[The following is a lesson outline designed for McIlwain Presbyterian Church)
Public School, Private School, or Homeschool?
(A sober investigation into the parental duty of Christian education)
Part One: Education. What is the Biblical Directive for Christian Parents?
Does the Bible call parents to train their children? If so, unto what end? And to what passages would you appeal?
In your mind is there a difference between training your child (in spiritual matters) and educating your child (more generically)? In other words, are parents tasked with the spiritual formation of their children but not necessarily with what one might deem formal education?
Are parents supposed to educate their children by providing a holy example for them to emulate? Are you to lead by example?
Are parents tasked with taming the chaos of their child’s sinful behavior through discipline?
Is character development critical to a child’s education?
How significant is worldview development in a child’s education?
Is God integral to all fields of knowledge?
Is every area of life infused with ethics? Or, to say it a bit differently, does morality saturate all of reality? Why or why not?
Can the various spheres of education (math, science, history, philosophy, literature, etc) be taught in an objectively, neutral fashion? Why or why not?
Is neutrality possible? Or even advisable?
Part Two: The Case for Public Schooling
In terms of articulating a Christian rationale for sending one’s kids to public school, three lines of argumentation are typically advanced. What are they? And what do we make of them?
A mass exodus from the public school system would be disastrous.
Our children can be salt and light (missionaries) among their lost peers (See Challies)
How can we effectively reach out to our neighbors if we are viewed as separatists? We would lose credibility in our outreach efforts if our kids aren’t a part of their system. (See Challies)
How about a 4th line of reasoning?
4. What if it is urged that things like state capitals, mathematics, the freezing point of water, and a multitude of other benign facts can be taught to our children without fear of worldview indoctrination? In other words, surely there are plethora of simple truths that can be taught to our children that don’t usurp our Christian ideals; and to the degree that some do, we will diligently teach them otherwise, thus encouraging a sense of discernment in the process. So chill out, fundy-mcfundy pants.
- Richard Baxter, “Keep them as much from as may be from ill company, especially of ungodly play-fellows. It is one of the greatest dangers for the undoing of children in the world; especially when they are sent to common schools: for there are scarce any of those schools so good, but hath many rude, and ungodly, ill-taught children in it, that will speak profanely, and filthily, and make their ribbald and railing speeches a matter of boasting, besides fighting, and gaming, and scorning, and neglecting their lessons; and they will make a scorn of him that will not do as they, if not beat and abuse him. And there is such tinder in nature for these sparks to catch upon, that there are very few children, but when they hear others take God’s name in vain, or sing wanton songs, or talk filthy words, or call one another by reproachful names, do quickly imitate them: and when you have watched over them at home as narrowly as you can, they are infected abroad with such beastly vices, as they are hardly ever after cured of. Therefore, let those that are able, either to educate their children most at home, or in private and well-ordered schools; and those that cannot do so, must be the more exceeding watchful over them, and charge them to associate with the best; and speak to them of the odiousness of these practices, and the wickedness of those that use them; and speak very disgracefully of such ungodly children: and when all is done, it is a great mercy God, if they be not undone by the force of contagion, notwithstanding all your antidotes.”
Part Three: Homeschooling and Private Christian Schools
What are your concerns or fears or objections to these two educational options?
Laying my cards on the table:
While the Bible does not directly answer the question raised in the title of this lesson, and as such, it does not explicitly denounce one or another educational option as inherently sinful, it does provide a clear contour of an objective, one that is both unwavering and unapologetic in its scope: Christian parents are tasked with the extraordinary duty of raising godly offspring. This objective is so fundamental, and so integral to the purpose of humanity, and so threatened by the allurements and deadly precipices of this world, that we can judge certain options as inherently hazardous. This is to say that public schooling presents significant, even mighty challenges to the spiritual growth of our children. That being said, it isn’t as if private schools and homeschooling families can’t fail mightily as well. It all depends on the educational comprehensiveness, competency, discipline, theological richness, and concomitant holiness and love. Any good thing can be perverted, and any poor thing can made better through diligence.
Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017:
Time allocations (From age 5 to 18):
1,700 hours (at church) [assuming 2.5 hours per week]
14,000 hours (roughly at school)
7, 240 hours (on average) spent “caring or helping household children”
12 minutes on average a day reading or educating children
Raw hours not at school awake: 33,000
If 20 minutes of family worship a day, 4 times a week, for 13 years: 900 hours
Educational content: What does God desire our children to be taught? What does He desire that they not be taught?
Deuteronomy 4:9–10; Deuteronomy 6:6–7; Deuteronomy 11:18–20; Ex 13:8, 14; Joshua 4:20-22, 24; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 9:10; Proverbs 19:27; Psalm 78:1-11; Jeremiah 10:12; Ezekiel 44:23; Matthew 5:19; 1 Timothy 1:3; and 1 Timothy 6:3–5.
Educational Methodology: Discipleship
Moses with Joshua
Elijah with Elisha
Jesus with His disciples
Paul with Timothy and Titus
Priscilla and Aquila with Apollos
Deuteronomy 4:9–10; Deuteronomy 6:6–7; Deuteronomy 11:18–20; Deuteronomy 32:46; Psalm 1:1–2; Psalm 34:11; Psalm 78:1–7; Proverbs 1:8; Isaiah 38:19; Joel 1:3; Matthew 12:30; Luke 6:39–40; 2 Corinthians 6:14–16; and Ephesians 6:4.
Psalm 1:1; Proverbs 4:14–15; Proverbs 13:20; Proverbs 14:7; Proverbs 22:24–25; Proverbs 29:25; and 1 Corinthians 15:33.
Proverbs 23:7; Colossians 3:1-3; Matthew 22:37; Romans 12:2