What Does it Mean, to ‘Train up a Child?’(9)

Taken from, “The Significance of the Godly Family,” 2009.

By Andrew McColl, 11th May, 2021

The decision of parents to homeschool their children means that they take complete responsibility. That doesn’t mean that they have all knowledge about every educational possibility that they could possibly employ. Nor does it mean that decisions can’t be reversed.

What a family chooses this year, they may not choose, next year. It means that the parents, beginning with the father, look at some of the options available (and there are many), and make some choices: “What do we want? What do we need? What do we have time for? What suits our children? What can we afford?”

This is the function of responsibility. “Every passage in the Bible that mentions the education of children makes it clear that parents are responsible.”[1] 

Furthermore, parents have the opportunity to tailor their childrens’ education to their family’s needs. Family needs and circumstances do vary and change over time. The overriding issue, is that parents have a glorious opportunity and responsibility to educate and disciple their children, for a life of possession and dominion. Parents should explain to a child that:                                               

God has a Destiny for my life
Destiny requires my Discipline
Discipline leads to Dominion.

The fact that children are at home and are being educated under their parents’ supervision, ought not mean that their home should be a place of anarchy. Conversely, every moment of the day need not be completely regimented. Home school families are able to structure their day how they want, enjoying their freedoms, while making sure theirs is a home of relative discipline and industry. This could be yours!

Sue and I commenced home schooling our children, in Dubbo (central-west NSW, Australia), in 1990. At the time, we had three sons; Jonathan aged 9, Benjamin aged 6, and Philip, aged 4. Philip commenced in 1992, and of course was the last to finish, in 2003. He never attended a school in his life. Home schooling was an excellent experience for us all. All of our sons have been grateful they were home schooled. We were able to do a lot of things together, which would not have been available otherwise.

To home school children is a marked change in role especially for women, who commonly haven’t seen themselves as educators, or believed they could do it. Plenty of people believe they can’t, and may say so. It certainly seems to be different in relation to other people, but we aren’t told to observe other people; we are told to follow and obey Jesus Christ.

About ten years ago, I heard a quote from Ruth Prince:

If women do not fulfil their God-given calling, it leaves a void in the fibre of society which nothing else can fill.                                                                                                 

That has made a lot of sense to Sue and I, in relation to home schooling, and the training of children. Helping her husband to train their children to “rule and have dominion” (Gen.1:26-28), is a vital part of a woman’s role.

Is home schooling better for students academically?

In a 1997 U.S. national study by Dr. Brian Ray, home schoolers (K-12) were found to have outperformed their government school counterparts by 30 to 37 percentile points across all the areas tested. In reading and mathematics, for example, home schoolers scored in the 87th and 82nd percentiles, respectively. The study showed that by the 8th grade, the average home schooled student was performing four grades ahead of the national average.[2]

The Fraser Institute, a Canadian public policy think-tank, conducted research on home schoolers’ academic performance in 2001. The survey author, Patrick Basham, summarised that,

According to the U.S. Department of Education, ‘virtually all the available data show that the group of home schooled children who are tested are above average.’ Such impressive results have been observable for at least 15 years…From coast to coast, and from border to border, homeschooled students in the United States surpass the national averages on both of the major college entrance tests, the ACT and the SAT. [3]

As part of my study for a Masters Degree in Education (completed in 2005), I surveyed students who had graduated with a Year 12 Certificate, from Australian Christian Academy, between 1999 and 2002. Of the 55 graduates who responded, 96% were positive about their use of a Christian curriculum, 90% thought they had received a good preparation for life, 94% said they were glad they were home  schooled, and 74% believed they would home school their own children. One respondent indicated that she valued “being in a Christian environment, being nurtured in my education, and the flexibility to do things with my family when it suited them best.”[4]

Gatto seemed to concur with this respondent, when he wrote that “the curriculum of the family is at the heart of any good life.” [5]

One U.S. restaurant operator, who has employed 75 homeschoolers, claimed that

People assume that they [home schoolers] will be socially handicapped because they’ve been homebound, but it is just the opposite…they have a good sense of humour and know how to act. Lots of kids have trouble with judgement…Not these kids. They’re stable and mature, good team players and likely to stand up for what is right. [6]

 A former U.S. Department of Education researcher, Patricia Lines, who is well acquainted with home schooling, has rendered the most telling judgment on the character of home schooled children:

If I didn’t know anything about someone other than their educational background, I’d rather hop into a foxhole with a home school kid than one from a public school. The home school kid will be a little better educated and dependable. It’s just the law of averages. [7]

 U.S. Senator Dr Ron Paul commented in 2007, that

parental control of child rearing, especially education, is one of the bulwarks of liberty. No nation can remain free when the state has greater influence over the knowledge and values transmitted to children than the family…The best way to improve education is to return control to the parents who know best what their children need.[8]   

Conclusion:

God gave clear statements about education to Adam, Noah, Abraham and Moses. Nothing much has changed since then, as the scripture says, “there is nothing new under the sun”(Ecc.1:9). But God’s requirements have remained the same, for Jesus is the same, “…yesterday, today and forever”(Heb.13:8).

The responsibility for the education of children will not go away, though it can be ignored, but the consequences of inactivity or the wrong kind of activity are frightening. Dabney, at the end of the nineteenth century, so ably expressed this:

The education of children for God is the most important business done on earth. It is the one business for which the earth exists. To it all politics, all war, all literature, all money-making, ought to be subordinated; and every parent especially ought to feel every hour of the day, that, next to making his own calling and election sure, this is the end for which he is kept alive by God-this is his task on earth. [9]


[1] Shortt, ibid., p.55.

[2] Quoted in Shortt, ibid., p.343.

[3] ibid., p.343.

[4] Andrew  McColl, “Homeschooling: the Graduates Speak,” unpublished Thesis, 2005.

[5] John Gatto, “Education and the Western Spiritual Tradition,” (date unknown) p.152.

[6] Quoted in Shortt, p.349.

[7] Shortt, p.349-350.

[8] Ron Paul, quoted on http://www.lewrockwell.com, 2007.

[9] Dabney, quoted in Shortt, p.356.

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