Homeschooling to Change…What, Exactly? (Part 1)

Most Christian homeschoolers are keenly aware that they can’t save their children’s souls just by keeping them out of public schools. If the blogs I read are any indication, we’re required by some unwritten code of behavior to admit that fact at least once every five posts, lest someone get the idea we’re doing this for any moral, judgy reason. In case you’re one of those who don’t already understand how little control we really have over our offspring’s fallen nature, though, here’s a clue, from Dan Phillips’ excellent book, The World-Tilting Gospel:

Nor can parents produce flesh-conquering children by the implementation of precise techniques. I’ve been chagrined to see the implication in otherwise sound teaching that, if parents just apply a particular pedagogy to a “T,” they will produce godly children, like so many cookies on a factory conveyor belt. Sometimes homeschoolers—and I speak as a rabid homeschooling proponent—seem to imagine that, if we can just isolate our little cherubs from the riffraff, they’ll turn out to be holy little plaster saints.

Our children’s worst enemy is not the government education camps, or their nasty little friends. Their worst enemy is within. They were born with it. They got it from Mom and Dad, who got it from Great-grampa Adam.

Most non-homeschooling parents understand this also, and because of it, think of homeschoolers as isolationist, reactionary, and fearful. Many seem to have the attitude that, if we can’t save our kids by giving them a Christian education, then we might as well let the secular schools have at them! Why bother? Jesus has got this one!

Ironically, many of these same parents are the loudest to complain–completely ineffectively, I might add–when schools introduce “educational” material that they don’t like, hold what can only be described as anti-morality propaganda days, and deliberately unteach everything that those parents try to teach their children at home and in church. When public schools do violence to the worldview that Christian parents are trying to inculcate in their children, suddenly it doesn’t seem like such a small thing to concerned parents. Why is that? Don’t they know that they can’t change their children’s sinful nature simply by changing their environment?

Well, of course they know that! They’re complaining because they know that this isn’t the way things are supposed to be in a right-side-up world, and they’re trying to change it. Like those parents, I’m not homeschooling in order to save my children. I’m homeschooling to change the culture.

But how can we change a culture by withdrawing from it? Some might—and often do–ask. And my answer is that I’m not withdrawing from the culture. I’m right here in it! We’re not Amish over here (NTTAWWT). I’m simply making sure that secular culture doesn’t infect my children before they know what to do with it.

We’ve all heard the “missionary” argument for sending Christian kids to public schools. It goes like this: If I don’t send my kids to the schools, the schools won’t have any salt or light in them! Think of all the unsaved children!  It sounds great in theory, doesn’t it? But we’ve been sending our little missionaries to secular public schools for enough generations that you’d think we’d see the fruit of all that witnessing by now if there was going to be any, wouldn’t you? Instead, what we see is entire generations of Christians graduating without much of an idea of what they believe, but an astounding ability to articulate their “tolerance” for the views of others!

Sending Christian kids to public schools is, in fact, making them culturally powerless, and the reason why is very simple: It doesn’t matter which children your precious ones hang out with or surreptitiously witness to on the playground. What matters is whose authority all of the children are under.

Are we bringing the world under the authority of Christ by sending our children to public schools as mission-minded parents suggest? Or are we bringing Christian children under the authority of the world? I think there’s ample evidence that the latter, and not the former, is true.

What do you think?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ashley Cozzens
    Twitter: oliveonandon
    March 20, 2012, 3:23 pm

    Well put! Our kids aren’t yet old enough to be in school, but we intend to homeschool, Lord willing. The more I read about it, the more excited I become. My only trepidation is how our families will handle our decision. (Isn’t that always the case?) I struggle with people pleasing and needing approval. Can you tell I went to public school? Haha. But you put into words here one of our biggest motivators to homeschool which is : not to shelter them “unto salvation” but to have them know from the very beginning of their learning, that all knowledge and wisdom comes from God and not some abstract source to which only licensed teachers and institutions are privy.

  • Renee
    Twitter: GrowingStam
    March 20, 2012, 3:52 pm

    Well about the argument of the unsaved children in school,why not send mature, adult missionary aka Christian teachers to be salt and light… Adult that are not so much “culture” sponges but are rooted in faith.

    Christian children can be salt and light with their peers by their obedience to their parents, I think that this can be done outside the school wall. In a way, homeschoolers are sheltering their children from certain things, but most homeschoolers have a “life” and do interact with the people around them!

    Why send our children to the wolf, before they are ready for the battle ?

    And I agree about our little one born with a sinful nature! Am reminded of this often… especially because we are together all the time, but it isn’t a bad thing, we can all grow together.

    • Cindy March 20, 2012, 4:43 pm

      I so just started a post about Christian teachers. LOVE ’em!

      • Tricia March 20, 2012, 9:24 pm

        Have you seen Indoctrination? It addresses the issue of Christian teachers in the public school system, and how they are basically powerless to say *anything* in regards to Christianity.

        • Mary Jo March 21, 2012, 12:21 am

          Tricia, I agree! Indoctrination is the best documentary ever and it does a fabulous job of showing what happens to Christian teachers who actually attempt to be salt and light. Every parent in America needs to watch that movie, even if you are already homeschooling!

          • Renee
            Twitter: GrowingStam
            March 21, 2012, 6:54 am

            I haven’t watch the movie, but missionary all around the world are risking their life to share their faith. Many have lost their life for being bold in sharing the good news.

            All am saying,that if Christian teachers are called to teach in school, if they are willing to “loose their job” for proclaiming Christ, to be bold. Wouldn’t it better for a adult who is strong in rooted in faith to do, then a child, who is still young in faith?

            • Mary Jo March 21, 2012, 9:02 am

              Renee, I hope you will watch the movie. It’s very enlightening. And never once does it condemn teachers who do want to be salt and light. That being said, I believe it is very naive for Christians to waltz into the government system of education and expect to make a difference, if they don’t understand the agendas they will be facing. My husband’s best friend is a P.S. teacher and a fabulous one at that. He is well-grounded in the faith and has been a witness to teachers, students, and parents. But he would be foolish if he didn’t understand the system of indoctrination that is being imposed on teachers and students. On top of that, we have very few strong Christians left in the country. Maybe that’s the real problem.

              • Cindy March 21, 2012, 9:14 am

                Mary Jo, I think there’s a place for those teachers, if only because the children can see them outside the schools and (hopefully) discern that there is something different about this particular teacher. Also, I’ve got some great PS teacher friends who really do risk their jobs in ways that are vital to the children. Christians may not be able to say “Jesus” in schools, but they have an influence.

                I haven’t watched Indoctrination, though it is on my list. I dare say it’s a fantastic documentary, but I’m not sure I trust any heavily edited and agenda-driven documentary (no matter how much I admire its purpose) more than I trust my own friends and eyeballs. 😉

        • Cindy March 21, 2012, 9:08 am

          Yep. They are powerless, but I know a few gutsy teachers who know how to slip in a little Truth anyhow. 😉

  • Sarah March 20, 2012, 4:34 pm

    Yes! Making sure my kiddies are grounded in God’s Word and ways before I let the world loose on them. Exactly the reason why we’re homeschooling.

  • Stephanie March 20, 2012, 6:01 pm

    I love you last couple of lines. We want to keep our children’s hearts, which we believe can only be done when we are their authority and are the ones who are with them the majority of the time. Thank you for a great post.

  • Tricia Regar March 20, 2012, 9:22 pm

    Recently, I’ve wanted to take your articles and plaster them all over my facebook. Great writing–and excellent message. Keep it up!! 😀

    • Cindy March 21, 2012, 9:15 am

      LOL! Plaster away!

  • Dawn Wright March 20, 2012, 11:08 pm

    I love this! It is sooo true! My children have a sin nature as do I.

    BUT I SEEK to help them grow in Christ, and sending them to a school that has no morals- except that lack there of, and others whose opinions are drilled into their heads, and the inability to teach our kiddos to think “outside the bun” FOR THEMSELVES What do they believe for real- aside from others opinions?

    I was raised in a Christian family, but that didn’t make me a Christian- I am a Christian because I held on tight to the faith I found in HIM!!! BUT it is really hard to do this with teachers, peers, and others around you saying the opposite of what you learn in church, are taught at home (I was not homeschooled, but my parents were involved), and what you believe to be true. It has ravaged sooo many souls……….and beat them up until they just gave in. I have seen it- in my brothers, in my friends from school…….and it breaks my heart 🙁

    I want to give my kids every opportunity to learn and grow and be strong in the LORD FIRST!

    • Cindy March 21, 2012, 9:18 am

      I know that being outside public schools wouldn’t have saved my soul, but it probably would have saved me a lot of seriously dangerous situations. 🙁 The conflict in worldviews made me a depressed and rebellious teen, and led me into situations that I might not live down enough to even talk about by the time I’m 80. I don’t believe it had to be that way.

  • Kristi March 21, 2012, 11:21 am

    Well said. I homeschool my children as well and I couldn’t agree more! Our children are precious and moldable, and I’d prefer that they emulate our Lord and Savior, not be indoctrinated to give up all their beliefs in the name of “tolerance.”

  • Erin March 21, 2012, 1:36 pm

    Well said, I too still have shame for many of the choices I made as a teenager in public school. It was a time of great conflict between knowing what was right and wanting so badly to be popular. I was popular enough to be homecoming queen, sadly that required a great deal of not doing what is right.

    I just read this in another homeschooling blog: “I’ve seen the village and I don’t want it raising my children” I’m thinking of painting it on my van!!

    Regarding the movie “Indoctrination”, my husband is a public school teacher and when we finished watching it he stated,”Okay, who do we know who needs to see this? I don’t care if I lose my job, they have to know.” It had more information than I expected and though I am committed to homeschooling already, it was well worth my time to watch.

    • Cindy March 21, 2012, 2:31 pm

      I can’t wait to see it!

  • Rebecca March 21, 2012, 7:08 pm

    First, I’m not reading the other comments…cause I don’t want to get on a soapbox…I’m sure they are all good, though…did take a peak and saw a few…but, OH man, I can’t wait to have a LONG chat with you about this very topic this weekend! I’m not going to vomit all over the comments right now – but….this one…the salt/light….hits me in a place that makes me want to SCREAM! Love ya…it’s a good talk…full of some things I heard last weekend and need an even-eared person with similar values to bounce it off of! I think you’ll LOVE IT!

    • Cindy March 21, 2012, 10:35 pm

      Can’t wait to talk to you!

  • republican mother March 22, 2012, 8:51 am

    I read (maybe in one of Voddie’s books) that 90% of homeschooled kids stay active in their faith (could be ANY faith), whereas 90% of public schooled kids are not active by the time they are college -aged. What this tells me is that training programs produce results.!

    • Cindy March 22, 2012, 3:40 pm

      Yep. The schools are very effective at what they’ve set out to do. Unfortunately, what they’ve set out to do has very little to do with educating free citizens. 🙁

  • Sheila Wray Gregoire
    Twitter: sheilagregoire
    March 28, 2012, 1:46 pm

    Totally agree with you here, Cindy! That’s why we’ve kept our kids home, too, and they’re not sheltered at all (they see it all with their extended family, and we’ve done a ton of missions trips). They also have a ton of friends. But the difference is they learn within the family, and they know their closest friends should be Christian.

    Can I offer another problem with schools? Sometimes it’s not that schools are so bad. Sometimes it’s that they’re good. For instance, I had close family members from a wonderfully strong Christian family who did not grow up to follow God. They went to public schools, where they met great kids. The kids got straight A’s. They didn’t drink. They were very athletic. They were fun. And so these kids became their best friends. They were “good” kids.

    But they weren’t Christian.

    And so my family members realized that you didn’t have to be Christian to be good (which is of course, true). But the problem was that then their closest friends became non-Christians. And as they grew, it stayed that way. Sometimes the problem is not always that the school system is terrible, but simply that it teaches kids to make allegiances outside of the church and the family when they’re still young and forming their identity. And that’s dangerous, too!

    Sheila from To Love, Honor and Vacuum!

    • Cindy March 28, 2012, 2:18 pm

      As usual, you make a very good point, Sheila. Thanks so much for commenting! Every time you do, I feel like I’m hanging out with a rock star. 😉 (Except that rock stars probably wouldn’t be talking about homeschool and Jesus in such reasonable tones.)

  • MamaLearning
    Twitter: MamaLearning
    March 31, 2012, 11:04 pm

    Cindy, I wish you lived closer so I could chat you up about this. We’ve homeschooled from the beginning, but my views on WHY we homeschool are drastically different during this (our second) year.

    This is my favorite line that you wrote: ” I’m simply making sure that secular culture doesn’t infect my children before they know what to do with it.”

    Amen and Amen. I love it when my husband states very unapologetically that “we shelter our kids ON PURPOSE!”

    You are always on my Saturday night read list. And then I make my husband read it because everything you write is so dead on. Love you dearly!

  • Rebecca August 8, 2013, 5:13 pm

    Would it surprise you to know that most of us who were home schooled by protectionist parents wish they had done things differently? And its not because we are all bitter and live in sin. I am a home school grad who is now home schooling my own (unlike the majority of home school grads who are not ) I do think it can be wonderful but not for some of the reasons you mention. If you want to hear from my generation as to why, – come on over.

    • Cindy August 8, 2013, 8:52 pm

      Rebecca, I’m interested in your opinion, but I don’t think it’s quite fair to say you speak for most such children. I know far too many who’d disagree with you on that point. Much has to do with the family in question. Some are protective (good) and some are isolationist (bad). I suspect you know that, though.