Wednesday, October 09, 2013

A Christian Homeschool Trap – Part 1: A Problem

Now this may offend some as it may be taken that I am anti-homeschool.  That cannot be farther from the truth, ask many who know me.  I write this so as to help preserve homeschooling or maybe I should be more specific, help preserve “Christian” Homeschooling.  I say “Christian” because by its very name it suggests that one homeschools from a Christian worldview and perspective and does not simply “Christianize” ones schooling at home.  I would go further to say that for homeschooling to be Christian it needs to derive its purpose and precepts from God’s word and not Dewy, Darwin or any of the other molders of our current educational system and society, which sadly many do, even if unknowingly. 

The trap that many fall into is they partake, knowingly or not, in schooling at home rather than homeschooling.  This happens by taking the way school is done presently and partaking of it in the confines of ones home.  This includes having many of the same goals and objectives; such as going to a “good” college, getting a “good” job and being “well” educated.  This mindset often leads people to raise children that may be, by all outward appearances, more prepared for what is ahead and they may even be smarter than the average Gov’t school indoctrinee but deep inside their worldview is often tainted and that tainted worldview will rear its head when taken out of the confines of the home.  You often see this happen when children are shipped of to some secondary educational facility away from home and begin being discipled by people ready and willing to mold the minds of your children to a different way of thinking.  Most parents may think they have readied their children for the road ahead but often they have unknowingly simply primed the pump to accept the worldview of the schools they are sent to by what they have been taught at home.  If, and I will deal with this more in a follow up post, children are not being discipled that the Bible is the final standard and authority in all of life those same children will be easily swayed by the “enlightened” worldview they are presented with outside of the home.  It may take some time but when you send your children off to college that is exactly what you give the college, time.  Thus much of the curriculum used at home, even if it references the Bible if entrenched in the “classics” teaches contrary to God’s word, even if subtly, and this does have an affect – a negative affect.

Maybe I am getting ahead of myself here.  I titled this post “A Christian Homeschool Trap” and that trap is not set by the Gov’t Schools, even though it often plays a part in it, but the trap is actually set by the family that falls short of seeking to have the Bible as the sole authority in how to educate, or maybe it would be better to use the term disciple.  All too often our focus is on “education” but what we are called to make, and this includes those in ones family, are disciples (Matt 28:19-20).  In all education making disciples is key and this is true even in the secular community as often one teacher is referred to as a disciple of another.  In scripture (Luke 6:40) it says a student will be as his master so you soon see how discipleship is key in all realms as well as the importance of who does the discipling, or teaching.  The issue for the “Christian” Homeschool then becomes how to avoid this trap and the first step in the process is to know there is one.

We often fight the Gov’t over schooling and the mandates it places on its citizens, which I would say is prudent but not so as to save the Gov’t schools but to stress that ones children are to be schooled by their parents and how that is done may take a number of forms but at the heart is the intimate involvement of the parents.  .  As I have already alluded to one of the greatest threats to "Christian" homeschooling is not the Gov't but "Christian" homeschoolers themselves.  I say this because if you listen to many “Christian” homeschool families or read much of what is said by them it is clear they have bought into the "educational paradigm" sold by the state.  I constantly hear about how homeschoolers are just as smart, if not smarter, than Govt schooled kids.  Much is said about how colleges and universities are looking for homeschoolers because of how "smart" and "self motivated" they are.  This mindset is one that loses sight of the goal of disciplining ones children.  I will cover this in a moment but this is not a new issue since the Puritans also faced this and failed, thus losing their children to a failed system.

First, is the issue of the "Educational Paradigm."  Where in scripture does it tell us our children need to excel in "academics."  Where does it say Johnny needs to read by “X” age and Judy needs to spell by the time she is “X”, it does not.  One can see the principle in scripture that our children need to be prepared for life but does "education" really accomplish that.  What we often find is that many of the most highly educated lack in other areas and this is because of an inordinate focus on “education.”  History reveals that many of the great men of faith were often schooled at home and not with any special "curriculum,” many times only having the Bible as their source of education, in the early years at least.  Which brings up the whole topic of curriculum.  

Next, part of the trap is that far too many professing Christians are quick to want their kids out of the Gov't system but then they simply teach much of the same material at home.  Sure they may avoid such things as evolution and gender roles as the Gov't schools teach them but then they turn to what may be a more dangerous curriculum due to the subtlety of its message.  Many “Christian” homeschool families rely heavily on the "classics" thinking that is the answer to all their problems.  The problem in this mindset is what you find ensconced in these “classics” by Shakespeare, Hawthorne or Twain.  These authors do not write apart from their worldview and even though many use “Christian” words and motifs this does not make their writings “Christian” or conducive to make godly disciples.  I do not have the time or space to cover the issue with many of these writers in this article.  Kevin Swanson has done us a great service by doing so in his new book – Apostate:The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West, which I highly recommend.   In taking this classical curriculum route to education what many well meaning “Christian” homeschooling parents were trying to avoid in the Gov’t schools they have taken their children out of is now introduced to them instead in the comfort of the home via the “classics.”. One might even say that the “classics” may be even more dangerous at home than the blatant and rampant immoral teachings being propagated by the Gov’t schools.  The reason being they indoctrinate in a much more subtle way and catch many unawares since it is done at home and is, at least in the minds of those teaching such material, antithetical to that being taught elsewhere and thus may be seen as “safe.” 

Then comes the issue of college and university.  One would often think that many "Christians" simply homeschool so they can send their children off to be indoctrinated at the best Universities or maybe better named Centers of Higher Indoctrination.  This is where we look at the Puritans.  Scott Brown spoke at the 2013 American History Mega-Conference on the downfall of the Puritans.  This is an important subject because no matter how the secular world wants to portray the Puritans the fact is they may be one of the godliest generations since the first century church.  It is not hard to see that in all that they did and wrote that Christ was central and living a life that honored God was of prime importance.  So what happened as it was not more than 3 or 4 generations before the mindset of the Puritans had mostly vanished.  I think the reason is a great picture of good intentions having negative results.  The Puritans were very high on education and initially the main reason was so one could read God’s word and understand it.  However this moved to there being laws and fines for not catechizing then from there it moved to the church or other institution taking over the program.  This even moved to the concept of educating so as to ready their children for the university, hmm sounds familiar.  Again, I think the motive or intention was good but the Puritan ideal of seeking to live by God’s word as being all sufficient moved them seeking to add to it to accomplish what they thought was a good goal, well educated children.  If the Puritan ideals could be lost in 3 or 4 generations how much more do we need to be diligent as we do not start, as a generation, anywhere close to that of the Puritans.

Universities and colleges, as they stand today, are in general a place to avoid.  Their goal is not simply being to teach somebody facts but includes indoctrinating their students to a way of thinking, a way of thinking in the most part antithetical to a Christian worldview.  I know many will balk at this saying their children are prepared to face the challenges of a pagan educational system but the statistics and stories out there speak contrary to this.  Sure if one is forced into such an institution God can work in them as He did with Daniel but that does not give us license to toss our children into the proverbial lions den ourselves.  I realize this will be tough if one wants some sort of professional job since most companies require lots of letters after ones name.  Also, such professions as being a doctor require much education in these institutions.  The answer may be to start truly Biblical institutions, since many of the so-called “Christian” colleges and universities that exist today are not much more than secular institutions with a few more rules and maybe a benediction at the beginning of the day.  The bottom line is one may have to change professional aspirations if the only recourse is send ones children off to Babylon.  Once we see the world from a different perspective that change should be less painful.  Really we should ask what is wrong with seeking occupations for our children that do not require the pagan institutions available today.  Why not raise a generation of Christian farmers, woodworkers, metalworkers and other professions?  There was a time, not all too long ago, when those were the professions looked up to as being noble and worthy. Ok, I think you get the idea.

The message of the Puritans direction should make it clear that we cannot lose focus and we cannot let up in our diligence to truly make disciples of our children.  We cannot assume that the next generation will simply get it since history shows this is usually not the case.  We need to stand up and say that the profession of our children is not paramount but their spiritual well being and moral compass is.  We need to cease at sending them off to the halls of Babylon and expecting anything but a Babylonian back.  Or as Voddie Baucham has often said: "If you send your kids to Caesar for their education don't be surprised when they come back as Romans."  I do not write this to condemn but to commend, to exhort my Christian brothers and sisters to do what is best according to God, and His word, for our children.  Seek out God’s word and I think you will find it hard to support the direction most in the church have taken the need for education.

 I also want add that for those of you that have committed to not sending your children to the pagans you are not off the hook.  This is not a license to not “educate” in some manner but to do so in a way that prepares your children as God leads.  It is not a license for sloth but a call to diligence and perseverance.  Even if you do all you can you still need to be in much prayer and preparation always being vigilant to not let your guard down.

I did not want to leave this as all about what we should not do as Christian Homeschoolers but want to address that in another post.  Thus, I will come back later and write a post on how we should face this particular trap.


Anonymous said...

Great insight. Looking forward to your next post on this subject.

Tony Konvalin said...

It will probably take a little longer to write. Usually it is much easier to see a problem but the Biblical answer and how to get there is often more difficult - if not to see, even thought I fear most do not see it, but to practice it in the world we are in.