Like many of you, I grew up in the public school system. I was raised in pretty conservative areas of California, and while there were many things I didn’t like about school, I didn’t realize how completely my public school education had formed me. I thought that education was mostly neutral and that I could simply toss out ideas that were contrary to my beliefs. It wasn’t until I started to homeschool my children, which coincided with my growing maturity as a Christian, that I realized how deeply my beliefs about the world were aﬀected by my education.
As homeschool parents, many of us are now aware of the foundational importance of education, but we often believe that by choosing an alternative to public schools our children will be free from the eﬀects of them. I wish this were true. In reality, the consequences of public schools, which I will call government schools going forward, permeate every part of our culture. Our parents, our siblings, our friends, and fellow church members are all products of the system. I am regularly discovering that I must reform my own habits, perceptions, and ideologies to ﬁt a biblical standard after decades of indoctrination from culture and government education. As Christian homeschool parents, we know that the purpose of education is to teach our children to know and serve the Lord with their whole hearts, souls, and minds, and that they should love their neighbors as themselves (Matthew 22:37-40). So it’s important to understand the lies coming to us through the government education system. These lies aﬀect our ability to love one another and be the Church.
Over the past couple of years, the ﬁssures of ideological diﬀerences within the greater American Christian church have erupted into explosions. Where does this come from? How can the Church be so divided on foundational issues? Because education informs culture, I believe the root of the problem is our education system.
To show how deeply the indoctrination goes I’m going to start with a statistic from the Barna research website from 2017:
Barna’s research shows that only 17 percent of Christians who consider their faith important and attend church regularly actually have a biblical worldview.
The criteria is so broadly Christian that it is truly shocking that only 17% of Christians hold those beliefs.
In this article I will point out three of the lies taught to us by our education system, contrasted by Biblical truth; and I’ll close with some thoughts on homeschooling.
So let’s begin with the lies:
Lie #1: Trust the experts
Why is it that so many Christians offer their children up so willingly to be indoctrinated by people who don’t love them, don’t have a personal investment in them, and won’t have to deal with any long term consequences of their behavior? Because the teachers, the bureaucrats designing the curriculum and running the schools, are experts. And we have all been trained to trust the experts without question. We can see this in many areas of our culture, but I will only focus on the experts in our education system.
When we were children, we went to school because the government said we had to and our parents believed that the teachers were more qualified than they were. So then we often send our children to school because that’s what we did and that’s what you do with children. Parents send them during their most impressionable years to strangers for most of the day, during most of the year, for thirteen years of their lives.
Few Christians question the practice.
Parents accept the idea that what they are taught in school is what is best for them to know, that it will help them to get into a better college, which will get them a better job, which means more money and, of course, more money equals a happier life. Even as
Christians, parents accept this relatively new cultural practice as if there is no other way, simply because some expert somewhere in the recent past said that this is what’s best for children.
One of the silver linings that came from closing the schools in the last couple of years is that parents were able to see for themselves exactly what the so-called experts were teaching their children. Not only did they find the material itself egregious, but they found that some teachers and school administrations were actually using the authority granted by their expertise to position themselves between children and their parents. When you place your child into someone else’s care what you are actually doing is delegating your authority as a parent to that person. Consciously or not, children believe that the person in whose care they are left is a person worthy of the task. The child trusts the teachers and over years the teachers train the child not to trust his parents. By nature of their expertise teachers can position themselves as a greater authority than the parent.
I don’t mean to disparage teachers; I know that there are some wonderful, godly teachers. But the school system is a system and systems have purpose. From the very outset of its implementation the modern school system was designed to control the population, remove Christianity, and put a wedge between parents and their children, thereby reshaping culture.
The following quote is from an article by the editors of The New Republic, a progressive publication, written in 1915. Note that when the word democracy is used it is meant in the modern progressive sense like we hear it used today.
Twentieth-century democracy believes that the community has certain positive ends to achieve, and if they are to be achieved the community must control the education of the young. It believes that training in scientific habits of mind is fundamental to the progress of democracy. It believes that freedom and tolerance mean the development of independent powers of judgement in the young, not the freedom of older people to impose their dogmas on the young. Democracy claims no right to interfere with worship or opinion, but it does claim the right to develop in every child the capacity for testing its own convictions. It insists that the plasticity of the child shall not be artificially and prematurely hardened into a philosophy of life, but that experimental naturalistic aptitudes shall constitute true education. (Emphasis mine.)Hegseth, Pete. “Progressives Wanted to Control the Kids.” Battle for the American Mind: Uprooting a Century of Miseducation. Broadside Books, 2022, pp. 88
That was over 100 years ago, but nothing has changed. Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, recommended an article from the Washington Post last October called Parents claim they have the right to shape their kids’ school curriculum. They don’t. After mentioning the growing parents rights movement the article states,
Given this frenzy, one might reasonably conclude that radicals are out to curtail the established rights that Americans have over the educational sphere. Yet what’s actually radical here is the assertion of parental powers that have never previously existed. This is not to say that parents should have no influence over how their children are taught. But common law and case law in the United States have long supported the idea that education should prepare young people to think for themselves, even if that runs counter to the wishes of parents. In the words of legal scholar Jeff Shulman, “This effort may well divide child from parent, not because socialist educators want to indoctrinate children, but because learning to think for oneself is what children do.”
Later on the article states,
When do the interests of parents and children diverge? Generally, it occurs when a parent’s desire to inculcate a particular worldview denies the child exposure to other ideas and values that an independent young person might wish to embrace or at least entertain. To turn over all decisions to parents, then, would risk inhibiting the ability of young people to think independently.
Let’s get back to that statistic from Barna. 17% of church-going Christians have a basic Christian worldview. That leaves 83% of Christians who attend church regularly and believe church is important who do not have a Christian worldview. How did we
In these articles from 1915 and 2021 the experts running our schools have pushed for children to think for themselves. But as Christians we are actually not free to think for ourselves. What we are free to do is think rightly. God has given us a standard to live
by. And it is by that standard that we are to judge anyone claiming to be an expert.
In Acts 10:11-12 we read about the Bereans,
These were more fair minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so. Therefore many of them believed…
Likewise, 1 John 4:1 says,
Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 says,
Test all things; hold fast to what is good.
Or in Galatians 1:9,
As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
Blind faith in experts, even if the expert is our pastor, makes us vulnerable. In Rod Dreher’s book, Live Not By Lies, he says,
A time of testing, even persecution is coming. Lukewarm or shallow Christians will notp. 162
come through with their faith intact… We should see how many of the world’s values
have been absorbed into Christian life and practice. Then we must judge how the ways
of the world, and its demands, conflict with what Christ requires of his disciples.
Lie #2: Sameness is good; diversity is bad
In the culture today we are always hearing about diversity, but in practice we are taught from preschool, that sameness is good and diversity should be avoided. Children are placed in classes with other children of the same age for at least 13 years. In the schools they are expected to sit down, line up, be quiet, study, and play at the same time and all together. They read the same books, listen to the same music, and dress the same. Fitting in is the priority. No one wants to stand out. Those who do are often picked on, shamed, harassed, and made to feel foolish. All this we, as a culture, accept as normal.
By the time a child gets to high school, whether it is in class discussion or in an essay, he knows that he shouldn’t actually be using any critical thinking skills to ask questions or challenge his teacher. What he should do, especially if he wants a good grade, is give the answer the teacher is looking for.
In the last section I listed quotes for you stating that the advocates for progressive schools wanted to teach children to think for themselves. Another lie. Progressive teachers want children to think like they think.
The purpose of our government school system has always been assimilation. Beginning in the mid-19th century the government school system was used as a way to train the children of immigrants to be American, to be a people united by culture and language. Whether or not this was a good thing at that time is beyond the scope of our subject today. The point I am making is that schools are doing what they have always done: assimilating children into the dominant culture. The problem we have today is that the dominant culture is not only unchristian, it is anti-Christian.
In his book Family Driven Faith, after pointing out that 85% of American Christians send their children to government schools, Voddie Baucham sums up the problem perfectly when he says,
We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.
More importantly, we cannot continue to use Caesar’s methods in our Christian schools, and expect a different outcome. Education is inseparable from discipleship.
He then makes reference to Luke 6:40,
A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.
So let’s have a little review of the lies so far before we look at how they have affected the church.
We are supposed to trust the experts, who know better than we do, so that our children will learn to think for themselves, so that they will think just like everyone else.
So what are some of the things we, the greater church, have assimilated?
- The social justice movement and ideas of equity
- A sexual ethic that says there is no difference between men and women
- The practice of organizing ourselves according to age
- The idea that tolerance and being nice is the highest good
- The fear of speaking out
- The fear of standing out
Unlike the school system, the Bible teaches us to value true diversity. Because we are united as the body of Christ we are free to be who we are created to be. Without quoting the whole chapter, I want to illustrate the point by listing a few of the highlights from 1 Corinthians chapter 12.
There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. For as the body is one and has many members, but all of the members of that
one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free — and all have been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many.
Diversity is not about skin pigmentation, ethnicity, or socio-economic status. It is about how each Christian fits into the Body of Christ based on the gifts received from the Holy Spirit and the works God has prepared for each of us to do. We don’t lose our cultural identities, but who we are in Christ surpasses any other identity we could claim.
And that’s important because we are not called to be assimilated to the culture; we are called to change it, by making disciples of all nations. If we expect to have anything to offer there has to be a difference between life as a Christian and life as an unbeliever.
But American Christians are not used to being in the minority. We are not used to being the persecuted culture. We have become weak and soft, so that when someone calls us a bad name or hints at a threat to our reputation we revert to our school training. Don’t stand out, don’t cause any trouble, sit down, and shut up.
As homeschool parents we have made a different choice; instead of sending our children to Caesar, we have kept them home and taught them to love their heritage as Christians. Alongside their studies in British history, we teach them about William Wilberforce, the Christian who fought and won the battle to end slavery in all of the British colonies. We teach them that they can study the sciences because God made an orderly universe and that their bodies, made male and female, give them distinct blessings and responsibilities. By educating them at home we can remove for our children the stumbling blocks that many of us are still finding in our paths.
But we also have family and friends, people we love dearly, who are still sending their children to government schools, believing that their child will be the shining light to lead others to Jesus. I know that not all children come out of the government school system fully assimilated into the culture of the world. I don’t believe it is impossible for a child to come out of government school unscathed, however, I do believe it is essentially sending an unarmed child to fight against battle-hardened warriors. Children are not evangelists; they are disciples.
One of my very favorite quotes on education comes from The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. The main character, Helen, is answering the criticism of her neighbor for not sending her very young son away to boarding school. She says,
I will lead him by the hand, Mr. Markham, til he has the strength to go alone; and I will clear as many stones from his path as I can, and teach him to avoid the rest — or walk firmly over them, as you say — for when I have done my utmost, in the way of clearance, there will still be plenty left to exercise all the agility, steadiness and circumspection he will ever have. It is all very well to talk about noble resistance, and trials of virtue; but for fifty — or five hundred men that have yielded to temptation, show me one that has had virtue to resist. And why should I take it for granted that my son will be one in a thousand — and not rather prepare for the worst, and suppose he will be like … the rest of mankind, unless I take care to prevent it?
Lie #3: Man is the measure of all things
The last lie I will address is summed up in many phrases: Man is the measure of all things, follow your heart, you can be anything if you set your mind to it, or live your truth, you do you.
As human beings on planet earth we are finite creatures. We are limited by time and space, by gravity, and weather. We are limited by our bodies, by way of our sex, male or female, and also in capability. As a person who is 5’2” I will never be able to reach a shelf as high as my husband who is 6’4”. There are also limitations and expectations put upon us based on our social identities. I am a daughter, a wife, and a mother. Each of these roles makes certain demands on me.
And in any other time and in many other places in the world today this is just called reality. These things are simply true.
Our culture no longer accepts objective truth. It has come to such a point that we are expected to deny observable reality for the sake of someone else’s fantasy. Anyone can identify as anything. Culturally speaking we didn’t just jump into this. According to Carl Trueman’s book, The Rise and Triumph of the Modern Self, it has been a steady ramping up since the 1700s with Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who believed that man is born good and societal pressures are the problem. Rousseau was the first to articulate and popularize the ideas of self-love and the authentic-self, putting personal perception as the basis for understanding what good, rather than an objective morality coming from outside the individual person.
While most people in our culture have never even heard of Rousseau, his ideas have become mainstream. Our culture has reached a level of absurdity that I think is unprecedented, where we are all supposed to go along with everyone else’s “truth,” as if our varying truths don’t conflict. But as I said, we have been building up to this for a long time and government schools over the last century have been paving the way.
From kindergarten our children are taught, and it’s supposed to be a good thing, that they can do or be anything. That boys are the same as girls, that you should be nice and never hurt anyone’s feelings by telling them what they want or like or think is wrong. Now they are explicitly being taught that the things they imagine about themselves can become real.
A few years ago a friend sent her child to a local school for kindergarten. Within the first couple of weeks the teacher, excited for her first year teaching, posted on social media that she would be reading a book about a little boy who wants to be a mermaid. The story was inspired by the author’s trans friend and RuPaul’s Drag Race. It ends with the young boy, holding his grandmother’s hand, dressed as a mermaid, marching in the Coney Island Mermaid Parade. Judging by the pictures posted online, the real parade appears to be filled with sexualized and grotesque costumes and is no place for any child.
The message of the world is “follow your heart.” But Jeremiah 17:9 tells us that,
The heart is deceitful above all things,
And desperately wicked;
Who can know it?
As Christians we should certainly not be teaching our children to follow their hearts. Our hearts are tied to our desires and our emotions, the embodiment of our flesh, which we know to be self serving. We cannot trust it. If we build our lives on what the
heart wants, over what God says is right, even if it feels good, we end up believing that our life’s purpose and our way to happiness is to chase after our own desires, disregarding biblical truth.
The most harmful ideology perpetuated by the education system is the one surrounding human sexuality. No longer teaching the facts of reproduction (which was never the schools place anyway), but rooted in emotion, the teaching has even thrown off biology. I won’t go into details here, but I’ll say that over the last decade or two the schools have gone way beyond the so-called health class to make “pride” and “representation” a part of every subject.
The real tragedy though, of focusing on personal desires, is that there is no education in the truth of who we are made to be, specifically as men and women. The union of male and female has a distinct purpose, to make babies and form families. Families
bring obligations and require sacrifice. Female bodies are made to carry and nurse children. Because male bodies don’t have to bear the burden of caring for an infant, men have the responsibility of being providers and protectors. Female bodies also have a time limitation. Advanced maternal age is 35, after which time the likelihood of complications and miscarriage increases dramatically and fertility decreases. This is truth, proved in nature and thousands of years of human history, but it isn’t taught by the education system.
This particular lie has been especially harmful to the church. Cultural norms have become Christian norms. Young men and women see marriage as something to do after they feel accomplished, as a capstone, rather than a cornerstone. So instead of getting married at 21 or 22, starting from nothing and building a life together, young Christians are not getting married until their late 20s and early 30s, after college and career, leaving a long time of temptation and a long time to develop habits that make it harder to adjust to life with a spouse. We have fewer children now too, though I will concede that women are called to different family sizes, as we are all built differently. My argument is against the selfish reasons not to have children. Children are loud, expensive, time consuming, and constant. They require us to make sacrifices, to shift our focus outward.
The Bible uses the language of the family to help us understand our relationship to God and to each other. God is our Father, we are brothers and sisters. Family is the foundation of the church. Family is the example for the church. How can we know how to relate to each other as the family of God if we don’t know how to be a family?
Our system of education undermines the strength of the family first by taking children out of the home and into the care of a system that actively works to drive a wedge between parent and child, then by teaching the child that having his own family would be oppressive.
That is why I believe that the ideal setting for Christian education is the home. Opportunities to teach come as a matter of life together. Deuteronomy 6:5-7 states,
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, when you lie down and when you rise up.
Teaching our children to live for the Lord is the aim of education. Math and science, history and literature are easy by comparison. Despite what the school officials might say, as homeschool parents we know that you don’t need to be an expert to teach your children. As you teach you learn alongside them. I had no idea how deficient my government education was in academics until I started homeschooling.
I will leave you with a quote from G.K. Chesterton on the importance of women in the home.
How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe? How can it be broad to be the same thing to everyone, and narrow to be everything to someone? No; a woman’s function is laborious, but because it is gigantic, not because it is minute.
Too many Christian parents have unknowingly abdicated the responsibility to steward the hearts of the eternal souls that have been placed in their care. They think too little of their duty. As homeschool parents our duty is first to our own children, but also to the Body of Christ. We must advocate for true education. We must encourage parents with young children and be a resource for families who are considering home education. We can help to lead the way, so that others can see what is possible when we forsake the expectations of the world.
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