A few weeks ago when our pastor said the problem with defining identity is that we use the choices we’ve made or the groups we’ve separated from (rather than finding our identity solely in Christ), one of my first mental applications jumped to the schooling arena.
There exists a sentiment among some families who have chosen public/private school that homeschool families look down on them or desire for them to feel guilty for the choices they’ve made. Sure, there are some gung-ho families who say not to discount the homeschool option on a basis of tight finances or “inability” to teach… and yes, there are a passionate few who cannot fathom ever sending their child(ren) to public school. But most of us as parents know that there are often factors we can’t see in why a family makes one choice or the other. As with any hot button issue, passion exudes from those on either side of the fence.
One-size-fits-all truly cannot work in a society as diverse as ours. Some full-time working moms choose to homeschool, and some at-home moms have children who attend public school. There are pros and cons to either choice, yet many families made the decision they did based on their current life season, family priorities, and goals. Many of us (on one side of the issue or the other) can understand that our families can’t all make the same choice.
Encouragement comes when we don’t compare my family’s choices with your family’s but instead choose to discuss those choices in a neutral manner. Will I fully understand where you’re coming from? Maybe not. Will you think I’m still a little looney for the choice we’ve made? Quite possibly. But iron sharpens iron when discussions happen with sincerity and genuine interest — not when we endeavor to persuade the “opposition” to “join our side.”
How this relates to the Gospel
Research shows that the majority of homeschoolers have chosen that educational setting based on “a concern about the environment of other schools,” which includes an increasing hostility to religious education. Homeschooling can be an excellent opportunity for parents to put Deuteronomy 6 into action throughout the day, but not every one of those parents has these intentions.
On the flip side, some public school parents stay on top of discipling their children and keep the communication lines open in the few hours they have together each day. They don’t expect the public school to deal with character development, and they readily shoulder that responsibility.
Each of us has a primary obligation in our role as parents, according to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 and Ephesians 6:4b –
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one! 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, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
…bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
All the time. God’s Word should be in our hearts and on our lips as we interact with those who share our home. When God and His Word take priority in our homes, He will — by His rich grace — use both the public school families and the home school families for His glory.
The point of the Gospel is ultimately His glory. Whatever your family chooses, whether public or private or home school, do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).
Your turn: Have you been on one side of this fence… or both, at some point? How were you encouraged as your family made the schooling decision?