These notes were partly written in response to Pastor Tim Bayly’s recent articles on practically applying a biblical worldview to education.
- The content of curriculum is more important than where it is being taught (when I say “where,” I mean within logical parameters. Not literally in crossfire, for example). The style and content of education should be the main focus, not the location. Whether schooling is happening in a large or small building does not determine the quality of the schooling. It is possible for more traditional and structured schooling to happen in a home, and it is possible for more loosely structured education to happen in a private school. The location does not determine the content or quality of education.
- Thus, designations such as “self-education,” “traditional education,” and “classical education” are more helpful than “home-school” or “private education.” Traditional education could be defined as a system of education where the student takes classes on core subjects (math, science, English) with related homework to do and material to read, at regular intervals, and with grades and deadlines. In this sense, all schooling should be based on traditional education.
- A family may do many things to promote education outside of the classroom or equivalent of a classroom – cultivating a home library, or borrowing good books, reading good books together – like Pilgrim’s Progress, not just textbooks, going on field trips, etc. Activities like these can be done whether or not the child is attending school outside the home. All Christian homes should be places where family members can enjoy learning together and are encouraged to explore God’s creation.
- [click_to_tweet tweet=”Parents who say they are homeschooling their teenagers but are actually letting them play Candy Crush all day are… lying. Someone who has graduated from an arcade has not actually graduated from school and has not been homeschooled.” quote=”Parents who say they are homeschooling their teenagers but are actually letting them play Candy Crush all day are… lying. Someone who has graduated from an arcade has not actually graduated from school and has not been homeschooled.”]Words matter because truth matters. We need some kind of common definition of words like “school” or these words will no longer have meaning in communication. Many adults who were taken advantage of through fake homeschooling are unable to communicate clearly about what happened because of commonly accepted misuse of the word “homeschooled.” If a student sat in an empty private school classroom while watching Dora the Explorer from elementary through high school, no one would agree that this student had been “private-schooled” in any significant sense. Yet some adults will say, “I was homeschooled,” when they received little or no education. I believe that we need to define “homeschooling” by roughly the same standard applied to a traditional private school.
Parents who say they are homeschooling their teenagers but are actually letting them play Candy Crush all day are not only making an incorrect statement. If they claim to be homeschooling with intent to deceive, they are also lying. Letting your kids play video-games all day is not homeschooling. Someone who has graduated from an arcade has not actually graduated from school and has not been homeschooled.
Main categories of schooling
- NON-SCHOOLING — not doing school
- SCHOOLING — doing school
Semi-schooling is not on this list because you are either doing school or not doing it.
Main categories of schoolers
- NON-SCHOOLERS — people who don’t do school
- SCHOOLERS — people who do school
- SEMI-SCHOOLERS — people who sometimes do school and sometimes don’t. This doesn’t refer to people who take summer break or whenever they take school breaks.
It refers to people who take LOOONG school breaks (like, 5 months) and/or don’t cover core subjects. For example, doing math but not English or vice versa.
Main categories of people who say they are homeschooling
- NON-SCHOOLERS — people who don’t educate their children but use homeschooling as an excuse.
- SEMI-SCHOOLERS — People who are genuinely trying to homeschool, but don’t have the skills and resources to homeschool effectively. They alternate between home-schooling and non-schooling.
- SCHOOLERS / HOME-SCHOOLERS — People who really are schooling their children at home.
(There is a subcategory of homeschooling called self-schooling. Self-schooling is letting the student educate him or herself, usually by watching a pre-recorded lecture or reading a book, with little or no accountability. In other words, the student is told to start the course, and perhaps asked if he finished the course, but not graded on homework. If the student is told to read a book and never reads it, we cannot say he was really self-schooled. We can only say he was self-schooled if he did the work.)
- Christians need to focus more on renewal and responsibility in private forms of education than arguing about whether or not we are allowed to put our kids in public school in some instances. This is an important discussion. We should stand against adding to God’s commandments. But we must acknowledge the responsibility of educating our own children before we argue about where they must be educated. How can communities come together to provide kids with a solid education? What about school-pooling — parents coming together to teach kids different subjects? What about combining home-school with private school? How can we develop better curricula that can be used in any educational setting?
- Part of nurturing our children and not provoking them to wrath is providing them a high school education so that in their late teens they will have multiple options and be able to choose the next step, whether it is college, marriage, missionary work, or something else.
- A ten-year-old, no matter how mature she is or seems, is not old enough to decide whether she wants to do school or not. I once read an article that went something like this:
Since all children are different, not all of them should have to do school. Homework makes some children cry. It stifles their natural talents and inclinations. Perhaps you are one of those unique, enlightened parents who have one of those unique, enlightened children. Well, you don’t have to worry anymore about the boring task of making your child do homework. Instead, you should let your child spend his time doing what he likes do. Then you will both be happy.
My young daughter would rather train guinea pigs than do homework. So I decided to let her stop doing homework. Now she is an award-winning guinea pig trainer. See what wonderful things will happen when you stop making your brilliant and misunderstood child do homework?
After graduating from high school, a young adult will be at the age (and hopefully the maturity level) to decide what to do next. The 10-year-old doesn’t have the foresight to wonder if she will regret her decision to quit school. She doesn’t need to be making that decision for herself. Parents don’t let their children decide whether or not they want to brush their teeth or where the family is going to move. They don’t need to let their kids make life-changing decisions about education or lack-thereof either.
- Schooling should not be seen as the enemy of extra-curricular activities. Schooling is not the enemy of living our lives, but a friend that helps us cultivate necessary skills and logic to make us more effective in other areas. We can make pizza and do math at the same time. We can love our families, serve others, and develop our talents, even as students with homework to do. There is a time for everything. There is a rhythm.
- There is no education without order. As we study an orderly universe, we must do it in an orderly manner. Secondly, and very importantly, there is no education without accountability. A student must have grades and deadlines. These imply penalties for mistakes but also rewards for success, if only the reward of a higher grade and a job well done. You cannot give a child a book and DVD, then expect him to teach himself the whole course and do all the homework. Not all by himself. He needs accountability.
- A faulty view of education is that the main point is getting a paycheck at the end. After all, the more education you have, the higher-paying job you’ll get, right? Of course, the ability to get a job is a usual and helpful outcome of education, but it’s not the ultimate reason for education. Whether we’re eating, drinking, or writing an essay, the main point is glorifying and enjoying our Creator, starting now and continuing for eternity. We are to be stewards of the gifts He has given us, and one of the greatest gifts He has given is our minds. Sharpening and improving our minds by exploring the order of the universe is one way can glorify the One who made it. Education shouldn’t be based on ensuring future financial prosperity, but on stewarding the minds God has given us for our good, His glory, and the good of those we serve.
- We must glorify God and live faithfully before Him in the days we are given. This means being faithful in the cultural context in which we live, not in the context we wish we had (not that any period of history after the Fall has been perfect). Some aspects of 21st century western culture are wicked, some are neutral, and some are beneficial. Our responsibility is to defy what is wicked, promote what is good, evaluate what is neutral, and trust everything to our Heavenly Father.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)