Education

            

The question of education is a big and sticky one amongst Christians today. Some Christians are convinced that Education of their children must be explicitly Christian and must also be at home. Other Christians would argue that there is actually no such thing as Christian education and that all children should be sent to the state school!

Most of us involved in this blog (either as writers or readers) are younger and not yet married neither do we have children. Never the less this is a question that is important for us to answer in our own minds before we get to that point.

For this reason I have compiled a list of questions for you to thing about and then post answers to below. What do you think?

1. Is there such a thing as a 'Christian education'?
2. What does God tell us about education that is relevant to us today?
3. Christian school, secular school or home education?
4. How were you educated/ are being educated? What are you reflections on your experience?
5. How does each of the main three options (Christian school, secular school or home education) compare in preparing children for life?
6. How does each of the main three options compare at preparing and growing a child spiritually?
7. What is a parent's duty in relation to their children anyway?
8. And, whose responsibility is it to make sure that children are educated? Who says?

By Thomas van den Broek

14 comments:

  1. A great topic for discussion, and some good thought-provoking questions! Here are a few of my thoughts on this(and I'll try to be brief this time!):

    1) What is a 'Christian education' anyway? I would define it as an education influenced by Christ and His teachings in His Word. Many homeschooling families purchase Christian based literature and curriculums to train their children with, that they may learn to see all things from a Biblical viewpoint, and indeed are we not to have the mind of Christ? (1 Cor 2:16). So yes, I believe that there is such a thing as a Christian education, and it is so important, too, for Christ should influence every aspect of our lives, including education!

    2)God says to train up a child in the way he should go, so when he is old he won't depart from it (Prov 22:6) and also Ephesians 6:4 tells fathers to bring their children up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. These verses suggest that it is the parent's job to teach and train their children, rather than leave that to the secular schools where their children's minds will be polluted not only by the false teaching (evolution etc.) but also by the ungodly behaviour of the other children around them. Psalm 1:1 tells us that 'blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.' Children who attend state schools would be 1)walking in the counsel of the ungodly, for they would be being taught secular and ungodly things, 2)standing in the way of sinners, for they would be mixing with the world and having companionship with unbelievers which could be detremental to their spiritual growth. Proverbs 19:20 says that the companion of fools suffers harm; and 3)sitting in the seat of the scornful, for the children would be subject to scorners within the school who would scorn and mock their Christian beliefs and sadly God Himself.

    My sister and I have been so blessed by being not only brought up in a Christian home, but also to have been home-educated, where we have received a Christian education. Christ has influenced our education all the way through, and I can confidently say that it has helped us to grow spiritually, because we have been surrounded with the teachings of Christ, and have not had the worldly influences of a state school shaping and moulding our way of thinking and living, although some would probably argue and say that it's good for Christian children to go to school so they can evangalise others; and although we are indeed to live in the world, we are not to be part of it, and I would argue that placing Christian children in a state school would be like planting a beautiful flower in a bed of weeds!

    Anyway, enough from me! What does everybody else think?

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  2. David van den Broek19 June 2011 at 09:38

    Of course we know that the duty of preparing children for life belongs to the parents, God says so and parents can't pass that responsibility on.

    However it is possible to over simplify the question of how a child should receive an education.

    The reason I'm making this point is that there are children for whom education in the context of their family has been harmful to them. Imagine a really 'he man' lad with two girly sisters -lot's to be said for finding a school for him...

    There are reasons why a couple might make the wise and godly decision not to home educate on the basis of their own inability, particularly with further education etc.

    I think all we can say is that a Mum and Dad must take responsibility and then utilise whatever resources are appropriate and helpful.

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  3. David, could you please clarify what you said in the third paragraph for me? I'm sorry, I didn't quite understand what you meant. Are you saying that a boy shouldn't be educated at home along with his two sisters? I might have misunderstood what you're saying. Sorry - I hope you don't mind me asking!

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  4. David, any chance of backing up what you said with some bible verses?

    Rebekah, would you say that the command in the Bible for parents to 'train up their children' excludes the possibility of biblically sending a child to school, even a Christian one? If so then how would you support that from the Bible?

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  5. Thomas, in answer to your question: no, I wouldn't necessarily say that for parents to 'train up their children' that it would exclude them from sending their children to a Christian school. We are to acknowledge Christ in all our ways, and parents have a responsibility before God to look after their children, and so they must seek His wisdom and His will in these matters. Some parents may not be able to home educate for one reason or another, but I would say that they would have to be careful what school they send them to. Let's face it, not every school that goes under the label of 'Christian' is really so, and not all children who attend Christian schools are Christians themselves, so I believe that parents should prayerfully consider what Christian school they send their children to if that is the Lord's leading, and also to be careful what friends their children form close bonds with. I am not saying by this statement that Christians should not befriend unbelievers, but we should ever be vigilant who exactly we form friendships with, and are careful, if they are unbelievers, that we do not get sucked into their ways of thinking and living; although (in my humble opinion!) I do favour homeschooling myself, and would God-willing, hope to one day teach my children at home if God so blesses me with a family one day!

    I hope this answers your question! What do you think?

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  6. Personally, I think you have to answer another question first: are we talking simply about education or more about upbringing?

    I absolutely agree with David that “the duty of preparing a child for life belongs to the parents” but so many parents seem to abdicate that responsibility. The majority of parents these days, even if they don't actively expect or encourage it, passively let the 'state' (be that school, day care, Sunday school, youth group, etc.) raise their children. Even lots of Christians. I believe that's bad; and it does change how you look at school.

    If you were planning to be an involved parent even while sending your children to school, you would look more at the education, curriculum, career opportunities later on, etc. (Because I do believe that if you need to send your children to school for some reason, you can still be a supportive, involved, *proper* parent.) Whereas if the school is going to end up providing spiritual, emotional and parental support for your child, then it needs to be in a Christian environment with understanding teachers who make time for each child. The problem is that, as my sister pointed out to me, most parents don't think that they are getting other people to bring their child up, they don't realise that they could be sharing so much more in their child's growing up!

    Although children having 'sex education', having Harry Potter read to them and being taught evolution as fact – and the whole host of other things! - is bad ... but personally, I don't think it's so much the education that is bad about schools. It's the environment. It's the fact that God designed children to grow up in a healthy, family atmosphere, with their parents being involved, with adults around to stop things getting 'out of control' and where they aren't forced into a particular mould. It's that schools are usually secular environments where the teachers don't have enough time to give their attention individually, where children all have to be the same, where things get out of control because a bunch of children are left unattended, where God is not welcome and the parents don't or can't have influence over how their child is spending most of their time and absorbing all the time.

    Here's a quote by Martin Luther: “I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth.”

    David, I must admit to being disturbed by your comments “lot's to be said for finding a school” for an only brother in a home-schooling family of girls. I know of several families like that – and reversed, too – and I wouldn't have thought it a huge problem, certainly not insurmountable. You might just have to work a bit harder to make sure he gets enough opportunities to play sport and do 'boy things', making sure he has friends of his own. I've noticed home-schooling boys who have sisters tend to be more polite, gentle and courteous to girls and look out for their sisters; but boys/young men should be gentlemen any way and it doesn't take away their masculinity. But maybe I misunderstood you?

    I realise I haven't used Bible verses to back up what I've been saying. I can't think of any in particular but I do think the Bible gives a strong picture of families being designed by God. Much of the Mosaic law is to make sure that people aren't disenfranchised and people are cared for properly. Messiah Himself had godly, loving parents who looked after Him. All sorts of trouble comes when we step out of the way God designed things to work.

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  7. I like this topic, it’s very interesting :)

    I do not think that this is a very black and white issue and it should be something that parents pray about and make a decision on.

    If God blessed me with a husband and family I would send my children to school unless my husband wanted to home school as I would submit to him and I don't have a problem with home education.

    I was brought up in a non-Christian family and was educated in a multi-cultural school. However I became a Christian at 14 and had a great support network of friends at church and found that I grew spiritually there.
    I also do not see the teaching of evolution or any other religion as a bad thing (I know that’s a very controversial comment) because I think it is important for children to know about these things and even question it and for parents to have the knowledge to sit with their children and explain it to them. We will always be able to prove Jesus to be the only and right way. I also think that if you send your children to school with a good biblical basis and prepare them for it and ensure that they know that Jesus is the only way it wouldn’t be a problem. If a child is at school the parents must be massively involved and I believe that they can be educated spiritually at home after schools and within the family. I also think that all parents should be a support for their child emotionally, spiritually and educationally and that this is possible by sending children to school.

    As for being around sinful people I also think that makes you grow massively as a Christian. As long as your children are disciplined and they aren't allowed to go out drinking with their friends there also isn't a problem. I would also hope that the children would be well instructed by the parents to say no anyway.

    This is something I personally experienced and my parents wanted me to go out drinking because then I would be ‘normal’ and still I never did.

    The only thing that I really have against schools is the sex education and the talk that happens in the classroom about sex and homosexuality. This can be damaging and difficult. However I believe that parents should be massively involved in a child's education, should know what is happening in the school and should be able to talk about it openly with their child.

    I know a lot of you won’t agree but feel free to comment :)

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  8. Rachel Driscoll21 June 2011 at 13:52

    Interesting thoughts, Natasha.
    I personally do not agree with Christian families sending their children to school. Deuteronomy 6:6-7 says, "And thse words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
    I believe that these verses prove that Christians should home educate their children. Notice verse 7 mentions sitting, walking, lying down and rising up - all of the things that we do in a day. Children are to be taught the ways and commands of Christ throughout the entire day, and what better way for this to be fully acomplished than to home-educate?!
    Personally, I would never and could never send my children (if God so blessed me with a husband and family) to a school. It would play upon my consience too much. I personally believe that if and when I court, this is a main thing that I must discuss with my future husband. Home-schooling is something so important that that will be a main part in deciding my furture. I will have to marry someone who agrees with that.
    Of course, there are rare exceeptions to every rule. For instance, if the mother was long-term ill, and unable to educate her children, then, if family members or friends from the Christiaan community were not able to help out, then she would have to reluctantly send her children to school. But only on such rare occasions do I believe such actions would be necessary.
    I don't know what you think of this. Do you have any questions? I would be happy to answer any.

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  9. I sit to write this comment after a long day at [GASP] school. Today in that place, I watched a man weep as he was overcome by the number who had come –as they weekly do- to pray and hear God’s word, giving up there lunch hour.
    I’m part of a Christian family and happen to also be very familiar with home-schooling and have observed a few close family friends go down that road. I see the perks of both but too the down-sides. I’ve been at times jealous and at others content or even thankful.
    From a purely, technically, educational point of view: I would be nowhere, for example at the time of exams, without a variety of expert teachers to turn to in each subject. For instance, I have numerous maths textbooks but when something does not make sense or I’ve caught the wrong end of the stick there are times when a human who can respond to my thinking and pin-point where exactly I am going wrong is invaluable where a book or online resource cannot help. My parents aspire to high standards for my education and recognise that they could not give it and that a single teacher or sets of resources could not give it. I don’t feel like I’ve missed out on taking responsibility for my own learning either as there is always time where I must sit and decide for myself whether I’d like to polish my algebra skills or watch TV in a spare moment.
    I would consider myself no more a ‘beautiful flower planted in a bed of weeds’ than every one of us alive in the world. Yet we are not flowers but people, with legs – for walking, fleeing, challenging. The famous ‘You’re not a tree!’ quote comes to mind. If we do not like our situation there is often much we can do to change it. Avoidance, witnessing, flight and engagement are all exercises that perhaps those protected miss out on. Really, when you are ‘protected’ you are often too prohibited and this may cause outward conformity but does not deal directly with the heart. We live in the world and this cannot be avoided so that eventually each one of us must be able to ‘flee’ from ‘youthful lusts’. When no one is running beside you or dragging you by the hand, there must be a perseverance all of your own to will your feet onward otherwise you will slow down. An outwardly conformed body will be delayed by the unconfirmed heart within in it. The way I see it: start with the heart and the habits will follow, regardless of where you are educated.
    I thank God that I do go to school, have been greatly blessed by it and hope I’ll never criticise my parents decision in this matter. I can only comment on my own present however and would be loathe committing myself to any opinion about future (hypothetical) children of my own. One of my father’s favourite terms is ‘the thin end of the wedge’ and that, I believe is what we are sadly seeing today.
    There’s so much to say on this matter but I am ASHAMED at the length of this comment as it stands. Thanks for the interesting discussion!

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  10. Oh and (I realise I’ve said more than enough BUT...) if you would like my [humble!] opinion, I might suggest more about our ATTITUDE towards day-to-day studies rather than a lot of focus on what exact format those studies take. (Perhaps I would even argue that Christian education is indeed more an attitude than any one particular set-up.) Our attitude, after all, might be something many of us can DO MORE TO CHANGE. Having observed, sometimes I wonder whether Christians, who (rightly) seek to put Christian things first, end up trivialising education; what a blessing it is, its place in our priorities and how our attitudes towards advancing our God-given gifts should be framed. God-glorification in effort, time management and subject choice? How much of our young selves should be given to education; time energy, money, body..? Finishing that dissertation versus attending the mid-week prayer meeting?
    I realise this is a topic that will shape generations we hope to live into BUT, it is one few of us can really do very much about at the moment. I realise too that amongst our Christian peers ‘preparing for the future’ is a prevalent topic however... Couldn’t our future characters be catered for by the lessons we learn from what we DO RIGHT NOW? Not what we dream of, think on, muse over or plan. A lady can glorify god in marriage as a wife and as a mother just as a man can do as a husband and father. But when such roles are not presently ours we are not role-less! We are children and siblings and students and classmates (and neighbours and friends and employees). We should not sit and wait, chasing the future. Let instead the future, find us, chase us and track us down. Let it find us right in the middle of something! Even as young people, we always have a role and are not just; future, hypothetical, someday, hopeful prospective, wannabe [insert role here]s. We have not been given time on earth to use preparing for more time on earth. ‘More time’ is not promised. ‘While it is called today’ what matters is what we have done, what we have to show for these ‘17’ years. Only one destiny is sure for all. In it, our reward will be in accordance with what we have done and not we have prepared ourselves to do. I honestly get concerned that too much preparing for the future gets in the way of ‘ACTION. where we are. and now.’ So that we waste our very best years dreaming of others that we are not promised.
    Sorry. I MUST STOP TYPING.
    Thanks for the blog guys – nice work!

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  11. Hi,

    Rachel, I do agree with you and I do think that home education is clearly biblical. Maybe I am fighting against the truth a little here then. I don't know, I am definantly for being a stay at home mum and hope to be there my self and I definantly will not have my children at nursery and they can go to school at 4. Urm, I don't really know what I think. I think maybe I am looking a lot at my experience of school. I also think that some people that are home schooled think that school is a lot worse that it actually is. I also know of christians that have been home educated and then gone to college to get their qualifactions and have really struggled with the environment. I just find it difficult to be completely for home education although I am definantly not against it :/
    I have held the view that if my future husband wanted to home school then I would 100% do that and would feel the same about school also. I am being a little bit challenged by Gods word on this subject though as home education is clearly biblical. I think it will be something that I am going to pray about and think about a lot.

    Also, this is a bit off the subject and have probably been asked this before but are you related to Mark Driscoll? Just because I love him!! :) Sorry if that is an annoying question

    With Love
    Your Sister in Christ
    Tash x

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  12. Rachel Driscoll23 June 2011 at 10:00

    Hi Natasha,
    Thanks for your comment!
    I'm sorry, but I am not related to Mark Driscoll. (I don't even know who Mark Driscoll is!!!)
    Love in Christ Jesus,
    Rachel x

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  13. David van den Broek23 June 2011 at 22:56

    Dear 'J' thanks so much for your very insightful comments! I especially liked what you said about living now rather than in the future -although I think that thinking these things through is part of living now.

    Sorry Thomas, Rebekah and Tabitha for being so long in responding -I'm not often on the computer. Let me try and respond:

    Rebekah: I am delighted to be able to say that I was home-educated, however I'm a very out-doors sort of person and spent most of my classroom time wishing I was outside with my brothers. I grew up on a farm and have 7 brothers. My concern is that there are boys who would very much struggle (in fact I know some who have) in a home-schooling environment. Of course I have no problem with a guy studying with his sisters -that's great, but some boys would struggle with a lack of competition, sport or peers who are excited about the same things as them.

    Thomas: I apologise that you even needed to ask.
    Paragraph 1: Deut 6v6-7, Eph 6v1 a whole hunk of proverbs...
    Paragraph 2: 1 Sam 1...
    Paragraph 3: Nothing comes to mind -sorry.
    Paragraph 4: Again, none that I can think of.
    Paragraph 5: Col 3v20 etc...

    Tabitha: A good point and a fair comment however I would still argue that those issues should be taken into consideration before dismissing the idea of a Christian school.

    Thanks for the comments guys -I'm finding them helpful.

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  14. I was thinking about this blog alot because there's a mixture in our church and both seem to have worked out well enough.

    I think that you can have a Christian education and still go to school. I have spent all of my education in the state system but in reality, most of my education took place at home. The state system can act as a door into the secular world which you can make use of alter in life for evangelism etc.

    Doesn't it depend on the individual child and the family's circumstance how the child is educated anyway? There are very few Christian schools and sometimes for whatever reason, the parents aren't aable to homeschool. It's a difficult choice but the needs of the child should be considered too.

    Jesus had a state education of sorts. He would have been taught at the temple (?) surely. A state education has benefits spiritually in that if the parents teach the things of God at home and bring their kids up with discernment, then the bad influence of the education system can have an inverse effect, making the child realise just how pointless and futile the world's ways are. I know that I hated every moment of my education but it can strengthen spiritually and prepare us for what the world will throw at us when we are older. Sometimes you have to let your children go before they will come back. I suppose it's a bit like the prodigal son. His father let him out into the wiorld and its influences for a while but it showed the son the reality of it and brought him back to his father's ways.

    Doesn't always work this way.

    On the other hand you've got homeschooling which works great too and means that you can show them how everything works without having the pain of subjecting them to it. Homeschooling's good too if you move around a lot or if you're miss kids. But homeschooling, if it is too sheltering can run risks of making children more curious about this mysterious evil world and making them want to go and see if it really is that bad. In homeschooling its easier to guide them in the way of God and to protect them but sometimes you have to just step back and let your kids make mistakes.

    A church school seems a fair compromise if there's one around but you run the risk of unsound teaching. It's a good compromise because you've got the Christian influence but at the same time you'er letting them out into the world a bit so that they can see that its not all that great.

    Jesus said to let the little children go to him. There is only so much that a parent can do but you have to let go sometimes and occasionally that's through education but not always. I know people who have been to Christian schools, some who have been homeschooled and some who have been in state schools and all of them seem to work adn produce Godly youngsters. Different things work for different people and as long as you are seeking God's will in the choice, he'll show you what is right.

    Essentially, all Christians are homeschooled because however they are educated, it is their parents' teaching and their example in the way they live that stays with the child.

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