Monday, April 9, 2007

SRT: Book #2 - When You Rise Up

As part of Katrina's Spring Reading Thing, I committed to read four books. This was not one of them, however. LOL (I mentioned in my first SRT post that I reserve the right to change my list at will! *wink*) But, since Kari so graciously gave it to me on loan from her online Lending Library a while ago, I felt that I needed to get it done.

But, where to begin? LOL Kari was right that this book,
When You Rise Up by R.C. Sproul Jr., was different than any other book I'd read on homeschooling. We are currently in the process of deciding whether to begin this process with Flicka in 2 short years. This book leaves no equivocation. There's no missing how the author feels: "...because there can't be a rational, coherent argument against homeschooling." And, again when he says "...the most grievous error we can make is to send them off to school where Jesus is not plainly, fully, and publicly honored. In that great name may we all hasten the day when no parent at the same time claims to serve the King and yet allows his child to be trained by those who will not name that King."

This book brought out a real love/hate reaction in me that will be difficult to explain. He gave a clear (although repetitive) explanation of how Deuteronomy 6 calls parents to raise up their child in the fear and admonition of the Lord and how he feels that means it is a mandate from God that all parents (since believers are equipped for every good work and what could be more "good"than caring and teaching the babies God gave ya') are to homeschool. He asks the question - which is more important? Godly kids or smart kids? My question: why can't I have both?

He gave a solid explanation of the difference between "state schools", "school at home", and true homeschooling. His argument is if you are just doing a state school curriculum and running around taking your kids to all the state-school-activities-geared-now-for-homeschoolers then you are not really homeschooling - you are doing school-at-home.

He argues that a true homeschool following Deuteronomy 6 should have a curriculum that singularly begins and ends with the Bible and what he calls "The Three G's": Who is God? What has God done? What does God require?

Now, he also mentions that his children (all 6 of them, including one who is special needs) are learning Latin, philosophy, and many things considered a "classical" education. But, he also discusses with his children (in hopefully an age-appropriate way) that it is very possible that a time may come very shortly that they could be martyred for their faith.

What unsettled me the most was his discussion about different curriculum for boys and girls. Now, being a state certified teacher, I have seen much of the recent research about gender differences in learning, single sex classroom pros and cons, etc. And, I am all for God's plan of submission to Him, my husband, and child-to-parents. But, I have some concern with Sproul's plan to withhold parts of the curriculum from his daughters because their role "in the war" is to keep the home fires safe, peaceful, and burning.

"We raise our daughter to be warriors for the kingdom by raising them to be keepers at home...I'm not suggesting that the goal is to have ignorant daughters. I am, however, arguing that we are to train them to be keepers at homes...(in the family) we have one general, one king, and that is the husband. But our daughters are a part of that work, with the central focus on keeping the (home). They should be taught how to be careful stewards of God's provisions in their homes. To bring it down to earth a bit more, they need to learn how to bake bread. They need to know how to sew dresses..."

Now, my pre-saved single working woman attitude was absolutely screaming at this point. But, I'm trying to balance it from a Biblical viewpoint as well. Then, I thought I got to choose to stay home so why shouldn't Flicka? Can one be in Biblical submission and still be learned and working out of the home? Can a young girl be taught Biblical womanhood and its virtues of modesty, a quiet spirit, etc. and still daily be "in the world"? Perhaps you can see my dilemma. LOL

Anyway, the best thing I took away from this book was a chapter of absolutely excellent responses to those who are questioning our interest in homeschooling Flicka and Pojke.

He feels "the number one objection to homeschooling is the one that is never spoken out loud. I believe the reason people begin rejecting homeschool is that they are convinced it is too big a responsibility." He then speaks about the whole "you're not qualified to teach" argument.

He then discusses the "efficiency" argument - isn't it more efficient to teach all same-age kids the same way in the same classroom? He also spends a few paragraphs on the "it's too expensive" argument as well.

He then spends several pages on the "it's the well-being of the child" argument. "I can't teach (pick your subject) and in today's fast-paced economy everybody needs to know (that subject)." He also rails against parents who pick state schools because of their athletic opportunities or extracurricular activities. "If I homeschool, my baby will never get to work on the yearbook, go to prom, be the homecoming queen, etc." Then, "one of the most compelling arguments I've ever heard FOR homeschooling is the one given against it: 'my child will rebel if I homeschool him'." And, the classic objection: the socialization question.

Finally, he discusses the objection that often comes from within the church -that our children are to be light and salt so send them out to state schools. Sproul says (basically) if you are so concerned about reaching the lost, then send your child into a crack house or a brothel. Those people are just as lost. And, at least "those people don't have the authority to make our children sit and listen to their worldview being taught seven hours a day."

This book brought up A LOT of conversation between Da Hubby and I. We've also discussed it with another couple we go to church with. We are slowly digesting it, figuring out what it meant to us and our decision. But, if you are considering homeschooling as well, I'd say read this, let it shake you up and challenge you so you know *exactly* why you will be homeschooling!


JenMom said...

Beth- WOW! I was screaming at some of these points, too. We are already deliberating over school for the kiddos. Our choices are between public school, a private Christian school, a private academically acclaimed school and a small private school run by a local college. Homeschooling does not seem to be as much of an option for us because we have some great alternative options. What a book!

Unashamed said...

Hmm. I have no objection against homeschooling, in fact I have nothing but the utmost admiration for those parents who take on this awesome responsibility. But I do object to the notion that homeschooling should be the only option that a Christian can consider. That seems to be what Sproul is advocating here and quite frankly that's legalism.

We chose to send our kids to a private Christian school, Christ Lutheran School, and the reason that we chose to do this is also based on Deuteronomy 6. We consider the task of raising up our children in the fear, love and trust of the Lord to be the Primary Responsibility of the parents of course. But we allow the church to assist us with it, do we not? So why not the school? We were concerned that the public school system would not support - and in fact would undermine - what our kids were being taught in the home and in the church, so we chose to send them to a Christian school. (To be quite honest with you, homeschooling never even entered my thoughts. Fifteen years ago, homeschooling wasn't as common here as it is now, so it never occured to me that it was even a choice. I imagine we would consider it now if we were facing these choices again.)

Whether we homeschool our kids or send them to a private school, both choices require the families to make great personal sacrifices - and a lot of the time it is financially straining. The families that send their kids to Christ Lutheran are not "wealthy" or "elite". They're just ordinary folks like us, from all different faith backgrounds I might add, who are trying to do what they believe is best for their kids and making whatever sacrifices are necessary to do so. We don't consider it a burden, we just do it. BUT, for some families the sacrifices involved in homeschooling or paying tuition may seem overwhelming and they believe that both are out of their reach. They may truly believe that they simply don't have the resources to do either and so end up thinking that public school is their only option. Whether that believe is unfounded or not, those families deserve our support as well - in fact, they need extra support because they are likely facing challenges that our homeschooled/Christian-schooled kids are not.

I don't regret having made the decision to send our kids to a Christian school. They were schooled in an environment where their faith was nurtured AND they were able to enjoy the extras, like be in the choir, play on the volleyball team, join the running club etc. In the older grades they are also required to do a minimum of 20 hours of volunteer service per year.

Homeschooling your kids or sending them to a Christian school doesn't automatically immunize them against the world either. My boys are a prime example. We thought that they had a fence drawn around them that would protect them - wrong! The world will find a way in.

Bottom line, I guess, is that while we felt that Christian school was the best option for our kids, I would not condemn you if you decided to homeschool them or send them to a public school. Trust that the Lord (not R.C. Sproul) will make His will known to you concerning this most important of decisions.

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

Anita - I hope I didn't offend you with the wording of this. I was trying very carefully to put Sproul's words in quotes. And to leave my feelings out of it as much as possible.

Where we stand now, we're uncomfortable with our public school choices (despite living in a "Top 50" district in Michigan) and we can't afford a private school. My hope was that I could do homeschooling more economically.

I have some serious reservations with Sproul's assertion that ALL Christian parents should homeschool because we are "directed" to do so by Deut. 6.

His feeling about Christian and/or private schools appears to be that no one has a more vested interested in making sure your children are raised correctly so why pass off ANY part of that responsibility to anyone else.

That line of thinking also explains why he doesn't even think there should be Sunday school at churches since YOU have more interest (and in his feeling a responsiblity) to be the one that teaches your child(ren) about God.
He seems to feel that what teacher anywhere is going to *really* care about doing it right but you.

I hope you thinking I'm making any judgments here about the choices other moms have made...just trying to figure out what WE are supposed to do.

Beth/Mom2TwoVikings said...

that last paragraph should say ..."I hope you are NOT thinking I'm making judgments!" LOL Good grief!

Unashamed said...

No, I wasn't offended at all Beth. But yeah, like you I also have some reservations about "homeschool only" - strong objections, as you can tell *smile*. To say, as he seems to, that parents are the only ones who should teach their children the faith is not supported by Scripture. Jesus explicitly tells His disciples in Matthew 28:19,20 to "Go...baptize...AND teach... everything I have commanded you...". That is a pretty strong indication to me that the church does indeed share the responsibility with parents in teaching the faith.

I sure understand your concern over public school and I don't object to homeschooling as an alternative. I'm not trying to advocate for private school over homeschooling...however, we never thought we could afford it either until we did some investigating. Most private Christian schools in our area (and we are blessed to have many) offer some kind of bursary and/or work-to-pay system that can bring the tuition costs way down. By taking advantage of these helps, we were able to make it work. You've still got a couple of years to go before you have to make a decision, so if you have any interest whatsoever in this third option I'd encourage you to check it out - you never know!

My goodness! I think this is the closest thing to a "controversy" we've ever had! I'm glad you "clarified" because it gave me the chance to also. I read over my first comment - yikes! It did sound harsh and I'm so sorry it caused you concern!

Debbie said...

Okay, here is my 25 cents worth *smile*

Speaking from someone who has homeschooled and publicly schooled my children, I would advise you to do only what you are 100% comfortable with. Like with any choice in life, there is always the good and the bad. Not all are going to be appealing to you.

Even so, only you can make the call on what is right for your family. And this is only after much prayer for the Lord to lead you in the right direction.

What worked for me homeschooling didn't necessarily work while publically schooling and vice versa.

There is always going to be an argument when it comes to the two options. I don't think I, or anyone else, can say it should be either/or. I do know that in my area, the homeschoolers have access to group meetings which have proms,yearbooks, and some of the traditional things associated with public, so that they are not missed out on.

These meetings are also encouraged to help students in areas they are the weakest. If I learned anything, I learned it seems to be more difficult to teach my own children over someone else's. Why this is, I don't know, but I have had others to share this same frustration.

As long as you do what YOU know is right, (remember, you know your family best) you will be at peace with it. Unrest comes about when we are unsure of our decisions. Trust me, I know what I'm talking about! *wink*