The Independent Educator
By Andrew McColl, 3rd September, 2019
Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgements which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey (Deut.6:1-3).
True, godly, independent education begins with the Word of God, not the word of man, or anyone else. This is the fearful error our first parents made in the garden, and it is the error that the vast majority of parents have been making since then, even among those that claim to want to give their children a “godly” education.
Jesus promised us that,
…If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free (Jn.8:31-32).
But our enemies have known that naivete was one of our susceptibilities, and they have played on it, hard. In the early years of the Reformation, Luther wrote that
I am very much afraid that the universities and schools will prove to be the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the holy scriptures, engraving them in the hearts of youth. I advise no one to place his child where the scriptures do not reign paramount …every institution in which men are not unceasingly occupied with the Word of God must become corrupt.
Thus there has been almost unceasing pressure on parents, to place their children “…where the scriptures do not reign paramount.” In what ways has this pressure been manifested?
I am sometimes amazed how much parents want the approval of others, for the choices they are making for their children’s education. This is often sad; even pathetic. Sometimes it seems that the fact that a school has “Christian” in its name, or advertises its “Biblical values,” has “Devotions” each morning, or a massive cross out the front of the school, or advertises the large proportion of their former students who now attend university, is sufficient to ensure significant enrolment numbers.
But all this is superficial. It doesn’t mean that this is a “Christian school.” It simply means that it has some of the common external forms of a Christian school, which are useful for its promotional material. That glossy brochure they use? An advertising tool for gullible parents.
What doesn’t get much publicity, is that private schools in Australia are funded by the State, and the State inspects the school, especially its documents, and its curriculum.
If those documents don’t stack up, that school has a big problem. I was working in a school in 1983 that was inspected, and one of the teachers had not completed her Student Roll correctly. Believe me, that was a major issue. We didn’t have playground fights, abusive teachers or students sitting in run-down school buildings in stifling heat, but one incorrectly completed Roll?
Bureaucratic inspectors will find fault with anything they can. And they don’t want to see too much evidence of the Bible, or God, or Jesus Christ in a school. These are off-limit matters, for they imply religion, ideology and fundamental values.
So when Christians are taken in by superficiality, they have no one to blame but themselves. They ask for trouble and they most certainly will get it. Purporting to provide a child with a Christian education is not the same as giving him one. Finney was right:
I would rather pay any price at all within my means, or even to satisfy myself with one meal a day, to enable me to educate my children at home sooner than give them over to the influence of public schools. Remember that your children will be educated, either by yourself or by someone else. Either truth or error will possess their minds. They will have instruction, and if you do not secure to them right instruction, they will have that which is false (Charles Finney, 1792-1875).
Secondly, Christian schools want funding. Of course, they haven’t considered the implications of this, because funding cannot and should not be offered without a certification and approval process, through the Department of Education.
Is this what Deuteronomy directed parents to do? No, it did not. It left the responsibility to educate children with their parents, as independent educators. And, whatever resources or curriculum they chose to utilize had to be consistent with “…His statutes and His commandments…”
But timid and poorly taught believers haven’t gone this far. Their leaders haven’t: why should they? They may talk about giving children a “Christian education,” but let’s face it: talk is cheap. When they talk about a “Christian education,” they are really meaning a Departmentally approved school, funded by taxpayers. That means a Departmentally approved curriculum.
But what if the Department of Education is dominated by godless bureaucrats who are intolerant of anything Christian? 99% of “Christian” schools want the State’s funding, because it’s essential for the school’s continuation, including the teachers’ wages. So, the school removes anything offensive from its documents, to placate the Department’s inspectors.
“Christian” and offensive? Get it out-now.
But you really wanted to give your child an independent Christian education? That’s good. You’ll probably have to do it yourself at home, without registration with a godless department.
And isn’t that what God commanded us to do in Deuteronomy, anyway?