This is my reply to a pastor concerned about a ‘homeschooling syndrome’ in his community:
I sometimes look at the churches and I wonder whether there is a league table where the ‘homeschooling pastor’s wife is queen’. I am sure there are many values that the homeschooling pastor’s wife embodies that can be found in the Bible, but I am suspicious that there is a clique mentality that legitimizes some of the behavior that I see in Junior High. In some books it is called the ‘Queen Bee and Wannabe’. A culture where an ‘in crowd’ and an ‘out crowd’ develops over key values is not, I believe, the way of Christ. There is a subculture that runs women’s meetings at 10:00 a.m. and talks incessantly about family. I think that fellowship and family values are essential to the life of the church, but there is an ego-centrism that ostracizes the struggling single-mother, or the infertile woman that such cliques ignore.
Good schooling is done for the benefit of the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is a Kingdom of engagement. The result of a good education is one where the student can engage in the world and be salt and light. Salt is rubbed into rotting meat and light shines into darkness. Some homeschooling raises children to engage, but much is a reaction to the world where the parents protect their children to the degree that they have no transformational effect. It can be a fear of loss of control, fear of harm, or fear of the unknown that drives such a decision to home school. However, a parent’s schooling choices should be marked by faith not fear.
One of my main concerns about homeschooling is the undervaluing of training and teacher education. The pupil frequently models themselves after the teacher and if the teacher is lacking the pupil will lack in those areas of weakness all the more. Some of the curriculum used in homeschooling compensates for the lack of teaching skills by being very prescriptive. The emphasis is on obedience and knowledge. Of course, a child whose faith is grounded in what they have been told to believe(poorly reasoned)and think, ceases to think when the dominating force is gone. It either leads to ineffective faith or no faith. A teacher who can encourage thinking beyond a text is more in line with the Rabbi Himself. Christ not only lectured his disciples, he sent them on ‘field trips’ without him, he quizzed them, he gave them hands on learning experiences. The art of teaching is valuable – years of training have value. I like to see homeschooling teachers who are grounded in the philosophical foundations of Christian Worldview, varied pedagogy, biblical knowledge, subject knowledge, integration, and creativity. They do exist.
What I have seen in Christian schooling is an influx of homeschooled children who test with peaks and troughs. Their scores peak in reading and social studies, frequently. The scores trough in mathematics, spelling, and science. The parent will marvel at what a great reader their child is, but they lack the accountability or know-how to see that one area of development has been accelerated at the expense of another. Wiser homeschoolers have their children tested on a yearly basis to make sure that if they are accelerated they are accelerated across the board.