Education on the Home Front
Education today is a controversial issue. Political elections are won or lost over a candidate's stand on education. Court battles are fought over educational philosophies and practices. Everyone seems to have his own educational agenda. Often, parents' wishes are not even considered because educators and politicians believe parents' opinions are not important.
Most Christians believe that the education of their children should be Christian. Therefore, some Christian parents send their children to Christian schools, while others decide to teach their children at home. Many Christians assume that because their children are not in a public school environment, their child's education is naturally Christian. Unfortunately, this seemingly logical conclusion is not logical at all. It does not necessarily follow that children will have a Christian education simply because they are not exposed to some of the evils of a worldly system.
Only when teachers ensure that all activities in school please the Lord can the child's education be truly Christian. The goal of Christian education must be to teach a child to be Christ-like.
Some take this to mean that the child must learn reading, writing, and mathematics from the Bible. Certainly, a child can learn things about each of these subjects from the Bible; however, the Bible is not designed to teach these subject areas. Rather, it is designed to give a pattern for living a life that is pleasing to God.
How then can a child's education be truly Christian? First of all, the teacher or teachers must be spiritually motivated. Teachers must be consistent in every area of their lives. They should be consistent in discipline, in preparation, and in dealing with people. Even more importantly, a teacher needs to be consistently self-disciplined in his devotions, prayer, and personal purity. More than most teachers, home school teachers are being evaluated and imitated by their children. The parent/teacher is the primary model that a home-schooled child sees. If the parent's own heart and attitude are not right, the child will notice. There is no room for ambiguity in this matter; a good example is essential
Next, the parent must instill in the child those traits and principles that are at the foundation of the Christian life. For instance, the child may not understand why he must behave in a certain way. He must be told why and shown from Scriptures that certain behavior is right. The child must see the Bible principles upon which his actions are to be based. He must understand why completing his assignments on time is important or why he must study history. These are things that can be explained by the Scriptures.
Furthermore, the materials used should support the Biblical standards that the parents want to teacher their children. A curriculum may claim to be Christian; however, its claim does not make it so. Good Christian materials--whether they be videos, textbooks, teaching aids, or novels--should be based on Scripture. A superficial verse at the beginning of each lesson or a platitude tacked onto a chapter is not enough. Teaching materials need to be written with a Biblical philosophy; otherwise the children will read one philosophy and hear a different one from their parents. If careful attention is not given to the materials, the parents will constantly have to fight the contrary philosophies that the materials promote.
Various teaching methods can be used in the home school situation; however, one principle covers all others. The teacher must know his student; the method should be determined by what the teacher knows about the student. Christ, in His earthly ministry, demonstrated that He knew the individuals He taught. Certainly, because He is omniscient, He had an advantage. The home educator has an advantage over the classroom teacher in that he knows, or should know, his child well.
The importance of the teacher's knowing the pupil is displayed in the vast differences in the way children learn. A teacher must understand the child and how the child learns so that the teacher can adapt his teaching to the pupil. For instance, some children can pick up a new concept quickly after a simple explanation from the teacher. Others, however, need to see the concept demonstrated in several ways. Some children are more visually oriented than others. They must see how everything works, not just read about it. Differences in attention spans demand different teaching approaches. For example, a teacher has to adapt his methods for the child with a short attention span because he needs several breaks during the lesson.
Motivation also plays an important role in the learning process. The teacher must know his student in order to motivate his student. Children differ in their motivation. The very thought of pleasing their parents may encourage some children to do their best in many situations. Others will be motivated by rewards for their work. Certainly, the cold should be that a child will do his best to please God, but most children appreciate and need an occasional reward, whether tangible or intangible. The frequency of the rewards will again depend on the individual child.
Certain similarities exist among all children, yet each child develops at different rates physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It is unreasonable to expect that because one child in the family matures in a certain way by a certain age, the other children in the family will do the same. The Lord recognizes that people are diverse. A home educator does well to keep that in mind as he teaches.
The home educator has an unusual opportunity to make the education of his child as thoroughly Christian as possible. The desire to save money, time, and work should never rob the child, entrusted to the parents by the Lord, of such an education. When those desires do, the education becomes inferior and can produce only an inferior product.