After my post last week "How Should Christians Educate Their Children?" several people expressed the thought that homeschooling isn't the only way to grow in wisdom. They said children who are in the public schools can still grow in wisdom - it just won't happen during school hours. They believe that I may be underestimating the Lord or a parent's influence in the lives of their children. It's difficult in one post to express every aspect of what I believe. I appreciate the questions and the opporutunity to clarify what I've said.
Let me be clear, I don't believe that a Christian child won't grow in wisdom while attending the public schools. That's not what I'm saying at all. It does, however, become more difficult. According to the scripture, " He who walks with the wise becomes wiser still but the companion of fools suffers harm." It is the accompanying harm that makes it difficult for me as a Christian parent to place my children in the schools. But before you click away thinking that this is just another "right wing" rant on the evils of the public schools, it's not. Yes, I acknowledge the obvious conflicts with Christianity that exists in education today. And they are definitely one of the harmful things to consider and enough of a reason to avoid public education. But I submit they are not the only ones. In fact, I believe that strong Christian parenting can most likely overcome some of the obvious ones. So that begs the question....
What's the harm?
A greater potential for harm is to the heart of the child as they grow up in a system where "experts" determine what is best for the child and not the Truths of God's Word. These harms are much more subtle but no less damaging to the child and the family. Let me just share two areas from my experience where the experts' wisdom goes against the Word of God. After all, I did grow up in the public schools so I have at least some first hand knowledge.
Comparing Ourselves to One Another
From the moment we enter the school we are taught to compare ourselves to others. We're sized up by the teacher and the other children. In my school, kids learned very quickly who NOT to pick for kickball! The "pecking order" begins early and never stops. It's survival of the fittest. Yet, that's not a theory I want to build my child's education upon. Scripture tells us in 2 Corinthians 10:12 "Do not compare yourselves one to another." Why? First and foremost, it diminishes a child's love for learning. A child begins to believe they hate a subject just because they don't do as well as others in their class. (How many bloggers today thought they hated writing?) Secondly, we usually come up short. Discouragement and giving up are often the result.
Granted, some comparisons are probably natural and unavoidable. But the school system actually encourages it. When we begin to grade children like a farmer does eggs, there's a problem. Those that are the dumbest are put in the lowest percentile and labeled "special ed". Those that are the smartest or are put in another and lauded as "talented and gifted". Everyone else languishes in the mediocre middle. Secretly, wishing we were at the top and trying to avoid sinking to the bottom. All according to how we compare to other students. And then, in turn, we base life decisions upon those arbitrary comparisons! The education experts, in their "wisdom" are telling us to do exactly what God's Word tells us NOT to do. And parents let them. So who's the fool?
Life Revolves Around Me
This lie is arguably the greatest harm to the child. In the schools, everything is done for "their best interest." They begin to believe that life revolves around them and their needs and wants. It doesn't. But in the schools, much of the work is done by others so they are free to "learn" what they're supposed to do. Well, what they've learned is this; it's some else's job to clean the bathrooms, make lunch, wash the floors, etc. I'm much too important to be bothered with those tasks. Is it any wonder that by the time the tots become teens they won't do anything around the house? Or that they develop an attitude and although they live under the same roof, live totally separate lives? Scripture teaches us that the "greatest among us shall become a servant". But that bit of wisdom is certainly not what's taught to the children in school.
There are many others we could talk about But these are two that have impacted me the most. Some may say, "Well Spunky, you survived it. How bad could it have been?" Survival isn't the measure I want to use to judge whether something is the best thing for me or my children. After all, Saturday's earthquake had many survivors. But I doubt many of us would say they came out unharmed. Nor do I believe many of us on Friday would have chosen to fly to Indonesia knowing the potential harm that waited.
Can these harmful effects be overcome? Sure, we serve a mighty God. He is bigger than the public school system. But why would a Christian parent knowingly put a child in harm's path? The habits rooted in our early education impact the rest of our lives.
Is the Christian home perfect? No, not at all. But the family is the foundation God established for the discipleship of our children, not the state or its schools that say there is no God.
We, in the homeschool community, don't have the corner on excellence in parenting, but God does. His Word has warned us of the potential harm when we refuse to walk with the wise or sit in the counsel of the ungodly. The question is...
Are we as parents, going to let the experts or God's Word determine how we educate and disciple our children?
Related Tags: homeschooling, education, parenting, Southern Baptist Convention, public schools, home school