What the Bible teaches to HomeSchoolers

People who follow Christ and the Bible must not educate their children in a restrictive, stiff and authoritarian manner. They must never meekly submit to unjust laws the civil authority imposes upon homeschoolers. The Bible  provides plenty of guidance for learning, seeking wisdom and rearing children. This article is not an exhaustive analysis of the biblical material but consists of observations I have made about some of the relevant biblical texts.  All quotes are from the "amplified Bible," Zondervan publishers, 1965. 

The scriptures are not a textbook on teaching, but they are a fountain of wisdom on all aspects of human life. The scriptures emphasize independence and creative inquiry in the learning process - the process of self-discovery and growth spoken of in Proverbs and the Book of Wisdom. The Bible addresses the "learning process," and but not so much the "teaching" process. The scriptures also command us  to work to change or resist laws that are foolish, unjust or unfair. Each of us must ponder the written Word of God in the light of the spirit as best we can to determine what we should and should not be doing. Those who are content to allow others to "interpret" the scriptures for them, and who do not themselves search the Work under the guidance of the Spirit will  be misled.

My reason for writing this is because I find some who are trying to be "Christians" adopting a narrow and restrictive way of trying to force education on their Children, and also adopting a slavish, subservient attitude toward homeschooling laws. There are many attitudes and points of view found throughout Christianity, just as there are many contrasting passages in the scriptures. I hope that the following verses, along with the explanation of how  they apply to these issues will open some folk's eyes to the glory, diversity and freedom which are given to each of us by God almighty. Divine gifts should not be wasted. 

Should the Child or the Parent be Foremost in Deciding what is Learned?

An interesting question. Do we follow the dictates of the State Government and try to force the mandated legal "outcomes" upon the child each year, or do we consider the natural inclinations of the Child and our own  wisdom  when setting out what is studied?  Common sense tells us to consider a little of all three. But the Bible does not tell us to put the child's ideas last, as some do.

"Foolishness is bound up the in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline shall drive it far from him." - Proverbs, 22:15.

If the parents apply the rod of discipline to the child, foolishness will be driven far from him. If the child is well disciplined, he or she will not be foolish, and will be well able to select meaningful paths for learning.

I am not the first to point out that Home schooling can only be effectively applied to children who are well disciplined. If they are not, then they will be foolish, and incapable of directing their own education. WIthout natural discipline and respect, the parents are turned into policemen and overseers, and homeschooling falls apart in an atmosphere not conducive to learning.

 "Better is a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king, who no longer knows how to receive counsel." (Ecclesiastes (Koheleth) 4:13)

Robert Gordis, in his work on Ecclesiastes, Koheleth, The Man and His World, discusses this passage in some detail. The phrase "no longer knows how to receive counsel" could also be rendered "no longer knows how to take care of himself," indicating the infirmity of old age. The lesson is that  young minds are often nimbler than old ones. The old and foolish king could be likened to a homeschooling parent unwilling to take advice.  And who is most capable of determining  what will succeed in the homeschooling program -- the government? -- the public schools? Who better than the youth being educated!   What more excellent advice for a homeschooling parent is there than your child's answer  to the question "what do you think you'd like to learn about?" Your child may well be that "poor and wise youth" the scripture talks about, preferable even to the king who is too "smart" to take counsel. 

GOD is the only real  teacher.

"As for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom." (Daniel, ch. 1, vs. 17 - the four youths are Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah)

God gave both wisdom and learning (knowledge) to the four youths - who became the heroes of the chosen people in captivity. Note that the Bible does not mention any curriculum or even a human teacher. God educated these four just as he does all children.

If God takes special interest in the development of children then why do people worry and fret so much about "educating their kids'?"  Would it not be better in spirit to turn them over to God to educate  just as he educated Daniel and his companions? The penalties for even a trifling lack of faith in the Most High are serious...

" Moses lifted up his hand and with his rod he smote the rock twice... and the Lord said to Moses and Aaron "Because you did not believe in Me ... you therefore shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them also" (Numbers, chapter 20 vs. 11)

The Lord punished the brothers because they were doubtful of His power.  He told them merely to "command."  The parent's role in homeschooling is to follow and assist the Lord. Parents have a responsibility, but need only to command and not to smite, leaving the hard stuff to the Lord.

"Take My yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls." (Matthew, ch. 11, vs. 29)

Jesus was meek and humble in heart as he taught. So should we be. Domineering behavior, selecting curricula, scheduling days hour by hour, and shoving learning down your kid's throat  (the myth that "it's OK to push") is not the way to be "meek and humble in heart!"  You will best assist your children in their journey towards WIsdom as you are gentle and humble of heart.

"... I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, acknowledge openly joyfully to Your honor that you have hidden these things from the wise , clever and learned, and revealed them to babies." (Matthew, ch. 11, vs. 25)

The Lord is wonderful, and to his honor he often hides things from the learned and wise and clever, and shows them to children.  Because the Lord does this, the child's inner wisdom ought to be given great weight.

In the context of the lessons of Jesus, the cleverness, wisdom and learning of adults is of less weight than the revelations of children. This may be a difficult thing for parents to swallow, just as it was for the pompous pharisees of Jesus' day.  But Jesus was right.

How should Christians deal with homeschooling laws?

"...walk, live habitually in the spirit, then you will not gratify the cravings, desires of the flesh ... but if you are guided by the spirit you are not subject to the law.  In this freedom Christ has made us free - completely liberated us; stand fast then and do not ... submit again to a yoke of slavery..." (Galatians, ch. 5, vs. 16 - 18)

If you are truly guided by the spirit, then you will not be subjected to unjust laws based upon craven flesh. With GOD on your side how can you lose?  It is very clear, -- history is full of examples of people who knew that a law was wrong, fought against it, and were vindicated in the end.

This is not a spirit of "rebellion" as some legalistic  so-called Christians would have us believe. Christ was one of the greatest rebels of all time, -- why should we not follow His example? He drove the money-changers out of the temple with a cord of knots even though the "law" permitted them to be there.  Listen to what He said about the authorities of his day.

"You offspring of vipers! How can you speak good things when you are evil'." (Matthew 11:34)

It is incumbent upon those homeschoolers who would follow Christ to drive modern-day "money-changers" who seek to make fortunes from the work that God does in educating our offspring out of the "temple" of our society.

Jesus lambasted the Pharisees. He called them vipers, shams and betrayers of the living God they pretended to serve.  Jesus was rebellious against those in power who were doing evil.  Then let us be likewise rebellious, for the Spirit will not desert us.

The Christian who is truly  guided by the Spirit will successfully challenge unjust laws, and has abundant scriptural advice and example to do so.  The Lord will rescue and preserve him, just as He preserved the brave heroes of the scriptures.

"If you see the oppression of the poor, and the violent taking away justice and righteousness in the state do not marvel for a higher than the high is observing, and higher ones are over them..."  (Ecclesiastes 5:8)

Many levels of administration result in oversights at the bottom. Great kings are not unjust, but a great king cannot attend to all matters personally, and must depend on assistants and administrators. So, on an appeal to the highest educational authorities the home-schoolers are often encouraged and vindicated, while in day to day dealings they are often poorly treated

"Then I returned and considered all the oppressions that are practiced under the sun, and I beheld the tears of the oppressed, and they had no comforter; and on the side of the oppressors was power, but they too had no comforter." (Ecclesiastes 4:1)

Oppression and injustice persists in the world, but the oppressors are not much better off than those they oppress, only power is in their hands. With homeschooling laws, the State legislators that typically write the laws and the homeschoolers that obey them are not that far apart. One day the homeschooler's lobbyist may find himself given power over the other homeschoolers as an administrator.

"There is an evil which I have seen under the sun, as an error which proceeds from the ruler: Folly is set in great dignity and in high places, and the rich sit in a low place..." (Ecclesiastes 10:5-6) 

Unjustified Rebellion

Good legislation and administration will always be a struggle to achieve and maintain. Homeschoolers must always be assertive and vigilant to protect their rights.

On the other hand, some homeschooling parents might be cast as "rebels without a cause." This is explicitly  condemned in several places in the scriptures. For example,

"My son, reverently fear the Lord and the king, and do not associate with those who are given to change"  (Proverbs 24:21)

"... keep the king's command, ... For the work of a king is authority and power and who can say to him, what are you doing?  Who ever observes the command will experience no harm, and a wise man's mind will know both when and what to do"   (Eccleasiastes 8:2-5 )

"...Therefore he who resists and sets himself up against the authorities resists what God has appointed and arranged .  Those who resist will bring down judgment upon themselves - receiving the penalty due them." (Romans 17:2 )

Here is where wisdom must be applied with extreme caution. By rebellion you may be crushed, for who can call the king to account?  Furthermore, without some sort of civil administration society will dissolve into misfortune - so you had better be absolutely sure what you're up to - certain that your cause is so just that you will be excused any disruption your agitation causes to the public body.

I well remember the first Pittsburgh Public Schools strike in 1968. Perhaps the salaries and benefits of the teachers were unjust and unfair, but after the teachers went on the picket line, and the students rioted and "trashed" my high school building, discipline and respect was greatly diminished forever.  I doubt that the benefit was worth the cost. 

Are some parents incapable of guiding their their children's education.?

 "whoever receives and accepts and welcomes one little child like this for my sake and in my name receives and welcomes me." (Matthew ch 18, v. 5)

The story of the prodigal son, and other scriptural tales and verses show that even though people may run after false and temporary pleasures and goals, eventually the bond between man and God comes to the forefront.  All Christians and all good people naturally  love, receive, accept and welcome little children because of the love of God which is in their hearts. The motivation is unquestioned as Romans 6:75 portrays:

'Who shall ever separate us from Christ's love ..... I am persuaded .,.. that neither death nor life nor anything else in all creation will be able to separate us from the Love of God. "

The laws governing homeschooling should be written in consideration of this natural love, acceptance and sacrifice that parents willingly, and even eagerly make for their children.

To base laws on the "hard cases," child abuse (there are already laws covering abuse), child labor (likewise), or other considerations foreign to the central issue of loving parents helping their offspring to grow and learn is a mistake.  Likewise, to form homeschooling laws upon the adversary, compulsory school model is a big mistake.

The parent who genuinely loves, welcomes and accepts the child through the love of God, can surely be trusted to lovingly guide the child's education. States, governments and laws will rise and fall as fate dictates, according to the will of the almighty, but Love of the child will always be the one and only real homeschooling "qualification." If a "law" runs contrary to the truth, then the "law" is in error, and we are commanded (not advised) to correct the situation.

"I said you are Gods, indeed, all of you are children of the Most High.." (Psalm 82, vs. 6)

"Jesus answered 'Is it not written ... I said Ye are Gods' "   (John, ch. 10, vs. 34)

If we are Gods, and children of the Lord, then we certainly can do a better job of educating our loved ones  than a government school system. If We are Gods, why does a government (which we have formed out of the absolute necessity to take care of the hardest cases) try to legislate and control us in sensitive matters of judgment?

Only the evil ones are incapable of guiding their their children's education.

The Evil Rush to Excel and the "Superkid" Philosophy.

"and then Festus cried out loudly, Paul you are mad. Your great learning is driving you insane.' " (Acts, 26 v. 24)

The abuse of an organ can cause it to malfunction. This applies to a mind as well as a knee  or elbow. The scheme some have in mind to develop our american children into a constantly improving mass of "scientific superkids" is misguided and wrong. We already see plenty of evidence in our daily newspapers of the evil consequences of our society's  preoccupation with technology (the means to do things) combined with its ignorance of love and wisdom (what things should be done).

Our government's mad rush to equal the Japanese and Koreans in the insane pressure they apply to their children to achieve an empty "success," devoid of wisdom and peace is dead against the teaching of the scriptures.

What is Really Important

"Only take heed, and guard your life diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life; teach them to your children, and your children's children; Especially how on the day that you stood before the Lord your God in Horeb, the Lord said to me, Gather the people together to Me, and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days they live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children." (Deuteronomy, ch. 7, vs. 9-10)

Here Moses addresses the nation of Israel.  The relationship of the Lord to the people is one that is strictly personal. It is a real physical relationship, and the identification of the Lord as unique and distinct from the other spirits is absolutely critical. The books of the Torah emphasize the rejection of idolatry, and the key events that first linked the people to their personal Lord. This is the key item which must be taught.

It is almost a frantic commandment to preserve the memory of the events that linked the Lord YHWH to the people of Israel. As long as this identification of exactly who the Lord is endures, all is not lost for humanity. This puts the whole issue of  children's learning into perspective, first they need the religious secrets, and then those things which, like the religious secrets, are vital for the preservation of humanity. 

Learning Should be Sought After, Not Shoved Down People's Throats

The Book of Proverbs has many verses about learning and wisdom. It is fairly filled with advice and exhortations for self development. Whether it is taken to apply to little children,  adolescents or adults the message is stilI the same -... seek after learning and wisdom -  find it where you can, - capture it and do not lose it.  What it does not say to do is to enroll yourself in a school or to force your children to do lessons.

"Let not mercy and kindness and truth forsake you ... write them upon the tablet of your heart ... so shall you find favor in the sight of God and man" (Proverbs 3:3-4)

"Happy .... is the man who finds skillful and Godly wisdom, and the man who gets understanding - drawing it forth for the gaining of it is better than the gaining of silver, and the profit of it than fine gold ..." (Proverbs 3:13 - 14)

"The beginning of wisdom is, get wisdom - skillful and Godly wisdom!  For skillful and Godly wisdom is the principal thing ......" (Proverbs, 4:7)

"Take fast hold of instruction, do not let go; guard her, for she is your life ..." (Proverbs, 4:14)

Likewise the Book of Wisdom, commands us to start seeking early in life.  If we follow the spirit and words of the scriptures then we will strive to create a taste for wisdom in our children, and not stifle the spirit by a dry and empty teaching philosophy.

"Whoso seeketh her early shall have no great travail: for he shall find her sitting at his doors.  To think therefore upon her is perfection of wisdom: and whoso watcheth for her shall quickly be without care." (Wis 6:14-15)

"...I went about seeking how to take her to me.  For I was a witty child, and had a good spirit. Yea rather, being good, I came into a body undefiled.  Nevertheless, when I perceived that I could not otherwise obtain her, except God gave her me; and that was a point of wisdom also to know whose gift she was; I prayed unto the Lord, and besought him, and with my whole heart I said, O God of my fathers, and Lord of mercy, who hast made all things with thy word, and ordained man through thy wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creatures which thou hast made,  And order the world according to equity and righteousness, and execute judgment with an upright heart:  Give me wisdom, that sitteth by thy throne; and reject me not from among thy children: For I thy servant and son of thine handmaid am a feeble person, and of a short time, and too young for the understanding of judgment and laws. For though a man be never so perfect among the children of men, yet if thy wisdom be not with him, he shall be nothing regarded."  (Wis 8:15-22)