Wednesday, August 22, 2007


The first step in our effort to regain the control of our children's educational destination is get them back to the basics in both areas of academics and morals. Modern educators have gone to the extreme trying to find new ways to teach old subjects. They have been busy trying to re-invent the wheel; and now we're just rolling around on square stone blocks. When all the while, all we really needed to do is to use the perfectly round wheels that we already have; and that is, get back to the basics of education. But where should we begin?

Well, all education must begin with a basic philosophy. What is your philosophy of education? That is the first hurdle that we must overcome, and that is exactly where most parents get stumped right off the bat. This is where they get off the straight and narrow and onto some broad way that leads to destruction. This is not a difficult concept; the idea of a "philosophy of education" is really quite simple, especially if you are a Christian. Let us break this idea down a bit.

First, what exactly is a philosophy? Well, part of the definition of philosophy that is found in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary states that a philosophy is a "theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought."[1] I actually prefer the definition found in the 1828 Webster's dictionary. It states that a philosophy is "Literally, the love of wisdom." Put in more practical terms, it says that a philosophy "is a general term denoting an explanation of the reasons of things." In other words, "why do you do what you do" – in modern day English! So for us, as Christian parents, a philosophy of education is simply the aim, the primary reason if you will, for why we educate our children. If we can answer this question, then we have found our philosophy of education.

In his book A Christian Philosophy of Education, Dr. Gordon Haddon Clark states that one of the greatest problems of the modern educational establishment is their inability to pick a particular aim of education. He says that "they generally speak of aims in the plural rather than the aim of education." To Dr. Clark, this is a "tacit admission of failure to find any one comprehensive aim. It is a failure to provide any criterion by which one subject should be included and another excluded from the curriculum."[2] So what is your aim in educating your children? Again, if you are a Christian, then the answer should be simple. To find our aim, our primary goal, our philosophy of educating our children, we must turn to our primary source book, which of course is the Holy Bible. In Scripture we find, clearly stated the reason why God put man and woman together in the first place. In Malachi chapter 2, verses 14 and 15, the scripture tells us the outcome that God was seeking when He joined man and woman together - He desired a "godly seed!" So our number one goal, our aim, our reason for doing what we do, our Christian philosophy of education is simply this; to produce a child, who grows up to be a godly adult. If we can do this, then we have been successful, at least in God's eyes, in our educational endeavors, and pleasing God should be a Christian's only concern. Yes, it will be great if they learn to read and write along the way too, but let us not lose sight of our aim; the production of a "Godly offspring!"

OK, I can already hear you ask, if that is all we need to do, then why worry about academic subjects? Well, again, this is one of the benefits of having a philosophy of education. As Dr. Clark stated, it gives us a criterion by which one subject can be included in our child's curriculum, and another can be excluded. It not only gives us our desired end result, but it also gives us our general direction for getting where we want to be. In other words, it helps us define guidelines for how we will reach our desired goal. For example, since our goal is to produce a "godly seed", one of the first questions that we should ask is; what does a godly child look like? Well again, we turn to our primary source book for the answer. We turn to the Bible, and see if we can find out what it is God would have us look like, and when you do, you find in the book of Romans chapter 8, verse 29, that God has determined that His children will be made to look like Christ. There are many others, but this is a very good primary example. So, if that is what God desires, then that should be what we desire for our children as well, we should want to shape them and mold them to be a Christ-like as we possibly can.

So what are some of Christ's characteristics? Well there are many, but we will only select a few just to give you an idea of what we are trying to accomplish. In John's Gospel chapter 1 verse 14, we find that our Lord Jesus is full of grace and truth. So these would be two characteristics that we would want to instill in our children, and in doing so, we would want to base our lessons or our curriculum around achieving these desired results. For example, in order for our child to grow to be full of grace, they would need to learn to be servants and to be thankful at heart. They would need to be directed to have a grateful and thankful spirit. They would need to work along side us as we served and helped others in a gracious manner. They would need lessons on being courteous and well-mannered. This type of instruction requires a more practical, hands-on type of approach than what many are willing to give, but it would still be required none the less. The other characteristic we mentioned was truth. So what is truth? Well, it would simply be anything that was not false. It would be things that are correct, right, and absolute! To teach our children anything that is false, for example, teaching evolution is a fact, rather than teaching it is a humanistic theory would not be filling them with truth, and in turn, we would not be molding them in the image of Christ.

So our philosophy of education, not only gives us our desired aim or our target, it also helps us determine how we will get there. This, "how we will get there", this "route we will take", encompasses all the different things that will make up our child's curriculum. Things like communication skills, our general knowledge of mathematics or sciences, our understanding of history and the mistakes of the past, and all the other, practical, hands-on skills that they need to become more like Christ. All these things help us form our basic curriculum. So, as we expand our philosophy of education we begin to see more clearly why we do what we do, and that will help us determine exactly how we will accomplish it.

So what is your philosophy of education?

[1] Merriam-Webster Dictionary, (Merriam-Webster, Incorporated) 2005-2006
[2] Gordon Haddon Clark, The Works of Gordon Haddon Clark Volume 10, A Christian Philosophy of Education (The Trinity Foundation, Third Edition 2000) 14.

Thursday, August 09, 2007


So again, what exactly is the problem? Well, the real issue is parents; parents who have abdicated the educational responsibilities given to them directly by God. In modern day America, what was once the exclusive territory of the home and to some lesser degree the church has now become the almost exclusive territory of the government school system. Children are being turned over, for the most part, in blind faith by their parents, to be thoroughly indoctrinated by a totally secular humanistic system of education. All aspects of Christianity have been systematically removed from the public areas of our society, and no area has been harder hit than the American public school classroom. Many of today's parents have moved away from the biblical principles of education and have taken upon themselves, and their children, the principles of the world. John Macarthur, in his book, The Fulfilled Family, which is an exegetical look at Ephesians 5 and 6, states the problem perfectly. He says:

"Today's parents tend to be more passive and less involved in their children's lives than any generation in our nation's history. They have turned their children over to artificial, surrogate parents. Day-care centers, relatives, the television set, and the child's own peers often have far more influence on the moral and social development of today's children than parents do."

That, Macarthur says "is an abdication of the parent's duty before God." He says that the "Lord Himself gave parents – not schools, youth leaders, Sunday school teachers, or anyone else – the primary responsibility for the nurture and admonition of [their] children."[1] Macarthur is of course referring to Ephesians 6:4 which says "Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord." The original Greek word that is translated discipline in the English Standard Version is "paideia." In the original language it was used to pass along such meanings as: education, training or some form of disciplinary correction like: chastening, chastisement, instruction, or nurture, and this discipline was to be carried out, not by some surrogate, part-time fill-in, but by the father. And while the ESV translates the Greek word "pater" as father, it could have just as easily been translated as either parent, but no one else. You see if we believe the Bible is the literal Word of God, and take what it says to heart, then we can in no way interpret it to say that the schools are responsible for the education of our children. While Macarthur goes on to say that he is not suggesting that everyone should home school their children, he does say that all parents should remain intimately involved in every aspect of their children's lives, including school.[2] The reason why Mr. Macarthur suggests that home school may not be for everyone is because he feels that some parents may not be qualified to home school their children. He said that some parents may not have the skill they need to teach the academic subjects. However, I would say that if God has entrusted you with children, then He will fully equip you for every aspect of your child's training needs. As Augustine prayed; "O God, command what you wouldst, and grant what thou dost command." In other words, if God calls us to do any task, even educating, then He is not going to leave us short handed in regard to our responsibility; He will thoroughly equip us for the job. All we have to do is by faith, trust in His sufficiency! But don't just take my word for it, as a matter of fact; Dr. Brian Ray quotes statistics in his book, The World Wide Guide to Home schooling, which shows that there is no significant relationship between student achievements and the teacher certification status, or education level of the parent.[3] In other words, on average, home schooled children who have parents with little or no education tend to do just as well, academically, as those with highly educated parents. Even further, Dr. Ray states that even children who have parents that hold a state teachers certification tend to do no better that their counterparts who have parents that are not teacher certified. Now while there are other legitimate reasons why a parent may not be able to home school their children, there is absolutely no reason why they cannot be intimately involved in every aspect of their child's education. But for some reason, this has become the norm. We have somehow grown into a mindset where the "normal" thing to do is to pawn off our children to any and everyone who sets behind a desk and has a teaching certificate. And we do this, all because we can not or are not qualified to do the job ourselves; or at least that is what we are told. But the truth is, as Christian parents, we are not only qualified, we are commanded to carry out and oversee the entire education process of our children. Armed with this information alone, we must return to a biblical model of education if we ever expect to overcome the problems that are so rampant in our society today.

While having all this new information is helpful, just having an understanding of the problem will not bring about change. As Moses told the Children of Israel in Deuteronomy chapter 5, he said "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your hearing today, that you may learn them and be careful to observe them.(Deuteronomy 5:1)" First we must listen, then we must learn and finally we must do! So the real question then becomes; what do we do about it? In order to develop the best solution, we must first make sure we are approaching it with a biblical prospective. We must make sure that we consider the problem in light of history; where did we come from? We must also consider where we were originally and how and when we got off track, considering all the mistakes of the past and also its successes, and then, in light of these facts, develop a solution based on the direction of scripture; one that will move us from where we are today to where we need to be tomorrow. All the time, being mindful of the fact that our solution needs to cover the primary issue of responsibility – helping parents take that responsibility - and also the secondary issues of, academics and morality. So with that in mind, let us make our best effort to solve the problem.

[1] John Macarthur, The Fulfilled Family, God's Design for Your Home (Thomas Nelson, Inc. 2005), 101.
[2] Macarthur, 102.
[3] Ray, 2004 - 2005 Worldwide Guide to Homeschooling, 78-79.