 20th century mind. If a pastor preaches boldly against the “free government baby sitter,” (sometimes known as the “local city high school football team”) he’ll be branded a heretic, lose members, lose money and possibly lose his job. However, when revival comes (let’s hope soon) the two-career, two-job, two-car, two-TV family will, happily, have been preached out of existence. Real homes will be restored. Will they be? That’s nearly the central dilemma of the age. Upon the answer to that question lies the future course of the church and of this country.
In truth, 95% of parents—if they can read, and can’t most?—can homeschool and do it well. In fact they’d do excellent jobs if properly encouraged and inspired by Bible expositing pastors and leaders. For the 5% remaining or for the single, working mother, the church should voluntarily offer its facilities even if the child isn’t a member of that church. We’re bound to help all who are hurting no matter what their membership status. Will the church respond? Not very likely these days, but this must change. Until the church, across the board, gets serious about youth and youth discipleship, they are not likely to be blessed by God in any sector of their ministries. Youth: The Church’s future.
Lastly is this all-important insight: One of the chief blessings of homeschooling is that the two parents need it for themselves. If done with conviction and prayer, the self-sacrifice, the hard work and the daily grind of home discipleship means that the parents become better Christians, better spouses and better parents. Better people. Could the church, the nation, use a dose of such “medicine?” (Fathers must be intimately involved. No slack for them in this project.)
Mr. X, since you are likely to be an older person, I can applaud you for doing what you’re doing in retirement. Even so, I’d like to see you doing it in a mentoring or a homeschool co-op setting rather than in a 5-day a week, private Christian school. (Not that I think the typical modern day co-op is always all that biblical either. Co-ops can be mis-used.) So, sir, you’ll have to settle for me closing with; “no slack for private Christian schools.” But, slack for you per the paragraph above if you so choose. Next time: A further look at the private vs. home school question.