Before we can ever think about HOW we are to educate (ie. public, private, or homeschool) we must answer the question "Why do we educate?" What is our ultimate goal in education?
I had a mother call me sometime ago. She had received my name from a mutual friend and she wanted to home educate her son. He was currently enrolled in the local public school. Her first question was what she needed to buy to home educate. Before answering, I asked her a few questions. My first question was "Why do you want to educate your son?
She responded with a series of reasons on why she no longer wanted him enrolled in the local school. "Okay, so you are dissatisfied with the public schools", I replied, "But that doesn't answer my question. Why do you want to educate your son?"
She then replied with the some of the benefits of home education and how they do so much better that the public school. I responded again, "I am glad you want to home educate but you still haven't told me why you want to educate your son?"
She was getting a little frustrated so I rephrased the question this way "Move past the method of education and ask yourself , "Why do you care that your son knows anything about anything?"
She paused momentarily and then said, "Well, I guess I would like for him to make a good living for himself so that he can afford to do the things that he wants to do and to be happy. And a good education will do that won't it?"
"Sure it will, but let's take that and move forward about 30 years. Your son is now a famous millionaire who can afford to travel the world. You are back here in Michigan sitting in a nursing home. He pays all your bills but only visits sporadically. He is happy but you are ignored and miserable. Would you consider yourself a success at the education you have provided?"
"No", she admitted. She began to realize that academics was only a part of a well educated adult.
She then turned the tables on me and asked me why I educate my children.I responded, "My children's success is not determined by a degree or a dollar. That a well educated child is one who knows and loves the Lord their God with all their heart, mind, soul, and strength, and loves their neighbor as themselves."
She acknowledged that these were not her goals but that she didn't really know what a well educated child would be for her. This is sad.
The point of this story is not to convince you that my educational goal should be this mother's educational goal. But to illustrate that the goal must be defined before the methodology can be determined. I could have given her a list curriculum to buy but she probably would have found it unworkable for her (maybe even offensive!).
WHY we educate must be determined before we decide HOW to educate.
What do the Scriptures Say?
"Why should a Christian educate their children"? My answer comes down to a few basic scriptures that I can't seem to get past. It is on the basis of these scriptures that I have developed my answer. God encourages the believer to get wisdom.
It is my desire to have wise and not just "academically successful" children. The Bible teaches In Proverbs 9:10
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge of the Holy One isSo to become wise, my children must learn to fear God. They must know that there is a God and that HE is creator over all. Wisdom begins when we have a holy reverence and awe for God.
How is a person to acquire this wisdom? By walking with the wise. Proverbs 13:20 states
"He who walks with the wise becomes wiser still but the companion of fools suffers harm."As a parent, I desire to have my children walk with those that know and fear God. I cannot expect that my children will walk among fools and become wise. That runs contrary to the scripture.
One may wonder then "Who are the fools"? Scripture identifies two groups as fools or foolish. From Psalm 14:1,
"He who has set in his heart that there is no God"and Proverbs 22:15,
"foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child".Where do we most often find these two groups together?
The public schools as an instituion has declared that there is no God. There may be Christian teachers but the curriculum and structure is built on the assumption that there is no God. With that as its beginning there is no foundation for wisdom to be established. It would not be prudent for me as a Christian parent to send my children to such a place regardless how good the "academic" training or how great a particular teacher.
Also, within the walls of the school it would be my foolish children walking among foolish companions. How could I in light of scripture expect that my children would become wise and free from harm (or in some cases doing the harming!). To place my children in a classroom with 25 or so students all at various levels of maturity in Christ would not be educating them.
The issue does not rest on whether my children will be a salt and light or whether the public schools will fall apart if all the "good" children leave. Nor does it matter what the philosphy is of a particular teacher or school. As I stated in the beginning, the goal for our education is wisdom. The issue for me is what does the scripture say about how to become wise. I believe that the Lord is clear, my children become wise by wallking with those that know and fear the Lord.
Is Neutral An Option?
Some say, "Not assuming there is a God does not amount to assuming there's no God. The public school system is silent on that issue. We cannot confuse these things."
Jesus said in Luke 11:23
"He who is not with Me is against me and He who does not gather with me scatters"According to Jesus, anyone who is not professing a belief in God is actually against God. That's a hard lump to swallow in our "tolerant" age. God has not given me the luxury of being neutral in the discipleship of our children. This is includes the schools that we allow influence in our children's lives.
Jesus said in Mathew 18:6 "but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it is better for him that a heavy milstone be hung around his neck and that he be drowned in the depth of the sea."
I desire my children to grow and be educated in an environment that affirms the existence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That is fundamentally why we homeschool.