I’m beginning a new series today, looking at things that I hope may be helpful to discuss with friends who are considering the educational options for next year. The first thing that needs to be said at this point is to move quickly, because unless you live somewhere in the Third World, there is probably a vast bureaucracy that believes it owns your children and which will put you through some lengthy exercises before it will go away and leave you alone. If you are in New Zealand and looking at home education (called ‘normal education’ on this blog) you are supposed to write to your local office of the Ministry of Education (oh the irony of the name) and ask for an application form for an exemption from enrolment in a registered school. You have to do a separate one for each child aged between 6 and 16, and until you get the exemption certificate, such children are legally required to be “enrolled at and attending a registered school when it is open.” Schools, of course, open in February, and the certificate can take a number of weeks to get, so time is of the essence.
While I’m at it, though, I’d like to touch on something a little less banal, and suggest that bringing up children is, in any case, not the work of a moment. Many parents despair because what they are doing with their children doesn’t seem to be ‘working’. But it takes twenty years to bring up a child; you can’t really say until it’s over whether it’s worked or not.
It’s frightening to think that you won’t know until it’s too late, and makes me more than a little glad to have God’s word on the subject. I wouldn’t like to be doing it all by guesswork. When I’m being honest, though, I will admit that there is still a lot of guesswork involved. Applying God’s precepts to every one of life’s often ridiculous situations requires wisdom, which we all find it painful to acquire. So once again, we couldn’t do it without the accumulated wisdom of others who have gone before us.
Another implication of all this is that we can’t scientifically prove anything about education. We can’t repeat the experiment, and we can’t go back and bring up the same child again a different way and see what happens. We have to judge by what others have said and done, and then go on in faith.