Sunday, March 7, 2010

Which came first?

The home schooling movement is growing in Australia, as well as the U.S., and I can see why! Working as a high school teacher for twenty five years, shows what the shortcomings are - not only with schools themselves, but also with the way society views them, and tries to use them.
God did NOT invent schools, He invented families. That has been forgotten by too many people who think that the school is an absolutely essential fact of modern life. It is not. It is a human innovation, and has all the shortcomings that humans' works have.
God gave families first responsibility for the care and nurture of children, and with that the right to be involved in what shape their education takes. That does not mean that all Christians should home-school. There are Christian schools, and Christian teachers in some secular schools, so that Christian content and perspective can be presented to kids who attend a school. But the paramount responsibilty for raising the young rests with families; and if Christian parents decide to home school, I can see exactly why. Some of the content directed at school enrollees is unsympathetic to Christians and their beliefs. One example is the modern 'rationalist' view that life began without the involvement of a Divine Being. Another is the idea that everyone makes their own moral decisions without being answerable to anyone but themselves. Then there is the teaching by secular schools that homosexuality is an entirely healthy individual difference. Christians should not be hostile to such people as homosexuals, in line with rejecting the sin but not the sinner. But they cannot be required to agree that it is a normal good thing if they believe the Bible's clear teaching on the subject. Some individual teachers are quite scornful and hostile to Christianity, and talk openly about trying to turn children away from it. They have no right to do so, but claim they have, and some others would agree. So there are good reasons why Christians may decide to avoid pernicious or hostile influences being directed at their kids.
From another angle, the expectations imposed on schools become quite ridiculous at times. Some parents take the view that if teachers know their job, they can make right anything that is wrong in the life of anyone aged 18 or under. They can make up for the deficit left by inadequate parents, that is! Very convenient for under committed parents who want someone else to do it for them!
Some months ago there were some racially based fights in southern Sydney. A senior officer in the Teachers' Federation stated that these riots drew attention to the role of the school in the community. The implication is that teachers should socially program all students so that they don't get involved in racial tensions. It is as if schools and teachers alone shape the attitudes and beliefs of all students. That is rubbish. Family background, peer group influence and personal experiences have a huge effect on the attitudes people develop. So it is unreasonable to require the school system to take care of all the business of raising children in a healthy way. By this means, schools and teachers are sometimes blamed for things they can't change. So secular society demands that schools take responsibility for raising children, instead of families. Too convenient! It saves parents the trouble of doing it themselves! This is especially the case with some parents who pay huge costs for expensive private schools, especially boarding schools, and expect the school to raise their children for them.
In addition to all this, some individual kids have a horrible time at school because schools can be emotional ghettoes full of bullying and unpleasantness. In New South Wales recently there have been suicides by kids overcome by the torment they endure at school. And the staff of schools are flaccidly useless in doing anything about it, in some cases because they cannot. Part of the problem there is, bullies have all the rights and none of the responsibilities. There is always someone thinking they are on the side of the angels when they stand up for malefactors, claiming that they are misunderstood or 'never had a chance', and so on. Meanwhile, the victims have to just cop it.
So too much is expected of schools, and there are good reasons why some people hate being there.
It is a feature of atheist societies, or totalitarian ones, that the role of parents and families is diminished and the role of educational institutions increased. This gives 'the state' more control over children, and more chance to indoctrinate them. And it never should have been either empowered to do that, or made responsible for doing so. Teachers neither have the right nor should have the responsibility to replace parents. The de-schooling of society can be a reaction to this: that too much has been handed over to schools for too long.
So I entirely understand why home-schooling is increasing. It may even be the way of the future. Other ways can be found for children to mingle with people their own age. It does not have to be at school. God did not invent schools. He invented families, and with them should rest the task of raisng children.

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