Response to "A Case for Homeschooling"

The timing of the article couldn’t have been better. On this blog, we had just finished a series on education options for children, including perspectives from families who have chosen home, private, and public schooling. Each family explained why that option was best for their own family, and how they have seen God work in it for His glory.

Then, within a few days of concluding our series, I saw this post on another blog: A Case for Homeschooling: Is There A "Biblical Model" for Education?

I was interested not only because we had just finished our own series where a balanced view was presented, but also because we ourselves have homeschooled our own children. 

The author starts out by saying that while she sees a strong Biblical support for homeschooling, she is not saying that other options are sin. She then goes on to explain how homeschooling lines up with some Biblical principles, especially on the need to shepherd and protect the hearts of our children. Additionally, she equates homeschooling to a traditional, Hebrew mindset, and public school to a Greek approach to education.

In a number of points that the author brings up, I agree wholeheartedly. I do feel like one can make a case that homeschooling lines up with some core biblical principles. However, I have a number of objections to the author’s rationale.  I addressed some of these in the comments section on that post, but will elaborate more here:
image courtesy of ba1969 via sxc.hu
  • Be careful of Bible references used out of context. Yes, the principles that are brought up in the verses presented are true. But in none of these passages is the writer (inspired by God) saying, “This principle is true. Therefore, you should home school your child.” Deuteronomy 6 and Proverbs 1, for example, are passages about worship, not education.
  • We need a better definition for “home school.” Going along with the above point, I would make the case that those passages and principles apply no matter what schooling option is chosen. In truth, we all “home school.” We all need to be equipping our children with life lessons. But this is true regardless of who teaches a child reading, writing, and arithmetic.
  • We all need to engage our children. I’ve heard this before (and saw it especially in the comments section on that post), that people tend to equate public school with “throwing your kids in the wilderness and hoping they survive.” This is true if the parent is not continually engaging and equipping the child. But I would defend certain families that I know who have their kids in public school, who have wonderful opportunities to talk about their days in the context of the gospel and God’s kingdom.  In fact, I am a little envious of their opportunities, and I applaud their efforts.
  • Neglect can occur in any education system. God does not want us to “throw our kids in the wilderness” of public school, but I have seen this happen a lot. But I have also seen parents use private “Christian” school as a crutch or substitute. And I have even known neglectful homeschooling parents, who give the kids some worksheets and videos every day, but don’t really educate their children.
  • Traditional does not always mean biblical. The author says that Hebrew families homeschooled (Yay!), whereas the Greek philosophy incorporated public school (Boo!). Hey, I love (almost) all things Jewish, but let’s not equate tradition with Bible-certified. That’s one of the issues I have with the parenting resource Parenting by the Book.

Don’t get me wrong; I am a fan of homeschooling. I am just not a fan of someone saying something to the tune of, “The Bible says Christians should homeschool.” Even more relevant to this article, I think it's worse to say, "The Bible says that Christians should not send their children to public schools."


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7 comments:

  1. Did you see the post on that same Generation Cedar blog in late August 2010 about public schools? The rhetoric in the comments section was supercharged. http://www.generationcedar.com/main/2010/08/the-anti-educational-effects-of-public-schools.html

    These are the times when I am somewhat embarrassed to be associated with the home school movement, even though I have home schooled 10 kids starting in 1992 and written extensively about it in books, e-magazines and blogs. We also have one teenager in public school. :-)

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  2. Thanks for that link, Virginia. Yes, it was interesting to skim through the comments -- definitely supercharged. I think the same fallacies exist there (as in the more recent article), especially when people take a verse out of context to apply it to education.

    I went to college with a strong Christian who is now a pastor. We had an Old Testament class together, and his independent research was to determine what the OT says about education. He was surprised how little it was.

    What I think most of the commenters miss is that for many families, public school may truly be the best (or only) option. I mean, I am working in an impoverished area where both parents have to work to have a chance to put food on the table. They are doing the best they can for their family.

    Whereas I feel that homeschooling has worked great for my family, I also support so much in public schools. We Christians don't need to shun public schools, but to figure out how it can be redeemed in light of the gospel of Jesus.

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  3. I am grateful to live in a country with so many options. I have been reading about life in third world countries where education is substandard, especially for girls, who are then even more vulnerable to exploitation and poverty. I guess you can relate to that in your work in the USA. Thank you for investing your life. It counts.

    I wrote an article last year called Do It Well But Keep It Humble: http://virginiaknowles.blogspot.com/2009/08/do-it-well-but-keep-it-humble.html

    Blessings,
    Virginia Knowles

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  4. oey,

    I appreciate your response. I saw your comments on her original blog post and I completely agreed with what you said and was somewhat surprised at her reaction to you.

    Our local public school is one in which we don't feel our son will get a very good education. So we have applied for several charter schools. However, it looks like we will not be picked in the lottery for the schools (although we're still waiting to hear from some.) At this point in time I'm gearing up for home schooling. Something I was never really planning to do but feel God leading me to at this point in time.

    With that said, I really appreciate your balanced view of the whole topic as sometimes I feel like there's very much of a "This way or the highway" mentality.

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  5. what a great addition to your schooling series, joey! very thought-provoking post(s).

    i could take this comment in so many different directions, based on my emotive response to the post and the comments that followed, but there are plenty "this is what or how i think because this was my experience" sort of replies already. (too many, perhaps.)

    i appreciate that you have posted something that seemingly supports what you believe and decisions you have made, but that you boldly (yet quite humbly) address its fallacies. in this situation the end does not justify the means and to believe or imply otherwise is wrong.

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  6. i couldn't quite put my finger on why i was feeling unsettled as i read the referenced post and its comments, until i came to this statement:

    "Also, there are many godly men and women who only came to repentance later and suffered tremendous, unnecessary damage from being outside of their parents’ discipleship for the better part of their growing up years."

    a statement like this seems to give too little credence to God. to His power and His grace. to the importance of His presence throughout someone's path of repentance and redemption, even when "outside of their parents' discipleship." i am not comfortable deeming someone's experience "unnecessary" (or even calling them "damage") as i have no idea what God has in mind! are His means just?

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  7. Thank for the balance Joey. I was amazed by the original post and comments that followed.

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