I’m flexing my fingers here for another difficult one. I hope it will be of interest to people who are considering the broader questions of education.
I’ve heard many versions of the following statement: “I wouldn’t want to push home schooling on [other people / my grown up children], because you can’t do it unless you are truly committed.”
This is at the same time so right and so wrong, in my view, that I never know how to respond. I’d have to write out an answer; this is my attempt to do so.
People won’t persevere with home education if they’re not committed to it. That’s for sure. Life is hard, bringing up children is hard, juggling responsibilities is hard. Home education is not approved of by many people and the pressure to conform to the conformist system can become overwhelming. People will not persevere in swimming against the tide unless they have a vision, a purpose or a goal that is stronger than everything that is coming against them.
But that doesn’t mean they’re right. Anyone who has children should care about those children more than about making more money, or fitting in with the neighbours, or having free time. Anyone who has children already has a fully sufficient reason to have the kind of vision and purpose alluded to above. Anyone who has children should care enough about them not to want to hand over the sacred task of educating them to salaried strangers.
Christians have an even worse version of this error, which goes “You can’t homeschool unless you’re called to it.” The reasoning is the same, that people need commitment to complete a long-term task, but now we’re handing the blame to God. “God hasn’t called me to it, so I don’t have to do it.” Haven’t you read the Bible? God has called you to bring up your children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, speaking to them of Him and His word at all times and training them to walk before Him. He has called you to this task, solemnly and urgently, again and again in His Word. It’s just plain naughty to sit on your hands and say that you haven’t heard Him.
The reason we don’t understand this is that we have driven a wedge between upbringing and education. We imagine that they can be done separately, at different times and by different people. This is all part of the faith-and-reason debacle that I was trying to discuss a few months ago, and really requires separate treatment. Let me just finish what I’m trying to deal with here, the issue of pressuring other people, especially our grown-up children, to ‘homeschool’. This is something that we shouldn’t have to do with our own offspring, because we should have brought them up to understand their many serious callings from God, including this one. But life doesn’t go the way it should, and maybe we didn’t do that, or maybe they didn’t catch the vision somehow. We still have a responsibility to admonish our grown-up children, even if they have left home and married. That will require wisdom, to bring the calling of God’s Word to them without being angry, overbearing, manipulative, pushy or critical. It’s the sort of thing you have to pray a lot about, and then take a deep breath and decide you’re going to step up to the next level with. If you know what I mean. If it hasn’t come to that in your life, praise God and look to see that it doesn’t.