Tuesday, September 12, 2006

To Do or Not to Do

I've been debating this a lot in my mind recently. I can see both sides of the issue and my husband and I have for now chosen a path. This article pushed me to respond here where I get to say what I think. Homeschooling is a very personal choice. Each family, Christian or not, has to come to their own decision about this very important issue. I resent articles like this that threaten horrible consequences to anyone who doesn't do as the writers feel is best. At this point we have decided not to homeschool. Je is in a Christian preschool, but next year will probably attend a public kindergarten. The only reason that might change is that in our district kindergarten is all day and few opt out of that. Je still naps most days. She has been really tired from just the half day of preschool three afternoons a week and missing her nap those days. We will have to see how things go as the school year progresses.

Back to the topic. I truly, heartily, and vocally support the idea that parents are the first and best teachers our children will ever have. I also believe that parents are the best able to make choices and decisions regarding their children. I rail against entities that seek to replace parents as influences for our kids. In that way, I sometimes get frustrated with public schools. This comes from my experience attending public schools and from teaching in them as well as being married to a teacher in public schools.

Every family has to decide what works for them, every year. I know myself well enough to know that I lack some crucial things to homeschool successfully, discipline, organization, and desire to do it. Maybe that last one is the most important. I just don't want to do it. It doesn't appeal to me to be solely responsible for my kids education. I am not patient enough, I worry that I wouldn't be broad enough, I wouldn't be innovative enough. In public schools I subscribe to the beg borrow and steal method of teaching. I have my eyes out scooping up ideas from everywhere for lessons. I have resources established. At home I would have to cultivate those resources, I know myself well enough to admit that procrastination, disorganization, and inertia would probably win out in my teaching, and the girls would suffer for my lack. When I taught at school, I had official oversight, regular checkups with other teachers, and parents asking for info. At home, I could avoid, fast talk and finesse my way through and the girls would suffer.

I respect everyone's right to choose what God has for their family. We feel called to the public school at this point. Christians cannot abandon society without leaving a vacuum of influence to be filled by those we would rather kept quiet. Some Christians have tried that. Our own church tried to abstain from politics in the mid-twentieth century urging us not to vote unless the candidate was a Christian and backed the Christian amendment to the constitution. That stand didn't lead to a better outcome. Now we are urged to take part in the process, not hold ourselves apart. If we take all the Christians out of schools we are left with no one to object to the objectionable. We may not be able to halt the liberal agenda but maybe we can temper it, show those not convinced that there are alternatives. I also feel strongly about my role to prepare my kids for life after school. They will have to at some point live in the world. I don't want them to confront things unprepared, and if I allow them contact with the world while I am there to provide perspective and education about them, then I feel that is MY job. So I guess I will be homeschooling in a way. We all do. I just think for our family the reading and writing is best covered by the teachers at the school not the ones at home. I invite anyone who has an opinion to post it. We all get to find God's will for our lives and must live as we are called.


Hillary said...

I am not a ”rabid” homeschooler. I do think that homeschooling is not for everyone. The education of the children God has blessed us with is a decision each set of parents need to make before the Lord. My personal opinion is that we are responsible for providing our children with both an academic and a spiritual education. The former can happen in any environment: home, Christian school, or public school. The latter can only happen in two of those environments: Christian school or the Christian home. It will NOT happen in a public school. Therefore, I have a difficult time understanding a person who says, “We are *called* to public school.” A choice? Absolutely. A calling? I don’t know.

If you are “called” to the public schools, then what will you be doing there to further God’s kingdom? Simply sending a child to a public school is not evidence of a calling.

There are people who should not homeschool. As you wrote in your blog, if a person is undisciplined, unorganized, easily sidetracked towards more desirous activities, or tends to procrastinate unless external accountability looms, *they absolutely should not homeschool.* However, there are many things we as adults do that involve self-discipline, some level of organization, and focusing on and completing responsibilities even if they are not enjoyable. How can we impart these character traits to our children if we do not continually strive to improve them in ourselves?

While our children are small, we have a responsibility to teach them and ground them in the Word of God. We have a chance to shape their worldview, and to help them to see the world through the filter of Scripture. Deuteronomy 11:19 (“You shall teach them to your children, talking of them when you are sitting in your house, and when you are walking by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.") is terribly difficult to do when our children are in an undeniably anti-Christian environment for 7-8 hours a day.

In fact, were I to send my children to the local public school, I would spend less time with them than the school does. (School for 7-8 hours, home for 5-6 hours, then bed in order to be up early for the bus.) Much of my time spent with my children would be “debriefing” them, or attempting to undo what has been taught during the school day.

When our children are in their formative years, they should spend the majority of their time with others who endeavor to ground them in the Word; in an environment aimed at teaching and discipling them. Homeschools and Christian schools are the perfect environment for this. When my child is in a secular environment (and I would argue that even a neutral environment is inherently anti-Christian) for 8 hours a day, then MY worldview becomes something against the norm.

Children in the public schools are not a “light” to others, on the whole. Jesus Himself did not begin His ministry until He was in His thirties. How can I burden my children with the spiritual responsibility of a Christian witness if I have neglected my responsibility to ensure they have a proper foundation? The children of Christian parents will NOT work to change or improve the public education system. A Christian parent or Christian teachers most certainly can, and it is not necessary to have a child enrolled in a school to work to meet that noble goal.

Our families live in the world. It is quite difficult to avoid it, even in a Christian school. In fact, homeschoolers are in many ways in a more real environment than many public school children. Most adults do not spend 8 hours a day in a room with 25 other people
their exact age. Our children are socialized by being out in the real world, meeting with real people of all types and ages. All this while I am there to help them. I would much rather have them “socialized” by people in the real world than by a pack of children their age.

You wrote, “I don't want them to confront things unprepared, and if I allow them contact with the world while I am there to provide perspective and education about them, then I feel that is MY job. So I guess I will be homeschooling in a way. “

You’re right, preparing your children to live righteously in a fallen world is your job. But it’s not something that can only be done by giving our children over to a secular, agenda-driven school system and working to counteract the damage during the off-time. Providing our children with a Christian academic education as well as a strong spiritual foundation, whether in a homeschool or private school setting, is the best way to prepare them.

Providing our children with the spiritual preparation to live for Christ in a sinful world is not called “homeschooling in a way.” It’s called Biblical parenting.

Shel said...

I think perhaps my entry was misunderstood. I was feeling defensive about our decision and it seems that some (not you Hillary) homeschoolers push homeschooling as the only responsible biblical choice. I think God does call us to a life. Whatever job God calls you to is a mission field. As I think about the article I reference more I guess my main objection is that the position held by the homeschooling advocate seems to be that unless you homeshcool, you are jeopardizing you children. My responsiblity is to educate my child morally and spiritually. If I leave their spiritual education to others, be it church, christian school, sabbath school, or any one else then I am abdicating my responsibility to the girls. God has gifted me with these precious children and I know I will be called before HIM to give an account of my parenting. My parents taught me that I will be held accountable for how I raise my children, as they will be for how they raised me.

Hillary said...

Hey, Shelly!

No offense taken, whatsoever. No worries there. You'd asked for a response, and this is what I had.

Perhaps I missed something in the article you were originally responding to, but the subject wasn't strictly advocating homeschooling. He DOES work for a homeschool advocacy group, but his point was that public schools are no longer neutral environments. His opinion was that children of Christian parents would be better off in a different environment, and he did suggest either homeschools or private Christian schools.

I completely agree with him there.

I do think that God can call us to a life. Of course I do. But I have heard many Christians say they were called to the public school, and then do nothing about it. If you feel God has called you to that, then you should be doing more than simply putting your child on a bus every day. (I'm using a general "you" here.) If the public schools are your mission field, then what are you doing about it? A few of these parents are actively involved beyond volunteering occasionally. Most don't even do that.

My local public school does not allow parents to volunteer in their children's classrooms. They do not allow parents to eat lunch with their children, even on holidays. A friend's local school has the counselor visiting classrooms weekly and asking probing uestions about homelife ("Do your parents fight?" "Has a parent ever spanked you?" etc.) Her daughter, and a few other students, were taken off school grounds by a teacher to go get a milkshake. It was a reward for that month's good behavior. However, the parents of these children were never notified about it. She found out only because her daughter mentioned it at the end of the day.

While I am not a rabid homeschooler (though I know many are), I do completely agree witht he speaker that today's public schools are a spiritually negative place for our children. Were I to send my boys to public school, I would be spending the majority of the time I have left with them at the end of the day working to counteract the worldview they'd been taught all day. I'd rather homeschool and do it right the first time. LOL! :)

Have a good weekend! Stay dry!