Counting the cost of national maths failure

National Correspondent Brisbane

Researcher Matthew Dean says first-year students have knowledge of maths concepts but lack the skills to solve problems. Source: News Corp Australia

Academics are concerned that assignment-based assessment methods are rendering a generation of Australian children innumerate.

WHAT’S five times four? Geophysicist Peter Ridd was gobsmacked to see a first-year university student pull out a calculator to work out the no-brainer equation.

The James Cook University professor blames the dumbing down of a generation of Australian students on modern teaching philosophies that deride rote learning as “drill and kill”. His alarm is echoed by eminent maths, science and education professors concerned that under­qualified teachers, “student-led” pedagogy and assignment-based assessment methods are rendering a generation of Australian children innumerate.

“Modern educational theory says you don’t need knowledge because it’s all online; there’s Google,’’ Ridd tells Inquirer. “But you ultimately do need a basic proficiency in spelling and numbers; you need knowledge inside your head. I’ve seen uni kids, when I’ve asked them ‘What’s 61 x 0?’, pick up a calculator.’’

Scientist Jennifer Stow, a former Harvard University researcher with a PhD from Monash University and a postdoctoral degree from Yale, shares Ridd’s dismay. As laboratory head at the University of Queensland Institute for Molecular Bio­science, and a principal research fellow with the National Health and Medical Research Council, she teaches science to undergraduates and trains PhD students.

Stow is “flabbergasted” by what she views as substandard skills in maths and English among many Australian undergraduates. Foreign PhD science students outnumber the locals in her field, she says, because local students are so far behind in maths.

“They can’t do basic maths,’’ Stow tells Inquirer.

“A lot of them haven’t learned the times tables at school, they haven’t been drilled in spelling and they come to university not being able to do division.

“There are lots of international students at university now, and kids from places like Singapore have got much better reading, writing and maths skills than the Australian kids.’’

The sliding standards are spelled out in the latest results from the OECD’s Program for International Student Assessment. The international PISA test, last conducted in 2012, reveals the numeracy levels of Australian teenagers have plunged so far in a decade that four out of 10 lack “baseline” maths skills.

Australia’s maths performance in Year 10 fell by the equivalent of six months of schooling between 2003 and 2012. Australia dropped from 11th to 19th place in the league table of 65 countries. China, Singapore, South Korea and Japan topped the class; the average 15-year-old from Shanghai is 1½ years ahead in maths than a typical Australian student. Just 15 per cent of Australian students were top performers, compared with 55 per cent in Shanghai. One-fifth of Australian students were ranked among the poorest performers in maths, in contrast to 3.8 per cent of Chinese students.

The national curriculum for maths has won broad support from maths teachers and university educators. Kevin Donnelly, one of two educational experts appointed to review the curriculum for the Abbott government, believes style and quality of teaching count as much as the content.

“If it’s not rigorous, and teaching isn’t explicit and well structured, you do get into trouble,’’ he tells Inquirer. “There needs to be rote learning, memorisation and mental arithmetic so it becomes automatic. The fashion for the past 20 years has been very much against memorisation and we need to bring that back.’’

The steady decline in mathematics performance in Australian schools has resulted, in turn, in a shortage of qualified maths teachers. Thousands of children are being taught maths by teachers who specialised in humanities subjects at university.

“At high school the person teaching physics is more likely to be a physical education teacher than someone qualified to teach science,’’ notes Ridd.

Forty per cent of Australia’s maths teachers are “out of field”. Queensland’s Auditor-General has revealed that one in eight maths B teachers in years 11 and 12, and one in three maths teachers in years 8 to 10, lacks a tertiary qualification in maths. Four times more phys-ed teachers graduated from Queensland universities than maths teachers in 2012. The audit noted a shortage of maths, science and technology teachers in high schools — but an oversupply of physical education, music, drama and dance instructors.

Stephen Norton, a senior lecturer in mathematics education at Griffith University’s school of education and professional studies, tests the numeracy of all his would-be teachers. The results are worrying: the average undergraduate teacher has the maths skills of a Year 7 student. Half would struggle with a Year 9 National Assessment Program — Literacy and Numeracy test, which measures basic levels of literacy and numeracy for 14-year-olds.

Norton believes most univer­sity teaching courses fail to demand “reasonable levels of numeracy’’ from trainee teachers. Instead, course lecturers concentrate on teaching “learning theories, the role of technology, mathematics of indigenous cultures, learners’ attitudes towards mathematics and curriculum trends”. A typical four-year teaching degree, Norton says, dedicates just 32 hours to the teaching of maths.

“Every year I test my students and they’ve got the understanding of a Year 7 or Year 8 kid,’’ he says. “Maybe 25 per cent have a good knowledge. They struggle with fractions and proportional rea­soning and anything to do with algebra. I believe it is our res­ponsibility in universities to make sure we can remediate that.’’

Norton is critical of schools’ emphasis on “inquiry-based teaching” at the expense of drills and memorisation. Performance is falling, he says, “not because our kids are dumber; it’s because they haven’t got the basics”.

“We’ve got to find a balance where we don’t stifle creativity but we give students the basics to apply in higher order ways,” he arg­ues. “On the one hand, we want kids to discover how to do things themselves and be persistent and resilient. But what happens when you have inquiry-based pedagogy, with teachers who don’t ­really know the discipline and don’t emphasise the basic skills, is that children end up falling behind.”

One example of the modern “student-directed learning” style is the maths homework set for 10-year-olds at a Brisbane state school this week. “Write a reflection that highlights at least 2 areas in maths that you feel more confident about as we draw to the end of Year 5,’’ it says. “List at least two target areas that you would like to work on and explain what strategies you will use to take responsibility for your learning.”

Ridd, the James Cook University scientist who despairs at the reliance on calculators for simple sums, is highly critical of Queensland’s unique but controversial assessment methods for high school maths. While other states and territories rely on regular external testing of kids’ maths ability, Queensland high schools set a series of written assignments that can be 10,000 words long.

“We (scientists) want someone who can solve an equation and add fractions,’’ Ridd says. “The Queensland Curriculum and Assessment Authority wants someone who can write an essay. The problem for us is the mark that comes down from the high school is a very poor predictor of whether the students can do simple maths. The subject has been hijacked by education theorists who have no idea what’s going on.”

A Queensland parliamentary inquiry has recommended that external testing be introduced for 50 per cent of students’ marks in years 11 and 12 — in line with the southern states — with a limit of one written maths assignment each year.

The Liberal National Party government, having sat on the findings for 14 months, is now promising a “draft response” by Christmas. This week it published a vague “30-year vision” on education reform, which referred to the need to “attract, retain and reward the best and brightest teachers”. It will appoint 300 “master teachers” to 463 schools next year. Queensland is also reviewing its OP system, which ranks students on their “overall position” in relation to other students, without external exams.

It is telling that Education Queensland’s selective Academy of Science, Mathematics and Technology — reserved for the state’s brightest students — has shunned the official curriculum. Instead, its students study the International Baccalaureate Diploma, which the academy describes as a “program for rigorous learning and assessment”.

Matthew Dean, a researcher and former first-year lecturer at the University of Queensland school of mathematics and physics, believes teachers who let kids use calculators at primary school are “ruining children’s lives”.

In a submission to the national curriculum review, Dean explained that technology had a “smart end” consisting of the creators, and a “dumb end” of consumers. “Rather than making all Australian students and parents pay to be at the dumb end of technology, a good education system would give students the freedom to one day be at the smart, creative end, if they so choose,” he wrote. “The way to this freedom and ability is through mastering mathematics — the power of thought behind science and technology.”

Dean likens reciting the times table to learning musical scales on the piano: boring and repetitive but essential to mastering more advanced pieces. Having lectured first-year maths students at university for five years, he notes that many have knowledge of mathematical concepts but not the skills to solve problems. “It’s as if they’ve done a mathematical appreciation course,” he says. “They know of things but don’t have the skill to do it themselves.”

Nationally, the number of Year 12 students enrolled in advanced maths has fallen 22 per cent in a decade, choking the supply of graduates for research institutions and industry.

The Australian Mathematical Sciences Institute is warning of a looming skills shortage for industries such as banking, mining, information security, IT, biotech and communications.

Stow, whose groundbreaking medical research is tracking the movement of proteins within cells, complains that high school students are getting “dumber by the minute”. She champions a return to the times tables and spelling bees in primary school. “There is no substitute for rote learning and it is the only way to build neural networks and imprint things into your brain,” she insists.

A surgeon, Stow argues, has no time to Google in an emergency. “You can’t operate that way,” she says. “You need a certain amount of basic skills and instant recall to do the job properly. You’ve got a computer; it’s called your brain.’’

The Messianic and Destructive Character of American Education

Nov 2, 2020 by Gary DeMar

Kevin DeYoung is the senior pastor of Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. Recently, he wrote a comprehensive review of Rousas J. Rushdoony’s little book Law and Liberty. DeYoung describes what is commendable about the book and what he considerers “Bridges Too Far.”

DeYoung is correct when he writes the following:

Throughout 32 chapters, Rushdoony makes a principled case for a limited government of just laws, what he calls on occasion Christian Libertarianism. He defends capital punishment (9–14). He emphasizes the importance of private property as a bulwark against tyranny (83). He denounces all utopian schemes, dreamed up by Marxists and Communists, which envision political machinations ushering in a world free from disease, poverty, crime, war, prejudice, and ignorance (5). He laments the growing expectation found in the American people that government will be our savior (77). He fears we are trading our God-given liberties for promises of security (78).

What he gets wrong is that he refuses to acknowledge how our nation has gotten to this place in history. He fails to identify the source of why many people today embrace the worldview that has split our nation in half.

The Children of Caesar

Dr. Voddie Baucham persuasively argues that Christian parents need to take the initiative in their children’s education and stop turning them over to the anti-God environment of the government school system. Using Scripture, statistics, and sound reasoning, Dr. Baucham powerfully makes the case that whoever controls the schools does indeed control the world.Buy Now

In my estimation, what DeYoung mostly objects to are the things that make Law and Liberty essential reading for Christians, especially on the topic of public education. Keep in mind that Law and Liberty was never designed to be a scholarly analysis of what ails our nation. Rushdoony draws from his vast and diverse readings over decades.

I found this comment by DeYoung off base:

Rushdoony presents his arguments with an air of great learning and erudition, but, at least in this volume, there’s little sense that he has read serious and relevant academic work in the areas he’s addressing. He makes almost no effort, for example, to support his historical claims. 

DeYoung writes this after stating that the short chapters were “originally delivered as a series of radio addresses in 1966 and 1967.” Anyone familiar with Rushdoony’s works knows that he read widely. Scripts written for radio generally are not filled with relevant footnotes and scholarly arguments requiring detailed analysis. Take a look at J. Gresham Machen’s Christianity and Liberalism where there are few footnotes and C.S. Lewis’ The Case for Christianity that were originally “broadcast talks.” These and other essays by Lewis were compiled and became Mere Christianity. There is not a single footnote.

Rushdoony showed his scholarly erudition in his massive The Institutes of Biblical Law, The Messianic Character of American Education (1963) describing the educational philosophies in the United States beginning with Horace Mann, The One and the Many, and Politics of Guilt and Pity.

Horace Mann | National Portrait Gallery
Horace Mann (1796–1859)

For several years Rushdoony was often called as an expert witness in homeschooling court cases. In 1987, he testified in the Leeper v. Arlington case in Texas. “The plaintiffs were homeschooling families; the defendant, the public school establishment of Texas. The attorney who pled the case for the homeschoolers was Shelby Sharpe.” Here’s what Sharpe said about Rushdoony’s testimony:

His testimony was way beyond anything I’d hoped for. It was one of the few times in my career that I ever saw a witness destroy the attorney who was trying to examine him. (Source)

You can read the Rushdoony Leeper v. Arlington transcript of the Texas homeschool trial here.

Dr. Gary North had this to say about Rushdoony’s Messianic Character of American Education:

The philosophy of the statists who designed America’s public schools was messianic. R. J. Rushdoony’s 1963 book, The Messianic Character of American Education, goes through the primary sources of three dozen of these social experimenters. The footnotes are detailed. These men were open about what they were attempting to do: reform the American people and American society through tax-funded education. They disagreed with each other on the proper pedagogical methods, but they were unified in their agreement that the state, not parents, should be in charge of the education of all children. The state would then become the redeeming agent of society. It would replace churches and families as agents of redemption.

This brings me back to Keven DeYoung’s review of Rushdoony’s Law and Liberty. It seems that DeYoung’s review is most critical of Rushdoony’s views on public education. He claims that Rushdoony “has failed to describe his opponents in ways they would recognize. Rushdoony fails that test when it comes to describing public education.”

Whoever Controls the Schools Rules the World

“One of the most useful tools in the quest for power is the educational system.” It’s been said that “the philosophy of the classroom in this generation will be the philosophy of life in the next generation.” Whoever Controls the Schools Rules the World shows how government controlled education is being used as a vehicle for social change. Our worldview opponents understand that education is where the war of ideas is fought. If Christians are serious about securing the future for our children, they must understand the nature of the war we are fighting. Buy Now

If DeYoung had read Messianic Character of American Education, he would have known that Rushdoony described his opponents accurately since he, as Gary North writes, “went through the primary source documents relating to the two dozen founders of American progressive education,” and this was before the internet. “The Messianic Character of American Education was the first academic treatise to provide a detailed look at the theology of America’s only established church. No subsequent treatise has matched it for both conciseness and its comprehensiveness. To understand the confessional war we are in, begin here.”

DeYoung references four examples from Law and Liberty on the topic of education that he takes issue with:

  • “Instead of rebirth by Jesus Christ, they offer rebirth by means of a statist, progressivist curriculum. The public schools are the creatures of the state, and therefore they teach and exalt the authority of the democratic state” (43).
  • “State controlled schools have replaced religion with magic, and the goal of education today is the same as that of ancient magicians, the total control of all reality by man” (72).
  • Education today is not concerned with knowledge, but with techniques of power (167).
  • “State supported education is totalitarian education. The essence of totalitarianism is simply this, that it maintains that the state has all the answers to life, and virtually every sphere of human activity should be governed by the state…. Common to all forms of totalitarianism is a belief in the state control of education” (178).

These comments are part of Law and Liberty’s strength. They are spot on. Although written in the 1960s, they describe exactly what has taken place with public (government) education. Of course, not all teachers who are teaching in government schools would agree with Rushdoony’s assessment that they are teaching a thoroughly secular curriculum, but those who design the course material and outline public education’s ultimate goals would.

Some would even admit it, as atheist and secular humanist John Dunphy did:

I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of an­other sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey hu­manist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict be­tween the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent in its promise of a world in which the never‑realized Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor” will be fi­nally achieved…. It will undoubtedly be a long, arduous, painful struggle replete with much sorrow and many tears, but humanism will emerge triumphant. It must if the family of humankind is to survive. [1]

Starve a fire of fuel and oxygen, and the fire will go out. Starve cancer cells of what they need to grow, and you will eliminate the cancer.

The State feeds on people. It needs people to function, to survive. The money the State spends to propagandize children comes from the people the State ultimately wants to control. Judges, teachers, politicians, and journalists have mostly been educated by the State. Why are we surprised when they support the State?

Whoever controls the schools rules the world.

There’s more in DeYoung’s article to respond to, but I’ll save that for another time.

  1. A Religion For A New Age,” The Humanist 43:1 (January-February 1983), 23, 26.[]

ABOUT HOMESCHOOLING

By Andrew McColl (B.A. Dip.Ed. M. Ed), 2nd November, 2020

The concept of families homeschooling their children has been an exciting development within the Christian community over the last 30 years or so. It is exciting because it means families are reclaiming a responsibility which God originally entrusted to them, way back when He gave the law to Moses (see Deut.6:1-7). This will be a major step, with implications for future generations of believers.

Parents who were homeschooled themselves have now begun educating their children at home. Furthermore, the availability of good curriculum (whether by hard-copy or via the internet), has made it both easily available and cheap for families.

Sue and I began homeschooling our three sons in 1990. They have all appreciated the experience. Homeschooling doesn’t guarantee godly children, but it does have the capacity to accomplish a number of things.

Firstly, it means that children are not subjected to the subtle notions of political correctness and social conformity endemic in public education, which are supposed to be taught now in all schools. These are frequently various forms of humanism, and include (but are not limited to) atheism, Darwinism, socialism, feminism and environmentalism. The scripture instructs us to

see to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the traditions of men… (Col.2:8).

It is significant in relation to education, that Satan came to Eve with an intellectual proposition, and she was deceived. Godly education means that parents engage in spiritual warfare, so that they are

…destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Cor.10:5).

Secondly, it means that children are removed from an age-segregated peer-group. Age segregation is convenient for teachers when they are dealing with large groups of children, but education which utilises age segregation removes a child from their parents, and from the presence of older, wiser siblings. There is nothing wrong with peers as such, but if a childs’ peers are applying immature, unwise or downright evil pressure, that child’s attitudes and behaviour will probably deteriorate.

How do we know that? The Bible teaches us that

He that walks with wise men will be wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm (Prov.13:20),

and

…bad company corrupts good morals (I Cor.15:33).

When Solomon’s son Rehoboam rejected the counsel of the elders who had served his father, and took counsel from

…the young men who grew up with him,

he quickly forfeited most of his kingdom (I Kings 12:1-15). Rehoboam’s peers proved to be a disastrous influence on him. The influence from the surrounding culture of Sodom on Lot’s daughters (see Gen.19), was no better.

Thirdly, it gives parents the opportunity to teach and utilise a godly curriculum, which encourages the Biblical values and standards they are comfortable with. Fathers are encouraged in scripture to

…bring up [your children] in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Eph.6:4).

Fourth, it gives parents the opportunity to provide a broad range of formal curriculum, mixed with the informal but essential educational experiences that they consider to be important for their children, in terms of their God-given callings, abilities and giftings. The Bible says,

Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it (Prov.22:6).

Homeschooling is not a panacea; every person needs to face the fact that they are sinners before God, every human heart needs the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, and every young person needs to learn faithfulness to God, themselves.

But homeschooling a child does provide a glorious opportunity for the parent-directed and balanced education of a young person, as they prepare for life in the service of Jesus Christ.

Is that what you want to prepare your children for?

Break up with the Public School

By Elizabeth Cameron (www.lewrockwell.com)

Public schooling in America has become a nightmare.  It is a tax-feeding, compulsory, monopolistic indoctrination tool of the state that has more to do with control than it has to do with education.

Consider this statement by Robert M. Hutchins, former President of the University of Chicago, and Chairman of the Board of Editors of the Encyclopedia Brittanica:

“The countries of the West are committed to universal, free, compulsory education.  The United States first made this commitment and has extended it further than any other.  In this country, 92.5% of the children who are fourteen years old and 71.3% of those between fourteen and seventeen are in school.  It will not be suggested that they are receiving the education that the democratic ideal requires.  The West has not accepted the proposition that the democratic ideal demands liberal education for all.  In the United States, at least, the prevailing opinion seems to be that the demands of that ideal are met by universal schooling, rather than by universal liberal education.  What goes on in school is regarded as of relatively minor importance.  The object appears to be to keep the child off the labor market and to detain him in comparatively sanitary surroundings until we are ready to have him go to work.

The results of universal, free, compulsory education in America can be acceptable only on the theory that the object of the schools is something other than education, that it is, for example, to keep the young from cluttering up homes and factories during a difficult period of their lives, or that it is to bring them together for social or recreational purposes.”

Dr. Hutchins was the Chairman from 1943 until his retirement in 1974.  Those words were published in 1952, in The Great Conversation, Volume I of Brittanica’s Great Books of the Western World.  He was discussing, and pleading for, traditional liberal education, based on a study of the accumulated wisdom of the great thinkers and writers of the ages, as contained in the Great Books.

The school system that Dr. Hutchins was criticizing might look like nirvana if compared with the public school of today.  In those days, they did not have psychotropic drugging or the labeling of school children with mental disorders for demonstrating “inappropriate” behavior.  They did not have the police state mentality that is proliferating today.  They did not have random psych-drug-induced slaughters of children in schools as a tragically familiar event.  They did not indulge in “zero-tolerance” arrests of little children who had the poor taste to commit childish acts.  They did not have the psych-based feel-good system of assessment that undermines academic achievement today.  Yet by Dr. Hutchins’ accounting, they were doing little more than detaining those students, keeping them off the streets and out from under foot until their labor was needed.

Fast forward to 1965, and the enactment of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act, which opened the door to federal funding for all sorts of mental health professionals in the government schools.  This was a watershed in American education.  However bad the schools might have been before this event, the formal establishment of a federally funded psychological paradigm in the schools triggered a long and inexorable march, continuing to this day, toward the dumbing down, medication and indoctrination of its students, as if the goal were specifically to prepare them to add their labor to the economy while snuffing out any individual creative power or any motivations they might harbor toward bucking the system.  Individuals schooled in this way are being victimized by an educational structure that can only be antithetical to their best interests; and skilled teachers, attempting to educate students within this paradigm, are at a terrible disadvantage.  They cannot peel away and construct their own creative programs, but must try to work within a fixed and stifling model based on government decrees from faraway bureaucrats.

When a student has difficulties under this system, as so often happens, the student is generally blamed and is sent to see the school psych, or via the parents, the local psychiatrist or even the family doctor, and the blame is officialized with a diagnosis.  This is followed by the writing of a prescription to make the student more tractable.

As if that were not enough to make the school environment unsuitable as an educational setting, the proliferation of school shootings over the years has added a certain element of physical risk.  This is unnerving for everybody; we are pretty sure it is going to happen again, but nobody knows when or where, so all we can do is hope and pray that it doesn’t happen to our kids, at our school.  And even assuming that we escape this horror, we still have to endure the burgeoning police state that is developing around the schools to try to ward off future attacks.  This makes for an environment that can be uncomfortable if not downright forbidding.

This kind of arrangement is hard on the kids.  It is hard on the teachers.  It is hard on the parents.  They are trying, most of them, to conduct the very natural and normal business of education with an unnatural, abnormal and coercive “schooling” environment.

I have seen no evidence suggesting that this can be fixed without separating the local school system from federal control and manipulation, and this is not likely to happen.  The system is too deeply entrenched.  It is not open to competition, and it has its own agenda.

The divergence of this agenda from the expectations of most parents was starkly highlighted by a statement made in 1973, in the keynote speech at the Childhood International Education Seminar in Boulder, Colorado, by Harvard psychiatrist Chester M. Pierce:

“Every child in America entering school at the age of five is mentally ill because he comes to school with certain allegiances to our founding fathers, toward our elected officials, toward his parents, toward a belief in a supernatural being, and toward the sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity.  It’s up to you as teachers to make all these sick children well – by creating the international child of the future.”

I do not know a single parent who would actually choose this kind of educational framework for his children, if he thought he really had a choice, but the public school system has become such a ubiquitous part of our society that it can be hard to see it for what it is and what it has become.  It can be hard to break away.  We just naturally assume that, because it is here and has been here for so long, and everybody accepts it and is used to it, that it must be okay.

It can help to read the work of somebody who has been deeply immersed on the inside and has stepped back to take a good look at the institution of public schooling.  This has been done, and beautifully, by John Taylor Gatto, former New York State Teacher of the Year, whose tireless research into the historical development of our school system and its unspoken purposes is detailed extensively in his brilliant book, The Underground History of American Education.  This book would be a good place to begin research… that and a long close look at your local public school.

Fortunately as awareness of this problem has grown, an increasing number of parents have decided to take matters into their own hands, and so homeschooling, among other options, has been growing by leaps and bounds.  With the explosion of online resources, the opportunities for these families are expanding like never before: Kahn Academy, Robinson Curriculum, the Ron Paul Curriculum, just to name a few.  Heck, the local public library is a pretty good starting point for developing a curriculum, all by itself.  It is an exciting time for independence in education, and the many successes of homeschoolers across the country have provided solid evidence that we can do better for our kids outside the system.

So study up on it for yourself; and if your own research supports this view, and you can find a way, then take the plunge and break up with the public school: get your kids out, to someplace safer, where they are not at risk of getting assimilated by the Public School Borg, or worse.  This applies to teachers, too.  If you can find a way, bring your talents out into the private market where they can flourish.  We need them!

For every person, every family, who breaks free, we as a culture will come one step closer to getting the compulsory government school system out of our lives and away from the honorable work of helping our children to get a real and independent education

Judges 13 and Christian Education (2)

Historically, the biggest intruder and violator the family, the church and a free society has confronted, has been the State. It was the State under Pharoah that kidnapped the Hebrews and murdered their babies, and sought to kill Moses (see Exodus 1-2). It was the State that murdered Jesus’ forerunner John, that tried to kill Jesus as a baby (see Mat.2), then murdered Him around AD 33. Not content with this, it then attacked His church (Acts 12:1-3; Rev.13:1-7).

It was the State under Henry VIII in England that opposed the Reformation. He had the great translator of the scriptures into English, William Tyndale, hunted down in Europe, then strangled and burnt in 1536, and Henry’s daughter Mary was named “Bloody Mary” for good reason; she put some 300 Protestants to death.

The twentieth century graphically bore out this homicidal tendency of evil governments.[1] Its tyrants didn’t only kill those of other countries in war, they began and continued with their own.[2]  Any Russian, German or Chinese person under the reigns of Stalin, Hitler or Mao, had very good reason to be afraid for their life, at the hands of their own government.

Thus the care and education of children is not committed to government, but to parents, so it was to Samson’s future parents that the angel spoke. He firstly visited Manoah’s wife (v.3-5), then at Manoah’s request (v.8), he appeared again, to his wife (v.9). When she then hurried to find her husband, and he returned and beheld the angel, he asked,

Now when your words come to pass, what shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation? (v.12)

The angel does not answer Manoah’s question directly. He merely gives Manoah a summary of his original direction to Manoah’s wife, and twice (v.13-14) directs her to do what he commanded her, in their first meeting. Why is this relevant?                                                             

Jordan’s comment is helpful:

Why did God appear to the woman rather than to her husband? Is it because Manoah was a bad man, so God had to bypass him? Not at all. It is because the theme, again, is the Seed of the Woman. God appears to the mother, to instruct her how to raise up the Seed. Similarly, God appeared to Rebekah, not to Isaac, to give instruction about the primacy of Jacob over Esau (Gen. 25:22f.).[3]

Whilst both parents have the responsibility to raise their children, it is evident that in this case, along with Rebekah (Gen.25:22-23), it is the mother who received the word of the Lord, and in this case, she is to avoid any wine or strong drink, nor eat any unclean thing. Matthew Henry wrote,                                                                                                          

Observe from Manoah’s enquiry, [1] In general, that, when God is pleased to bestow any mercy upon us, our great care must be how to use it well, and as we ought, because it is then only a mercy indeed when it is rightly managed. God has given us bodies, souls, estates; how shall we order them, that we may answer the intent of the donor, and give a good account of them?

[2] In particular, those to whom God has given children must be very careful how they order them, and what they do unto them, that they may drive out the foolishness that is bound up in their hearts, form their minds and manners well betimes, and train them in the way wherein they should go. Herein pious parents will beg divine assistance…[4]

In this case, the angel gave Manoah no more information than he’d given his wife. He actually summarised what he’d already said, reinforcing to Manoah, “Let the woman pay attention to all that I said” (v.13).

Manoah’s question to the angel related to his future son’s vocation. But a person’s calling is way more important than their career. In the examples of Samson, John the Baptist and Jesus, all of whom were conceived miraculously, they were all destined to die violently, early in life. None of them had a career, that we know of. Manoah’s question to the angel (“What shall be the boy’s mode of life and his vocation?”) was a legitimate one, but the angel gave him no answer to it.

Was it for this reason? Gary North has defined a calling from God as

the most important thing that you can do in which you would be most difficult to replace.

Conclusion:                                                                                                                              The thing that was uppermost in God’s mind in relation to Samson was his calling, explained by the angel to his mother:

…he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hands of the Philistines (Judges 13:5).

If parents are to prepare their children for anything, it is for this: their calling. Vocations are fine, but they must be secondary to the call of God.

Now here’s my question: What has God prepared your children for?  Are you doing anything about it? 


[1] One of the consequences of the First World War, was some 900,000 French children being orphaned.

[2] Hitler ordered the execution of the Christian Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1945, weeks before Hitler committed suicide.

[3] James Jordan, “Judges: God’s War against Humanism,” 1985, p.225-226.

[4] Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary, “Joshua to Esther,” p. 204.

Judges 13 and Christian Education (1)

Introduction:                                                                                                                            

Then Manoah entreated the Lord and said, “O Lord, please let the man of God whom You have sent come to us again that he may teach us what to do for the boy who is to be born.” God listened to the voice of Manoah… (Judges 13:8).

The notion perpetrated by some, that the Old Testament is somehow an outdated document and of little use today, has brought immeasurable harm to the church. Furthermore, it is an idea that has no Biblical validity, and thus is a foolish notion that should be rejected out of hand. The scripture plainly tells us that

…whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope (Ro.15:4).

After His resurrection, when Jesus met up with two of the disciples on the road to Emmaus, He reproved them for their unbelief (Luke 24:25). Then

He explained to them the things concerning Him in all the scriptures (v.27).

Later, Paul gave the Corinthians a somewhat lengthy historical lesson on Israel’s history (I Cor.10:1-10), explaining that

…these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come (v.11).

Quite simply, the Christian educator must be prepared for instruction from any passage of scripture, from Genesis to Revelation,

…for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work (II Tim.3:16-17).

Firstly, we see in this passage from Judges that “the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord, so that the Lord gave them into the hands of the Philistines forty years” (v.1).

This is the seventh time that the scripture records a phrase like this in Judges. (See 2:14; 3:8; 3:12-13; 4:2; 6:1; 10:7). It was nothing new for Israel since coming out of Egypt, led by Moses. Once again, their idolatry led to servitude at the hands of their enemies. The scripture then informs us (v.2) that Manoah’s wife was barren. A nation in idolatry and servitude, and a barren wife! Not such a good start for any husband.

But Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life…” (Jn.11:25). For the repentant individual, family, church or nation, despite a multitude of past failures, there is always hope in the Lord.

And in this bleak family and national situation, God sends an angel, who visited Manoah’s wife, saying,

…Behold now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and give birth to a son… (v.3).

God had visited barren women before (Sarah-Gen.21:1-2; Rebekah-Gen.25:20-22 and Rachel-Gen.30:22-24), and there would be a number more before the closing of the canon, Hannah (I Sam.1:19-20) and Elizabeth (Luke 1:5-7, 57) being only two. In the case of Rebekah, God had spoken to her while the twins were in her womb (Gen.25:21-23), giving her advance knowledge of the nature of the boys, and by inference, a specific obligation towards them (see Ro.9:10-13). Now He spoke to Manoah’s wife in relation to her duties and obligations concerning this promised son, even while in her womb.

What does this mean?

Parents have serious responsibilities towards God in relation to their children, to prepare them in and for their calling before Him. Manoah’s wife was directed by the angel to take certain steps for Samson, even before she had conceived.

Does the scripture give us an earlier direction in this regard, from even before the patriarchs? Yes, it does.

Then God said, “Let us make man in Our image, according to our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth…” God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen.1:26, 28).

Some theologians have called this passage the Dominion Mandate. Children are the responsibility of their parents, and in emergencies, their families. When Esther was left orphaned, she was adopted by her Uncle Mordecai, who “…took her as his own daughter” (Esther 2:7). Churches also, have a responsibility to care for their own, and to protect the church and family from the intrusions of evildoers.

What may be a surprise for some, would be that the angel visited the woman, not her husband. But in the totality of scripture, this was not so unusual. Probably the most famous case of this, was Mary’s angelic visitation from Gabriel, with the news that she would bear a son (Luke 1:26-38). As “…a helper suitable…” (Gen.2:18) and “as a fellow heir of the grace of life…” (I Pet.3:7), husbands should rejoice in this visitation, and if the word of God should come to a family by this means, we should be glad.

(To be continued)

The Challenge for Every Christian Parent (3)

Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Mat.28:19-20).

From the days of the early church, Christians have recognised that the Great Commission didn’t commence with their government or neighbours, but with themselves and their children, at home.

Furthermore, the Great Commission doesn’t begin and end with the New Testament. How do we know this?  Because Jesus told the Jews, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am” (Jn.8:58), and “I and My Father are one” (Jn.10:30). Paul also reminds us that “whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction…” (Ro.15:4).

Thus Christian must go back to Genesis to begin to appreciate all of the commands of Jesus, and familiarise themselves with all of scripture as it applies to education. Hezekiah for instance, tells us that “…a father tells his sons about Your faithfulness” (Isa.38:19).

Consider Abraham in relation to the subject of education and discipleship. God said of him,

For I have chosen him, so that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham what He has spoken about him (Gen.18:19).

This means that education is a parental responsibility. Aspects of it may be delegated, but if we delegate, we must ensure that those entrusted with this responsibility will hold the same attitudes and philosophy that we do. Otherwise we are merely giving our children over to the godless, and the Bible tells us that “…bad company corrupts good morals” (I Cor.15:33).

Over 100 years ago, Dabney commented,

It is the teaching of the Bible and of sound Political ethics that the education of children belongs to the sphere of the family and is the duty of parents. The theory that the children of the Commonwealth are the charge of the Commonwealth is a pagan one, derived from heathen Sparta and Plato’s heathen republic, and connected by regular, logical sequence with legalized prostitution and the dissolution of the conjugal tie.[1]

All State or Public education, and even education under the authority of an Education Department falls into this category. It is good for a Christian school to employ Christian teachers, but that’s only one aspect of education. What if those that ultimately oversee the curriculum have no time for God and His Word? The integrity of the educational process will quickly be trashed.

Luther observed this 500 years ago. He 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.

But we in the modern Church haven’t taken a lot of notice of this. Our eyes have been on other things like social acceptance, the money and the potential careers for ourselves, and this has led to no end of compromise.

Perhaps because we were educated at Department registered schools, we’ve said to ourselves for a hundred years, “Education means school.” But Departmentally registered schools merely perpetuate a worldly system that has nothing to do with the Bible, so that children continue to be chronically separated from their parents whilst being educated, when parents were the ones charged by God with educational responsibility from the beginning.

The American Presbyterian theologian J. Gresham Machan recognised this. He wrote in 1926:

I think that when it comes to the training of human beings, you have to be a great deal more careful than you do in other spheres about preservation of the right of individual liberty and the principle of individual responsibility; and I think we ought to be plain about this — that unless we preserve the principles of liberty in this department [of Education] there is no use in trying to preserve them anywhere else. If you give the bureaucrats the children, you might as well give them everything else as well.

Moses did not say to the children of Israel after they had left Egypt, “You’ll all have to go back through the Red Sea each day to Egypt to educate your children.” No, concerning education, Moses passed on to them the commands of God (see Deut.6 & 11). That meant direct parental responsibility: no monopolising Department with power over other people’s children, no bureaucracy, no schools, and no taxes used for education.

This would be the foundation for Israel’s godliness, liberty and prosperity. Isn’t it about time we in the Church took our marching orders seriously from the God of heaven and earth, and followed suit?


[1] Robert Dabney, “Discussions,” 4:194 quoted in Gary Demar, “God and Government,” Vol.3, p.272.

The Challenge for Every Christian Parent (2)

They did not destroy the peoples, as the Lord commanded them, but they mingled with the nations and learned their practices, and served their idols, which became a snare to them. They even sacrificed their sons and daughters to the demons, and shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan; and the land was polluted with the blood (Ps.106:34-38).

Humanism is a religion which deifies mankind. Of course, it all began in the Garden, when Satan promised Adam and Eve, “you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Gen.3:5).

The most obvious manifestation of humanism of our era, is Public Education. Julia Gillard is a humanist, and a great believer in Public Education. Public education is a means of indoctrinating the population with values which suit the political rulers of the nation.

Anything intrinsically wrong with that? Think of it this way: all education involves indoctrination. The question is, indoctrination in what? And this is what Christians have been most reluctant to face up to, for four generations. We’ve habitually said to ourselves, “education involves learning how to read and write, and how to relate to others in society. So, the children will go to the State School. We’ll teach them spiritual values at home.”

In the early years of the 20th century, the Fabian Society of England came out strongly in favor of state aid to independent Christian schools. When a board member resigned in protest, George Bernard Shaw rebuked him strongly. Nothing, Shaw held, would more quickly destroy these schools than state aid; their freedom and independence would soon be compromised, and, before long, their faith. Events soon proved Shaw to be right.[1]

 How foolish and disobedient we have been to God’s Word. The Psalmist in the above text (recorded around 1,000 BC) offers a Holy Spirit inspired historical commentary on what the children of Israel had been doing 500 years earlier.

And what has the modern Church done? We have essentially followed the same practices. In sending our children to the public school, we have “mingled with the nations and learned their practices, and served their idols, which became a snare to them.” They were disobedient then, in 1,500 BC. Today, we repeat the process.

Now there would be some who will quickly be saying,

That’s not fair Andrew. We send our children to the Christian school, where the education is so much better.

My response is, “Who is controlling the Christian school?” If you threaten the supply of tax-monies from the Education Department to that school, that school will cross flooded streams and crawl over broken glass to make sure their funding supply is secure. The school’s attitude is, “No funding-no school.” (In some “Christian” schools, government funding accounts for 90% of all of the school’s budget). Everything else is up for negotiation, including the curriculum.

And if the Department (dominated by humanistic bureaucrats) asks hard questions about the school’s 6-day Creation Science course, or school policies about anti-discrimination for homosexual teachers or a host of other things, which way will the school jump? I can pretty well predict. The school will follow whatever path is necessary, to ensure the supply of funding continues.

Even if a school doesn’t come under direct pressure from the Department of Education, there is the implicit kind. Think of it this way. If the school gets all 125 boxes ticked for complete Departmental approval for the next 3 years, everything is hunky-dory. And if you have gone to a great deal of effort to do all the work, and committed the time and resources of the school to that project, what then do you have left, if you want to implement a Christian curriculum?

Chances are, you’ll have had enough. Chances are, you’ll say,

We’re over the line now for the registration and funding. Happy days! Do we really want to be bothered going the extra mile to press for that curriculum improvement? That would mean going back to the Department for a whole new registration process. The School Board doesn’t care. Most of the parents don’t care. The teachers are happy. What’s the problem?

So, the average “Christian” school plays the middle of the road game. The Department is kept happy, along with parents (who were never taught about this from the pulpit), and teachers.

Is this God’s way? If so, show me the scriptural validity of governments ever being involved in the education process. It’s not in the Bible, but parental responsibility is, both in the Old and New Testaments (see Deut.6; Prov.22:6; Eph.6:4).

The notion of taxes being collected for the purpose of educating children, assisting to push the national tax rates over 30-40%, only means two things. Firstly, we are a nation under judgment, and secondly, God’s way for education has been rejected.

This is what God said of Israel in Samuel’s day (see I Sam.8). God said, “…they have rejected Me from being king over them” (v.7), when the tax rate got to 10%.

Rushdoony was right, again:

Children are a God-given inheritance for our conquest of the world for Christ. They are a means of subduing the earth and exercising dominion under the Lord. If we give our children to state or private schools which are not systematically Christian in their curriculum, we are then giving the future to God’s enemies, and He will hold us accountable for laying waste our heritage.[2]

Conclusion:                                                                                        

The Body of Christ has a lot of searching of heart to do, today. We will have to think about our faithfulness to Christ, in educating our children. This will require some major changes in how we do things in the future, if we really want to please the Lord of heaven and earth.

Refusing to commit our children to godless institutions and people for their education will be the first step. Are you ready for that?


[1] Rousas Rushdoony, “Roots of Reconstruction,” 1991, p.446.

[2] Rousas Rushdoony, “In His Service,” 2009, p.20.

The Challenge for Every Christian Parent (1)

Great are the works of the Lord; they are studied by all who delight in them (Ps.111:2).

We Christians must acknowledge one thing today: the Church has been letting a lot of things slip over the last hundred years or so, and it’s got us into no end of trouble.

Why has this happened? I believe it’s been because the Church has believed things that are not true. For example, Jesus explained to Pilate that “My kingdom is not of this world…” (Jn.18:36).

Does this mean that Christians are never to have a role, or play any part in the affairs of the world that we live in, that we are not to speak with confidence or authority about important issues in the life of the community or nation, and that we should just shut up and watch the world go by, to destruction? The Bible doesn’t teach us that.

Jesus was showing Pilate that the origins of His kingdom are not from this world. Jesus’ authority and kingdom came from God, and are not derived from a human, earthly source. But because God has made the world and all things in it, and He called Adam and Eve (and representatively, us) to “rule and have dominion” (Gen.1:26-28), Christian people are obliged under God to understand how we are to live and serve Him, so that we can give a good account to Him.

This means a lot of things. It means that we are firstly, to see all of life from God’s perspective. There is no subject or area of understanding that ought to be separated from the knowledge of God, or seen apart from scripture, for God has laid out in His Word His commands for life, and they are all encompassing.

Let me give you an example. The Bible teaches us that

You shall do no injustice in judgment; you shall not be partial to the poor nor defer to the great, but you are to judge your neighbour fairly (Lev.19:15).

Government instigated graduated taxation (where high earners pay a higher rate of tax) is in violation of this scripture, because it is “partial to the poor.” If there is to be income tax, it ought to be at a flat rate. But we in the Church have systematically ignored this scripture for all of the twentieth century, and now progressive tax rates are with us, all over the world. The politics of envy have triumphed over godliness, and now it’s hurting.

According to the law of God in Deuteronomy 6, education is a parental responsibility. It’s not a task that God has given to government to perform. But 150 years ago, the Church said, “That’s all right. We’ll let the government look after that. We won’t have to bother.” So now, we have Public Education: the most evil, wasteful and inefficient system of education known to man.

Why did this happen? The modern Church decided that when Paul said, “…you are not under law but under grace” (Ro.6:14), we had a licence to throw all of God’s law out the window.

The results have been catastrophic, both in the Church and in the world.

Paul was not advocating the rejection of God’s law. What he was doing was showing that obeying God’s law has never been and can never be the basis of our justification. Only the substitutionary death of Jesus on our behalf could accomplish that. The law of God teaches us how to live.

So as we think about our children’s education, we’re going to have to go back to God’s law to give us our marching orders.

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.[1]


[1] Dabney (circa 1890), quoted in Bruce Shortt, “The Harsh Truth about Government Schools,” 2004, p.356.

Teacher Tells her Child Her Mother is not Her Teacher

By Gary DeMar (www.godfatherpolitics.com), 26/11/2014

Cassidy Vines recently began noticing a change in her daughter’s behavior. The kindergartener began to ‘snap’ at her mother when she tried correcting the little girl’s homework.  ‘She told me that I was her mommy, not her teacher.'”

Cassidy asked her daughter,  “Is somebody telling you this at school?”

“She said, ‘Yes, I’m only allowed to learn from my teacher,'” Vines remarked.

There you have it. It doesn’t matter what you and I know and can find out on our own; it’s only what government-trained, and government-paid teachers are required to teach over any knowledge parents might have.

There are many teachers who want to be good teachers but are not allowed to teach anything but what the curriculum dictates.

When one mother objected how Thanksgiving was being taught, she called the Principal “to point out that Thanksgiving was when the Pilgrims thanked God. The principal responded by saying ‘that was her opinion’—the schools could only teach what was in the books!”

If you ever sat through a college history class or even a high school history class, you will most likely be taught that there was a period called the “Dark Ages,” and it was all blamed on evil and ignorant Christians.

Nothing could be further from the truth, but in many cases there is no other view being taught. Art, science, architecture, music, literature, and so much more developed during the period that too many historians describe as “dark.”

The Enlightenment did not burst on the scene fully formed. There was a long development of progress preceding the area of a so-called enlightenment…

Take a look at Rodney Stark’s book How the West Won: The Neglected Story of the Triumph of Modernity.

The perception that there has always been a war between religion and science is of recent vintage. The myth finds its most formal statement in the nineteenth-century works of John William Draper’s History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) and Andrew Dickson White’s History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896).

White introduces his work with the claim that he is ‘letting the light of historical truth into the decaying mass of outworn thought which attaches the modern world to medieval conceptions of Christianity and which lingers among us—a most serious barrier to religion and morals, and a menace to the whole normal evolution of society.” 

Tom Shachtman writes in his book Gentlemen Scientists and Revolutionaries: The Founding Fathers in the Age of Enlightenment (2014):

“It is also important to note that the Founding Fathers’ science was in no way opposite their religion. The notion that science and religion were antithetical is a nineteen-century construct” falsely popularized by Draper and White. “To split the Founders’ religious beliefs from their scientific ones creates a schism that did not exist in the Founding Fathers’ time. The Founders saw and felt no space between their faith in science and their faith in a Deity.”

And what did Cassidy Vines do? She took her child out of the government school and is teaching her at home. There are many educational opportunities available to parents these days that avoid the government education gatekeepers.