Education: State, Church, or Home? (part three)
We have ruled out the state school as a viable option for educating children.Â That leaves us with the church school, sometimesÂ called traditional education, and the home school.Â We church school, so it might just look like we favor that.Â You might be right.
THEÂ CHURCH SCHOOL
For the weaknesses of the church school, I want to start with 5 basic concerns that home school advocate Greg Harris listed in his book, The Christian Home School.Â He’s the father of Josh Harris, who has written the well-known books on courtship (I Kissed Dating Goodbye) and is pastor of a large Charismatic/Calvinist church on the East coast.
- Many Christian Schools Only Clean up the Public School’s Practices.Â Â “Objectionable material is ferreted out, Bible verses are memorized, and God is mentioned without fear of lawsuit; but these [are] shallow, cosmetic tokens of what a thorough Christian education should be.”Â Â It is true that a Christian school could just be taking a public school model and sort of Christianizing it.Â All I can say is that our school is radically different in philosophy than a public school–we certainly do not want to do less than a public school in the basic subjects like math, reading, and English, so we think that it is not contradictory to Bible belief to do a good job in teaching those subjects.Â We use a different curriculum, have different teachers, and certainly a different emphasis totally.
- Double-mindedness.Â Perhaps enrolling non-believing children could betray the Godly moral environment necessary for Christian parents.Â Â Our focus is discipleship, not evangelism; but one cannot focus on discipleship without focusing on evangelism.Â Â It is a matter of what is enforced, and the strength of leadership.Â It is not a matter of not getting in the presence of sin, but getting in the presence of undisciplined sin.Â Those students who attempt to disrupt the godly and discplined atmosphere of the school are dealt with in a firm and gracious manner. Our first priority is our own children.
- Age Segregated Peer Pressure is Part of the Christian School Experience.Â Â In order to learn older behavior or more adult behavior, one needs to spend time learning from adults.Â Â Â Home-schoolers willÂ say thatÂ being around children of the same age feeds immaturity–or as I have heard used, “encourages pooled ignorance.”Â It is a valid concern–the school must be sure to enforce adult behaviour as the standard, and be disciplined in the extent of associations between students.Â The goal is to focus the students on the teacher model, not a peer model.Â We have found that what happens at a recess time is the biggest concern, not in the classroom.Â This is the reverse of the “socialization argument”–home schoolers lose out on socialization, and they say, “good, I don’t want peer socialization, because it only reinforces immature behaviour.”Â On the other hand, adults will be supervising and teaching about how people are to get along, or behave with each other–children can have no secret agendas during the school time.
- Too Many Christian Parents Put their Children in a Private Christian School and then Abdicate their Responsibilities as the Primary Educators.Â Very true, but we won’t allow it in our church.Â Â Other parents and churches that send their kids to our school, yes, but not our people.Â I have found that work and worldliness are far bigger enemies than the school.Â We want parents involved based on a highest common denominator for all of our students–thus giving accountability to those parents.
- Christian Schools that Use Classroom Organization Inevitably Face the Problem of Dividing the Teacher’s Time among a Class Full of Students, All of Whom Have Differeing Needs.Â Â This can easily happen.Â Â There must be work with the parents of the children–extra work can be given–students can be evaluated.Â Certainly, the dumbing down process can take place by too much attention given to the slower students at the detriment of faster ones.Â A school just must work to make sure that does not take place.Â Parents must confer with their teacher to help in this matter, not say that the school must give the children the extra.
- Accountability–A student in a church school gets evaluated regularly by others besides the parents for needed objectivity.Â He has nowhere to hide.
- Division of Labor–A church school can take advantage of certain strengths one person may have in art, another in music, another in physical education, another in organization and administration, and more.
- Fitting into the Concept of Gifts–1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12 can be practiced easilyÂ with a church school.
- Local Church Authority–God gave the church authority for truth, not one family.
- Helping everyone–People talk about “no-child-left behind.”Â A church can work at that with its membership.Â Everyone takes responsibility for each other with a church school.
- Group Activities–Certain activities are more easily done in a church school environment, and the children become accustomed to working with a group, which is often how things get done later in adulthood.
- Becoming Accustomed to Different Leaders–People will often have different bosses as they go through life and they must learn to adjust to different styles of authority.Â A child moving through a church school education willÂ have different styles of teaching and authority and will learn to respect and learn from each.Â
THE HOME SCHOOL
- Wrong Motivation–I have found by experience that often home-schoolers are not motivated by a conviction to home-school.Â This is not a broad brush, but it is a besetting temptation.
- Money–Home schoolers won’t have to pay the church school and will also be able to “invest” the resources back into the home.
- Pride–Everyone can be subject to pride, even in church schools, but the home-schoolers will often elevate what occurs in the home above everyone, comparing their children to everyone else in their superiority.
- “Ours is better than everyone else’s.”
- “My child is way ahead.”
- Parental Responsibilty–Parents are obviously TAKING responsibility big time.Â Parental involvement is crucial to educational success.
- Students with Parents More–This could be addendum to the first strength.Â Parents (adults) become the model, and adult behavior is definitely the standard.
- Flexibility–School can be whenever the parents want it or need it.Â This facilitates trips, good vacation times, dad teaching a class when he gets home from work, etc.
- Able to Help the Special Student More–This might be the biggest plus here.Â The child won’t necessarily be held back by the pace of the rest of a class.Â He can go as fast or slow as he needs.