Friday, August 25, 2006

Maintaining our Advantage through Home Schooling and Christian Education

Recently in the news there were a variety of articles on a study that shows that conservative Americans have considerably more children than liberal Americans. This means that over time, all things being equal, conservative values would be likely to prevail in America. As a number of blogs have pointed out though, there is a problem. The secular world and the radical left seek to convert our children to their points of view through public schools and through public and private higher education. I would add that the entertainment and advertising industries are also working against us most of the time.

I would also suppose that it is almost certainly true that committed Christians have more children on the average than people who are atheistic or openly opposed to Christianity. The only exception would be that there are probably also high birth rates among people committed to Islam.

If culturally conservative Christians are going to maintain a voice in the culture, we need to hang on to our advantage in birth rate (or increase it by having more children) and also maintain our advantage by making sure that our children are properly educated and discipled. Proper education and discipleship are critical.

This is another reason why it is so important for people who can do so, to home school their children or to send them to quality private Christian institutions. The public schools cannot teach morality or theology. And they cannot teach a completely true view of history, philosophy or literature because of their desire to avoid perceived favoritism toward Christianity. In higher education, there is even greater hostility to Christianity than we find in the public schools. In higher education, secular materialist modernism and radical post-modernism are rampant. While there are quality faculty in America, all too often faculty are advocates for lifestyles and beliefs contrary to the Christian worldview. This is especially true in law schools where the views of justice, natural law and legal interpretation upon which the western world, and England and America in particular, were built are rejected in favor of radical positivism, pragmatism, Marxism, materialism, relativism, and post-modernism. There is no concern for natural law, equity or justice. Instead, depending on where students go to school, either money, power, class, and/or personal sexual license are the only things that matter.

American’s young people need to be taught and discipled in the truths of Christianity, history, philosophy, literature, science, etc. They need to understand the good, the true and the beautiful. They need to know what other people who disagree with them think, but they also need to know how to refute worldly positions. They must not merely learn by rote, but learn how to think critically from a Christian perspective. They need to be encouraged in faith, nurtured in love, and discipled in truth. We need to be certain that our young people learn to read and write well at as young an age as practical, and then are encouraged to read foundational Christian and Western works. We need to support Christian colleges and universities and make sure that they provide an education of higher quality than their secular counterparts. This is an expensive business, but our children’s future and the future of our neighbors are worth the investment, time and trouble.

Public schools and even private schools are by necessity largely a one-size-fits-all solution to educational problems. By contrast, home schooling allows education to be geared to the learning style, preferences and metabolism of the young student. And, home schoolers need not be lacking in social interaction. With the home schooling networks available today, there are many avenues of social interaction with other home schoolers as well as through church, family, social organizations, and youth organizations such as the Boy Scouts. Indeed, it is hoped that the rise in organizations related to home schooling may help to restore the America that was seen as an association of associations by de Tocqueville so long ago. Good education cannot solve all the world’s ills. But it is far more productive and far less destructive than bad education which can add immeasurably to the world’s ills. I say this not as an alarmist or as a radical separatist, but rather than someone who believes that quality education is merely a matter of wisdom and common sense.

As dean of a Christian law school, I am often in the position of interviewing prospective students. I have seen and heard with shock and surprise philosophy majors who cannot tell me what existentialism is, economics majors who do not know what externalities are, and history majors who cannot describe in detail the characteristics of their favorite era in history. I have not seen the same problems with students who have been home schooled and sent to Christian institutions of higher education. We have seen in the students who have attended Trinity Law School the value of home schooling. Many of our home schooled students are far better acquainted with the classics and western civilization than their state-educated counterparts. They also tend to write better and to have better verbal skills. They have a certain brightness and spunk about them, perhaps because they have not been beaten into conformity by the combined powers of the state, MTV and Madison Avenue.

Even if culturally conservative Christians have greater numbers, they will not be free in the future if they do not also have the intellectual power, confident faith, broad and deep knowledge, cultivated wisdom and social skills beyond their pseudo-intellectual anti-Christian foes. If we neglect our children’s education, we will either see them co-opted by the other side or enslaved by fallacious arguments and mass-marketing techniques of the secular world.
All of this is not to say that we should try to avoid being in the world while not of it. It is to say that we need to be prepared and fully armed when we venture out into the world, as we must. This is also not to say that children should not attempt to evangelize their peers. But there are far better places and means of doing so than sending our children into the public schools before they are ready to answer the arguments and handle the social pressures of those who dominate that forum.

Let’s be good stewards of the advantages God has given us and use them for the blessing of our neighbors and our posterity.


Doug E. said...

That was outstanding. It causes me take even greater joy in our decision to homeschool.


Robin said...

That is an amazing post! Thank you SOO much for writing it. In fact it inspired me to write one of my own:

Gordon Cloud said...

Thank you for this very timely and insightful post. I am very thankful that my parents made the decision to educate me according to the principles you have laid out here. In turn, my wife and I are home-schooling our sons.

I think the basic flaw of the public education system is that they are attempting to gain wisdom apart from the Author of wisdom.

Thanks again for this post.

Dean McConnell said...

An excellent way of saying it Gordon Cloud!

HatHead said...

Interesting post, especially the notes about increasing birthrates of Christians. This seems in contrast to other studies which predicts that by mid-century Christians will be minority in America.


mxu said...

Thanks for this post! Makes me want to homeschool... too bad I'm like 3 steps removed from having children. =p

I've linked to your post here.

4given said...

This article actually succinctly points out the foundational reasons as to why we homeschool. Excellent.