Wednesday, November 14, 2012

What? You're Homeschooling?!?

Read: What in the world is wrong with you?  Of course, it's an especially hard question for me, as my family is chock-full of professional teachers.  Both of my parents were teachers, and my brother and his wife are teachers, and my dad's sister was a teacher, too.   I've definitely got educating in my blood, as I love to teach, too.  I do teach in different venues: in my local church,  with a campus ministry called Ratio Christi, and other places around town, where I am thankful and honored for opportunities to teach theology, philosophy, and apologetics to young people.

But why home school?

First, my wife and I have decided to educate our children at home because we see the need to nurture them.  At home, our children receive the nurture from Mom and Dad they would not otherwise have.  When my five-year-old is doing her math, Dad gets to wrap his arms around her and kiss the top of her head, while instructing her in how to count with tally marks.  In addition to this type of nurture is the kind that comes from having conversations about what they are learning.  When instructed by Mom and Dad, children grow to love and respect them.  This means of course, that Mom and Dad must be patient, kind and loving, else children will not respect their parents.  They may fear them, but they won't respect them.  With home schooling, we get to nurture and love our children and build them up as individuals who love and respect and actually know their parents.

Church and State Separation
Secondly, our government schools have made it illegal to teach children from an ethical, monotheistic worldview.  That is, subjects such as math, history, and the natural sciences are taught as if God didn't exist.  Well, God does exist, and the Bible is His Word.  We teach our children accordingly as the Lord has instructed throughout the Torah (with respect to teaching the law of Moses to Israelite children, esp Deuteronomy chapter 6), and in Ephesians 6:4 where fathers are instructed to train their children in the "discipline and instruction of the Lord" (ESV).  So, it's a worldview issue.  We teach our children that the Christian worldview is true, whereas the State attempts to lie in a "neutral" position.  But the myth of neutrality is that one can abstain from teaching a certain thing as true and hedge between it and its opposite.  However, teaching our children that history "just happens" is tantamount to teaching a paradigm of "chance."  That just won't do in my book.  The Triune God is the sovereign God of history, science and math.  Math is a reflection of the beauty of God's logical and orderly character.  Teaching children that math "just is" is the same as teaching them that math exists in a quantum vacuum of which we cannot know the origin or the telos (purpose).

Benefits of a Pluralist Society
So, you're teaching lessons in mathematical theory and epistemology to your child when she learns addition and subtraction?  Good point.  No, we don't do that.  But--we do have the opportunity, at home, if the need arises, to talk about the nature of God with them while they are doing their math.  That's not legal in State schools.  And I understand that, because we live in a pluralist society, and I think pluralism as a democratic platform is a good thing, because it gives people the freedom they need in order to choose a worldview for themselves.  In this respect, I can almost affirm the correct notion in State schools that Christian theism should not be taught as the only way to interpret reality.  But neither should the State make it illegal for teachers to teach from this perspective.  Pluralism swings both ways, ya'll.  From an epistemological standpoint, I reject pluralism as a living contradiction.  You know, like fruitcake.


My 2nd grade daughter is learning Latin.  She can translate Latin sentences and her vocabulary is growing.  She knows that a predicate nominative renames the subject of a sentence.  She knows that a subject does the action, that a verb of being or existing denotes a predicate nominative, and that a direct object receives the action of a verb.  She knows what an indefinite article is.  She can identify gerunds.  She can look at a Latin verb and parse it on sight: "3rd person plural of specto, meaning "they are watching."  She knows that verbs of action mean there is a direct object coming.  Her reading and language comprehension are bounds beyond what she would be getting at public school.  Bonus (purpose?): she'll be able to read the Bible with intelligence.  How many people can do that?

English is congruent with Latin to the tune of 80%, so knowing Latin means knowing English.  And knowing English means...well it may mean less than what it used to!  Nevertheless, mastering one's own language has merits all on its own.  And knowing Latin means knowing the logic of language.  What is grammar except logic put to words as symbols rather than numbers and their accouterments in math?  My dad used to teach grammar in school.  Then the State decided students didn't need to know it.  But knowing grammar means knowing how language works, and knowing how language works means interpreting language the correct way.  Of course, given postmodern relativism and post-structural notions of text as "power plays" and given the hermeneutics of deconstruction which teach us that "no one interpretation is the right one," it is no wonder that they don't teach grammar in school.

That's just the Latin.  Both girls are getting World History (Susan Wise Bauer), Science, Math, Art, and Writing.  My girls are copying the text of Scripture for their writing, in addition to creating stories and so forth.  They even wrote their names in Akkadian cuneiform and sent them off in a letter to my dad.   Thank-you Susan Wise Bauer!

Bible and Song

As a family, we have read through Genesis, and are now reading Exodus.  Today we also sang Psalm 19 "Jehovah's Perfect Law" as hymn of the month.  Daddy played single notes on the piano as we sang God's word.  We also looked at the genealogies of Abraham, going back to Adam, and forward to Moses.  My girls can sit and listen to me read an entire chapter of Scripture and then tell me what I read, as I ask questions about who, what, when, where, why and how.  We could only do this at home.  Even many Christian schools cannot handle the number of students in a class, and want Bible time to be "fun" instead of actual learning.  Don't get me started on Christian schools....

The Million Dollar Question: What about Social Life?

Before I tell you about how I seriously consider this issue, let me ask a few questions. These questions may sound pointed or even sarcastic, but I beg you not to read them that way, for that is not my intention: 
  • Have you ever known a student at a public school who was socially awkward or inept?
  • Do you want your children imitating and learning from most children found at public schools?
  • If you took the whole of public school children around this country from the ages of 5-18, what percentage would you say, "That's what I want my child to be like"?  
  • Isn't it true that our public schools produce the lowest scores around the world in math, reading and science?
  • Isn't it true that our public schools have an abundance of cliques, immoral sensuality, and violence?
  • Isn't it true that most teachers will tell you how difficult it is to teach students these days because of disciplinary problems, and this in turn takes time away from actual instruction?
Even though, at times I wonder if I am doing the right thing, as I watch my daughters play (joyfully) in the back yard or around the house.  Of course, I desire for them to have friends.  But they do have them at church and in the neighborhood. 

Now, about social life.  Our girls go to church twice a week.  We have friends over to our house often--and they usually have children.  As I write this, my girls are over at a friend's house.  My children are around adults as well as children, and the former has benefits too great to tell here.  I just took my children to the Science Center in our city today.  Homeschoolers have sports, and are able to take music and dance lessons, gymnastics, join societal clubs like Boy Scouts, and a whole host of other activities.  So, I ask you, why is the Social question always propped up as the effigy of the home school option?  How can children learn to be individuals if they are corralled into boxes and told to act in terms of a collective?  Can't they learn individual strengths and weaknesses, like and dislikes at home with loving, nurturing parents, who both teach them a rich education and give them God's Word in reading, prayer and song? 

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