The Case against Christian Homeschooling

Christianity is a single world-view among very, very many. “Christian homeschooling” implies a form of homeschooling that places Christian perspectives, which are not empirically verified, in the role of ‘lens’ and ‘filter’ between children and the world.

The Christian lens bends reality in the same way that a glass one distorts light, and the Christian filter blocks out important aspects of reality that children need to learn about in order to have a useful education – that is, an education that, in addition to giving them a diploma, will actually help them function in society and add true depth to their experience.

The option to choose Christian homeschooling should be rejected for a single main reason: Christian homeschooling limits children, putting a glass ceiling on the educational experience. The ways in which it is limiting are outlined below.

1) The Risk of Parent-Induced Xenophobia

One of the challenges of homeschooling children is maintaining their exposure to large groups of other children, thus helping their people skills. While homeschooling can lower children’s exposure to unhealthy, negative social pressures, an important part of public school is its tendency to expose children of one cultural background to children of other cultural backgrounds, whom they would not be likely to meet through their parents’ social groups. By doing this, public school actively teaches that people, as people, should all be treated fairly, no matter what they think about gods – and more fundamentally, that different ideas are out there, open to perusal by the curious.

This kind of learning is easily prevented by Christian homeschooling. Since children living in this atmosphere surely have Christian parents, and Christian doctrine implores its followers to refrain from seriously considering other religions and discourages critical thinking about Christianity, the children of Christian parents are shielded, in many cases, from healthy exposure to diverse belief systems. Such xenophobia is both inherently divisive and pervasive in families that stick exclusively to a particular religious perspective.

2) The Intentional Inclusion of Bias

The Christian lens distorts history and science, presenting events not only inaccurately, but with intentional bias. The intent, of course, is to make Christianity look better than it is, while making non-Christian perspectives look either worse than they are, or rendering them invisible to children.

Not only are lies found in Christian textbooks, but so are unfounded opinions, and such opinions are not what children should be taught no matter where they receive their schooling. The difference between indoctrination and education is the inclusion or lack of inclusion of deliberately manipulative bias.

Many children are lacking education in one crucially important subject: reason, logic, critical thinking, and the ability to detect bias. This is the most important subject for a person to be skilled in, as it is a sort of “meta-education:” critical thinking class is a class in learning how to learn. Since public school doesn’t focus on such subjects very much, homeschooling would be a perfect way to add it to a child’s education.

Christian homeschooling is highly unlikely to embrace such education, as deep-seated belief in Christianity fundamentally requires a lack of logical skill. Christian-tinted education necessarily embraces poor reasoning skills. Christian homeschooling, then, directly leads to a depletion in the teaching of the most important skill a child can acquire.

3) Insufficient Education About World Religions

What devoutly Christian parent wants his children learning about the tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Jainism, Daoism, or Scientology? Not many – not only are they afraid to expose themselves to it (lest they start to ‘doubt’), but they’re doubly afraid to expose their children to it, for the same reason.

It’s a sad fact that many parents, especially devoutly religious ones, have difficulty conceiving of the fact that their children, although under their care, do not belong to them in any “ownership” sense. Most importantly, their children to not belong to their parents’ god. Until children are mature enough to choose for themselves what deity or system they want to be “owned” by, they belong to themselves, and should be exposed only to the guidance which will help them function in society and help them find satisfying answers to their own deepest questions.

What children should do about the prospect of an afterlife must be left up to them – otherwise, they are unable to choose it with a sound, educated mind. Some scholars believe that children should be exposed to religions – all religions – much more than they are now. This means they children have to wait until high school or later to find out in an optional course what non-Christian major religions are all about. I agree with them: children should be taught about all religions, as a mandatory subject in school, starting in early grades. Christian homeschooling, unfortunately, is very unlikely to support this idea.

4) Deliberate Scientific Inaccuracy

In the United States, the Wedge movement, which is now trying to shove creationism into the education system by asking scientists to “open up the debate,” is only a part of what is wrong with science education. Some parents are pulling their children out of public school in order to teach “creation science,” a fundamentalist-tinted form of pseudoscience.

It bears repeating: “creation science” is pseudoscience. It is a form of bad science, in which poorly-supported and poorly-researched claims are dressed up to deceitfully convince people that the conclusion, which is actually put forward for financial or political gain, is actual science.

A poignant example of pseudoscience forcing entry into mainstream science education rests in reference to the multimillion-dollar “Creation Museum” in Kentucky. This museum, dressed up convincingly with dioramas and animatronics, places dinosaurs alongside humans (didn’t happen), attempts to discredit carbon dating (carbon dating works), and outright denies the feasibility of evolutionary theory (a scientifically accepted theory, without which medicine and biology wouldn’t make sense).

Rendering creationism a science doesn’t only make important scientific realms like biology, veterinary medicine, husbandry, genetics and vaccines impossible to fully understand, it teaches illogic. Illogical arguments, like those used to support “creation science,” actually steal the capacity to reason about not only science, but all subjects, right out from beneath a child’s feet.

When “creation science” is included in Christian homeschooling, children are done a deep disservice, as their education system becomes little more an indoctrination system, suffocating, rather than expanding, their minds.

Sources:

The Creation Museum:
http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/07-05-23.html#feature

Religion and Children:
http://richarddawkins.net/article,118,Religions-Real-Child-Abuse,Richard-Dawkins