Monday, May 3, 2010

THE BIBLICAL SOLUTION TO THE EDUCATION CRISIS (PART 2)


TO WHOM DO YOUR CHILDREN BELONG?

The answer that Christians have given down through the ages was first given by the Patriarch Jacob: "The children God has graciously given [me]" (Genesis 33:5).

"Christians have always held that children belong to God in the first instance and that He entrusts them to their parents. We affirm that children are a blessing from God of worth beyond human capacity to measure and should be welcomed joyously into the family as precious gifts from Him," is how the booklet The Christian Worldview of the Family puts it. "Children belong to God alone, with the parents being their God-ordained stewards. God gives parents the primary responsibility and authority for the education and physical, social, emotional and spiritual well-being of their children (Gen 33:5; Dt 4:9; 6:1-9; Ps 78:1-8; 127:3-5; Prov 17:6; 1 Tim 2:15; Eph 6:1-4)."

WHAT THE BIBLE SAYS ABOUT EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN

Homeschool pioneers in South Africa, Graham and Alison Shortridge point out that, "It's important to realise that, while God has given us clearly defined models for the family, the church, business and the state, He has not given any model for 'the school' as we have come to understand the term.

"Instead, parents are clearly instructed to educate their children in the ways and will of God and this includes the giving of instruction in the disciplines related to the physical universe: Maths, Science, Biology, Languages, Geography, etc. In fact, we are told in Romans 1:20 that we learn about God "by the things He has made" and these things are things that should normally form part of the curriculum that children learn in school.

"For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - His eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse" Romans 1:20.
"We are warned against a secular curriculum, where God is no longer the centre as commanded in His Word. Man in his 'wisdom' now attributes the glory to himself and to evolution instead of to God. The result is foolishness and depravity."

"For although they knew God, they neither glorified Him as God nor gave thanks to Him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened ... Furthermore, since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, He gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done." Romans 1:21, 28.

Parents can delegate the task, but not the responsibility, for the education of their children.

Children do not belong to the state.

They belong to God and are entrusted by Him to parents to: "Bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord." Ephesians 6:4

Parents are responsible under God to oversee the teachers, textbooks and syllabi that will shape and fill their children's minds for their 15,000 hours of schooling.

THE GOAL OF EDUCATION

The goal of education must be to prepare each student to glorify God, to enjoy Him in worship and to serve the Lord in their chosen calling. A Christian education is not a curriculum with the Bible added to it. Rather the Word of God must inspire, inform and govern every subject in the curriculum.

Ideally there should be a healthy triangular relationship between three role-players - the parents, the church and the school. While the parents are the pivotal role-players (Deut. 6:7-9), this triangular relationship sets up an accountability structure as follows:

  1. The Church preaches Biblical doctrine and truth, which forms the theological foundation of the school and the family. They encourage and guide parents, from Scripture, to take up their Biblical responsibility to educate and raise their children in the fear of the LORD. At its heart Christianity is a teaching religion - Jesus Christ is referred to as "Teacher" (John 3:2), the Holy Spirit's ministry includes teaching (John 14:26) and the Great Commission includes "teaching them to observe all things I have commanded you" (Math. 28:20). Christianity and the Church have always supported education.

  2. The parents are the primary role-players in the child's education, discipline and rearing in the fear of the LORD. They support their child going to Church, heeding the Word of the LORD as well as in receiving an education.

  3. The school expounds on the Biblical Worldview, looking at all areas of life, including from mathematics, to the sciences, to the languages and the arts from a Biblical Christian perspective. This is to equip the Christian child to take dominion for Christ and His Kingdom. It really is an extension of the parent's mandate to "train up a child in the way he should go (according to his character, calling and God-given talents), and when he is old he will not depart from it" (Prov. 22:6) and the Church's mandate to "make disciples of all nations" (Math. 28:19).
All three key role-players re-enforce one another and eradicate the mixed-messages between the values of the Church and home been put against the secular humanist values of the public school. They mutually support godly discipline and therefore reduce delinquency and increase Christ-like character. Godly discipline allows for greater learning, hence greater academic achievements. It is important that parents be the main governors of schools to keep accountability to a maximum. All three are subject to the Word of God.

Praying before a class with a humanistic curriculum is not a Christian education, neither is having a Christian staff with a secular humanistic curriculum a Christian education.

Churches should encourage and support parents in the congregation to either homeschool or to start a school and use the church building facilitates during the week. With around 40 000 churches in South Africa, imagine the difference if each church started one school! Accelerated Christian Education provides information and assistance to churches wanting to start a school (Contact: 031 -573 6500, info@aceministries.co.za, www.aceministries.co.za).

HOW SUBJECTS RELATE TO GOD

George Orwell warned: "If people cannot write well" (or read well) "they cannot think well. If they cannot think well, others will do their thinking for them." Reading and writing are the fundamental skills learned at school. Language is thought expressed. But thoughts are never neutral. So students need to learn to test literature by Biblical standards.

In Mathematics we learn God s constant principles for studying, measuring and evaluating God's universe. . Numbers are an expression of God's orderliness. The decimal system itself is based on God's creation (E.g.: ten fingers, ten toes, ten commandments).

Science is the study of God's physical laws in Creation.
History is the study of God's moral Laws in His government over men and nations.

In Physical Education we learn the importance of a balanced diet and lifestyle and we learn to develop self-discipline in training (thus taking care of our bodies, which are the temples of the Holy Spirit). Teamwork, winning and losing graciously and playing by the rules are all essential aspects of Physical Education.

The greater the influence of such constructive Christian principles upon a system of education, the greater the spiritual and academic potential of the students will be realised.

"All your sons will be taught by the Lord, and great will be your children's peace" (Isaiah 54:13).

TEACH YOUR CHILDREN CONSTANTLY

"These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:6-9).

We are to fix the Words (Law) of God in our hearts and minds. This is demonstrated in the way we act (hands) and the way we think (foreheads). We are to diligently teach them to our children. Whenever we are together: at home, when we go out, before we go to bed, when we get up. In other words every aspect of our children's instruction is to be God-centred and God-glorifying. This does not leave space for a "time off" of six hours a day, five days a week, for godless state schooling!

We are also to make a public profession of our faith by having visible signs of our faith on our homes and property. It also indicates that every area of our lives and everything entrusted to our stewardship is to be governed by the Word of God. God has promised rewards for obedience and has warned that His wrath will fall on the disobedient (see the parallel passage; Deut 11:13-28).

"But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve..." (Joshua 24:15)

HOME AND CHRISTIAN SCHOOLS VS. STATE SCHOOLS

For many, home schooling is a daunting option, but one that is being exercised more frequently and openly in South Africa. Our constitution makes provision for it and there are South African curricula available to assist in home schooling from a Christian perspective. For others, Christian private schooling will be the option they choose.

Remember too, that Christian schools that run the state curriculum without careful adaptation are simply humanistic schools with a Christian flavour. Christian schools should teach all subjects from a Biblical perspective. The training of teachers is another aspect that needs to be considered; ideally teachers for Christian schools should be trained in Christian colleges with a Biblical worldview. In the meantime, parents should encourage their children's teachers to attend seminars that promote the Lordship of Christ over all areas of life such as The Biblical Worldview Seminar.

Those who are unable to homeschool, or send their children to a Christian school, have a very tough position. They need to monitor their children's teachers, textbooks and videos closely, as well as supplementing their child's education through daily family devotions and Christian educational materials. They need to be prepared to participate in the Parent-Teachers Association and raise their voice in opposition to unbiblical viewpoints in education. And they need to pray for great wisdom and discernment in their fight to protect the hearts and minds of their children.

RECOMMENDED RESOURCES

We strongly recommend that you obtain and study: Weighed in the Balance and Found Wanting - The Failure of Public Schools and the Need for Christian Education by Dr Paul Lindstrom (Christian Liberty Academy); Outcomes Based Education: an Experiment in Social Engineering? by Kjell Olsen (Christians For Truth) and The Safety Net Plan - Developing a Christian Worldview Through Family Devotions by Tom Parent and Dr Paul Lindstrom (CLA). These are available from Christian Liberty Books: 021 - 6897478, admin@christianlibertybooks.co.za, www.christianlibertybooks.co.za.

"Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord." (Ephesians 6:4)

Adapted and updated by Taryn Hodgson from articles by Miriam Cain, Rob McCafferty, Alison Shortridge and Lenora Hammond. Published in its original form in Make a Difference: A Christian Handbook for Southern Africa and Reforming Our Families.


FURTHER READING


Why Homeschooling? Frequently Asked Questions on Homeschooling - Alison Shortridge

The Value of a Christian Education
- Dr Peter Hammond

Responsible Education - Lenora Hammond

Homeschooling - Is now the time?
- Lenora Hammond

Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
Claremont
7735 Cape Town

South Africa
Tel: 021-689 4481
E-mail: info@christianaction.org.za
Web: www.christianaction.org.za


SOME HOMESCHOOL CURRICULUM PROVIDERS IN SOUTH AFRICA:

Accelerated Christian Education: 031 - 573 6500, info@aceministries.co.za, www.aceministries.co.za.

Theocentric Christian Education: 021-557 7999, tcecc@mweb.co.za, www.homeschool-tce.co.za.

Bob Jones and Christian Liberty Press curricula available from Christian Liberty Books: 021-6897478, admin@christianlibertybooks.co.za, www.christianlibertybooks.co.za


Africa Christian Action
PO Box 23632
Claremont
7735 Cape Town

South Africa
Tel: 021-689 4481
E-mail: info@christianaction.org.za
Web: www.christianaction.org.za



Featured Book:

Instructing a Child's Heart

Format: Softcover
Publisher: Shepherd Press
ISBN: 9780981540009
Publication date: February 2008

Available at Amazon.com or Kalahari.net (South Africa)

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