Monday, August 12, 2013

Why Public School?

I love my very dear friends in the home school community where I have spent the last nine years of my life.  But today I begin a new season as my youngest enters the realm of public school.

"Storm the castle!" is a phrase we often say as our children leave for school.  But on this day I feel like the warrior left behind to guard the gate.  So why public school?  The following is my summary in answer to that question. 


Public school provides challenges which grow our faith, not only as parents, but also in the lives of our children.  As we release control, we are forced to depend on God for our children's friends, their teachers, and their classes.  It causes us to face the question, "How big is our God?"  Because sometimes we treat Him as small.  While protection and preservation are crucial when a child is young, there comes a point where it hinders rather than helps.  Our child's success and survival in life is not all up to us.  God is capable of keeping our children, even in public school.   Furthermore, if it is by trials and difficulties that we grow, why do we seek so hard to shield our children from them?


Public school challenges beliefs.  The teaching can be subtle and stroll through the back door of language arts or blatantly crash through the front door of science.  Either way, it forces our children to face what they really believe and take ownership of those beliefs . . . cement on the heart.   The questions present us, as parents, opportunity to discuss values, morality, philosophy, and theology at their level and in their time.  I would rather they face these issues now, with our guidance, than later without. 


Public schools have a reputation for poor achievement.  But there are worse fates than low academics such as pride, or living in a spirit of fear.  Statistics lie.  Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to get a good education at public school if the student is willing to seek it.  However, our goal is not necessarily high academics, but growth and maturity in Christ.


We live in a world of rapid change.  If we want to impact our world, we must keep up with it. Though as believers we are not of the world, we are to be in it.  At some point our children need to learn how to function within the culture in which we live.  This is crucial for knowing how to reach our world. 


Public school gives our family endless opportunities to share our faith.  We are pulled out of our Christianese bubble and continually brushed near unbelievers.  We can become so isolated from the world for fear of being tainted by it, that we lose impact.  We take in, we build, we soak truth, but if there is no outlet for giving we can become like soggy sponges.  After awhile we begin to stink with stagnant complacency.

We have to ask ourselves, "Why are we here?  Why doesn't God just take us to heaven, our true home, as soon as we believe?"  The answer lies in being His ambassadors to a lost world, to be the salt of the earth.  We are lamps, burning with the oil of God's Spirit within.  These lamps are not meant to be hidden under a bush, but set on a hill, like a city at night.  So too, God desires to fit us for heaven in conforming us to the likeness of Christ, giving Him glory. 

This concludes my brief summary.  That said, every parent must decide for themselves what is best for their child.  To know our children is one of the best gifts we can give them.  No parent rushes into a school decision without first giving it much thought.  It is highly personal and there is no 'across the board' rule on which method is best.  In truth, the home life has far more impact on a child than any school. 

Public school is very inconvenient.  I miss being able to control my schedule.  Furthermore it tends to be anti-family and pro-government/socialization.  It takes great effort to be there.  At the same time, it is not the horrible, evil place that is so often dreaded.  Many of the rumors are based on worse case scenarios or fear of the unknown.  But I believe with all my heart that God would have my children there.  I am not assuming the same for anyone else, only for myself.

Our personal method of teaching has been to home school for the elementary years.  The reason we do this is because young children are vulnerable and do not yet know what they believe.  By middle school we trust they have taken ownership of their faith and are ready to stand for it, thus making them stronger.

But the main reason we keep our younger children home is that we simply enjoy being with them.  The public school snatches so many hours from their childhood, that we just cannot bear it.  However, God asks us to release them, as an arrow from a bow, into the world, so that they might fulfill God's calling on their lives.  We hope we have done so responsibly.


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