Some issues are difficult and require a lot of ground work before the real discussion can begin. To me education is not one of those complicated issues. At least that is true if we look at education the same way as we look at parenting. What is parenting? Parenting is the act of raising a child or children. It is really about distilling our values into our children. It is about taking babies and turning them into mature citizens; in our case, mature Christians who are able to divide the Word correctly.
To me education is merely a portion of the responsibility that comes with parenting. Children learn, often in spite of us. This means that our children are learning from us and those we allow to surround them regardless of whether we want them to or not. The secular world has proudly created a term for this often negative form of education: peer pressure.
Peer pressure is that moment when we first used profanity to fit in with those around us. Peer pressure is when we smoked our first cigarette because it was considered cool. The list goes on and on, mostly negative in the world in which we live.
In spite of the negative influences on our children, we continue to send them to day care; we continue to send them to pre-school; we continue to send them away to school.
For the sake of full disclosure, my wife and I home school our children. It is not easy; it has required a lot of sacrifice, mostly for my wife, but for our family as well. It has caused conflict within our larger family. Yet here we are, nine years in and still happy with the distillation of our values into our children.
My wife and I are both educators by training. She taught in a parochial school for a decade, I spent four and a half years teaching before I went to law school. Both of my parents are retired educators and my sister is currently working in education.
So it is that I approach this subject with a lot of ideas, but a sympathy for those who are working hard, for little pay, to educate our children in the public and private schools. It is hard to discuss these matters without creating anger in the education system. My intention, however, is not to wage war against public education, it is merely to let us consider a higher, more costly way of educating our children, a way that allows us to protect our children from a deteriorating world that spirals deeper and deeper into decay everyday
One of the best places to see this issue clearly is in Germany. There are at least 100,000 truant students in Germany, maybe a lot more if you believe some of the figures I have seen thrown around. The government does nothing in an organized way to bring those students back into the system. When Melissa Busekros was taken into state custody for over 3 months for the “crime” of home schooling she was not once given any education.
Yet, Germany has declared war on home school families: all three to four hundred of them. German officials have fined these families, they have placed parents in jail, taken the children from the parents and delivered them to school, anything to stop home schooling. I am often asked, “Why does the German government care about 400 students?”
Several experts have finally given me an answer that makes sense. The German government officials fear the strong families that are created by home schooling, especially among Christians.
The children are not loyal enough to the state.
And here lies the core of what I think about education. Education, by the state, is designed to create some knowledge in children. More than that, however, education is designed to create good citizens, wards of the state if you will. We teach conformity, how to line up and move from one place to the other at the ringing of a bell. These are important lessons, particularly the more populated the world becomes. Like Disney World, our success depends on getting the most people through the ride in the least amount of time in an orderly fashion.
Sure we teach science, with the core evolutionary theory driving the curriculum. Sure we teach sex education, with the liberal mores of our ever more depraved society. Nonetheless, in a modern, crowded world like ours we must have citizens who are properly committed to society. The public education system is the best place to mass produce these model citizens.
In many ways conformity and group thinking are more important than individuality and creativity.
An equally important issue is: “Who is going to raise our children?” God gave them to you and to me. Why am I letting the state educate them with virtually no questions asked?
I realize that it is not reasonable to think that we can all educate our children at home. There are a number of factors at play. What are our skills? What is our economic situation? What needs do our children have, are they special needs that cannot be met at home?
At the very least we must demand that our public schools reflect our values. If they will not do this, we must insist that they respect our values and not force questionable education on our children.
Many of our forefathers were not educated in formal school settings. Even the Little House On The Prairie school was more closely aligned with home school than today’s public school classroom. Yet, as a society we suddenly do not believe in the ability of parents to teach their own children.
When we first began home schooling our children my wife and I were questioned about the loss of socialization our children would experience not being educated in the public schools. Eventually it became more than I could bear and I quit trying to be nice to those who questioned our decision as parents.
I looked at my questioner and asked a simple question of him. “What exactly are you concerned about? Is it that my third grade son will not be able to interact with children whose parents do not control what video games they play, what television they watch? Is it that he will not be interacting with children who are not Christians, learning a new religious belief system?”
Then I stopped. My questioner ducked his head, “I hadn’t thought of that.”
This is the real issue to me. Who is going to determine what my children believe about anything? Am I willing to turn them over to an increasingly secular school system? Am I willing to put them in with a group of people who do not believe what we believe and hope for the best?
When looked at this way, it hardly seems like a question with a difficult answer to me.