Monday, March 23, 2009

Scripture and Education

I just got back from a lovely weekend away with my Brian. But I've had a serious shake-up in my world this past week. I've tried to be open-minded concerning educational choices that I consider to be less than ideal, but after hearing a family's testimony that really struck me as wholly wrong, I have been contemplating and researching his even more and I'm just not feeling as open minded. I have no desire to be judgmental, but I am becoming very concerned with what seems to be a lack of biblical dialogue on what Scripture truly does have to say about educational choices. And if those choices are really so open to private opinion. I have a lot that I have sorted through, and I'm not sure how much I want to throw out here, but I'm just going to start with some scripture. I'd love to hear your opinions on how they do or do not apply to the type of education Christian parents can consider for their children. At the very least, they are food for serious thought.

Deuteronomy 11:18 “Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up (NKJV)

What is the best way to do this?
I recommend this article for some interesting insights and statistics. There are lots of rather consistent statistics out there on varying educational results, but verifying original sources has proven to be obnoxiously difficult.

Luke 6:39 He also told them a parable: "Can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both fall into a pit? 40 A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone when he is fully trained will be like his teacher.

Can a parent reasonably expect to have more influence than another teacher the child listens to for the majority of his day?

2 Corinthians 6:14 Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? 15 And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God.

I've most often heard this applied to marriage, and then to business partnerships. Only this past week did I see someone apply this to education. Do you think that this is valid? Can you work together with an unbelieving, Christ-denying teacher/institution/system to educate you children? When is this unbiblical?

I have lots of questions, and not as many answers.

Give me some feedback.


Jennifer said...

We have struggled the last few weeks with educational choice for our children. We feel we are doing what God wants for us right now. I had kinda hoped he wanted something else because I must admit I would like a break. (Can you say burn out?) However, for many reasons, we do not feel any peace about other options at this time.

I will say though that I am not convinced that public school is wrong for every Christian family. I really am not sure. We may use public school at some point down the road.

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts on all of it. It's something we constantly discuss and consider, but I am not sure we know more than we did a few years ago when we started this long convcersation!

Alicia said...

I do plan to explore this topic more. I thnk that there may be a place for the trained child/young adult in the public school system, but cannot at this time see any biblical support for sending young children when you have other choices. I know that this is a difficult and touchy topic that many parents really struggle with. I'm most concerned with an American church that is so blase about the topic that many Christian parents don't even think twice about it and no one is warning them of the dangers or those Christian parents that are thinking about it, but with what I feel is very faulty and unbiblical logic...

Alicia said...

P.S> You're awfully close to me now. I've often thought that it would be really fun to do a day a week as a special group theme day - we do lots of theme days - Earthworm Day, Map Day, etc. If your curriculum is flexible enough to allow that, even later in the morning after core subjects, that could be really fun. We're finishing up this year this week, but we should get together anyway, and then see what we can cook up for nect year. I think more fun= less burnout. Although, I must admit, I haven't yet experienced home school burnout - I get the opposite end, housework burnout. :^)

TheNormalMiddle said...

It is awful and I am living it---we want to home educate again but there is truly NO way to make it happen in this season of our lives. So I send them to school each day with a fervent prayer that God will not harden their hearts, my hearts, nor let any damage happen that cannot be undone at home.

It sucks, but honestly some families have no choice.

And private education, even if affordable, can be quite as toxic as public. I have no desire to put my kids in a rich-kids "religious" playground filled with legalism and pride.

Jacki said...

Okay, here is my take on it.

As you (may) know, I am a product of homeschooling. However, I have not felt the need or desire to home school Emma right now. But I do believe very firmly that parents should have a choice as to how to educate their children...whether through public school, private school, or home school.

We are fortunate to live in a county here in VA that has great elementary public schools. I have no reservations about sending Emma there. As a matter of fact, the school is just 1.5 miles from my parents house. The bus will pick up/drop off Emma from their house every day, and Emma will stay with her until me or Peter get home from work.

However, after living here for five years, Peter now understands why people home school their children. At first he was skeptical about home schooling and thought it was rather weird. But now? He has seen the sad state of American public schools and so home schooling makes sense to him.

He actually supports any decision I make. If I woke up tomorrow and said I wanted to home school Emma, he would say "go for it." But he has set down the rule that she will not go to public middle school or high school. It's not happening.

But as to applying the Bible to my decision? I honestly don't have any answers. There's nothing in the Bible that specifically says "only teach your children at home." I believe that it has to be an individual decision.

BenAcord said...

In Deut. 11:19, what exactly would the parents of that day be teaching their children in order to fulfill the command? In other words, what exactly is the "them" in 19a?

In our day, if parents send their children outside the home to learn reading, writing, and arithmetic does it inherently mean that they will be unable to do what is commanded in 19a?

As for the article, there are more than a couple red flags. Regeneration is one of several key doctrines overlooked. The sovereignty of God being another. It would stink if God wanted to save a kid but his parents inadvertently blocked God's move by putting him in a public school. Conversely, parents can now rest very easy knowing that certain schooling choices will almost guarantee that God will pick their kids.

"unbelieving, Christ-denying teacher/institution/system"

Perhaps Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego should have taken a stand prior to entering Chaldea Community College's 3-year program (Dan. 1). No wait, they actually took the training, which included a pagan "teach[ing] them the literature and language of the Chaldeans" (Dan. 1:4). The text does not state that the three sinned in taking this form of education; quite the opposite actually. These men only balked their public training when it conflicted with their obedience to God (Dan. 1:8,11-12).

After graduation these three men really went wild and took careers in a very worldly government. Their God-given knowledge of Chaldean affairs greatly impressed King Nebuchadnezzar (you'll always be Nezzy to me). Apparently there was a short heitus in all three men's careers so that they could attend the first Pyromaniacs Conference (Dan. 3). Four men entered pagan training and occupations and all four finished well. So let's see, that's 100%. The truth is that we don't guide our families by statistics but through much prayer and study.

Alicia said...


I believe that the Deuteronomy passage is speaking of teaching God's law to our children. It is possible to do that when your kids are away at school for the day, and you are one of the best examples of that, but the passage is also presenting to parents that this teaching is a lifestyle. Something that is done throughout the day, through every situation. I think that it is inevitable that children who are mising from the home for 7 hours are often getting 7 hours of a different kind of input.

God's sovereignty and regeneration are not to be overlooked or minimized by statistics. I simply think many people are oblivious to them, and obviously they mean something. If the family covenant is kept by keeping God's commands and that includes not giving your children to the heathen, etc., then we need to consider that. (And that is what I'm doing, trying to consider what God expects from us, not being dogmatic yet about many of these points).

Most of the biblical arguments that I see (similar to your Shadrach, Meshach, Abedego point) involve one of two points that are ignored or not considered important. 1)The characters involved are not young children - they are typically either adult or adolescents who have grown up knowing and being trained in truth before being placed in these situations 2) the characters involved were not in a position where there was any parental choice in the matter - slaves don't get to make educational decisions for their children, nor do Christians living in communist countries. I find it unwise to draw comparisons between these situations and the situations of people that are in a position to make choices for their children. God preserves us from evil, but also tells us to avoid it.

I want to raise children that will be salt and light, but regeneration does not automatically equip a child to deal with the onslaught of humanistic teaching. The statistics do not prevent God's sovereignty, but they do illustrate why the American church does not have a biblical worldview - they're not going to get one in public education. And I think that that could make the light seem pretty dim. I want LEDs.