Last week I posted my list of Top 10 Homeschooling Myths, Half-Truths and Propaganda. I was being a little silly and sarcastic, but my point is that you need to be aware of these things so that you can be discerning and not base your support for homeschooling on weak arguments or false expectations. Here are the last five of my Top 10 list, and then I will have some thoughts about why all this is important.
Continuing from last Tuesday...
6. We don’t need no socialization!
If there is one question that homeschoolers get constantly it is, “What about socialization?” So we have built up lots of arguments against this, almost to the point of refuting that it is even a legitimate issue at all. Let’s face it, we have all seen homeschoolers who are the “stereotype” of a strange, awkward, unsocialized kid. Most people I know don’t want to be “those homeschoolers”. By that I mean, we don’t want to be so removed from the world that we can’t even communicate with it anymore. And it can be difficult at times trying to find the right activities for your kids to get involved with, trying to balance protection and unrealistic sheltering, and making sure your kids are exposed to non-christian, non-homeschooled kids so they can learn to interact with people who are not like them! If we ignore that this can be a challenge because we don’t want to acknowledge the repetitive socialization question, then we might be closing our eyes to a legitimate concern.
7. “Train up a child” is a promise!
Hold on, how can I say that the Bible is half-truth?! “Train up a child in the way he should go and in the end he will not depart from it.” (Prov. 22:6) The problem is not with the Bible, it is with the interpretation. Here is a helpful alliterative phrase to help you with wisdom from the book of Proverbs: “Proverbs are Principles not Promises.” This means that it is a true principle that training up a child in the way they should go is a very good indicator that they will continue to follow in those ways. The reverse principle is also true, if you don’t look to the ways you train a child, you can’t expect for them to follow in those ways. But Proverbs are not promises or guarantees. Look to any mature Christian parent and see how many have raised all their children with exactly the same training and yet one follows the Lord and another doesn’t. You see, we think that because we homeschool our kids we are then guaranteed that they will turn out great. This is not what the passage means. Salvation is of the Lord and if we don’t realize that, we will be trusting in our efforts and not in the power of Christ.
8. Homeschooling protects my child from evil in the world.
The evil is not in the world, it is in US. We are the problem. Our hearts don't seek God, they are in rebellion against him. If we believe that all we need to do is to keep the external evil away from our children - we will be missing the most insidious evil: OUR attempts to be our own Savior through our own righteousness. I have a great book club going on right now on this subject, if you want to study this more!
9. Government schools are the enemy.
It is true that government schools are based on a naturalistic, secular worldview, that many times there is a subtle agenda towards teaching certain subjects according to the prevailing politically correct cause and that prayer and religious expression have all been eliminated from the classroom. But let’s not be confused. The enemy is Satan. There are many public school teachers who are Christians and who are battling that enemy in their classrooms. There are Christians in our churches who maintain a high level of involvement as a witness in the midst of this highly secular environment, because they believe they have a calling to that mission field. Public schools have good resources to offer to homeschoolers in terms of enrichment programs, testing services and sports programs to name just a few. Many times the assistance offered by the public schools can help a new homeschooling family to transition into homeschooling on their own, or help them with academic resources and experts for free. This leads me to #10…
10. Homeschooling is the only biblical way to educate.
I think the case can be made (and has been strongly made) by homeschool speakers and advocates that parents are responsible for the education of their children. I do not believe that we can then extend that to mean that every subject that a child is taught needs to be taught by the parent. Most homeschoolers will admit that they take advantage of all kinds of resources – tutors, co-ops, computer learning, grandparents, other homeschooling parents to help them to teach their own children. All of this occurs under the supervision of the parent, even if they aren’t the ones doing the teaching. Additionally, if we were to say that children should only be educated by their parents then we would have to discount all kinds of biblical examples of children being educated by Rabbi’s in the synagogue. This is likely the way that Jesus was educated, as all Jewish boys were educated this way. Finally, if we are so dogmatic about this, what would I do if I were to have a debilitating stroke, my husband were to lose his job and we had no ability to educate our own kids? We would send them to public, charter or private schools because this is what God has provided for us in that situation. We would also trust that God would help us to continue to supervise their education, to disciple them in their faith and to help them to discern between truth and error.
Most of the first 5 in my list have been silly and harmless, but these last 5 are a little more touchy. All 10 of them can have serious implications. One big implication that comes from over-stating benefits is that it can lead to false expectations and assumptions about what things will be like. Another implication is that we cannot notice our own blind-spots and weaknesses. Finally, we can become prideful and exclusionist towards other believers who have not made the same educational choices that we have. For all these things there is a remedy - Repent and Believe! Your acceptance in Christ is not based on your performance, but on Christ who was the Way, the Truth and the Life. Look to him and be amazed that he has given us access to the Father apart from our works, but on the basis of His Work - His life, death and resurrection.