I call upon You, Lord, God of Abraham and God of Isaac and God of Jacob and Israel, You who are the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the God who, through the abundance of your mercy, was well-pleased towards us so that we may know You, who made heaven and earth, who rules over all, You who are the one and the true God, above whom there is no other God; You who, by our Lord Jesus Christ gave us the gift of the Holy Spirit, give to every one who reads this writing to know You, that You alone are God, to be strengthened in You, and to avoid every heretical and godless and impious teaching.

St Irenaeus of Lyons, Against the Heresies 3:6:4

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The Hype Against Homeschooling

We often heard—and still hear as former homeschoolers—that by isolating our daughter from the swim of her cohort within the context of the public school system, we were depriving her of the necessary conditions of social maturation and normalcy.  If children are to properly mature and grow into balanced, healthy adults, ready for the so-called “real world,” then they must, above all, experience the allegedly normalizing potion called public school. 

It is safe in the nurturing womb of this venerated social institution that children have their hearts and minds cultivated.  In the bosom of the State, the children have their intellectual, psychological, moral, and spiritual lives fed by the pap of Caesar.  Or so the rhetoric goes.

So insidious is this faulty line of nonsense that, when we returned home to Kansas for the first time, after having been in Virginia a couple of years, some of our closest family made remarks about how “normal” Israel was—despite being homeschooled those two years.  In one subtle form or another, with the exception of this last time—after Israel had graduated high school a year early—it happened every visit thereafter. 

In October of last year, I had a close cousin take me aside at a family shindig, and with as much sincerity as I’ve ever seen in him, he said, “If I am able to raise my two girls into half the young lady that Beaner (i.e., Israel) is, then I’ll feel like I did a darn good job.”  What a humbling statement!  This was obviously a lovely thing to hear, especially from one of our family, since ours is completely unafraid of being obnoxiously honest with each other. 

Of course, Israel is what she is by the grace of God, and I shared that with Nathan my complimentary cousin.  The truth of the matter is, however, that education in the context of the covenant family is a very important means of grace for raising godly offspring.  So, we believe that in good measure Israel’s well-developed character and personality, her gracious heart, and her biblical view of life and the world grew largely out of, not in spite of, her homeschool experience. 

What of this de facto assumption that public education is the formula for augmenting a child’s maturity and normalcy, and preparing them for the so-called “real world”?   What is interesting is that it is the nearly unsupervised co-mingling of children within the context of their cohort, with all its attending allurements and temptations, which cause many youth to mature far beyond what their emotions, minds, and even bodies are prepared or designed to handle.   

Ironically, juvenile justice scholars decry this aspect of the youth culture, accrediting it to be a primary contributor to juvenile delinquency.  As a result of the accelerated maturation, caused by the public school environment, “many suffer from health problems, are underachievers in school, and are skeptical about their ability to enter the workforce and become productive members of society.”[1]  The other irony is that public educators propose themselves and their institution to either be or have the solution to the youth crisis—it's priest craft. 

So, the duped populace will tell you that, if you homeschool your child, then it will result hampering her proper levels of maturation and social normalcy.  However, it is the public school context that cultures the very pre-maturation and pscyho-social problems that are so-called “normal” today, and often lead to a life of delinquency.  Therefore, the concern expressed by unwitting family and friends, interpreted in terms of the facts, actually says: If you homeschool, your child will be more likely to avoid the unhealthy and ungodly influences that lead to an unproductive outlook or problems of a worse nature.  And this, dear friends, is hardly a sound argument against homeschooling; rather, it's one for it.

Finally, what is the “real world” after all?  In this conversation, “real world” is a loaded term.  Most who make this suggestion haven’t really carefully thought through what they are saying.  They usually don’t even have any meaningful content to share, if you ask them what exactly they mean by “real world.”  That has been my experience at any rate.  The unspoken meaning, however, connoted the very crises that are being decried by the so-called experts.  Facing bullying, “Just Say(ing) No” to the manifold pressures to participate in drug and alcohol use, sexual temptations or harassments, learning how to sit quietly under an arbitrary authority, learning how to keep your mouth shut, while a supposed authority figure contradicts every meaningful conviction, belief, and value of your personal perspective, and other such madness.  This is what is meant by “real world,” in the mind of the objector. 

Do you see the underlying premise?  The underlying premise is that the public school is primarily designed for socialization not education.  No one is so stupid as to try to argue that public education better equips the student’s mind and intellectual development over homeschooling—the data against such nonsense is overwhelming.  No; rather, public school is an institution for social engineering, to develop not careful, critical thinkers, who can reason on their own but good little boys and girls, who can perpetuate the myths of naturalistic, secular humanism.  State schools are not academic but religious institutions, and the loaded definition of “real world” is simply the humanists’ historical narrative; the “real world” is just their narration of the world. 

After years in the dog business, literally every aspect of it, I’ve seen so many folks drop their dog of to be boarded for the weekend or longer, weeping, so anxious to hear the promise that little Princess will receive the best care available, that she be protected from all the other dogs in the kennel, and that she receive her mile walk each day, and blah, blah, blah.  Sadly, though, how many Christians send their kids off to a public school, often not even knowing the name of the teacher(s), his religion, sexual orientation, background, worldview, politics, ethics, etc.?  What is wrong with this picture?  The oft quoted Proverb goes, “Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it” (22:6).  It should be no surprise that eighty to ninety percent of Christian children wash their hands of the Church and the Faith before the end of their freshman year of college.   

[1] Siegel, L. J., and B. C. Welsh, Juvenile Delinquency: The Core, 4th ed. (Mason, OH: Cengage Learning), 3.

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