Aboriginal Education, Education and Language Instruction

Language teaching and home-based education

An important Bible verse that has influenced my thinking about education is found in the Book of Esther.  I wrote it in my journal on Monday 26th December, 1983.  The verse says:

“… every man should be the master of his own house, and the one who speaks in the language of his own people” (Esther 1:22).

I think of places like Fiji, and the nation, after colonization, was encouraged to keep their native language strong.  This means that in Fiji, children are educated in Fijian, but also are educated in English so that the Fijian nation can maintain communication with the rest of the western world.

However, in Australia, there is a perennial resistance to the teaching of traditional Aboriginal languages in our schools.  Very few mainstream schools teach an Aboriginal language as an elective – I do know of a Christian school in Victoria that teaches the Warlpiri language.  And the attempts to teach Aboriginal languages in Northern Territory schools have been repeatedly sabotaged.

I have developed a colour-coded phonics program for the teaching of Warlpiri literacy.  When I trialled the system, the anecdotal evidence was that it made the teaching of the language in a formal setting a lot easier.  However, my efforts were resisted, and eventually all the resources that I developed were thrown out of the school.

It remains my burning conviction that every man should be the master of his own house, and that his children should be educated in the language of his own people.  Language diversity was originally a curse, but the curse can be turned around and made a blessing in Christ Jesus.

Every language has the capacity to preserve knowledge sets that are just not as easily preserved in other languages.   With the loss of languages around the world, there is a corresponding loss of important knowledge and data.

This is where home-based education is important, and marketplace diversity in the sourcing of educational resources is critical.  Such educational liberty does not necessarily make any multinational companies meg-rich, financially, but it does make a community profoundly rich culturally.

Advertisements
Standard
Education, Teacher Training, Teaching

The beginnings of my journey towards Christian deschooling/unschooling

Here begins my journey of retracing the influences that have impinged upon my development of a particular perspective on education.  The first of my journals is dated, 21st December, 1983 to 16th July, 1986.

Entry: Wednesday 21 December, 1983.

Wednesday 21st December 1983 was one day before my 27th birthday (I was born 22nd December, 1956 – 3 weeks overdue).  My wife and I had been married for a little over 2 years and one month (we were married Saturday 14th November, 1981, and moved to Toowoomba early 1982).  We had  settled in Toowoomba having moved from Townsville, where I had been serving the Australian Army, and Townsville was where we met and got married.  About three weeks before December 21st, a few verses from the book of Daniel (Revised Version) caught my attention:

And the king appointed for them a daily portion of the king’s meat, and of the wine which he drank, and that they should be nourished three years; that at the end thereof they might stand before the king. … Now as for these four youths, God gave then knowledge and skill in all learning and wisdom: and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams (Daniel 1:5-6, 17).

Also, from the book of Job, the following verses (Revised Version) caught my attention:

Who hath sent out the wild ass free? Or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass?  Whose house I have made the wilderness, And the salt land his dwelling place.  He scorneth the tumult of the city, Neither heareth he the shoutings of the taskmaster.  The range of the mountains is his pasture, And he searcheth after every green thing [new life] (Job 39:5-8).

At the time, these verses came to me as an instruction from God, and I took the instruction to mean that I was to apply for a three-year Primary Teaching course at the Darling Downs Institute of Advanced Education [which later became the University of Southern Queensland].  I did apply, and also applied for “the king’s meat,” which at the time meant to me the government assistance that I received to help pay my expenses whilst studying.  I had set myself the task of studying the material provided by the Institute, but also reading as much as I could, at the same time, about Christian education and Christian schooling.  The idea of searching after every green thing suggested to me that my life would be characterised by continuous study – it was to be my vocation – and from that study I was to discover God’s life, as it related to education.

All of this is the background to my entry on this day:

I received in the mail an offer for a place at the institute, … (Box, 1986, p. 1).

I did well in my studies.  Of the 30 units that I studied over the three years, I achieved: 17 Distinctions (A); 10 Credits (B); 2 Pass’s (C); and 1 Ungraded Pass (P).  I was awarded the Diploma of Teaching (Primary) on 8th May, 1987.  I did not attend the Awards Ceremony because I was out of state at the time.

After completing the Diploma of Teaching my wife and I enrolled in the Logos Bible College for the Year of 1987.  Once again I did will in my studies, with a Grade Point Average of 88.8%.  I graduated with a Diploma of Biblical Studies (with Honours) on 18th December 1987.

This was the first of the formal influences on my thinking in relation to Education, and in particular Christian education.  It was God who instructed me to attend a secular teacher training institution, but it was also God who instructed me to study the Christian alternative at the same time.  I did well in my studies.  Many of my peers were partying most of the time during the three years at Teacher training, but I put my head down and my tail up, and worked very long hours to accomplish the results that I obtained.

It was whilst I was at Bible College that I met Peter Frogley, of Light Educational Ministries, who became a significant influence in my thinking about education from a Biblical perspective.  Peter lectured us for a few sessions, and after the sessions I struck up a friendship, and developed a desire to work with Peter in his ministry to the early home-based education community.  It was also at Bible College that I met Ray Tiller, who later became the most significant influence in my understanding of teaching in a Christian School, from a Christian perspective.

A lot of memories flood back to me from that short entry on Wednesday 21st December, 1983.  I was full of enthusiasm, willing to make enormous sacrifices for the cause of Christian education in Australia, and very hopeful of good things coming from the sacrifices that were being made.

References

Box, L. A. (1986). Book 1: Private Journal Notes from 21st December, 1983 to 16th July, 1986. Toowoomba, Queensland: Unpublished private journal notes.

Standard
Education and the Church, Education and the Family, Education and the Marketplace, Education and the State, Funding, Home-Based Education

Government-funded education and Fundamentalist Evangelicalism: the dependence must stop

According to North (1982) the concept of neutrality in the market place is a myth.  The myth, extended to education, has created an opportunity for the enemies of Jesus Christ to gain control of the institutions that drive culture.  Sadly, Christian Evangelicalism and Christian Fundamentalism, because of the influence of Pietism, have been on the cutting edge of promoting marketplace neutrality.  North’s answer to the problem, and anticipation of Fundamentalism’s response to the solution is as follows:

What is the proper argument?  Simple: there is no neutrality, and since there is no neutrality, the present legal foundation of government-funded education is a fraud.  Conclusion: close every government-financed school tomorrow.  Refund the taxes to the tax-payers.  Let the taxpayers seek out their own schools for their children, at their expense (or from privately financed scholarships or other donations).  No more fraud.  No more institutions built on the myth of neutrality.  But the fundamentalists instinctively shy away from such a view.  Why?  Because they see where it necessarily leads: to a theocracy in which no public funds can be appropriated for anti-Christian activities, or to anarchy, where there are no public funds to appropriate.  It must lead to God’s civil government or no civil government.  In short, it leads either to Rushdoony or Rothbard.  Most fundamentalists have never heard of either man, but they instinctively recognize where the abandonment of the myth of neutrality could lead them (North, 1982. p. 20).

Quite rightly, non-Christians object to state-raised funds being used for purposes that promote the Christian religion.  This is perfectly consistent with the reality of there being no neutrality in the marketplace.  The religion of the marketplace is Secular Humanism (proclaimed a religion by Humanists themselves*).  This is the pressure that is applied to so-called Christian Schools that receive government funds to be established and sustained.  Humanist tax-payers object to their tax dollars being used to promote a rival religion.  The government-funded Christian schools, if they are not fully controlled by government agendas at the moment, shall be completely controlled in the future.  He who pays the piper calls the tune.  The only way for Christian education to be conducted in a Christian way, under the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and in accordance with the Word of God, is for Christians to stop receiving government subsidies.  Initially this will be extremely painful.  It will mean shouldering the full responsibility for the education of their children.  Christians will also need to pay the full tithe to the Lord, and churches will need to shoulder their full social welfare responsibilities, which includes helping the righteous poor families fulfill their educational responsibilities.

It was Fundamentalist Evangelicalism that led the charge towards the secularization of Education in Australia.  According to Barcan (1980):

In September 1874 James Greenwood, a Baptist minister who was also a journalist on the Sydney Morning Herald, formed a Public School League whose objective was a ‘national, free, secular and compulsory’ system (Barcan, 1980, p. 139).

The Christian church in Australia is addicted to procuring government funds.  Think of the funds being given to the Salvation Army, Baptist Care, Catholic Care, Frontier Services, Anglicare, etc.  Government money for the Lord’s work.  Try preaching the gospel to the recipients of the welfare distributed through these organizations – challenge the recipients with the crown rights of Jesus Christ the Lord and King – and see what response comes from the funding source: “Shut up, or the funds will dry up.”  In the early days of these organisations, when the money came from the church’s tithes and offerings, listening to the gospel was often a condition for receiving the welfare distribution – in many cases it was failing to obey the gospel which got people into trouble in the first place.

Well done, those Christian families who have fully owned their responsibility to educate their own children, by bringing them home and giving them a home-based education.  Well done to those families who have paid the financial cost of educating from home.  I applaud your efforts.  And may the Triune God reward you abundantly for your faithfulness to Him.

* Dunphy, J. (1983). A Religion for a New Age. The Humanist, Jan-Feb.; Potter, C. F. (1930). Humanism a New Religion. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

References

Barcan, A. (1980). A History of Australian Education. Melbourne, VIC: Oxford University Press.

Dunphy, J. (1983). A Religion for a New Age. The Humanist, Jan-Feb

North, G. (1982). The Intellectual Schizophrenia of the New Christian Right, Symposium on The Failure of the American Baptist Culture.  U.S.A.: Geneva Divinity School, Christianity and Civilization Vol. 1.  Editors Jordan, J. B. and North, G.

Potter, C. F. (1930). Humanism a New Religion. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.

Standard
Education

Theology’s important role in home-based education

It was Rushdoony (1994) who wrote:

It is a serious mistake to see theology as an academic exercise.  The word theology means God’s word; it begins with the presupposition that Scripture is the word of God, and the duty of the theologian is to understand it and to apply it to every area of life and thought. … For me theology means the total mandate of God through His word.  What I have written only scratches the surface; it is an introduction to the subject, and it is written to move men to faith and action.  The neglect of theology in our time is in part due to the theologians, who have multiplied the various divisions, so that, among the divisions of study have been Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology, Dogmatical Theology, Exegetical Theology, Practical Theology, and so on.  The areas of study also include such subjects as Natural Theology and Speculative Theology.  With the inventions of so many variations, it is no wonder that both pastors and people have lost interest in the subject and avoid it (Rushdoony, 1994, p. xv).

There are many useful theological texts, beginning with Rushdoony’s two volume set, that would be helpful on the shelves of a home-based educating family:

Berkhof, L. (1941). Systematic Theology. Edinburgh, Scotland: The Banner of Truth Trust.

Conner, K. J. (2004). The Foundations of Christian Doctrine. Melbourne, Victoria: KJC Publications

Grudem, W. (2009 ). Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan

McNeill, J. T. [ed.]. (1960). Calvin: Institutes of the Christian Religion in Two Volumes, The Library of Christian Classics, Volume XXI. Philadelphia: The Westminster Press.

Reymond, R. L. (1998). A New Systematic Theology of The Christian Faith, Second Edition. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers

Rushdoony, R. J. (1994). Systematic Theology In Two Volumes. Vallecito, California: Ross House Books

Rushdoony points out the importance of theology when he writes:

The churches of our time seem to believe that God exists to save man and keep him happy. … But the world is not governed by your and my will and wishes, but by the triune God and His eternal decree.  Until we learn that fact, and say Amen to it as persons and societies, we shall only gain God’s wrath and judgment.  Of course, our humanistic age finds the wrath of God a remote concept; it will soon learn other wise, because God is God (Rushdoony, 1998, p. xvi).

Let us carefully deliver the Faith to future generations, as once delivered to us, through the line upon line, precept upon precept study of sound Biblical theology.

References

Rushdoony, R. J. (1994). Systematic Theology In Two Volumes. Vallecito, California: Ross House Books

Standard
Education and the Marketplace, Education and the State

Privately contracted education collectives: home-based education moving out into the community

In 1982, Peter Frogley of Light Educational Ministries, wrote:

(In the beginning) in … Christian, and many other cultures, parents educated their own children.  When children came to an area of learning where parents’ expertise was inadequate, the parents called in the necessary expert.  It became clear that parents were often not equipped to adequately educate their children and that personalized tuition was too expensive for many.  Resultantly, local parents banded together, hired a teacher and established a school.  They saw this as their responsibility to their children.  No one but the parents and their chosen teachers were involved. … This system of education produced some of the best levels of literacy every known.  Essentially, this was the common method of education in earlier years in the United States of America; where the local school house was the educational centre (Frogley, 1982, p. 4).

In my PhD dissertation (Box, 2014, pp. 126-129) I argued that there is a role for privately funded educational collectives to exist.  There is a role for dedicated teachers to trade their knowledge and skills on the open, educational market.  Such teachers will be regulated by the market.  However, such teachers do not necessarily have to have state-certified qualifications, and there is no intrinsic requirement for state-mandated curriculum.

Many such collectives exist in the United States of America, and some of the them are called Co-operatives.  In the context of this article, the key issues surrounding Co-operatives are:

1.   They are private contractual arrangements

2.   There is no compulsion, and so parents can quickly withdraw their children if the arrangement does not unfold as originally conceived

3.   They do not require dedicated real estate, and can exist for the period of time that the demographics suit local educational need; and then be dissolved when the demographics shift – rented facilities would make sense, rather than expensive, purpose-built buildings.

This is not to suggest that such collectives replace parental responsibility for their children’s education.  As Frogley pointed out, “no one but the parents and their chosen teachers were involved.”  From the perspective of God’s revelation, parents will always be the ultimate authority in regards to the education of children.  It is parents who will stand before the Great White Throne on the day of resurrection, and give an account.  The church has a role in training teachers and parents concerning their educational duties before God, and the state has a role to ensure just weights and measures are being used in the private contractual arrangements conducted in the market place.

In his article, Frogley goes on to argue that:

Governments have not only built an educational bureaucracy, but have now legislated to control all teachers and all schools.  This is surely an intolerable situation for Christians! (Frogley, 1982, p. 5).

But is it?  What percentage of Christian families continue to send their children to state-funded schools?  State funding brings with it state control at every level of the educational process – even in private schools (which used to be called ‘independent schools’, because they truly were independent of the state’s control).  This is manifest in the number of formerly Christian schools that have recently embraced the Safe Schools Coalition Australia initiative (SSCA, 2014),(in the guise of bullying prevention, but actually affirmatively promoting the LGBT agenda).  In the words of Frogley, “we have created an enormous ‘white elephant’ called state education, which … should not exist” (Frogley, 1982, p. 5).

Home-based education remains the primary platform for the education of children.  However, there is a place for private education contracts beyond the home.  These could include small classes, or even more comprehensive courses.  However, the most important point is that parents maintain the control, and the state has a very minor role in the greater scheme of things.

References

Box, L. A. (2014). A Proposal to Deschool then Unschool Australian Biblical Christian Education. Thesis submitted for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the School of Christian Education, The New Geneva Christian Leadership Academy. Appomattox, Virginia, U.S.A.

Frogley, P. (1982). Regulation Part V Should there be State Education? Light of Life. Vol. 3, No. 5., pp. 4-6.  Booleroo Centre, SA: Light Educational Ministries

Safe Schools Coalition Australia [SSCA]. (2014). The Foundation for Young Australians (FYA) web site. http://www.fya.org.au/inside-fya/initiatives/safe-schools-coalition-australia  Accessed: 18/10/2014 14:03

Standard
Learning

Western versus non-Western learning approaches and the need to live as if schools do not exist

According to Merriam and Kim (2008), “most Westerners neither recognize nor value learning that is embedded in everyday life.  Most Westerners think of learning as that which occurs in a formal teacher-directed classroom with a prescribed curriculum” (Merriam and Kim, 2008, p. 75).  On the other hand “non-Western understandings of lifelong learning is that very little of it is lodged in formal institutional settings.  Lifelong learning in non-Western settings is community-based and informal” (Merriam and Kim, 2008, p. 75).

The kind of learning that is advocated in the Bible is much closer to the kind of learning that Merriam and Kim describe as non-Western.  This is why I have been writing about deschooling and unschooling.  The longer I am away from schools, the more firmly deschooled I am becoming, and the more convinced I am of the need for parents, who want to properly educate their children, to live life with their children as if schools do not exist (Priesnitz, 2012).    I firmly agree with Priesnitz when she writes: “I look forward to the day when school (at least in its compulsory form as we know it) doesn’t exist; …” (Priesnitz, 2012, p. 8).

The classical passage of Scripture that is used to justify Christian education is Deuteronomy 6:4-9:

Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.  You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  And these words that I command you today shall be on 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, and when you lie down, and when you rise.  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.

I have several books on my shelves that quote this passage in the context of their justification for ‘Christian Schools’ (Cummings, 1979, 1982; Johnson, 1980;  Kienel, 1978; and others).  However, on closer investigation, the passage speaks nothing of schools; nor do any of the other passages in the Bible, that address the issue of education.  Clearly, the modern concept of compulsory, state-financed, centralized curriculum-ed, state-licensed schooling just cannot be found in the Bible, and that is because the Scriptures teach learning principles that are more closely aligned to a non-Western approach.

References

Cummings, D. B. [ed.]. (1979). The Purpose of A Christian School. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.

Cummings, D. B. [ed.]. (1982). The Basis for a Christian School: A resource book with answers for the Christian parent. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.

Johnson, R. E. (1980). Under Tutors & Governors. Nashville, Tennessee: Accelerated Christian Education, Inc.

Kienel, P. A. [ed.].  (1978). The Philosophy of Christian School Education, Revised Edition. Whittier, California: Association of Christian Schools International.

Merriam, S. B. and Kim, Y. S. (2008). ‘Non-Western Perspectives on Learning and Knowing’ New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education. No. 119, pp. 71-81.

Priesnitz, W. (2012). Beyond School: Living As If School Doesn’t Exist. Canada: The Alternate Press (an imprint of Life Media – http://www.LifeMedia.ca).

Standard
Education, Education and the Family, Education and the Marketplace, Education and the State, Home-Based Education

Home-based education, entrepreurship and the Old Age Pension

At a workshop that I attended, which was conducted to develop Financial Literacy curriculum for Australian schools, Paul Clitheroe made the following comment:

We are living in a time unprecedented in history, where it is so easy to spend far more than we earn.  This has not been the case in most of history.  This also includes spending beyond our earning years.  The Old Age Pension commenced in 1908, and was designed to be paid to those who lived up to 2 years beyond their life expectancy.  Most men did not live beyond the age of 60, at that time.  Over the past one hundred years, life expectancy has increased by 25 years.  This means that the government-promise of supporting some people for a maximum of two years after they have finished being financially productive, has now ballooned out to a promise to support most people for up to 25 years after they have stopped being tax-payers.  This situation is totally unsustainable.  Eventually the pension age will have to be pushed out to age 90 because there will not be the capacity to pay pensions in the future (Clitheroe, 9th August, 2012).

This is not fear-mongering, it is economic fact.  No amount of claiming rights will change the facts.  Growing numbers of non-working tax recipients will eventually outnumber a shrinking pool of tax payers.  At the cross-over, tax payers will have to pay 100%  of their earnings to support the non tax payers, and after that, … ?  Succeeding Governments did not save the tax money paid by workers over their working lives.  They spent the money on other projects.  There is a shrinking taxation base, because more and more Australians are either being aborted before birth, marrying later and later (and therefore having less and less children per married couple), or entering relationships that are sterile (LGBT relationships).  Receiving a pension is not a right, it never has been, and never can be.  It was always a ponzi scheme*.

Home-based education must include entrepreneurship and economic independence.  Dependence upon others to provide a job is a risky business.  Maintaining a good relationship with your children is also a critical part of home-based education.  It may literally mean life or death, when governments are looking for ways to solve the problem of a logarithmically increasing number of non-working pension recipients.

References

https://www.google.com.au/?gws_rd=ssl#q=ponzi+scheme+definition Accessed: Thu 16/10/2014 18:32

* Ponzi schemeˈpɒnzi/noun
noun: Ponzi scheme; plural noun: Ponzi schemes
  1. a form of fraud in which belief in the success of a non-existent enterprise is fostered by the payment of quick returns to the first investors from money invested by later investors.
    “a classic Ponzi scheme built on treachery and lies”
Standard