Validating Homeschooling for Christian Families
philosophical meanderings by Pat Goltz
Some of the world's greatest geniuses were homeschooled. The homeschooling was, for many of them, both a cause and an effect. Many of them did not get along well in the classroom, because they had certain potentials, and the classroom setting did not mesh well with these. Some of them had developed these potentials because they had been "homeschooled" during their preschool years. The atmosphere that produced genius had been there all along. Some of them were taught by parents sensitive to their intellectual and spiritual needs. Some of them were deliberately created.
There are basically three methods of homeschooling: the "imitation school" method, the Biblical method, and the Summerhill method. The "imitation school" method is the most common. In this method, parents establish a routine in the morning, to which the children must adhere. The curriculum is most often planned by a group of professional educators, which supplies texts and tests, grades the tests, and gives report cards and a diploma. Although it is more nurturing than school, because it is individual attention from the people to whom God gave the paramount duty of educating their children, it is sufficiently similar that it results in many of the problems parents wished to escape when they chose to homeschool in the first place. The causes of choosing this method include fear that they are incapable of doing it alone, ignorance, and fear of what the government will do to them if they do not produce a product sufficiently like schooled children that their progress can be quantified. The Summerhill method involves abandonment of any pretense of discipline, allowing the child to decide when, or even whether, to acquire the skills we call an education.
The Biblical method is stated succinctly in Deuteronomy 6:4-7:
4. Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord:
The use of the singular "thou" indicates that the words are directed at parents. The earlier verses specifically mention that these are directed to "thee, and thy son, and thy son's son". The passage goes on to describe things each individual Jew was required to do. There are two important concepts embodied in this chapter. The first is the concept of who God is. The second is the way in which it is to be passed on.
Who is God? God is a single God. Not a pantheon. Not nonexistent. God's nature is implicit in the grammar of verse 4. In the Hebrew, it says, "shma yisrael adonai eloheinu adonai echad". "Adonai" is the plural form of the Hebrew word "adon", which means "Lord". Hebrew has a dual number, which means two of them. In English, a word is either singular or plural, and if a word is plural, it means the number of them is two or greater. In a language with a dual form, the plural means the number of them is three or greater, because two has its own form. Thus, we know that the use of the plural "adonai" means there are at least three of whatever we are discussing. "Eloheinu" is a form of "el", which means "God". It means "our God". The designation God and Lord is repeated three times to define the specifics of the plural nature of God. The use of the word "echad", which means "one", indicates that God has a composite nature. The Hebrew word for an absolute unity without any structural divisions is "yachid". The word "echad" is used to describe two people becoming one flesh in Genesis 2:24, describing marriage: "Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." The two people retain their individual identities, but they create and are created into a singular unity, the married couple, which cannot be put asunder by anybody short of God. This is why divorce causes such trauma. Even though physically separated, the one flesh nature of the marriage cannot be broken. It is like committing suicide. The word "echad" is also used to describe "one people" in Genesis 34:22, where it says "Only herein will the men consent unto us for to dwell with us, to be one people...". "One people" describes a unity made up of individual units, each of which is still an individual. And "echad" is used to describe bunches of grapes in Numbers 13:23, where it says "And they came unto the brook of Eshcol, and cut down from thence a branch with one cluster of grapes...". A bunch of grapes is a single entity, with a definite shape, but the individual grapes remain individuals. The use of the plural pronoun with the singular verb in several verse of Genesis 1, in which God's creation of the world is described, when it says things like: "let us make", is the first indication that God has a plural nature or aspect. Deuteronomy 6:4 is the first indication of how many divisions we are discussing. The New Testament is specific in describing each of the Persons of God, so that we not only know how many there are, but who they are, and what each one's nature is. The New Testament makes the doctrine of the Trinity, or the triune God explicit. The most telling passage is at the end of Matthew, chapter 28, verse 19, where it says, "Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name [singular] of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost [three Persons]."
Thus, Deuteronomy 6:7 is a commandment to parents to teach their children the nature of God. And that is how we are supposed to educate our children. It is what we are supposed to teach them. We teach this every time we teach a child to read, because it is necessary to be able to read to study the Bible. We teach this every time we teach grammar, because a child cannot understand the nature of God in Deuteronomy 6:4 without understanding the grammar of that verse. We teach this every time we teach mathematics and science because God's creation of the world, and the way in which the world is structured, is concrete evidence that God exists, and that what He creates is good. Romans 1:20 says, "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse." II Peter 3:5-6 says, "For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished". God created the world, and later on destroyed it by flood, which resulted in massive sedimentary deposits which contain fossils of the creatures that perished with the world, which we now study. Evolutionists misinterpret this evidence; we are to teach true science, which was that this evidence was laid down by a cataclysm which happened over a period of less than a year, deliberately caused by God, as a judgment for sin. We teach this every time we teach art, because God commanded the Israelites to make fine artistic objects in which to house the Ten Commandments. We teach this every time we teach architecture, because God commanded that a fine temple be built to house the Shekinah presence. We teach this every time we teach music, because we are to "Praise the Lord with the harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings. Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise," Psalm 33:2-3, to "Sing unto the Lord with thanksgiving; sing praise upon the harp unto our God," Psalm 147:7, and to "Praise ye the Lord. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness. Praise him with the sound of the trumpet: praise him with the psaltery and harp. Praise him with the timbrel and dance: praise him with stringed instruments and organs. Praise him upon the loud cymbals: praise him upon the high sounding cymbals. Let every thing that hath breath praise the Lord. Praise ye the Lord," Psalm 150. We do this every time we teach fine literature, because God has given us the literature of the Psalms, and our literature is to point to the nature of God, and the nature God has given His sons and daughters, us and our fellow human beings. True art, architecture, music, and literature is created in praise of God, and for His glory. We teach this every time we teach history, because the Bible is a book of history, which commands us to remember the history of the Hebrews, because it points to God and His workings in history. True history interprets all subsequent history in the light of the history of the Hebrews. Education is for the purpose of drawing out the mind, a gift from God, which we are to exercise in the exercise of the dominion upon the earth commanded by God in Genesis 1:28, in which He said, we are to subdue the earth, and in the exercise of our care of the earth, because God placed Adam in a garden, to dress and keep it, told in Genesis 2:15. Thus, we also do this every time we teach true ecology, which is the relationship between the living things on the earth. We teach this every time we teach any skill that better enables us to subdue the earth. We teach this every time we teach true law, because all true law is based upon the law God gave us in the Old Testament. The education necessary to understand the true nature of God encompasses every discipline. It is done in every activity in which we engage, as indicated in Deuteronomy 6:7, and it is done in and out of the home, by the individual parent. Educating children in every discipline in order to teach the nature of God is the paramount duty of every parent. It is to be done in the parents' presence. It is not to be turned over to the heathen. It is not delegatable.
Deuteronomy 6:7 is ALSO a description of the method which fathers are to use. This teaching is to be done in the house, along the way, and when the father is lying down and rising up. In other words, it is to be done continually, as an integral part of life. It is done by the way we organize our homes, as verse 9 indicates, where it is demonstrated that we are to put an indication of God's nature on the doorpost (the mezuzah, which contains the Hebrew words of Deuteronomy 6:4-5), and which by implication, in this writer's opinion, also means we are to put other indications of God's nature in the domestic environment. It is done by the way we talk to our children, which we are to do continually. It is not done by transferring the school structure devised by the heathen into the home. It is not done by establishing a mock classroom in the living room, with specific hours set aside for this, as if education were an entity unto itself. True education is integrated into everyday life. This is Biblical education. It is what we are commanded to do.
The homeschooled genius is a person who has been induced and encouraged to look upon learning as a gift, a thing earnestly to be desired and pursued. He has been taught that his mind is a priceless gift, a thing to be stretched, exercised, trained. The true genius is a person in love of learning, in love with his chosen field of endeavor. The true genius is the person who has developed a godly character by virtue of living with nurturing parents on a continual basis.
An education which does not teach is not an education. An education which stultifies by rigid structure is not an education.
Having discussed the philosophy of the Biblical education, it is now necessary for us to consider the practical ramifications of this in light of the concern that a child thus educated still has to be granted the opportunity to apply what he has learned in the workplace. Our society has NO mechanisms for the Biblically educated child to demonstrate his competence at anything! And where competence cannot be demonstrated, the child is condemned to the label of "uneducated". This problem is so acute that the State, in its infinite wisdom, has chosen to penalize all children and parents who do not fit into the mold designed by the State. NO attempt is being made to develop a valid method for testing the knowledge and accomplishments of the Biblically educated child. No opportunities for him to prove himself are offered. It is automatically assumed that he does not meet the standard. The very existence of the standard implies the arrogating to oneself of the wisdom to know what every individual will find necessary to survival for the rest of his life. Vast areas of important skills are not considered worthy of consideration. If you educate a child such that he can homestead, build a house, care for the animals of a ranch, survive in the wilderness, or any other of dozens of survival skills, the world will not recognize such competence.
If the child has fine character, if he is spiritually knowledgeable or developed, this is considered a handicap. The schools have unequivocally demonstrated this by initiating instruction in things like "Values Clarification", which is merely a poorly disguised attempt to teach children the slavery of sin, to conform to a worldly norm inimical to God and to righteousness. Such instruction, and the success it has had in molding the thinking of the individuals that make up our society, has been graphically demonstrated in a letter to the California legislature from Governor Pete Wilson, regarding a "gay rights" bill. This letter could just as easily have been written for any number of other issues. But I use it as an example, to show how in the name of destroying bigotry, intolerance and bigotry are being fostered, in this case, bigotry toward those who believe in and practice standards of behavior.
The letter says in part,
"I regret even more any false comfort that may be derived from it by the tiny minority of mean-spirited, gay-bashing bigots...but their abhorrent conduct cannot be the basis for my decision."
What is a "mean-spirited, gay-bashing bigot"? Anybody who believes that a homosexual has a problem, for which he needs help? On the basis of this kind of thinking, shall we also believe that a physically disabled person does not have a problem, and that we should not help him, lest we be labeled a "disabled-person-bashing bigot"? Much of what is being written suggests precisely that the implication that there is any problem with homosexual behavior is the result only of a mean spirit. People have a right and a duty to establish standards for behavior where failure to abide by those standards is harmful either to other people, or to society at large. And doing so, even where there is disagreement among honorable people, is not an example of bigotry!
Shall we next pass legislation to protect the "rights" of kleptomaniacs and murderers? I should not have asked that question; we already do. The murderers whose rights we protect by law are commonly called "abortionists". How long can a society endure such madness? Reading on...
"California should and does presently treat sexual orientation as a private matter, protected by the express right of privacy contained in the California Constitution...No one can legitimately seek to protect or justify prejudice practiced by the employer who is in fact guilty of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation...we acknowledge and declare the right of employees to be free of such discrimination..."
Whatever happened to our Consitutional First Amendment right of freedom of association? Being a practicing homosexual is a matter of activity, not biological accident. It is not the same thing as being a person of color, or of a particular gender, or incapacitated by some disability.
By forcing people to associate with other people who engage in behavior they feel is wrong, we have made a mockery of the whole concept of rights. Because if we can claim that homosexuals have the right to freedom of association, then we cannot simultaneously claim that people don't have the right not to associate with them. This contradiction, however, has now been carried to ludicrous proportions by the attempt to destroy the Boy Scouts over the issue of their moral standards and their freedom of association.
And we are doing this because of the warped thinking of the educational establishment that runs our public school system. Such miseducation, the products of which are now in positions of authority in the very State that created them, should have been challenged in court with suits for educational malpractice on the part of a public school system designed for the express purpose of Statist indoctrination.
And this is just one example. We have unleashed a couple of generations of illiterate people who cannot think logically. Is it any wonder that there is such a thing as Political Correctness? What of logic?
For a succinct explanation of the fallacy of Political Correctness, please see Is Right Just a Matter of Opinion?
Unfortunately, the world does not recognize the nature of education. A society without a vision of the nature of God fails to recognize the uniqueness of each individual and tries to mold individuals into cogs in the wheel. It takes and arrogates unto itself authority that belongs only to God, and teaches children to conform to the tyranny of the State. God did not give the government children. Children are born to an individual woman and man. God gave children to the family. A government that commands parents to put their children into the hands of the heathen for education is a tyranny; it has arrogated unto itself authority that God reserves unto Himself, and which He has delegated to the family, not the state. The government has no business in education. It is none of the State's business.
If parents act in a righteous and godly manner, and take back to themselves the paramount duty to educate their children, and if they do it according to Deuteronomy 6, then the children they produce are not cogs in the wheel. They do not fit into the mold cast by the State in its curriculum and testing. This, then, leads to a problem. How does a child educated according to Deuteronomy 6 enter into the world to take his place as a responsible adult? The Government has a stranglehold on modern American society. Only those with the proper pieces of paper can work in most areas of life. How does the Biblically educated child acquire pieces of paper? In many instances, the child must do so by getting further education in an institution of higher learning. And almost without exception, these institutions look for the pieces of paper that the school system has bestowed upon the students in the schools.
If a child does not have that piece of paper, he is deemed uneducated, and incapable of handling the work provided at the college level. Unfortunately, there is some truth to this, because he has not spent twelve years learning how to conform to a setting in which his individuality is not respected and he must learn specific things, whether he needs or wants them or not, according to the timetable set by the school, not according to the way in which his individual God-given mind develops. Achievement tests, widely required of homeschooling students in many states, are heavily based upon the curriculum followed by state governments. If the curriculum is not taught as the State plans it, the child will not know the answers to many questions on the tests. This does not necessarily indicate the child is uneducated; it merely indicates he did not learn little bits of information according to a preset timetable. A good example of the nature of this problem is the fact that one achievement test has several questions in which the child is expected to indicate the value of a Roman numeral in Arabic notation, and vice versa. While such knowledge is of passing interest, it IS rather esoteric, because I cannot think of a single instance where something of importance is based upon this knowledge. If a child encounters a book in which the introduction is paginated in Roman numerals, and if he needs to know Roman numerals in order to find a specific page, he will learn the system quickly. If that is never a problem, he might learn it anyway, but if he doesn't, there is no harm done that I can see. Much of the knowledge tested on achievement tests is of this ilk precisely. Another example of how an achievement test can miss the point is the typical reading comprehension question. I have personally observed a child who reads and comprehends on the adult level, and can repeat back the fine details of what he read, do poorly on these questions. Obviously what he got out of the reading selection is not the same thing they decided to test. If the reading selection is of no particular interest to the child, he may not pay much attention to it. This does not mean he is not a competent reader; it just means that children are not square pegs you can whittle to fit into round holes. The child who has a need to comprehend what he is reading will comprehend it. But that need comes from within, as a response to something life is dishing out at that moment. Schools can put children into a position where they need to comprehend something that is not of intrinsic interest at the time by penalizing them if they do not. However, children who have been treated thus do not retain anything of this "learning" in the long run. I have heavily tested for precisely this. The child who does well on such a test is perpetrating a fiction, a farce. Achievement tests are easily manipulated. I always did well on achievement tests, whether I knew the material or not. In fact, I consistently scored in the 99 %ile, and I rarely knew more than 75% of the material. The skill of taking tests is widely recognized. I happen to have a lot of skill at taking tests. Many answers can be figured out by logic. You eliminate all the ridiculous answers to the multiple choice questions. What is left is one answer or two. If two, you pick the more likely one, or guess. Either way, you will get most of them right. Even the tests that penalize guessing do not penalize them enough to make it more risky to guess than not. If it is a true-false question, and any part of the statement is false, the statement itself is false. A child might pick out a false portion of the statement without having any knowledge whatsoever about the material in the rest of the question.
We could continue to multiply examples of the ways in which the State imposes upon hapless children the necessity of satisfying artificial, unnatural criteria of "being educated", but I think I have made my point.
As long as we fail to develop realistic tests of what it means to be educated, we will continue to have a serious problem. The First Amendment rights to freedom of religion will not be recognized. The fact is that the United States Supreme Court has recognized the rights of parents to prepare their children for "additional obligations":
"Under the doctrine of Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390 , we think it entirely plain that the Act [406 U.S. 205, 233] of 1922 unreasonably interferes with the liberty of parents and guardians to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control. As often heretofore pointed out, rights guaranteed by the Constitution may not be abridged by legislation which has no reasonable relation to some purpose within the competency of the State. The fundamental theory of liberty upon which all governments in this Union repose excludes any general power of the State to standardize its children by forcing them to accept instruction from public teachers only. The child is not the mere creature of the state; those who nurture him and direct his destiny have the right, coupled with the high duty, to recognize and prepare him for additional obligations. 268 U.S., at 534-535" Pierce v. Society of Sisters, 268 U.S. 510 (1925).
For these reasons, the Christian homeschooling parent has and should be guaranteed the right to establish and practice an education of children which is in full compliance with the Bible, and if properly prepared, should be given respect for his deeply held religious convictions. This means that no Christian parent should ever be obligationed to acquiesce to educational methods which he or she deems to be detrimental to the well-being and the religious convictions of the children which God has bestowed upon this family.
The Christian parent must clearly establish a workable philosophy of education, adhere strictly to it, and be prepared to defend it. To that end, be encouraged. Raise your children under the protection of the First Amendment. For the sooner we establish that the fundamental principles of the government school are flawed, the more protection will be accorded our sisters and brothers in the Lord.