by Harvey Bluedorn. Copyright 1994. All rights reserved.
We taught our oldest son to read 20 years ago, and since that time we have been doing all the schooling of our children at home.
At that time, there were only a few thousand children being homeschooled in the United States. But today that number has swelled to perhaps 2 million. And that number may be doubling every three or four years. We do not expect such rates of growth to continue, but if it did, we homeschoolers would take over this country in one generation.
With these things in mind, we have developed what we call "Seven Undeniable Truths of Homeschooling" in order to encourage Christian parents, to begin homeschooling, to continue homeschooling, and to defend homeschooling,
The first undeniable truth of homeschooling is that homeschooling is not alternative education. I do not like being listed among alternative options in education. The presumption seems to be that government schools were here first, then private schools were invented as an alternative for rich kids, then religious schools were started for racist conservatives, and finally, homeschools came along for the terminally antisocial.
Well, I am here to say, we were here first, and we have been here the longest. We are just coming back, and we are coming back strong. God put children in the care of parents. Adam and Eve's kids were all Homeschooled. And in Deuteronomy 6:6 we read,
which I command thee this day,
shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them
diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them
when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down,
and when thou risest up.
If that's not Homeschooling, I don't know what is.
The second undeniable truth of homeschooling is that all parents are homeschoolers. It's just that some parents homeschool more than others.
It would appear that educational bureaucrats do not like this, because they continue to invent things which undermine parental authority and which bypass parental responsibility. There are government educational documents out there which both implicitly and explicitly state that they want to prevent parents from passing their values on to their children; and that parents and families are the cause of the problems of society, and the government education can fix the problems only if they reduce and control the parents' role in education.
They've come up with many ingenious proposals to accomplish this purpose, such as: The Parents as Teachers Program which is essentially a retraining program to get parents to think and to act in conformity with the government's vision for education.
And, of course, there is everybody's favorite, the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child. (sometimes referred to as "Hillary's Baby.") In this treaty, the world government grants to children "fundamental" rights against their parents. (Does anybody know where the world government ever obtained any authority to grant anybody any rights? I know this much, they did not get it from God!)
Article 14 grants the child the right to be free from any religious training from his parents.
Article 28 grants the child the right to be free from all corporal discipline from his parents. It also grants the child the right to reject a parent's decision to privately educate or home educate the child.
Well, the Lord has his own Parents as Teachers Program. It is part of the First and the Great Commandment:
"Hear, O Israel:
The Lord our God is one Lord:
And thou shalt love the Lord thy God
with all thine heart,
and with all thy soul,
and with all thy might."
Jesus called this the first and the great commandment (Matthew 22:38). But the commandment does not end here. When a Christian hears the words, "Our Father Who art in Heaven," he immediately recognizes this as a reference to the entire Lord's Prayer, one passage of Scripture which every Christian has memorized. In the same way, an Israelite, when he heard the words, "Hear O Israel," he immediately recognized this as a reference to the entire Shemah, that one passage out of God's Law which every Israelite was required to memorize from his childhood.
I said the entire Shemah. The Shemah does not end with loving God with all your heart, soul and might. The Lord commands more:
"And these words,
which I command thee this day,
shall be in thine heart:
And thou shalt teach them
diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them
when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down,
and when thou risest up. ...
[Deuteronomy 6:4-9 Compare. Dt 11:18-20; 32:46; Psalm 78:2-7; Proverbs 6:20-22]
The Shemah is the first and the great commandment. I call this "Duties for Daddies from Deuteronomy." It is not optional. It requires that parents teach their children how to apply all of the Lord's commandments in every circumstance of life. The Lord commands us to "teach" our children "diligently." The word translated "diligently" means to sharpen them by repeatedly rubbing them against the sharpening stone of God's word, lest they become dull and turn away from His truths.
Our children are to be well-honed in God's commandments, sharp and accurate in applying them. Sharpening our children helps keep us sharp as well. Our children are indispensable to our own sanctification. How many Christians have cut off their blessings because they have delegated their educational duties to others.
According to the Bible, the home is to be the center of all education. Education is the God-ordained function of the family. No one else is given the responsibility to teach children, not the government, not the church, but the parents. It takes a family, not a village, to raise a child.
I am not saying that there is no place for others to help parents in the process. What I am saying is that the work of educating children is what the family is all about. When educational bureaucrats and social psychologists and religious education specialists take over this task, leaving the parents largely in observer status, the family suffers greatly. Both the parents and the children are cheated out of a huge portion of God's ordained process for sanctification. (You could write an entire book on that one subject.)
As we continue down this road of separating children from their parents we are tearing apart the sinews of our culture. Parents and children are hurting badly. We need to teach our children, for our sake. Our children need to be taught by us, for their sake.
The way to destroy the family is to divide the children from the parents. And the way to divide the children from the parents, is to remove from the family its authority in education.
The final blame for all of this rests upon the parents. For whatever excuse they may give, they have shrunk from their God-ordained responsibility to educate their own children. The schools are orphanages full of children who have been educationally abandoned by their parents. Children are no longer in the hearts of their parents.
The failure of the family is inversely proportional to the rise of government education. This is because God intended for parents to be the primary educators, and because He never intended for the government to be an educator at all.
The best way to help the family is not to do its job for it, but to get out of its way and let it return to its God-ordained function of educating its own children with which God has blessed it.
The third undeniable truth of homeschooling is that our children are given to us as a stewardship from God. The government did not give birth to our children, neither did the government give our children to us, neither can we trust the government to raise them for us, neither should we let the government take them from us.
"Lo, children are an heritage of the Lord:
and the fruit of the womb is His reward."
You are accountable to God for how your children are raised. Barring unusual and unavoidable circumstances, you, the parent, will answer to God for who raises your child, and how they are raised. God is not going to place the primary blame upon government or the church, but upon you, the parent.
Children are placed under the authority and protection and tutelage, not of the government, and not of the church, but, of the parents.
Ephesians 6 (1-4)
"Children, obey your parents in the Lord:
for this is right....
And, ye fathers ... bring them up
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
When we were first married, 24 years ago, my wife and I both agreed that we would never send our children off to the government schools. Our commitment was not a reaction to the condition of government education. At that time, the government schools weren't nearly so bad as they are today. Our conscious commitment to parent controlled and directed education began when we both took a marriage vow to raise our children in the fear of the Lord. Our commitment at that time was philosophical. We alone, as parents, have the authority under God and the responsibility before God to raise our children in the knowledge and fear of God.
In our day and age the government has gone far beyond its proper boundaries of authority. Unbound governments are tyrannous, by definition. Governments are ordained of God to protect life. But we have been indoctrinated, largely through the government schools, to look to the government to provide for life, to care for all of our felt needs, including all of our educational needs. The very idea of homeschooling is so strange it just doesn't even occur to most people. When they do hear of homeschooling, many people are somewhat startled. You can't do that at home. Don't you have to have a license in order to teach? You should leave that to the professionals. That's just how far our society has drifted from reality. We now leave everything to the self-anointed experts and they turn our children into their experiments. [The Absolute Quickest Way to Help Your Child Change, by Fred Lybrand, p.28]
We parents have a natural duty from God and a natural ability from God, and therefore a natural license, to teach our children in the natural environment of our homes. Education is the family's God-ordained function, and government interference in education is unnatural, incompetent, artificial and unauthorized. They are operating without a license, not us. No government ordained by God has any authority to call good evil, or to outlaw and punish the doing of good works. And that certainly includes doing the good work of raising our children in the knowledge and fear of the Lord.
The fourth undeniable truth of homeschooling is that homeschooling produces the best academics. Studies have shown consistently that the smaller the student-to-teacher ratio, the better the academic product; and that one-on-one tutoring is the most effective method of all.
The classroom-factory model of instruction used in government schools is one of the least effective methods of imparting a quality education. The product is measurably inferior. And here are some of the measurements:
In a recent study in North Dakota home-educated students scored:
And then, in that subject which requires all of this special training and expensive lab equipment to be able to teach:
Furthermore, the longer a child was home educated, the significantly higher were his percentile scores.
Other studies show different scores, but all studies show significantly higher than average scores for homeschoolers.
All of this evidence makes the educational professionals look like amateurs. But that's only because they are the amateurs. God gave the task of education to parents. Professional teachers may know some subject better than you, the parent, do. But no professional teacher knows your child better than you, the parent, do. The so-called educational professionals are only amateur parents. We are the professional parents. Their experiment in socialized education is a miserable failure because they are running away from reality. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh. The Lord shall have them in derision.
Though Academics are important, they are not the most important. We need to get our houses in order first. The academic curriculum must be second to the moral curriculum.
For which will the Lord give the greater reward: for teaching our child how to do Calculus? or for teaching our child how to do the Sermon on the Mount?
You see, the government is correct. Socialization is ultimately more important than academics. But it must be family socialization, by God's standards, not government socialization, by humanist standards.
Which brings us to our fifth undeniable truth.
The most positive socialization does not come from spending twelve years with the same group of children, unnaturally segregated from real life according to age. More positive socialization comes from mixing with small numbers of children of multiple ages in a disciplined environment. And the best socialization comes from growing up with your own brothers and sisters under the nurture and admonition of the Lord administered by your own parents.
Again, studies show among homeschooled children higher levels in adaptability, cohesion, social adjustment, maturity and leadership; and lower levels in aggressive behavior, loudness and competitiveness. Homeschooled children tend to go on to occupations which are more entrepreneurial and professional. They tend to be more independently minded. They tend to be more family oriented.
They do, however, score lower in psychomotor development. (I'm sure you were quite concerned about that.) This means they may not run as fast. (Obviously they've had less practice fleeing from pursuing peers brandishing weapons.) They also score lower in self-perception, which means they are not as concerned about their physical appearance and peer acceptance. (In other words, they care less about what others think of them, and hopefully they care more about what God thinks of them.)
Probably the most often heard objection to homeschooling is, "What about socialization?" Alas, all children are going to be socialized. It cannot be avoided. The question is not whether they will be socialized, but how they will be socialized. Do we want our children to be socialized to communicate on their peer level or with all age levels, including adult, to follow their parent's example or to follow their classmate's example, to think for themselves or to agree with the values of their peers. In other words, to run with the herd? (Look out for generational stampedes!)
The world wants to squeeze our children into its mold. It wants our children to be socialized to agree with its ways. But the world's ways are not God's ways. We do not want our children to be conformed to this world. In other words, we do not want our children to be socialized their way. We want them to be socialized God's way.
We must understand that this question is raised by people who have been socialized their way. And we have a hard time answering this objection because we have been socialized their way as well.
The contrast is between group socialization on the one hand, which teaches how to respond and move with the group; and individual socialization on the other hand, which teaches how to deal with other people. You do not develop character in a group. You develop character through one-on-one relationships.
Proverbs 9:6 says
"Forsake the foolish, and live;
and go in the way of understanding."
Proverbs 13:20 says
"He that walketh with wise
men shall be wise:
but a companion of fools shall be destroyed."
First Corinthians 5:6 & Galatians 5:9 both say
"...a little leaven leaveneth a whole lump."
First Corinthians 15:33,34 says literally:
"Do not lead yourselves astray:
bad companionships corrupt good morals.
...I say this to your shame,
for there are some who do not know God."
Companionship with those who do not know God is a shameful sin which draws us away from God. How much worse spending the best of one's waking hours in a government school which teaches us to ignore God all day long, among teachers who cannot even mention God's name; and among students who, if they do mention God's name, do not mention it with reverence.
For many families, socialization is the strongest reason for homeschooling, not against it.
Before age 10, children need more training than they need teaching, and this means they need the right kind of socialization, not a socialization which promotes peer dependence. All the socialization they need can be provided by their family and their family's normal connections with church, relatives and society. The older the child gets, the more difficult it becomes to find positive socialization and to avoid negative socialization. The child who craves social interaction the most, may be the very child we need to protect the most from peer dependence.
The government schools do a good job of socializing children. They teach the social skill of looking to the government for everything. "Socialized education" makes good little socialists. Peer dependence and government dependence are complementary disorders. But a government that can give us everything can also take it all away, and eventually it will have to. Do we want our children to be socialized to allow the government to run their lives, or do we want our children to believe in freedom and personal responsibility? Homeschool socialization prepares our children for the real world, not for that artificial world being created by the government.
The sixth undeniable truth of homeschooling is that homeschooling produces the best values. Homeschooled children respect peers, parents, elders and authorities. And they do not join gangs.
By contrast, the government schools at their best cannot rise above the common moral values of the culture, and at their worst they teach no moral absolutes at all. They teach the morality of a-morality, the idea that there are no moral absolutes, only personal choices. When we combine this moral relativism, the idea that there is no right or wrong, with the information which they provide in sex ed, drug ed, death ed, feminist ed, and multi-cultural ed, what do we get? Promiscuous sex, illicit drugs, suicide, aborticide, infanticide, homicide. Now you decide!
But some parents argue that they want their children in the government school as "salt" in the system. They are referring, of course, to Matthew 5:13, which says, "Ye are the salt of the earth." But that is not all this verse says. It goes on to say, "but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? It is thenceforth good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men."
Here is a little lesson in historical chemistry. If we tried to wash the taste out of ordinary table salt, it would all dissolve and wash away: there would be nothing left. That's because today's table salt consists of pure crystals of the chemical compound which we call sodium chloride. But the "salt" of Biblical Palestine was not pure sodium chloride. It contained sodium chloride; but it also contained many other compounds and impurities. They could actually wash the sodium chloride out of ancient salt and this would remove the salty taste. But there would still be a substantial "residue." It would still look like "salt," but it would lack the salty taste or "savor." This washed out "salt," lost all of its beneficial properties: to preserve food, to fertilize the ground, to cleanse wounds, to enhance flavor, and, above all, simply to sustain life. Without sodium chloride, this "salt" was worth no more than sand. In fact it actually was sand. They literally paved paths with it. Hence Jesus declared that it was "good for nothing but to be cast out and to be trodden under foot of men."
The question is: "Will our children act as salt in the government school, to sustain, preserve, fertilize, cleanse and flavor it; or will the government school wash the taste and usefulness out of our children and make them worthless salt?" Who is teaching whom in the government school? Government educators may not always be effective in teaching academic skills, but they are highly skilled and very effective in transmitting, in ever so subtle ways, the humanist world view.
The father of modern education is John Dewey. John Dewey was a dedicated humanist and author of the first humanist manifesto.
The humanists have openly declared their intent. They intend to salt our children with the philosophy of humanism.
Charles F. Potter, a leading humanist, wrote in the magazine "Humanist," (1930).
"Education is thus a most powerful ally of Humanism, and every American public school is a school of Humanism. What can the theistic Sunday schools, meeting for an hour a week and teaching only a fraction of the children, do to stem the tide of a five-day program of humanistic teaching?"
Another leading humanist, John Dunphy, wrote in the Humanist Magazine (1983).
"I am convinced that the battle for humankind's future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity. ...The teacher must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit.... The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new, the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism."
Our children do not come with salt. Our God given task as parents is to fill our children with salt. We call this process education.
"Train up a child
in the way he should go,[that is, fill him with salt]
and when he is old
he will not depart from it."
"And ye, fathers,
provoke not your children to wrath,
but bring them up
in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."
Literally, "nourish them in the correction and counsel of the Lord." In other words, don't provoke them to wrath, provoke them to righteousness.
When we nourish our children we act as salt upon our children, preserving their integrity, fertilizing their mind, cleansing their walk, and giving them a distinctively Christian taste of life.
Are our children prepared to do battle with the Philistine Giant of Humanistic Education? David proved himself with a sling before a lion and a bear before he took on the Giant Goliath. Have our children proven themselves with the weapons of Christian warfare? (Romans 13:12; Second Corinthians 10:4f; Ephesians 6:10-18). Only after our children have matured and are proven in the correction and counsel of the Lord, only then may we send them out to do battle with the Humanistic Philistines. But if we send our children out to be discipled by the humanist system, we may expect any salt we may impart to them to be steadily washed away by a constant stream of polluting humanism. The salt will lose its taste and be good for nothing.
A century of Christians sending their children off to government schools has washed away the saltiness of Christianity. We have a generation of Christians today who do not even know what Christian culture is. The only advantage we have at this point is that when you hit rock bottom, the only way is up. Now we are struggling to raise up Christian parents to be "the salt of the earth" by salting their children in the fear of the Lord.
How many of us went through school without learning anything in general, or remembering anything in particular? We were neither interested nor motivated. We were simply serving our 12 year sentence. We now have another opportunity to learn these things as we teach them to our children. We have the opportunity to learn:
We never learn anything so well as when we ourselves have to teach it. What a blessing it is to have children to teach. And there are many things only a parent can teach his child.
Homeschooling is saving two generations: first us, then our children. We all must go on to earn our Ph.D., Doctor of Parenthood.
Why is homeschooling coming back in our day? We are in the midst of a great cultural conflict, between rabid fundamentalist humanism, on the one hand; and reality, which is genuine Biblical Christianity, on the other hand.
The lines of battle are being drawn. The real war is between truth, on the one hand; and on the other hand, the lie that there is no such thing as absolute truth. The real war is between righteousness; and the wickedness of thinking that everyone has a "right to choose" his own personal moral values, apart from God; or that others, such as the government, must choose our values for us. The real war is between holiness; and the unholy notion that goodness can be accomplished apart from God, whether by an individual or by the government. We are fighting cultural relativism, moral relativism, and social relativism, or, in a word, humanism, the notion that "man is the measure of all things."
Men mistakenly think that they rule the world. But men themselves are ruled by the darkness that is in them: a darkness which rules the way they view the world, as they attempt to bring this world into conformity to the lies which they believe. This world is ruled by philosophies and vain imaginations, which are inspired by the devil. (Colossians 2:8; Romans 1:21) The war is between two philosophies: fundamentalist humanism and genuine Christianity; and education is the great battlefield of that war. (You don't have to believe us about this. They will tell you that education is the battlefield.)
The battle is now engaged over the hearts of the children of this present generation. Our resolve is now being tested, not by men, but by God. Should we lose this battle, this world must necessarily slide backward into its darkest age. That puts homeschooling at the center of the conflict of this age, And that is my Eighth Undeniable Truth.
"For we do not wrestle against
flesh and blood,
but against principalities, against powers,
against the rulers of the darkness of this age...."
We parents are being called to raise up an army for the Lord. The last thing we want to do is turn our children over to the fundamentalist humanists for induction into their army.
The challenges of our age seem overwhelming. But the Lord gives us this promise, in Isaiah 59 (verse 19):
"When the enemy
shall come in like a flood,
the spirit of the Lord
shall lift up a standard against him."
I believe the Lord is raising up in our day a standard against the flood of humanistic philosophy which is being poured out upon our culture and is washing away and destroying our families.
Psalm 11:3 asks this question:
"If the foundations be destroyed,
what can the righteous do?
The only answer is, we must rebuild the foundations. Our society is crumbling because the foundation of the family has been replaced by shallow humanistic substitutes, such as the government schools. When the humanistic foundations of our society collapse, and collapse they must, because they are all built upon nothing but sand, we and our children will be left standing only if we have dug down and rebuilt upon the proper foundation.
Government programs are not going to save the family. Church programs are not going to save the family. Without the solid foundation of the family, neither the Church nor the Government can stand. A culture can survive a collapse of its institutions of government and religion, many cultures have; but no culture has ever survived the collapse of its families, no matter how strong its institutions of government or religion were. That is because the family is culture. Why do you think the social psychologists and the educational bureaucrats are now describing the government schools as "the new family?" (It's been in their literature for a long time, but now the language is appearing in the classroom.) Why are they calling the government schools the new family? Because they are trying to build a new culture, and the traditional family will not fit into their socialist culture.
Parents are responsible before God for raising, for educating, for enculturating, their children; not the the government, and not the church. Homeschooling is, by its very nature, a restoration of the family, because it turns the hearts of the parents back to their children and it turns the hearts of the children back to their parents. It puts things back into their proper order, God's order.
The structure of our society needs to be rebuilt, and the government and the church need to be brought back to their proper roles. But that is never going to happen until after the foundation of the family has first been reconstituted. In my opinion, homeschooling is the beginning of the movement from God to restore the family. Before we can remove the curse from our land, and bring a genuine renewal of our culture, we must first restore the patriarchal family. We must first turn the hearts of the fathers back to their children; and the hearts of the children back to their fathers.
Our Father in heaven, as a nation, and as a people, we have sinned grievously in Thy sight, for we have turned aside from Thy great and holy commandment to teach our children Thy ways. We have abandoned our own children to be raised by the Philistines. And what we have sown, we have reaped. We beseech Thee, O God: Cause us to plow up the fallow ground of our own proud and blind hearts. Grant unto us repentance. Turn Thou the hearts of the fathers of this land back to their own children, in order that we may remove this curse from our land. We know that Thou wilt test us, in order to purify us. Give us strength, Lord, to stand in the evil day. Richly bless those families of our land who have entered the battle to bring our culture back to reality. For the glory of Thy Kingdom and Thy righteousness we pray these things. And may our prayer be heard in the Name of Thy Son. Amen.