Wednesday, July 23, 2008

More on the Stridency of Some Homeschool Advocates

If you've been following the comments in my previous post on the stridency of some homeschool advocates, you know there's been a fair amount of interest generated in this topic. And apparently the interest extends beyond just the readers of this blog - my Google alerts on the topic have picked up several similar posts in the last few days.

Here is one that expresses my own concerns: "Homeschooling without being a Separatist? etc.! "

Karry begins her post with this:

I have been reading some things that previously homeschooled folks have said about their experiences, and why they hated homeschooling. The #1 reason I have found is exactly what I think a problem among Christian Homeschoolers is: an attitude of being separate and "better" than everyone else. As if, because we homeschool, our family is better than the family across the street who sends their kids to public school, or the family down the street who sends their kids to private school?

This is precisely my concern, and Karry goes on to discuss why she believes this attitude is wrong. She also brings up a related concern, about the fact that some homeschooling parents keep their kids away from the public-schooled kids in their neighborhood. Now, I don't allow my kids to hang out indiscriminately with the kids in my neighborhood; but I do believe God has put us in this neighborhood for a reason, and He expects us as a family to minister to the other families around us. So I do allow my kids to play with our neighbor kids, closely supervised, of course. In fact, the only families in our neighborhood we've been able to build relationships with are the ones who have children near our own kids' age - those are the ones the Lord has given us to reach out to.

Here's another post on the topic, this time from The Accidental Homeschooler: "Called to Homeschool." Kelly has some great insight here, including a conversation she had with a friend as she was considering the question of whether "every Christian is called to homeschool."

Kelly links also to this post from Spunky Homeschool on the same issue: "Conventional Wisdom." Spunky's post is fascinating. I especially thought this quote was interesting:

Asking the homeschool movement to decide whether it will advance a specifically Biblcial vision or not is like asking a hammer if it will build a house or a table. It can't decide anything nor can it lose a vision for what it is supposed to build. Homeschooling, like a hammer, is completely dependent upon the one who uses it. No one philosophy or worldview controls homeschooling. As long as the freedom to homeschool is open to all parents, it is an exercise in futility to demand that the movement have only one specific vision --secular or biblical.

And the post that started it all: "Homeschooling is NOT the Gospel." This one is full of piercing questions and comments, including this:

Furthermore, the problem is not bad education, it is bad character (sin). The solution is not homeschooling, it is the gospel of Jesus Christ and participating in the growing kingdom of God. The utopian society is not homeschool grads in power, but the consummation of the kingdom of God which will only occur at the second coming of the Lord in glory. I fear that many in the Christian homeschooling movement have a false understanding of the problem, the solution, and the ultimate goal. And smooth-talking, eloquent, yet misguided speakers that give vision and encouragement to homeschooling parents are not helping build the kingdom of God.

One more post on this topic and I'll leave it alone for a bit. This one is from IndianaJane's Journal, and is entitled, "Ruminating on Homeschooling." A sample of her post:

And they wouldn't mind keeping the non-Christians out of homeschooling, too. "In like manner, the homeschool movement must decide whether it will work to advance a specifcally Biblical vision, or take a “big tent” approach that is now comfortable and uncontroversial - and lose the covenantal vision. "

What they don't seem to realize is that they were never the totality of the homeschool movement and with each year they are a smaller part. I have worked
hard for over ten years to help build the big homeschool tent, and in spite of
false witness from some in their camp, we are seeing the big tent get more and
more full.

What I get, from all these posts, is that many homeschoolers believe deeply in what we are doing, but disagree with those who hold that it is the only acceptable position for Christians. It's my feeling that if we're going to successfully minister to the majority of people with whom we come in contact, we are not going to do it by preaching how much better we are than everybody else. When we flaunt our own self-righteousness, we alienate those to whom we could minister. We aren't able to encourage those who are struggling to hang in there, at least for one more year, to see what God might do for them. We aren't able to expose those who hold inaccurate positions on Scripture or young-earth creationism or any other topic to accurate, rational, factual information. And most significantly, we destroy our witness to the unbelievers among us - whether they are unbelieving homeschoolers, workers at the convention site, or curious bystanders who wonder what we're up to. The way to reach these people is with graciousness, gentleness, a loving spirit, and an openness to interact. If we don't demonstrate these qualities, all our self-righteousness is useless.

It's also important to keep in mind that, while the Lord will certainly hold us accountable for how we raised and educated our children, He will also hold us accountable for how we ministered to other believers and how we witnessed to an unbelieving world. He's not going to be impressed if all we can say is, "Well, I homeschooled my 8 children and discipled them so everyone else could see how faithfully we followed You" - He wants us interacting with lost people, and showing our children how to do that.


Brenda said...

Hi Marcy, thanks for quoting my blog. My name is Brenda though, my husband's name is Karry. :) Good post. Good things to think on.

Melinda S. said...

Good links, sis. However, you didn't actually wind up quoting Indiana Jane. Her link was interesting, though, especially the quote near the end.

Spunky said...

Thanks for adding to the discussion. This topic is obviously on many homeschoolers minds and the more voices that express their thoughts the better. Thanks for sharing yours with us.