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Common Core or Common Sense (with apologies to Thomas Payne)

In 1776, American colonists found themselves under the control of a tyrannical ruler. King George and Parliament had the agenda of controlling the colonists’ daily lives and livelihoods while using them for England’s sole benefit. The level of control had reached absurd levels and a few colonists were beginning to call for independence from England. Some colonists spoke of just reducing the levels of control while others seemed content to live under such tyranny.

To modern-day Americans, the choice seems obvious. But, we must remember that for many colonists living under the rule of a king was normal. It was all they had ever known and rebelling against him seemed like pure craziness. It was at this point that Thomas Paine anonymously wrote and published his pamphlet, Common Sense. Colonists every where read and heard his argument in favor of declaring independence. They were convicted of the need to throw off the tyranny of the king and free themselves. Those same colonists then created a new government in which they handed down the freedom they had fought so hard to obtain to the care of succeeding generations of United States citizens.

One would think that Americans would treasure and hold on to that personal freedom and liberty for all time. However, keeping such freedom also requires a great deal of personal responsibility and hard work. Over time, Americans gave up much of that personal liberty to their ever-increasing government because they did not like having to be responsible for themselves.

One area in which that occurred was in education. During America’s colonial days and early years as a country, education was controlled only by parents. Options ranged from teaching one’s own children to paying for them to attend a private school. A few public schools existed (especially in Puritan Massachusetts), but attendance upon an education of any kind was never compulsory. This responsibility for their children’s education required hard work from the parents, yet by and large, they rose to the challenge and produced generations of well-educated citizens.

However, there were people who wished to see a more powerful central government that could better direct and control the daily lives of the citizens. They realized the best way to do this was through the education of the upcoming generations. They first accustomed parents to the idea of sending their children to small, local one-room schools with locally-certified teachers. Over time, the certification process of teachers was expanded and standardized to create a group of “experts”. These instructors were presented as being better qualified than parents to teach children. Then, attendance in school was made compulsory so that parents had no choice but to send their children to those experts. The last step in the process is the standardization of the curriculum used nationwide. We can see this happening in the implementation of the Common Core.

Because the process of gaining control over the education of children was so gradual, parents unwittingly bought into the lie that the government knew best when it came to education, standards, teacher certification, testing, and curriculum among other things. They never even stopped to consider that there might be an agenda of control behind the lie.

Americans now find themselves under the tyrannical control of the government education system. This system seeks to control not only the education, but also the career choices of its citizens. The level of control reached such absurd levels that in the 1960s, some Americans sought to regain some of their freedoms via private Christian schools. This, in turn, led to the revival of the concept of homeschooling in the 1980s which gained a bit more of that freedom back. And yet, the government still controls our children’s education via regulations, standardized tests, and the almighty college diploma.

Some Americans are calling for complete independence from the government in the area of education. Others wish to simply reduce the level of control. Sadly, far too many parents seem content to let their children live under the tyranny of the government indoctrination programs known as public education.

The task at hand is as clear today as it was in 1776. We need to declare complete independence and emancipation from the government when it comes to the education of our children. We need to take back personal responsibility for this area and not rely on the government in any way, shape, or form to meet it. If we do not, then we will continue living under the oppressive thumb of a government run by people who seek to control our daily lives and livelihood for their sole benefit.

Government Schooling: The Final Solution

“Is there an idea more radical in the history of the human race than turning your children over to total strangers whom you know nothing about, and having those strangers work on your child’s mind, out of your sight, for a period of twelve years? Could there be a more radical idea than that? Back in Colonial days in America, if you proposed that kind of idea, they’d burn you at the stake, you mad person! It’s a mad idea!” —  John Taylor Gatto in IndoctriNation

In our post World War II world, the words “The Final Solution” most often make us think about Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany with its extermination of 6 million Jews as well as 5 million mentally and physically handicapped people, blacks and mulattos, homosexuals, Gypsies, and Nazi resisters. Those who have studied history know that Hitler and the Nazis believed in the idea of a Master Race. Members of this Master Race who went along with Hitler’s views were allowed to live. Those who were not part of the Master Race, as well as those who would not go along with Hitler’s views were eliminated. Here are just two examples:

  • In all, between 200,000 and 250,000 mentally and physically handicapped persons were murdered from 1939 to 1945 under the T-4 and other “euthanasia” programs.
  • In 1937, all local authorities in Germany were to submit a list of all the mulattos. Then, these children were taken from their homes or schools without parental permission and put before the commission. Once a child was decided to be of black descent, the child was taken immediately to a hospital and sterilized. About 400 children were medically sterilized — many times without their parents’ knowledge.

Source: http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/holo.html

Please note that Hitler not only hated the Jews, but also anyone who did not fit in or go along with his idea of a perfect society. In order to accomplish his agenda, these people had to be eliminated. In the early years, Hitler and the Nazis were somewhat open in the rounding up and killing of those who did not fit in. However, they found that this method was bad for their image and caused people to stop supporting them.

This led to the development of a new method – deportation. The Nazis realized that they could use the concept of “out of sight, out of mind” to prevent the average citizen from getting upset. German citizens were now told that the Jews from their towns were simply being shipped east to be resettled in new places because it would be better for both the Jews and the German population. Families of handicapped people were told that their loved ones were being sent to government medical facilities for care. Of course, none of this was true. Once these people were “out of sight”, they were killed systematically. Meanwhile, back at home, propaganda flooded the schools and cities to convince people that things were going well in the Third Reich.

Hitler’s goal was to eliminate those who stood in the way of his objectives and indoctrinate everyone else into thinking his actions were good. A new core curricula that endorsed and taught Nazi beliefs was created and implemented into schools. Teachers who refused to go along with the program were removed from their positions with some even being sent to concentration camps. Students were encouraged to join the Hitler’s Youth organization and to  report anyone who expressed disagreement with Nazi ideas to the authorities.

Hopefully, not much of the above is new information to you. What may shock you is that those who created (and are still running our public school system) have the exact same goals that Hitler and the Nazis had. Mandatory public education in America began as part of a quest for a perfect society with the Puritans in Massachusetts who were seeking a religious utopia. This quest was soon taken up by Progressive statists/socialists who were seeking a secular utopia.

“The rugged individualism of Americanism must go, because it is contrary to the purpose of the New Deal and the NRA [National Recovery Act], which is remaking America.”

“The NRA is the outstanding part of the President’s program, but in fact it is only a fragment. The general public is not informed on the other parts of the program, and the schools are the places to reach the future builders of the nation.”

“Russia and Germany are attempting to compel a new order by means typical of their nationalism – compulsion. The United States will do it by moral (per)suasion. Of course we expect some opposition, but the principles of the New Deal must be carried to the youth of the nation. We expect to accomplish by education what dictators in Europe are seeking to do by compulsion and force.”

Louis Alber, head of National Recovery Act New York 1933

NEA president, Catherine Barrett summed up this agenda in 1972:

“Those two complementary philosophies fueled the vision of NEA leaders who sought a utopian world, freed from Biblical constraints and ruled by humanist politicians and taught by progressive educators. Parental rights and religious freedom would be swallowed up by the surpassing rights and rules of the greater community — the controlled collective.”

Did you catch that phrase “the controlled collective”? This means that there will be some who will control and some who will be controlled. Of course, there also will be some who cannot be controlled whose power must be eliminated.

In the following quotes from his book, The Underground History f American Education, John Taylor Gatto spells out the three groups: “the elite, ruling, overclass”, “the uprooted and transplanted future leaders”, and the “ignorant, controlled lower classes.”

  • “Identified early enough inside the laboratory of government schooling, the best leadership of these classes could be uprooted and transplanted into ruling class society, reinvigorating the blood stock of the overclass: Count Dracula in education department drag. This genetic harvesting would deliver the best formula for social harmony. Potential future leaders among the underclasses would be targeted early in schooling, then weaned from any misguided loyalty to their own group, using incentives. Far from prying eyes, their minds would be conditioned in special “gifted” classes.”
  • “While this process of vetting went on, school would also be used to train most of us in our role in traditional status hierarchies. Class rankings, specialized tracking, daily habituation to payoffs and punishments, and other means would accomplish the trick. Those elected for advancement would be drawn bit by bit into identification with the upper crust and with its ways of dress, speech, expectation, etc. They would come in this fashion to look upon their group of origin as evolutionarily retarded—a brilliant imaginative coup.”
  • “The Behavioral Science Teacher Education Project identified the future as one “in which a small elite” will control all important matters, one where participatory democracy will largely disappear. Children are made to see, through school experiences, that their classmates are so cruel and irresponsible, so inadequate to the task of self-discipline, and so ignorant they need to be controlled and regulated for society’s good.”
  • “…the gigantic Behavioral Science Teacher Education Project, outlined teaching reforms to be forced on the country after 1967. If you ever want to hunt this thing down, it bears the U.S. Office of Education Contract Number OEC-0-9-320424-4042 (B10). The document sets out clearly the intentions of its creators—nothing less than “impersonal manipulation” through schooling of a future America in which “few will be able to maintain control over their opinions,” an America in which “each individual receives at birth a multi-purpose identification number” which enables employers and other controllers to keep track of underlings and to expose them to direct or subliminal influence when necessary.”
  • “In its modern form, the theory of democratic elitism comes partly from John Stuart Mill, partly from the work of Italian intellectuals Vilfredo Pareto and Gaetano Mosca, especially from the latter’s essay of 1896, translated into English as The Ruling Class: Elements of a Science of Politics, 6 a book vital to understanding twentieth-century schooling. The way to make a political regime stable across the centuries had eluded every wise man of history, but Mosca found the key: elites must deliberately and selectively feed on the brains and vitality of the lesser classes.”

In our public school system, the elite Progressive class set out to identify and indoctrinate those future leaders while also eliminating the power of the average citizen by dumbing them down. By gradually gaining complete control of the education of our children, the Progressives have used the same technique that Hitler and the Nazis eventually hit upon – deportation. You might protest that the children in our nation are not being deported. However, consider the fact that millions of American parents willingly send their child to the public schools on a daily basis over twelve years. And in those public schools, the minds of children are being worked on to control their role and effect on society just as surely as Hitler and the Nazis worked on the bodies of people to do the same. Over the past 150+ years, the old concept of “out of sight, out of mind” has worked well for the Progressives. They have churned out generations of American who think more and more like socialists and statists.

 And thus, we come back to the quote found at the beginning of this essay. The public schools are not concentration camps with forced labor and gas chambers designed to kill the body. Rather, they are concentration camps with forced exercises and indoctrination designed to kill the mind. The citizens of Nazi Germany allowed Hitler and the Nazis to take away human beings to be physically destroyed. We condemn this and rightfully so. However, we Americans are allowing the Progressive socialists to take away human beings to be mentally destroyed in our schools. This ought to be recognized and condemened. Instead, it is accepted as normal and good.

We ought to be ashamed of ourselves.

A Mother’s Story

We recently received the following email from a mother in North Carolina.

I am the mother of three children, ages 15, 12 and 9. We started homeschooling our oldest daughter from the outset with the intention of home educating all of our children through high school. Through a series of events, we ended up moving with a newborn. A year later, we experienced economic hardship that continued for over 9 months.

I took on a part-time job and continued homeschooling, but after a year, I was drowning under the pressure with no support and a husband telling me that I couldn’t do it all so we should just put them in school. We put them in private school that fall, but after a semester of paying the high tuition price while not being able to find a full-time job in spite of a Bachelors of Science in Accounting, we were in serious debt. The next obvious step was to put them in the public school and trust them in God’s hands. After all, my husband argued, we could not continue what we were doing. I conceded, to my dismay and shame.

We encountered a lot of good, Christian teachers along the way, and I thank God for those teachers; however, we experienced just as many bad teachers. On top of the bad teachers we encountered, the good teachers were fighting the system so there was little to no freedom for those teachers to share their faith and encourage my children in their faith. They also were dealing with the trial implementation of the CCSS by the Wake County Public School System.

By that time, I had a full-time job, but the pay was not what I was expecting so it took a long time to get out of debt. Dealing with CCSS while working full-time was a nightmare to say the least. I was told by the principal of my 4th grade son that the teachers were implementing learning centers instead of teaching, the kids were supposed to learn from each other and apply their knowledge to real-life scenarios. My only question for the principal was, “How is the child supposed to apply knowledge he or she has not acquired?” to which she replied, “That’s a good question. I’ve never thought of it that way.”

During that same conversation with the principal, I also gave her some information about other issues we had been having particularly one issue with my youngest who was in second grade. I would regularly stop in the classroom on Friday after I got off work since I got off at noon, go to lunch with the class, come back to the classroom and help some of the students read, do projects or work on new concepts they were learning. This one particular day came after we found out we were moving out of the community. I showed up during lunch because I left work a little late. When lunch was over, the teacher’s assistant came in the cafeteria, walked over to me and said, “Oh, so you decided to come eat lunch with Maura?” I responded with, “Yes, I had some time this afternoon since I don’t have any other errands to run, so I thought I’d come hang out with her and help you all out.”

Imagine my shock when she said, “Well, I don’t think you’ll be able to stay this afternoon,” and walked off. I walked back to the classroom with my daughter, and the kids all went inside. The teacher said, “I don’t think it’s a good idea for you to stay.” I gave her a confused look, and she continued, “When parents come into the classroom, it really disrupts the kids, especially this close to winter break.” I continued to have a confused look and she went on to say, “The other second grade teachers and I sat down together, and we have a new policy that we’re not going to be allowing parents to come in for the rest of the year. The kids have to start to gain their independence, and we feel this is the best time to start helping them do that.”

What this teacher didn’t know was that another student told me while we waited in the cafeteria to go back to the classroom that her Mom had been there the day before and spent a couple of hours in the classroom. I was obviously upset and hurt by what the teacher had said, but even more than that, I was angry. This teacher had told a blatant lie to my face without flinching. It scared me to know that my daughter was in her class, and I began wondering what other character flaws this teacher had that would influence my little girl. When I shared this information with the principal, she was upset and told me that they do not have any such policy and that they welcome parents in their classrooms.

The next month, in January 2012, we moved to Burlington, NC, for my husband’s job. The Alamance-Burlington School System had not started implementing CCSS, and the quality of the schools was a little better than WCPSS. We relaxed for four months, but I noticed the beginning signs of CCSS, with early release for staff and teacher development. By that August when they returned to school, CCSS was in full-swing.

My youngest child was highly intelligent but regularly came home with behavior marks indicating she had not been on target. I couldn’t figure out why this was happening and started praying fervently for insight into the problem and a solution. It took until January to figure out she was bored. I sent supplemental work for her to complete, and her behavior issues seemed to be remedied, but we occasionally dealt with the issue.

Throughout the spring of 2013, I was increasingly frustrated with my son’s lack of understanding the material he was studying. When I tried to help him, I could not make any sense out of the assignments he was bringing home. I asked him questions about what the teacher had taught them that day, and he could not explain anything about the lesson. I continued to pray about my frustrations, asking God what we needed to do about their education. I clearly heard God tell me to homeschool the two youngest children. Within two weeks of hearing God’s voice, my son and youngest daughter asked me to homeschool them.

I experienced opposition from my husband and oldest daughter who was fully indoctrinated about the public school system. Fortunately she is a strong Christian, but she was in high school, had her group of friends and was not going to come home easily. Interestingly, God had already warned me that this would be the case, so I just kept praying for her. I told my husband that I was going to the homeschool conference in May “just to see what kind of curricula is available”. By the end of May when I went to the conference, we bought all of our curriculum because he was on-board and wondering how long it would take our oldest to decide she wanted to come home, too.

I’m pleased to say that one week before school started last fall, she came to me and stated emphatically, “Mama, I think God wants me to homeschool in the spring.” She stayed at the public school through the fall semester to give me time to sort out the education of her younger brother and sister. My youngest was so indoctrinated that we spent last fall working on character and respect, especially of us as her parents. She still fights us a little bit, but now it has normalized into what I call normal testing of the waters rather than complete outright defiance due to the undermining of our authority that was happening in the public schools.

I discovered on June 10, 2013 exactly how bad that undermining of our authority had become. The same teacher who acted like she was working with me to remedy the behavior issues had been silently undermining me all spring semester. Remember that supplemental work I sent to school with my youngest? I pulled that workbook out after we got home from withdrawing her on the last day of school, and not one page was completed. Not one page! I was furious, confused, hurt, completely beside myself. I asked her why nothing was done in the book, and her answer opened my eyes to the serious indoctrination happening in our schools.

The answer was simple: she became a free miniature teacher’s assistant. She would complete her work and be expected to help the students who were struggling, or she would be sent on errands, or she would be asked to read to the class while the teacher and her assistant were on their computers. Never before had I been so sure of a decision than I was at that moment. It was time to educate them at home, and whatever it takes, we will continue to do so until graduation.

Thank you for your project that lays out the entire history of public education and confirms my growing suspicions and knowledge of the indoctrination my own children were subjected to. Thankfully they were only in the system five years, so the damage is still reversible with God’s help. He has been faithful and is really working in the hearts of all three of my children. Sadly, there are many more parents who are unaware of the dangers they send their children into every day.

Teach Them to Think

The knowledge each of us has is the sum of all our experiences, including those things we see and do in our day-to-day lives (a.k.a., The School of Hard Knocks) as well as those experiences we gain in the classroom.  It’s those latter experiences that enable us to articulate what we know when communicating with others and understand what they communicate back to us.

I’ve argued repeatedly for the need to throw out whole language reading programs and return to phonics.  Whereas one might allow the child to develop a 1,500-word memorized vocabulary by the 4th grade, the other allows him or her to develop a 24,000-word reading vocabulary by the 4th grade.

My book and others have noted that John Dewey wanted to dumb-down reading skills because a limited vocabulary limits a child’s ability to think.  By controlling reading skills, the elitists control the minds of the masses.

Couple the importance of reading with that of writing, and it’s easy to see why both are vehemently discouraged in today’s public school classroom.  In fact, these thinking skills have been a problem for public school high priests and priestesses for more than 50 years.

When we write, we have to organize our thoughts into words that explain in precise detail what we’re thinking.  We associate one bit of knowledge with another, finding just the right words to distinguish one thought from another. Just as the wrong word in a translation from one language to another can cause problems, a poor choice of words or inadequate words can confuse the reader.  How often have you read something and wanted to ask the writer, “What’s your point?”

We want those who read what we’ve written to understand us.  We want to choose those words that fully express what we think.  That’s why a larger vocabulary is so important.  That’s why it’s so important to practice thinking by constantly reading and writing.

It won’t do us any good to practice just writing if our vocabulary bank accounts are overdrawn, and we haven’t read enough to know what good writing is supposed to look like.

I recently sat in on a public school board meeting where results of a statewide writing test showed the entire school system was failing to meet the minimum standard for writing.  Minorities and particularly boys scored especially low. The board and superintendant decided immediately what students needed to do was practice writing more.  That’s not enough.

Repeatedly attempting to solve upper level mathematical equations is pointless if the child can’t add, subtract, multiply and divide without the use of a calculator, which they now give to children in the 1st grade.  Teachers are forbidden to teach kids the multiplication table.  They call that rote memorization, but it’s okay to tell kids to memorize the entire English language through ridiculous whole language read programs.

Writing without a strong vocabulary is like trying to build a house with only a couple of boards and a few bricks.  The child first needs a solid vocabulary, which is developed from lots of reading.  Then he or she can put his reading skills to use to develop writing skills.

Writing is an exercise of the brain by which we use our vocabulary to express our thoughts.  Small vocabularies limit your ability to say what you want to say, no matter how strongly you feel about it.  Thinking and feeling, by the way, are separate components of the soul.  That’s right, the soul.

Man is a triune being – body, soul and spirit.  The soul too is made up three parts – intellect, emotion and will.  Public schools are great for emphasizing emotion and will over intellect.  Self-esteem is preferable to knowledge, which is why we have a generation proud of its ignorance.

People who can barely read are not likely to read up on today’s issues or the candidates before heading for the polls.  And you can rest assured that’s part of the objective in dumbing down the masses.

Though many claim to be Christian, they almost never read their Bible.  They depend on their pastor or priest to tell them what the Bible says; that is, if it matters to them what the Bible says.  It’s frightening to me that so many folks calling themselves Christian know absolutely nothing about Christ.

They don’t want to know him; they just want to feel religious.  They don’t want to know what God says about murdering unborn children or sexual perversion.  If you ask one of George Orwell’s proles to explain why it’s okay to kill a baby or live the lifestyle of sexual deviant, they can’t do it.  That would require a skill they don’t have – the ability to think.

Some may admit abortion and homosexuality are wrong, but that won’t change the way they vote.  They’ve heard about “separation of church and state,” but they have no more idea what they’re talking about than the morons who first subverted the 1st Amendment by misquoting a letter by letter by Thomas Jefferson to a group of Baptists.

It’s troubling to me the number of folks who’ll say they can separate what they believe spiritually from what they believe politically.  Such Orwellian double-speak proves their lack of thinking skills and obvious lack of real faith in the real savior, Jesus Christ.  That’s like saying I can separate my spirit from my soul.  Only God can do that!  It is the Spirit who tells my spirit that I am bought with a price.  The unsaved can’t understand that because their spirit is dead.  They can separate their religion from their politics because they haven’t been born again.  Their life experiences have been limited.

They cannot see the foolishness of their duplicity because their thinking skills are so weak.  If their shortcoming was something physical, they couldn’t muster the strength to do a single push-up.  They’re mental wimps.

So what can Christians do?  If you have a child in a public school, get him or her out.  If your child is in a Christian school that doesn’t build thinking skills, get him or her out.

Homeschooling is still the best model.  Impress upon your child from the time he or she is a few months old the importance of reading.  Read to him/her until you’ve taught him to read on his own via a good phonics-based reading program.  Have him practice writing every day.  I say again, every day.

We can teach our children and grandchildren to think.  The time to start doing so is yesterday.

Learning Styles: A Good Thing, or Educational Quackery?

Education is a field that is rife with gimmicks and fads, much the same as the medical field. There are legitimate methodologies and philosophies; there is genuine quackery, as well. About fifteen years ago I was exposed to a philosophy that was brand new to me: the idea of individual  “learning styles.” I immediately began to question whether it was legitimate science or educational quackery.

Having graduated all of my kids and sent them off to the real world, I’m able to look back on how my wife and I went about teaching our kids at home. Indeed, we did employ some measure of the learning styles philosophy, but we never obsessed over it. What’s more, we did not customize each of our children’s curricula and study habits based on individual learning styles. Instead, we set up a consistent method by which all three were taught, only leaning on learning style when one of the children could not grasp something any other way.

I believe our approach was the right one. Why? because the learning style philosophy is rooted in the dual ideas of individual perception and something psychologists call “intelligence profiles.” In other words, individual minds perceive information in individual ways, based on the intelligence profile of each person. Perceptions will obviously not be the same among every member of a given group. Therefore, as the thinking goes, the differing perceptions and intelligence profiles must be accommodated in order to help each individual understand and apply the information correctly.

As helpful as the learning styles philosophy might be in some cases, it has one inherent flaw: education does not start with perception or intelligence. It starts with fact. No matter what subject you are talking about, the job of the teacher/homeschool parent is to establish facts first, then deal with the perception, understanding and application of those facts.

The concept of learning styles is rooted in psychology’s standard of how the mind works, completely separate from the reality that the individual is a three-part being. The inevitable result of this thinking is the elevation of certain types of people above others, based on perception and intelligence profiles. Let’s face it; most of us, without even thinking about it, subconsciously elevate the “auditory” learner above the “visual”  learner. We assume the visual learner is not as intelligent because he “needs a picture to understand.”

I prefer to base my educational model on the Biblical standard of establishing the facts first, expecting the student to accept those facts at face value, and then moving into the area of understanding and application. Yet I fear that too often, the learning styles philosophy puts the perception and understanding first, hoping that assimilation of facts will follow. The result is a skewed reality due to facts being influenced by perception, rather than the other way around. An over emphasis on learning styles can easily produce relativism by way of perception being the driving force of learning.

A Tool of the Education Establishment?

I’m not sure if I made myself clear in the opening paragraphs of this blog. So let me reiterate that the learning styles philosophy has its proper place. It’s not all bad and something to be completely avoided. Different learning styles, to the extent they do exist, need to be kept in the proper perspective.

Having said that, it seems as though many homeschoolers mistakenly believe that learning styles are something new the homeschool community has embraced as a means of further rejecting the perceived rigidity of institutionalized schooling. Unfortunately, that’s not true.

Some experts say that the learning styles idea can be traced as far back as Aristotle. Whether or not that’s true, I can’t say. But I do know that the modern era of learning styles cropped up at the turn of the 20th century, faded away for about 50 years, then re-emerged in the 1950s – long before the modern homeschooling movement was born.
Since this re-emergence, no fewer than 9 different schools of thought have been born. The most popular is the VAK/VARK model which identifies four learning styles:

  1. visual learning
  2. auditory learning
  3. reading-writing preference
  4. kinesthetic/tactile learning

Guess what? These four are just a drop in the bucket. The nine schools of thought have come up with more than 100 different leaning styles between them. Who among them is right? Who is wrong?

It turns out that the education establishment hasn’t been able to answer these questions. But that hasn’t stopped them from implementing the philosophies within institutionalized education. This is why we have special ed programs that go well beyond legitimate cognitive learning disabilities. It is why we have programs for gifted students. It is why we have things like whole language reading, fuzzy math, et al. Dare I say that the learning style philosophy is central to the success of Common Core? It is.

The learning styles mentality, when implemented within institutionalized education says to certain kids, “You’re not as smart as other students, so we’ll separate you over here.” Once you have enough groups unable to learn by way of any structure, you suddenly have a dysfunctional system that no longer produces kids capable of competing. What’s the obvious answer? Create a new set of standards that defeat individual thought and create robots able to do the master’s bidding. The truth is that learning styles have been used against us in the institutionalized system since the 1970s.

Learning Styles Counterproductive

If the point of education, mechanically speaking, is to establish facts that can be then understood and applied, an over-emphasis on learning styles is counterproductive. As I said earlier, the learning styles philosophy needs to be kept in perspective. If parents customize the education of each of their children based on learning styles, they are allowing the child’s education to be directed by perception rather than fact.

So what should homeschooling parents do? Let’s rewind to the days before learning style education took hold. What we find is a system in which children were schooled in facts and information using basic methods of reading, writing, memorization and recitation. Despite what the education experts would have us believe, we churned out hundreds of millions of well-educated, well-adjusted, and morally upstanding citizens without ever knowing learning styles existed. What does that tell you? It tells me that God gave each of us the ability to learn in similar ways. The world doesn’t have to be customized for each of us.

Listen friends, the old and seemingly rigid ways of learning have proved successful for generations. Why are we so quick to throw away what has worked in favor of something new? Why are we, as homeschoolers, so quick to rebel against anything that looks like structure? Why are we so scared to push our kids to to go beyond who they are naturally, in order to make them the best at what God intends them to be? Yet these are exactly the thing we are doing when we make learning styles the core of our educational programs at home.

The Biblical model of education is as follows:

  • a statement of fact;
  • the acceptance of that fact;
  • the influence of perception and understanding as related to that fact;
  • and the application of both the fact and the understanding of it.

If you need to fall back on learning styles in order to help your kids grasp some material that is especially troubling, that’s one thing. But if your entire educational philosophy is dictated by learning styles, please rethink what you’re doing. Learning styles should be treated like medicine: only use them when it’s an absolute necessity. And as always, beware of educational quackery. There are a lot of learning styles systems and curricula out there that are nothing more than snake oil.

Sources:
Department of Educational Psychology and Instructional Technology, University of Georgia – http://epltt.coe.uga.edu/index.php?title=Multiple_Intelligences_and_Learning_Styles
James Cook University – http://www.jcu.edu.au/wiledpack/modules/fsl/JCU_090460.html

Godly Character No Excuse for Educational Laziness

In a previous blog post, I dealt with the issue of making college the goal of a homeschool education. The point made was that if getting your kids into college is the goal of your educational program, you’ve missed the point of homeschooling entirely. However, there is another side to that coin.

Unfortunately, when we discuss the fact that the goal of Christian homeschooling is to raise godly children who learn to fear and obey the Lord, there are some parents who use the “godly character” argument to practice educational laziness.

For example, how many times have we heard parents say something like: “I never test my children, I’m more concerned with godly character than educational results?”

As a homeschooling father and former pastor and leader in the homeschool community I can’t tell you the number of times I have counseled with parents who were having trouble with the character development of their children as a direct result of the way they were going about their homeschooling. So let me ask you, is laziness a godly characteristic? Of course not. But if you’re allowing your children to be lazy in their schoolwork that’s exactly what you’re teaching them to become: lazy adults who won’t make the effort to be the best they can be.

Defining Godly Character

If we Christian parents are going to insist the point of homeschooling is to raise children with godly character, and we should, it’s incumbent upon us to define what that character looks like. And it should be clear that the lives of Jesus and some of our Bible heroes provide perfect examples of that character. In fact, Jesus said:

“And he that sent me is with me: the Father has not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.” (John 8:29)

Jesus modeled the ultimate in godly character by doing always those things that please the Heavenly Father. So what does that look like in a homeschool setting? It means several things:

  • embracing hard work rather than avoiding it (Prov. 6:6-11)
  • always striving to do better (Prov. 1:1-9)
  • taking advantage of God-given talents and abilities (Rom. 1:1-8)
  • setting goals and achieving them (Matt. 25:12-30)
  • establishing a means to measure success and failure (Lk. 13:6-10)

If homeschooling parents expect their children to develop godly character it must start long before they grasp who God is. That means in kindergarten and first grade, before God becomes real to them, they are to learn godly character through other means. One of those means is the homeschooling program you have implemented.

Educational Laziness

Over the last several hundred years we have been sold a bill of goods in regards to what our children can, and should, accomplish. We have been led to believe that kids are not intellectually capable of achieving great things. We’ve been led to believe they need to be spoon fed throughout their entire childhoods, including their educational experiences. This is completely contrary to Scripture.

As a result of this bill of goods, modern parents cringe at the thought of demanding excellence from their kids. They resist the idea of pushing their kids to do better or insisting they work through difficult tasks in order to learn how to overcome. Again, this is all contrary to Scripture.

Who is our model of godly character? Jesus, of course. But imagine if Jesus adopted the same attitude common among parents today. Perhaps he would have easily submitted to Satan when offered bread following his 40 days of fasting. Perhaps he would have run away in the face of bullies who constantly ridiculed and mocked him in the public square. Perhaps he would have decided not to go to the cross because it was just too difficult.

No, dear readers, being like Jesus means always doing and giving our best regardless of the task at hand. And that includes schooling. If you are providing an opportunity for laziness or halfheartedness among your children, you are not teaching them godly character.

College is not the goal; godly character is. But using godly character as an excuse to not demand excellence from your children is to be contrary to Scripture. God expects us to always do our best. He expects us to continue to strive to be better, to set goals and work toward them, and to measure success and failure accordingly.

The Testing Issue

Earlier I specifically mentioned testing as an example of educational laziness. Let me clarify before bringing my thoughts to a close.

I am completely against standardized testing in the sense of comparing your students against national norms. However, I am not against testing your children in order to make sure they have mastered the content you are teaching them. In fact, I believe that sort of testing is absolutely necessary.

Throughout Scripture you will see countless examples of God setting standards he expects his people to meet. And along with those standards are clear guidelines as to what constitutes failure. Here’s an example:

  • standard – we are to worship God and God alone
  • success – we indeed worship God and God alone
  • failure – we worship other gods

The standard is simple and clear; the measurement of success or failure is equally clear. There is no ambiguity involved. This is how God works. When he gave Moses the blueprints for the tabernacle, failing to abide by those blueprints would have constituted failure. On the other hand, building the tabernacle as directed was counted by God as success. There are countless other examples I could cite.

The point is that homeschooling parents need to determine some sort of static means of measuring success and failure. Whether that’s a multiple-choice test, a series of essays, or a number of practical tasks that have to be completed doesn’t matter. What matters is that there is a means of gaging success and failure; a means that is not subject to emotional influence.

When parents fail to set standards and measure success and failure, they are setting their children up for a lifetime of ambiguity and frustration. And nothing drives a child crazy faster than not knowing whether he’s failed or succeeded. God doesn’t work that way; neither should we.

Godly character is the primary focus of homeschooling for Christian parents. But don’t be fooled by the modern theology that teaches there are no standards just as long as we all “love Jesus” and sing Kumbaya. Such thinking is not Scriptural; it is a lie straight from the pit of hell designed to keep God’s people from being who God wants them to be. It is a lie borne out in educational laziness in the name of character.

Home Education and the Rise of Christianity in America

Do you hate clichés? Well, I have a few for you today. It has been said many times before, and I will say it again here, that ideas have consequences. Another common saying among students of history is that dedicated minorities, not majorities, have always played a major role in shaping human history.

A few Pilgrims looking for godly prosperity on far-away shores. A band of freedom-loving American Patriots pledging their lives, fortunes and sacred honor to a seemingly lost cause. Socialist ideologues of the 18th and 19th centuries and Nazi propagandists of the 20th. Radical homosexual activists and global warming fear-mongers. A small and passionate group of individuals can be found at the root of many a movement that has grown from a simple set of ideas to world-changing activities impacting countless people over many generations. My friend Kevin Swanson writes that history sometimes seems to play out in slow motion and that, in hindsight, we are able to study how the “powerful ideas of philosophers (…) shape the minds of the most brilliant writers, educators, musicians and artists,” which in turn form the course content of the liberal arts universities of the next generation, finally filtering into the mass culture. “It is a three step process,” he says, “and this is how the West was lost.”1

2020

Hindsight may very well be 20/20, but can we predict how current ideas and trends will affect our nation by the year 2020? Researchers, such as those at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York, have been developing something they call Psychohistory, the study of the psychological motivations of historical events, or how ideas spread through a society. Using computer models of a variety of social networks they looked at factors that contribute to the successful spread of a minority opinion to a majority view. What they found was that once an idea is adopted by just 10% of the population it reaches a tipping point, catapulting the idea or trend into the mainstream. So if only one out of every ten people believe the new idea it will spread very slowly, but once two out of every ten adopt it, it spreads like wild fire.2

The late Russian Communist leader, Vladimir Lenin, once said: “If we can effectively kill the national pride and patriotism of just one generation, we will have won that country. Therefore, there must be continued propaganda abroad to undermine the loyalty of citizens in general, and teenagers in particular. By making drugs of various kinds readily available, by creating the necessary attitude of chaos, idleness, and worthlessness, and by preparing him psychologically and politically, we can succeed.” Idleness, chaos and worthlessness: this is how our nation is being defeated, one child at a time.

The homeschooling movement is a very promising and encouraging trend and I am praying for an educational and discipleship tipping point to take place in the homes and churches of America in the next ten years. But right now the public schools are churning out droves of increasingly pagan, existentialist, nihilistic disciples of the anti-Christian philosophers of old and the Marxist professors and curriculum developers of today. (Have you researched how the Common Core Standards are coming to a homeschool near you?)3  I am convinced that if we are ever going to see real, lasting change for the better in America, Christians will have to repent from neglecting the training of their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, and begin teaching them the Word of God—as they sit in their homes, walk by the way, rise up and lay down, day in and day out, every day, until their children go off to establish homes of their own and do it all over again.

If it Ain’t Broken…

But the public school system in America didn’t just come out of nowhere. It came from the humanistic and God-hating minds of social engineers like Robert Owen, Horace Mann, G. Stanley Hall, John Dewey, and others, whose ideas have indeed had devastating consequences in the life of countless people, indeed on our very way of life. John Taylor Gatto notes in his must-read book, The Underground History of American Education, that “forced schooling was the medicine to bring the whole continental population into conformity (…) so it might be regarded as a ‘human resource’ and managed as a ‘workforce.’ No more Ben Franklins or Tom Edisons could be allowed; they set a bad example. (…) School was looked upon from the first decade of the 20th century as a branch of industry and a tool of governance.” I agree. Our 28th President and a leader of the Progressive Movement, Woodrow Wilson, said this to businessmen: “We want one class to have a liberal education. We want another class, a very much larger class of necessity, to forgo the privilege of a liberal education and fit themselves to perform specific difficult manual tasks.”4

Again, Gatto: “By 1917, the major administrative jobs in American schooling were under control of a group referred to in the press of that day as ‘the Education Trust.’ The first meeting of this trust included representatives of Rockefeller, Carnegie, Harvard, Stanford, the University of Chicago, and the National Education Association. The chief end, wrote Benjamin Kidd, the British evolutionist, in 1918, was to ‘impose on the young the ideal of subordination.’” These men had very clear objectives. They desired a workforce, they wanted conformists, they needed a dumbed-down population that would follow the rules imposed on them by the smarter, smaller club of trusted educational experts, who in turn were products of the ideas promoted by the social engineers of the prior century.

We don’t need to reform America’s public schools. They are not failing. The public schools in the United States are doing exactly what they were designed to do: they are producing a (somewhat) reliable working class, a class that can be easily manipulated into conformity. Technology will make this control increasingly comprehensive and inescapable. The radical “isms” of the day will grow more and more pervasive in this environment of false tolerance until there is nothing left of the original vision of the Christian men and women who brought the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this land.

A Dedicated Minority.

So how about some good news? God, in His sovereign wisdom, has also demonstrated a track record of bringing about history-altering and world-transforming changes through very humble and non-impressive means. Think Bethlehem. Think a handful of fishermen. Think the Upper Room.

Think homeschooling. Freedom-loving Americans like former Congressman Ron Paul are still hopeful. In a message entitled Homeschooling: The Future of Liberty, delivered shortly after his retirement from public service, Dr. Paul said that “homeschooled children are more likely to embrace the philosophy of freedom, and to join the efforts to restore liberty. In fact, I would not be surprised if the future leaders of the liberty movement where homeschooled.”5  Well, I am even more hopeful than Dr. Paul, for Jesus tells me that the gates of hell shall not prevail against the church of Jesus Christ.6 The apostle John tells me that there are “great voices in heaven, saying, the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever.”7 And Daniel tells me that the God of heaven shall “set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever.”8

Is there still hope for America? I believe there is. I believe our best years are ahead of us. I believe the homeschool movement is one of the most hopeful signs of God’s desire to use the American church to again spread His Gospel to those that are near and those far off. I believe we are on the way to becoming that City upon a Hill of Matthew 5:14 and echoed by Winthop, Kennedy and Reagan. This may require that we suffer persecution. It may cause many to fall away. But the Second Book of Chronicles 7:14 tells me that the Lord has made us an amazing promise, one that I am sure you’ve heard many times before: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.”

In case you’re keeping count, that is not a cliché. It’s a promise from Heaven.

This article first appeared in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine.

Notes:

1. Kevin Swanson, Apostate: The Men Who Destroyed the Christian West (Generations with Vision, Parker, CO, 2013) p. 2

2. I highly recommend “The Tipping Point,” by Malcolm Gladwell. While not a Christian book, it explains how ideas often behave much like epidemics do and what elements need to be present for critical mass to take place in the propagation of ideas and trend in society.

3. The Educational Freedom Foundation has created a database that provides information for homeschool parents relative to the Common Core Standards currently being implemented across the country. Their lists identify which homeschool-related companies and products have explicitly chosen to align with the Standards, which have some sort of coincidental connection, which are correlated, and which have pledged to remain independent. (www.theeducationalfreedomcoalition.org)

4. http://www.goodreads.com/quotes/show/35754

5. http://www.ronpaul16.com/2013/04/10/homeschooling-the-future-of-liberty/

6. Matthew 16:18

7. Revelation 11:15

8. Daniel 2:44

If We Get Rid of Common Core State Standards…

All of the recent campaigns, conversations, and efforts to stop the Common Core State Standards (which I wholeheartedly support, by the way) have caused me to pause and consider what would happen if we did manage to get rid of it. This reflection brought to mind the children’s book If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff. In this book, one action leads to another action which leads to another, and so on.

What would happen if CCSS were eliminated? Would we have to do more to really solve the problem or would that be sufficient? To examine the answer to these questions, I’d like you to do some imagining with me. Ready? Great! Let’s go.

You have inherited a rather nice house with some great features. It has wonderful rooms with large windows and great views. The house is completely furnished and you can move in whenever you are ready and it won’t cost you a nickel. Sounds wonderful, right? A dream come true – free housing.

You move in the following week and revel in the fact that you have no housing payment to worry about. Life seems wonderful. However, a few days later, you notice some brown and black stains on some of the walls. Each day, those stains grow larger and larger. You soon realize that you are dealing with mold and decide to call in some mold-removal experts.

After inspecting the house, they inform you that the mold is in the walls and those walls should be removed immediately. Of course, you want to continue to have a free place to live, so you agree to the plan. But, more bad news awaits. Once the experts remove the drywall, they discover that the mold was not just in the drywall, but also all over the interior wood framing. Of course, you cannot simply put up new walls because the mold will just come right back. You must also completely remove all the interior wooden framing.

But even worse news is right around the corner. After all of this demolition, the experts examine the exterior walls and the foundation of the house and determine that they too are mold-infested. Apparently, the house was constructed badly from the beginning. They sadly inform you that the only way to completely get rid of the mold is to demolish the entire house and start from scratch. This free house has become a disaster and a nightmare.

What you may not realize is that our educational system is like that free house. When it was first constructed and offered to citizens around 200 years ago, it looked like a good deal. After all, it was FREE EDUCATION, right? However, there was a flaw in the construction process which would allow mold to grow – and that was the mold of government control.

In the beginning, this mold of government control was not very noticeable – just like the mold in the house. In fact, several generations lived in the house of free government education without noticing a problem. Of course, occasionally, a repair had to be made or a new piece of furniture had to be purchased, but those issues were dealt with and our predecessors considered the house of free government education just fine to keep living in. However, just like the mold in the physical house, the longer the house of government education existed, the more the mold of government control continued to spread.

This spread is easy to see if one examines the historical record. We went from individual states taking control of education away from parents beginning in 1820 to compulsory attendance laws enacted from 1852 to 1913. Government control continued to grow throughout the early 1900s. It then progressed to the National Defense Education Act in 1958 and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act in 1965. The government gained even more control in 1980 when the Department of Education was made part of the president’s cabinet. From there, we moved on to Outcome Based Education, Goals 2000, No Child Left Behind, Race To The Top, and now the Common Core State Standards. All of these actions are simply the mold of government control spreading further and further.

After generations of Americans living in the house of free government education, the mold of government control is finally becoming so apparent that even the most non-observant among us cannot help but notice it. We quickly call in experts to help us rid our education system of this problem. To our dismay, we realize that the entire structure is infested to its core.

Some believe that if we can get rid of the CCSS, things will be fine, but that would be the equivalent of only removing the interior walls of the mold-infested house. The problem goes much deeper than just the CCSS. We have to deal with the fatal flaw of the mold of government control in our “free house of government education.” Just getting rid of the CCSS will not eliminate the agenda of government control nor the years of INDOCTRINATION that have gone on in this country.

The evidence is clear. Unless the government’s agenda is completely eradicated, their efforts to control will just surface again and again. We need to demolish the entire structure and start from scratch. So with the goal of removing the “mold of government control” in mind, let me tell you the story of “If We Get Rid of the CCSS…”

If We Get Rid of the CCSS…

  • If we get rid of CCSS, we must get rid of programs like RTTT, NLCB, Goals 2000, OBE, etc.
  • If we get rid of programs such as these, then we must remove federal control of education.
  • If we remove federal control of education, we must undo the Elementary and Secondary Education Act as well as the National Defense Education Act.
  • If we undo those two education acts, we must repeal the compulsory attendance laws.
  • If we repeal the compulsory attendance laws, we must re-examine the control the state has on the education of its citizens.
  • If we re-examine state control of education, we must take personal responsibility for the education of both our children and ourselves.

Then, and only then, can we be sure that we have eliminated the possibility for the mold of government control to grow again in our educational processes. You may not think that this is possible. Well, consider the fact that for over 200 years of this country’s history (c. 1610 to c. 1820), we had no government control of education and yet we managed to produce fine, upstanding, well-educated citizens who were able to think and care for themselves. Clearly, our forefathers have proved that it can be done if we are willing to rise to the challenge.

For further information about the early methods of education in this country and their levels of success, I recommend reading this essay by Robert A. Peterson from 1983: http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/education-in-colonial-america#axzz2n6REyc5J

Lastly, if you are not familiar with the history of government schools, these two essays we have written that contain more information about that topic.

http://indoctrinationmovie.com/indoctrination-how-long-has-this-been-going-on-2-2/

http://indoctrinationmovie.com/the-origins-of-our-modern-educational-system/

 

Sources:

1) Peterson, Robert A. Education in Colonial America. The Freeman. 1983. Web 2014-02-15

2) A Brief History of Education in America – http://www.cblpi.org/ftp/School%20Choice/EdHistory.pdf

Homeschooling With Purpose Yields Great Rewards

The recent excitement of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) has had a profound effect on American education. Some of it has been very good; most of it has been terribly bad. Among the positive things we’ve seen is a rise in the number of parents newly committed to homeschooling their kids. They come in two primary flavors:

  • Those who pull their kids out of institutionalized schools
  • Those whose kids aren’t yet in school but will be in the near future

As a former homeschooling dad (our kids are grown and gone) and leader within the homeschool community, I am thrilled to see so many parents making the decision to eschew public and private education in favor of exercising their own rights and responsibilities as parents. That said, I’d like to take a few moments to challenge everyone who homeschools, regardless of how long any one of us has been at it.

I will begin by asking a question: What is your vision for homeschooling as far as the results you want to achieve? As I see it, there are three things to consider:

  1. Spiritual development
  2. Practical development
  3. Cultural influence

Scripture says in Prov. 29:16-18:

“When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases: but the righteous shall see their fall. Correct your son, and he shall give you rest; yes, he shall give delight unto your soul. Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keeps the law, happy is he.”

The primary purpose of education is to correct the errors intrinsic to human nature. We can clearly see this truth by simply observing what would happen to a child if left to his own devices and with no education or training from infancy. Without outside intervention, that child would grow up to be a savage. Education is designed to prevent that by correcting human nature.

Having said that, education becomes very muddied without a vision for the future. When parents have no long-term vision for their children, there’s nothing concrete to guide decision-making, strategy, discipline, and so on. Scripture goes so far as to say we perish without vision. Can the current state of our country make that truth any more plain?

Spiritual Development

At the forefront of any profitable vision is the idea of spiritual development. After all, the spirit is eternal even as the body is mortal. When all is said and done God will not be impressed with the mortal and temporal. But he will hold us accountable for the spiritual.

What is your vision for the spiritual development of your kids? As a father, I wanted my children to be independent of my Christian faith as soon as possible, in the sense that they would believe the gospel message, come to Christ, and have their own, personal relationship with the Creator of their souls. In order to achieve that, every part of our education plan had to push the kids in that direction. That’s why my wife and I made sure that our kids:

  • Always toed the line – the road to salvation is narrow; wide is the path of destruction
  • Always did their best – Jesus gave it all; we are to be like him
  • Were provided structure and order – God is a god of order; he is not the author of confusion
  • Were taught to not separate the spiritual and secular – God is in all things; he does not separate
  • Learned the details of Scripture – without the details the truth is left incomplete

Before moving on to the next point it’s important to stress one very important thing: you do not teach young children to know and serve the Lord by having them read Bible stories and sing songs. Those things are important, but they mean nothing to young children who cannot possibly grasp the existence of a Being they cannot see, hear, or touch. No, you teach them how to know and serve God by teaching them to know and obey you as parents. In so doing, you lay the groundwork for them making the choice to know and serve God once they can understand the choice to be made.

Practical Development

The next part of the vision needs to deal with the practical. Why? Because God has placed us and our kids on this earth for a purpose. If we are to fulfill that purpose, we must be able to practically apply spiritual truth. That means our kids need to be able to:

  • Think independently
  • Solve problems
  • Seek and find wisdom
  • Make proper decisions
  • Withstand pain and suffering
  • Take responsibility for themselves

Education needs to deal with practical development so that our children are not swallowed up by a world increasingly more willing to surrender itself to the control of socialist, pagan governments. They need to be prepared to stand in the face of sin and not fall to it.

Guess where this all plays out? Wherever you and your kids “do school.” It might be the kitchen table; it might be the family room. The point is that parents are to use the practical aspects of homeschooling to develop the practical skills needed to achieve whatever purpose God has designed. When I forced my kids to memorize poetry, I was training their minds to remember Scripture.

When I punished them for not doing their best I was training them to strive for excellence. When I allowed them to suffer discomfort and displeasure in their schooling I was training them to forsake sin in favor of righteousness.

Cultural Influence

Finally, what is your vision for your children regarding how they will eventually interact with the culture outside of your control? This is an important question, given that God has placed us here with purpose.

It is my belief that each of us should be a positive influence on the culture. That influence may not yield immediate and tangible results, but it is no less a requirement. Furthermore, if we fail to influence positively we will, by default, be influencing the culture negatively, thereby partaking in its demise.

By setting educational standards and forcing my children to adhere to them, I taught them that there is such a thing as right and wrong. By not allowing them to compromise and slack off, I taught them not to compromise with the world. And by instilling in them the confidence to achieve, I gave them the confidence to influence others positively. You can do the same.

I am thrilled to see so many parents waking up to the idea of homeschooling. Now I hope to see every one of do so with purpose. For where there is godly vision, the people are strong spiritually, practically, and culturally. Where there is no vision, the people perish.

Joseph, Moses, and Daniel all got a secular education, didn’t they?

Too often, Christian parents justify sending their child to a public school, public college, or some other secular educational program using the concept expressed in the title of this essay. The thinking goes that these men were educated in a secular environment and turned out just fine. What’s more, the parents say that God actually sent those men there on purpose and then used their educational knowledge to accomplish a spiritual goal. These same parents go on to say that perhaps God will do the same thing with their child who is currently in some secular educational situation.

Time and time again, I’ve heard parents say things like, “We Christians have to be salt and light in the world. So, it’s not wrong for my child to participate in such and such a program. In fact, my child plans to use his secular education to help God advance the kingdom.”

As best as I can tell, there seems to be three thresholds at which parents use this line of thinking:

  • Some parents choose to allow the government to educate their children for their entire educational experience.
  • Some parents choose to homeschool their children for K-8, but then justify sending them to public high school and then a secular college.
  • Still others homeschool their children for K-12, but then justify sending them to a secular college so they can “get a good job.”

They’re all using the same excuse for participating in the world’s system of education and none of them seem to realize how flawed this logic is for a Christian at any stage of education.

To begin with, none of them takes into account the fact that Joseph, Moses, and Daniel were the exceptions to the rule of how God intended for Israelite children to be educated. Can you imagine the following conversations?

Jacob (speaking to his older sons): “I just don’t know how we’re going to make sure that Joseph has a good future. I mean, he’s my favorite son and he’s stuck here taking care of the family business. I sure do wish I could find a way to help him make his mark in the world.”

Sons of Jacob: “Don’t worry, dad. We’ll help you find a way to accomplish that – even if we have to fake his death to do it. We’ve heard there are a lot of opportunities for promotions down in Egypt. Hey! Why don’t we sell him as a slave to get him there? Who knows, someday God may need Joseph’s assistance to help our family out!”

Amram (speaking to Jocabed): “Moses sure is a special baby. In fact, I think he could one day be Pharaoh. Why don’t we see if we can get the princess to adopt him so that he’ll get a good Egyptian education? That’ll really help his future career! Just think of the chances he’ll have to make things better for our people if he’s part of Pharaoh’s family!”

Daniel’s parents: “We’ve heard that there is this really great educational program in Babylon so we’ve signed Daniel up to be part of their program. We really want our son to go far in the Babylonian kingdom and this program is just the ticket to help him to do that. Besides, he can really be a good witness to the Babylonians while he’s there.”

I really hope you can see how ludicrous these conversations sound because that’s not what happened at all. As you know, Joseph was sold as a slave because his brothers were jealous of him. It was not his father’s choice to send him to Egypt. And Moses’ parents could either let an Egyptian soldier find and kill their son or put him a basket on the Nile River and allow God to decide his fate. Finally, Daniel was kidnapped from Israel and his parents had no say about where he went!

Do you see the pattern here? None of the parents in question chose to place their children in a secular educational environment. If they had been given the choice, they would have kept their children at home and away from the secular education environment. Throughout Israel’s history, God ordained that thousands upon thousands of Israelite parents teach their children at home in Israel. The only time that did not happen was when they had no choice and their children were taken from them.

There is no way that any American Christian is going to convince me that they have been forced to put their child into a secular educational environment. The fact is that we parents have the freedom to choose how our children will be educated. To compare our choice with the lack of choice given to the parents of Joseph, Moses, and Daniel is just ridiculous.

However, let’s look a little bit further at the claim that these men used their secular education to help accomplish God’s plans. We’ll start with Joseph. By the time he was sold as a slave, Joseph was a teenager and his education had been accomplished. We have no indication at all that he received any further education in Egypt other than perhaps some “on-the-job” training in the specifics of running Potiphar’s house and the prison. But, it was his religious principles and his reliance on God that saw him through the challenges he faced. It was his God-given abilities and his training at home, as his father’s business manager, that prepared him to lead Egypt through the famine.

With Moses, the contrast is even more revealing. Moses spent the first few years of his life at home with his parents. They had the chance to teach Moses about God during those early years. Of course, he spent many more years learning about Egypt in the palace. In fact, for 37 years, Moses seemed to be just fine with living like an Egyptian and did not seem to be concerned about delivering his people – despite his “excellent education.” Of course, we know that he killed an Egyptian who was beating a Hebrew slave, then ran away to hide in the desert. It was the 40 years he spent with God on the backside of the wilderness that taught him how to free and lead God’s people, not his royal education.

Lastly, Daniel was a young man by the time he was taken to Babylon. We don’t know his exact age, but he was old enough to know about God and how to worship him. He stood up for what was right and avoided worshiping idols. We can infer from his principled stand that his religious training was fairly strong. And while Daniel did receive a secular education just like Moses, was it the knowledge gleaned from Babylon that guided Daniel through the trials of life? No. Once again, it was his faith and his knowledge of God that did the trick.

One last thing to consider: neither Joseph, Moses, nor Daniel had any choice about their jobs. All three were property of pagan rulers; a circumstance God specifically created – for that time and purpose – and one that was completely out of the control of their parents.

The fact is that Joseph, Moses, and Daniel were all exceptions to the rule laid out in Exodus 18 and Deuteronomy 6. Using such exceptions to justify our pursuit of a secular education is akin to thumbing our noses at God’s educational mandate. What’s more, if every Christian parent utilizing a secular education were truly exceptions to God’s rule, they should be in the minority. The fact that they are the majority means, by definition, they are not really exceptions at all.

When we go further, to proclaim that our secular education will allow us to better serve and worship God, we are discounting God’s power and authority and word. To think that God needs the assistance of our human knowledge to accomplish his will in this world is, quite frankly, the epitome of arrogance.

Education is just one tool in the hands of the Creator who ultimately decides the direction every life will take. Parents who voluntarily choose to allow Egypt or Babylon to educate their children when they still have the freedom to educate them according to God’s mandate are without excuse.