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Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Train Up a Child

I have a friend who has, for nearly a year, been writing a blog giving reasons that you, Christian, should be homeschooling your kids. Now, to be honest, when he started, I thought the idea was ... well, a little bit over the top. A little bit alarmist. It had the "conspiracy theory" scent about it. I mean, after all, I spent time in public school and I didn't come out a heathen. But the more I've read from his blog, the more I've begun to think about the dangers of Christian parents sending their children off to government-run schools.

Mind you, I'm not saying there are no good public schools. I'm certainly not saying that there are no good teachers in public schools. I am absolutely certain that there are honest, reliable, loving, even Christian teachers working in public schools. I'm not saying otherwise. The problem is not that they don't exist. The problem is that the system is rotten at the core ... like the natural human beings that run it. Today's public school systems in America (again, I'm talking about the systems, not individuals or exceptions) are fundamentally religious -- built around the religion of secular humanism. Why, then, would Christians wish to send their kids to pagan temples for their education?

But, look, I am always of the opinion that opinions are fine, but we need to know what God says before making it a principle. You may be of the opinion that sardines are tasty; I am not. No problem. No conflict. But when you suggest that arsenic is tasty and I know it's deadly, we're going to do more than separate on matters of opinion. So, is this educational thing a matter of preference and opinion, or does God actually have something to say about it? I think He does.

There are, obviously, no biblical references to public or government-run schools. Don't look for them. They're not there. There are, however, references to teaching your children. First and foremost, God places the responsibility of teaching your children squarely in the lap of you fathers (Eph 6:4). Not that this is meant that fathers are required to be the home-school teachers of their children, but certainly fathers are to be responsible for the teaching of their children. Note, however, that there is another aspect to this responsibility in the verse I referenced. "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." (Eph 6:4) That is, fundamental to the education fathers are to ensure for their children is an instruction of the Lord. Their education needs to be immersed in Christ, not merely reading, writing, and arithmetic, etc. God commanded the Israelites, "And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise." (Deut 6:6-7) Yes, they were to teach their children diligently, but what? God's Word. Because, you see, "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction." (Prov 1:7) Education is not supposed to be independent of God. On the other hand, the public schools of America mandate it. So sending your kids to public schools is sending them in direct violation of what God says is right.

Beyond the texts on teaching your kids and knowledge, there are Scriptures that are oriented around how Christians are to live. Here are some examples.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers. (Psa 1:1)

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2)

Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness? What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever? (2 Cor 6:14-15)

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. (Col 2:8)
So, what do we do? We send our kids off to walk in the counsel of the wicked and stand in the way of sinners. We encourage them to be conformed to this world. We yoke them with unbelievers. We immerse them in the philosophy and empty deceit of current tradition driven by the elemental spirits of the world. Now, how is this reasonable, consistent, or obedient?

Educating our kids is our responsibility. It isn't the responsibility of the government, the public school system, or some other teachers. It is not even the responsibility of the church. We might employ tools that include other people, but educating our kids is our responsibility. Fathers, it is, biblically, your responsibility. It is possible to find good teachers, churches, maybe even schools that can assist you in executing your responsibility to "bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." But abdicating that responsibility in favor of churches, teachers, and, worst of all, a public school system fundamentally premised as hostile to God is not an act of obedience for any Christian father or any Christian parent. Too many of us are allowing our kids to be taught, both at school and at church, things contrary to the truth and even hostile to God. Then we wonder what happened when our kids go astray. Wonder no more. It can often be traced to our sin of neglecting God's commands in raising our kids. We ought, then, to follow Christ's command, "Go and sin no more." (John 8:11)


Glenn E. Chatfield said...

We got into homeschooling back in 1994: our daughter was in 10th grade and son in 7th when we pulled them out of the Christian school they had been going to for a year after we abandoned the public school.

The system we were in was really pushing the homosexual agenda, and for an 8th grade assembly were telling the kids that sex is fun but be sure to use a condom. Then the heavy evolutionism led me to get into discussions with the history teacher (why so much evolutionism in a history class!?!?). Our daughter was being bullied because she wasn't allowed to date, and one kid kept talking about how much he wanted to have sex with her as well as grabbing at her and teachers would do nothing about it.

We learned about a Christian school and transferred there, but after a year we saw too much of the same thing (and they taught evolution in science) -- seems it was more Christian in name than in practice. Friends who homeschooled suggested that route and after some quick research we decided that our kids would learn at home.

It was an interesting and challenging thing, especially at that late in the game, and we had to do a lot of research to know what was necessary by state laws, etc. Our kids were both outstanding students while in the government system, so they were even better at home where they could learn at their own pace (in public school our daughter was always part of a "team" where she ended up carrying the load).

Well, we must have done okay because our daughter went on to graduate college on the deans list, 4.0 GPA the whole five years (for her masters in education) and is now an elementary school music teacher and has been a violin and viola instructor to boot. Our son wasn't interesting in college and so apprentice with a woodworker and is as fine a craftsman with wood as you'll see.

Stan said...

I know there are decent public schools and public school teachers, but I believe they are few and diminishing. I know there are decent Christian schools and certainly Christian school teachers, but due to governmental interference and to syncretism (the need to be "just like them"), those, too are diminishing. I believe that a father can, if he is diligent, prayerful, watchful, and extremely careful, can often find a school to which to send his kids ... but I think those possibilities are also diminishing.

Conversely, I think your experience of improved education and better-performing kids after homeschooling are statistically the norm.

A couple of questions, though. She went to college (not a "homeschool college")? Colleges are typically the worst case of the failed educational, anti-God education system. And became a teacher? I suppose you would have to agree that there are good, even godly teachers out there, then, right? :) (And that she would be a music teacher in an educational world where music education is nearly extinct is a surprise.)

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

My daughter went to a Christian college -- Emmaus Bible College. It's roots are Plymouth Brethren and they have some solid fundamental Christian teachings. Aside from various Theological degrees, they also have degrees in education, music ministry, etc. Since our daughter was an accomplished violinist/fiddler, and had been in choirs in church and school, she decided she wanted to be a music teacher. So she had to get her elementary education degree and a degree in music, etc. From the time she was little she always wanted to be a teacher, and determined to be better than what she had to put up with. The school district she is in is one of the better ones in our area -- one you could send your kids to!

Oh, there are certainly good teachers out there, but for the most part their hands are tied by government nonsense. But the good ones usually can get around a lot of it!

Stan said...

See? There are still schools to which a diligent, prayerful, watchful parent can send his kids. :)

David said...

I wonder which is easier, teaching your children the right way first yourself, or having to undo all the wrong way teaching of the public school system second. I know I came home many times with wrong ideas and needed to be corrected. Luckily I trusted my father more than any teacher, so there wasn't much of a struggle, but how many out there would take the word of a "trained educator" over their parents?

Stan said...

I think you're right, David. It would be easier to get it right first rather than correct errors. The problem is made worse because so many parents don't know the error their kids are being taught, and fixing it after it is thoroughly entrenched is even harder. And, you're right. I've heard many a kid tell his or her parents they're wrong because the teacher said so.

Glenn E. Chatfield said...

At our house, we actually "home schooled" from the beginning, in that before our children entered school they could read and knew basic arithmetic, as well as social skills! A they entered upper grades we examined all homework before it left home, we helped them understand their lessons, etc.

As time went by we had to spend time virtually everyday to correct the bad information they were given! As Stan noted though, not all parents think about that or even want to bother with the time to do it. It was certainly MUCH easier when we began homeschooling because we didn't have to continually "undo all the wrong way teaching."

We always made sure our kids KNEW who was really right by showing them how to investigate.

Craig said...

We may be the exception in that both of our kids went to public schools and had both a good education as well as an environment that was not hostile to Christians. One went to a state university and really didn't encounter any of the anti Christian worldview or attacks on his faith that are probably more the norm. He was involved in both church as well as other places that helped him to maintain and strengthen his faith. The youngest ended up a a Christian university and has ended up heading for a degree in ministry.

I'm sure this is not at all typical, but there are areas where there is some hope.

Stan said...

My friend who writes the homeschool blog I mentioned is of the opinion that it is a sin for Christian parents to send their kids to school. Well, MAYBE he will allow that it is POSSIBLE that a Christian school MIGHT be okay, but ...

I am not of the same persuasion. I AM of the belief that parents -- especially fathers -- are responsible for their kids' education and MUST be intimately involved, but I believe that it is POSSIBLE that a good, godly parent could find a good education for his children without REQUIRING it be a homeschool. What you describe is a godly parent who did just that.

Craig said...

I would argue that given the right parental/family/church involvement that sending kids to public schools can be a good thing. Given the fact that our kids are going to live their entire post school life in an increasingly secular world, it seems like part of training them up is to prepare them to live in that world. It seems that anyone who takes an exclusive position on either end of this topic is not starting in a great position. As with many things there is not one exclusive correct way to navigate the educational system and to act as if there is seems potentially harmful in itself.

While I agree that the parents have the primary responsibility, I know that having a wider group of people (grandparents/friends/church/etc.) certainly makes it a lot more workable.

Now the next step is to help my kids navigate this with any future grand kids.

Stan said...

I've seen -- nay, used that argument. However, what army trains their soldier by putting them in a war zone? "Here you go," we seem to be saying, "shoot straight." When I raised my kids, I did try to train them to survive in the environment in which they would be living, but I did it in a controlled way. Handing them over to the enemy at their youngest years of learning and hope to repair the damage done almost daily.

But, as I said in the post, I'm most concerned about what God has to say on that, and I'm not at all sure that putting them in a school dedicated to the eradication of God and hoping to teach them not to be conformed to this world (for instance) is a reasonable thing to do.