Sunday, March 16, 2014

Christian Parents of Public School Students Have a Job to Do

Once again, I step away from my role as educator in the classroom and place myself in my role as a parent.  The primary audience for this blog post are Christian parents who send their children to public schools who need some encouragement in their decision but more importantly, to prod them to action.

Although the Christian parent of a public school student is my intended audience, I believe a Christian who sends their kids to a Christian school or home schools them, and even non-Christian parents could glean some ideas from this post.

Don't ever sit on the sidelines of your child's education.

The curriculum of the public school isn't anti-Christian, I would put it as "the curriculum of the public school is NOT Christian", nor should it be.  As a Christian parent, would you want a person of another faith indoctrinating your child on their beliefs?  The reality is we live in a pluralistic society and we have to learn to operate within it, without losing the essence of who we are as individuals.  And so do our children.

Another issue is the bias of the teacher.  One of my proudest moments as a teacher was when I took a poll of the kids on how they thought I voted for president.  The final tally was 52% for one and 48% for the other.  The goal of a teacher is not to indoctrinate, but to get kids to think.  You do that by being fair and presenting both sides of an issue. 

Will teachers present issues that are against what you teach in the home?  Absolutely.  What is your response?  You should be commended for knowing your child's teacher is teaching something different than what you present at home.  It means that your child and you are involved in meaningful conversations. 

For example, what do you do when your child's teacher presents evolution?  Are you able to discuss with your child your view on that topic from a Christian worldview.  If your child's response is "Evolution didn't create life, God did", I am glad he/she has an understanding that God is the primary cause of the universe, but what about secondary causes?  If your child can only explain God as primary cause or only dogmatically demonstrate an unwillingness (or worse, an ignorance) to even discuss or think through the secondary causes (discovering the God's laws that govern physical space and time), then Bill Nye is right in his criticism of Christians when it comes to science. 

I am not saying that there aren't teachers who teach with a strong bias.  But I will not accept the notion that sending your child to Christian school or homeschooling are the only two solutions for the Christian.  In a Christian school and even in homeschooling curriculum, you have TONS of questions of theology.  Will topics be presented in a Reformed, Arminian, Middle Knowledge, or Openness View of God?  Are they Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox?  What is their view of justification and sanctification?  Do they hold a Dispensational or Covenantal view?  Are they Pentecostals, Charismatics, Cessationists, or somewhere in between?  Are the high church or low church?  What is their belief of leadership in the church?  What is their view of scripture?  Do they believe intellectualism is an important part of loving God or does it quench the Spirit?  And so on...Do you ask?  Do you care?  

"It doesn't matter, it's Christian" is NOT a sound answer.

Only being marginally knowledgeable on it, I don't think if my wife and I did homeschool we would ever chose ABeka or Bob Jones curriculum because of theological differences and approaches that those schools take on a variety of issues.  I'm speaking for my family here, it may be the best fit for yours.  I would agree that the homeschooling and Christian school parent will have an easier time discovering satisfying solutions to these issues and the public school parent has a lot of work to do to plug the holes.

A few months ago, a former student of mine asked me to look over some examples of history homeschooling curriculum for her children.  I'm sure she asked other friends who homeschooled their children, searched reviews of websites, and then approached me, her aging, former history teacher.  I was impressed with the research she had already completed and the direction she felt was best for her children.  She is a parent actively involved in her children's education, kudos to her.

Just like the public school parent cannot be lackadaisical in their approach neither can the Christian school or homeschooling parent.  Passing off that responsibility to a Christian School teacher or a homeschool DVD curriculum isn't the solution either.

The point is this...

Every parent MUST be involved in their child's education.

Maybe I'm naive, but I believe that God is sovereign; He is in control.  It is not a "Let Go and Let God" approach either.  It is a firm belief that God will bless and guide my efforts as my children come to me with a variety of issues, because He can.  I'm not as concerned about curriculum then preparing them to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul, and MIND, and to love their neighbor as themselves.  I want them to be able to answer questions like this:

How do we discern truth from falsehood?

How do you draw conclusions or determine what course of action is best?

How do you recognize bias?

What is the appropriate response to a disagreement with another person?  

How do you express your point of you in a loving way while still standing for what you believe?  

How does God affect our views of both the humanities and sciences?

I'm glad I will have the opportunity to address the issues while they live under my roof rather than through sporadic phone calls while they are in college or in the workplace.  My hope is that I can, in word and deed, express my Christian faith to them.  I want them to deeply drink of the water of truth flowing from these words of Paul:

"Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things."

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