Trivium Pursuit

Correcting Default Settings in Education

Question from one of our readers

Our oldest son (in fifth grade) has been anxious about public school from the time he started kindergarten, so now we are thinking about homeschooling him. Our youngest son (in third grade) loves school and is at the top of his class, so we’re leaving him there. This seems to make sense to us, but we’d like your opinion. J.B.

In our culture, government school has somehow become the default setting for education, while homeschooling is considered an alternative for special situations. We don’t need to discuss how this came about. We only need to determine whether these default settings should be changed. We suggest that these settings should be reversed, particularly for Christians. Consider the following observations:

A. Ten reasons for avoiding the government school experience:

1. The Scriptures give authority for the education of children to their parents. Biblically thinking, the government has no original jurisdiction in the matter. The more we participate in activities outside of God’s order, the more we empower these activities while we weaken God’s cause.
2. The God-less curriculum inculcates the habit of ignoring God in everything all day long.
3. The curriculum often omits important facts and includes distortions, and falsehoods.
4. Children are expected to absorb humanist, socialist, and other philosophies in order to do well in class and to be accepted by the students and teachers.
5. Children are continually exposed and subjected to an environment of worthless language and habits.
6. Children are subjected to psychological testing, labeling, and treatment, often without parental knowledge or over parental objections.
7. Children are instructed in perverse lifestyles which are treated either positively or “neutrally” in the curriculum. (Neutrality toward perversion amounts to passive advocacy.)
8. Children are threatened by physical abuse and violence at alarming levels even with the day-long presence of law enforcement officials.
9. Children are at risk for exposure to dangerous diseases.
10. Oh, yes, and the quality of instruction is often dubious.

B. Ten reasons for avoiding the classroom school experience:

1. Bonds are forged among children and with teachers which often divide attentions and alienate affections from the bonds of the family.
2. Peer partitioning and peer dependence creates an unnatural culture which weakens character.
3. Classroom cultural values often interfere and conflict with family values.
4. The gender mixing often creates inappropriate situations and encourages wrongful attitudes.
5. The school atmosphere often breathes of jealousy and rivalry.
6. The school draws order and commitment of time away from the family.
7. The classroom is an artificial environment separated from necessary models for the habits of life.
8. The one-size-fits-all curriculum really doesn’t fit any and causes many things to fall through the cracks.
9. The tug-of-war between the lowest common level of the class and the various levels of individuals pulls many students down.
10. Much time and many resources are wasted.

C. Ten reasons for choosing the homeschool experience:

1. The parents directly exercise their original jurisdiction in education.
2. The homeschooling model fits most closely to the model for education in Scripture.
3. Homeschooling is the only model which does not interfere with and abuse the moral instruction and accountability between parents and children.
4. The family is designed by God to educate children and it functions best when it is engaged in that task.
5. The direct parental instruction and modeling is best fitted for establishing Biblical values.
6. The daily family model of interaction with children and adults of various ages is best fitted for positive socialization and character building.
7. The one-on-one parent-child model of education is best fitted for academic excellence.
8. Children grow up in a “greenhouse” environment under those persons most interested in their physical, mental, and spiritual development and protection — their parents.
9. Children are given the time and opportunity to experience and participate in real day-to-day culture and to genuinely develop their own interests.
10. The homeschool experience is well fitted for the mental and spiritual development of the parents.

In our opinion, the negatives of government and classroom schools are greatly reduced if not eliminated in the homeschool. The default setting should be homeschool, supplemented by private tutoring where necessary or advantageous. For situations where this simply will not work out, a small well-regulated private class on special subjects serves as another option. The government school — or anything resembling it — is a very high risk option which, by its very nature, works hard in the opposite direction of Christian faith and values. We believe homeschooling should ordinarily be the first choice because it is the best choice and, as Chris Klicka says, the right choice.

Harvey Bluedorn

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