Uncategorized

Home-based education and Values

Huffman (2006) wrote that “important values are the ones that individuals and a society actually live” (p. 58).  Lived knowledge, not just memorized facts, is critical to proper community cohesion.  The only values that can be consistently lived in the context of social cohesion are those values which are anchored in Truth.  Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”  Therefore, the only consistently liveable values are those values which are anchored in the Lord Jesus Christ.

For example, throughout the New Testament there are a number of “one another” verses.  To follow those instructions leads to social cohesion, but to deny the validity of those instructions, and to seek to live contrary to those instructions can only lead to social collapse.

“be at peace with one another” (Mark 9:5).  As much as possible, we are to live at peace with one another.  It is impossible to live in community if there is no peace.  Warring communities experience ongoing violence, bloodshed, disrupted daily life, disrupted sleep, etc.  Jesus Christ is the Prince of Peace, and only He can facilitate forgiveness and reconciliation where there has been a sinful act that has scarred the peace of a community.  Repentance, forgiveness and cleansing in the blood of Jesus is the only answer to a community that has lost its peace.

“care for one another” (I Corinthians 12:25).  Caring for others requires selflessness.  Glenda Jackson (20013) in Origin of the Centred Self? teaches that self-centredness arises from making decisions that are based on personal, subjective inclinations, without consideration of the long-term, objective bases for decision-making.  If there is no ownership of consequences and consideration of the fact that consequences inevitably flow from acting out personally made decisions, then there can be no genuine care for others.  At the apparently inconsequential end of the decision-making process I may feel that it is my right to eat as much chocolate as I want.  In my mind, and as far as I am concerned, it harms no one, so it is my right.  Well, as I eat more and more chocolate, I get fatter and fatter.  My body accumulates acidity and reacts to the high intake of sugar.  Eventually my body begins to break down, and I become tired, chronically sick, and I become dependent upon others to take up my share of life responsibilities.  I then consume medical attention that is subsidized by people who are working and paying taxes.  The Bible commands that we are to enjoy all things in moderation.  My subjective decision to eat as much chocolate as I want, puts time, effort and financial strain upon a lot of other people around me.  My selfishness puts me in a position where I really have no care for others.

Jesus has dealt with the self life.  He died upon the cross, and the Bible teaches that if we believe in Him, then we also died with Him, and have been raised into newness of life.  Our self life is dead, and therefore we can live a life that is motivated by care for others, through faith in Jesus, and through the power of His Holy Spirit working in us.  We can embrace the commandment of Jesus to care for one another as a gift of grace, rather than as a damper on our personal, self-centred rights.

“have fellowship with one another” (I John 1:7)  The Greek word translated fellowship is ‘koinonia’.  The word koinonia implies having communion, sharing in common, making a contribution, being in partnership, participating together, making a pecuniary benefaction.  In short, koinonia implies sharing life together at many levels, including financially assisting one another.  It is the kind of relationship that one would expect within a family.  The Bible teaches that those who truly believe in the Lord Jesus Christ are born again, regenerated and adopted into the family of God.  That family relationship knows nothing of racial, cultural, language or class distinction.  Jesus Christ truly has broken down the walls of division.  Wherever there are two or three gathered together in the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, who are committed to loving Him by obeying all that He has commanded, there is the family of God, and there can be enjoyed the deep life-sharing of koinonia.  It is not good enough to simply cry, “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord” and not live consistently with the commandments of the God who dwells within the temple of the Lord.

The opposite of having fellowship with one another is the dog-eat-dog climate of ‘get from others as much as you can get, without letting anything go from your own stash’: “A stingy man hastens after wealth and does not know that poverty will come upon him” (Proverbs 28:22).

There are many other “one another” commandments in the New Testament (“love one another”, “wash one another’s feet”, “show honour to one another”, “live in harmony with one another”, “encourage one another”, “admonish one another”, etc.).  These are the kinds of values that Huffman, I presume, is referring to.  He could not be referring to the opposites to these values, because they cannot be consistently lived in a social setting.

All of these values depend upon the Lord Jesus Christ to overcome the sinful tendencies of the unregenerate heart.  The Bible claims that “the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, who can know it.”   The only solution to such hearts is for the old stony heart to be removed, and a new heart of flesh to be put in its place.  Only the Triune God, through the atonement of His Son Jesus Christ, can perform such heart surgery.

These things are not taught in our local state schools.  That is why Christian families need to educate their children from a home base.  As families the fruits of a changed heart can be modelled for the children, and through this modelling, the children can learn of their own need for divine heart surgery.

References

Huffman, H. A. (2006). Driving character through policy and practice. School Administrator. 63 (9), pp. 58-59.

Jackson, G. (2013). Origin of the Centred Self?  http://www.Xlibris.com.au : Xlibris LLC

Advertisements
Standard
class warfare, homosexuality, same-sex marriage, social revolution

Eugenics in the Work of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin’s ideas have dangerous implications that people with influence have applied to the detriment of millions of people around the world.  These ideas are not simply ideas, they are the underlying presuppositions to government policy, school curriculum, and have practical implications in the daily lives of many people.

One of Darwin’s ideas was that certain classes (and races) of people should not be allowed to breed, because of their inferiority.  He wrote: “hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed,” and by this he makes the suggestion that “the weaker and inferior members of society not marry … so freely as the sound.”

The full context for these quotes is provided below:

Natural Selection as Affecting Civilized Nations.—In the last and present chapters I have considered the advancement of man from a former semi-human condition to his present state as a barbarian. But some remarks on the agency of natural selection on civilized nations may be here worth adding. This subject has been ably discussed by Mr. W. R. Greg, and previously by Mr. Wallace and Mr. Galton. Most of my remarks are taken from these three authors. With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated; and those that survive commonly exhibit a vigorous state of health. We civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of elimination; we build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed, and the sick; we institute poor-laws; and our medical men exert their utmost skill to save the life of every one to the last moment. There is reason to believe that vaccination has preserved thousands, who from a weak constitution would formerly have succumbed to small-pox. Thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this must be highly injurious to the race of man. It is surprising how soon a want of care, or care wrongly directed, leads to the degeneration of a domestic race; but excepting in the case of man himself, hardly any one is so ignorant as to allow his worst animals to breed.

The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest part of our nature. The surgeon may harden himself while performing an operation, for he knows that he is acting for the good of his patient; but if we were intentionally to neglect the weak and helpless, it could only be for a contingent benefit, with a certain and great present evil. Hence we must bear without complaining the undoubtedly bad effects of the weak surviving and propagating their kind; but there appears to be at least one check in steady action, namely the weaker and inferior members of society not marrying so freely as the sound; and this check might be indefinitely increased, though this is more to be hoped for than expected, by the weak in body or mind refraining from marriage.

(Darwin, C. (1871). The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex, in Two Volumes – Vol. 1. New York: D. Appleton and Company. pp. 161-162.)

Francis Galton was an energetic promoter of Eugenics.  Eugenics is that field of study that advocates the engineering of society to ensure that only the best breed, and the worst of society are eradicated.  Galton was an inspiration to Darwin (as Darwin mentions in his The Descent of Man).  Galton suggested a program to promote Eugenics:

Persistence in setting forth the national importance of eugenics. There are three stages to be passed through: (I) It must be made familiar as an academic question, until its exact importance has been understood and accepted as a fact. (2) It must be recognized as a subject whose practical development deserves serious consideration. (3) It must be introduced into the national conscience, like a new religion. It has, indeed, strong claims to become an orthodox religious, tenet of the future, for eugenics co-operate with the workings of nature by securing that humanity shall be represented by the fittest races. What nature does blindly, slowly, and ruthlessly, man may do providently, quickly, and kindly. As it lies within his power, so it becomes his duty to work in that direction. The improvement of our stock seems to me one of the highest objects that we can reasonably attempt. We are ignorant of the ultimate destinies of humanity, but feel perfectly sure that it is as noble a work to raise its level, in the sense already explained, as it would be disgraceful to abase it. I see no impossibility in eugenics becoming a religious dogma among mankind, but its details must first be worked out sedulously in the study. Overzeal leading to hasty action would do harm, by holding out expectations of a near golden age, which will certainly be falsified and cause the science to be discredited. The first and main point is to secure the general intellectual acceptance of eugenics as a hopeful and most important study. Then let its principles work into the heart of the nation, which will gradually give practical effect to them in ways that we may not wholly foresee.

(Galton, F. (1904). ‘Eugenics: Its Definition, Scope, and Aims,’ The American Journal of Sociology. Volume X, Number 1; July 1904).

What better way to give effect to the evolutionary inspired Eugenics program than to neuter the general population by converting them to homosexuality and lesbianism?  Same-sex unions are sterile.  The end of the road for the same-sex community is obliteration.  The political entrenchment of same-sex marriage would ensure that a body of law protects the wholesale proselytizing of the general population to the homosexual and lesbian lifestyle – any objections to that process would be met with litigation, expensive fines, jail time, and possibly death in the longer term.  And the end result?  Well, the better classes, of course, will continue to marry off their sons and daughters to strong breeders.  The lesser classes would gradually die off, and the Eugenics proponents would achieve their long-term goal.

Standard
deschooling, Education and Language Instruction, Education and the Family, Literacy, Schools

The Importance of Recognizing Student Difference

Last night I watched the film, Shine Like a Star on YouTube.  The setting for the film was in India; in some Indian schools, with class sizes of 40 plus students. The main character was an eight-year-old boy called Ishan.  Ishan was portrayed as having dyslexia, and because he could not read and write, and didn’t have fine and gross motor coordination, he experienced bullying from teachers and fellow students, and rejection by his family.

The theme of the movie was individual difference in students.  With the right kind of support, and feeding of passion, all students are able to be an expert in something.

In the movie, Ishan’s solution was found in the context of school.  However, for me, the film highlighted the harmfulness of schools and schooling – just like in a school of fish, the individual is expected to be the same as every other member of the collective.  However, egalitarianism is a myth.  None of us are the same.  Everyone is unique and created for a different purpose, and the uniqueness requires difference in educational input.  Home-based education would have been a much better solution for the young lad’s situation.

Another issue was the child’s need for a multi-sensory / multi-modal approach to literacy and numeracy.  It was a great advertisement for intensive phonics methods of literacy instruction.

I would thoroughly recommend the watching of the movie.  You have to persevere through some Bollywood-like scenes (it is an Indian movie, when all said and done), but the perseverance is worth it.

References:

Aamir Khan Productions / PVR Pictures. (2013). Verry Inspiring Movie (Shine Like a Star). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=22xmvxGtx4o

 

Standard
Tertiary Education

University as a journey in developing right thoughts of God

A friend made the following comment in regards to my previous post on rethinking tertiary education:

“I’m glad that you are thinking about the Tertiary sector. What I’m finding is that one university doesn’t really work for me and that I’m currently involved with at least two and probably more like three or four. There should be more flexibility in the system and the ability to access more than one uni and more than one department. The model currently is that they operate like medieval fiefdoms, protecting their own interests and unlikely to change in the near future. A network of spiritual guides who talk with a student about how their study relates to their God-given life purpose?”

In my devotional Bible Reading this morning I was drawn to the following passage: “Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father and from Jesus Christ the Father’s Son, in truth and love” (II John 3). And, in his book, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, Robert L. Reymond (1998) writes: “… when one moves beyond the borders of Chalcedon he has decided to choose a heresy.”

At many points in history, the local church minister was the most educated person in the community.  This is not so, in many cases, these days.  There has been a radical turn against academic excellence in many parts of the church.  This has resulted in poor thinking concerning God and His Word.  Heresies abound from all kinds of pulpits because the leaders of God’s people are not thoroughly educated men, in many cases.

As Christians we are to know the Father and also we are to know the Father’s only begotten Son.  Our knowledge of the Triune God, including the Person of the Holy Spirit, will affect every part of our lives.  An error in our knowledge of God will lead to distortions in every area of life. The Bible says, “As a man thinks in his heart, so is he.”  Our thoughts of the most profound Person in the universe are the most basic life-changing thoughts that we can have.  Right thoughts of the Triune God shape civilizations and determine the course of history.  Wrong thoughts of the Triune God cause everything to go very badly.

This is why it is important that we re-think university attendance.  University should be a place of spiritual journey, where young men (especially) can be pointed to right thinking on the bigger issues of life.  And such thinking must be rooted in a knowledge of God as He has revealed Himself in the pages of the Bible.

De-insitutionalized tertiary education will enable young people to find “a network of spiritual guides who talk with a student about how their study relates to the God-given live purpose” (as proposed by my friend).

Any thoughts?

References

Reymond, R. L. (1998). A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith.

Standard
Tertiary Education

Re-thinking Tertiary Education: A network of local libraries and mentors versus centralised universities

Geoffrey Bodkin’s (2014) essay, ‘What I Learned at Cambridge’ has got me thinking about how to deliver a sound tertiary education.  The problem with modern universities, on the whole, is that they have become promoters of political correctness, rather than places of higher learning.  In the words of Bodkin, “… it is easier, cheaper, and more politically correct to line up masses of students to sit in rows, silently listening to a lecturer, regurgitating course notes, than it is to teach students how to think and how to defend what they think” (Bodkin, 2014).

I am wondering if it would be feasible to develop networks of passionate custodians of knowledge, who do not necessarily possess state-mandated certifications, but who do possess personal libraries.  What if young people were directed to connect with these passionate people, and inspired to become discipline learners, under the mentorship and discipleship of this network of knowledge custodians?

In this learning format, students are not made to work their way through pre-determined courses, but are encouraged to develop an area of passion, and be guided to become an expert in the passion that they have determined.  Along with this development of expertise, the mentees should also be given the knowledge of how to market the expertise as it is being developed – the development of entrepreneurial skills.

I envision something like the following:

Passionate owners of personal libraries (mentors) are encouraged to make themselves available through a local network.  They identify their areas of expertise, passion, and knowledge domains, and the flavour of their library.

Young people are encouraged to commence a journey of becoming a disciplined expert in an area that they are highly motivated to learn about.  The young people are initially introduced to one of the library owners, and a fee for service rate is established.

The mentors then begin by framing a question that points the mentees in a direction of inquiry.  There are no prescribed lectures to attend, however, the mentee is able to ask any question of the mentor, access books that might be relevant, access knowledge from the internet, or talk to any of the other mentors in the network.  One week later, the mentee returns to the mentor with a written paper on the things that have been discovered.  The mentor then requires the mentee to verbally defend the information gathered, and then gives feedback on the defense.  The next focus question is given to the mentee, and the mentee progressively builds on his/her knowledge until they become an expert in the specific area of interest that they have been pursuing.  This is done on a week by week basis (mentor and mentee meeting for an hour each week, and mentees being able to gather and learn with as many others as they would like during the rest of the week).

Mentees pay a fee each time they attend a formal session with the mentor, and this will do two things: one, keep the mentor on his/her toes so that the sessions are interesting enough for the mentee to want to come back to them, and two, ensure that the mentee values the learning that they are accumulating.  When schooling is paid for by the public purse, the students often do not value the opportunity that they are given.  When the acquisition of knowledge is costly, then it is much more valued.

Rather than receiving a state-certified graduation certificate, at the end of the process the mentee can be given a statement of their expertise, endorsed by the mentor who has spent the most time with the mentee: “NAME is a person of sound learning and good character, and has mastered the knowledge associated with AREA OF LEARNING” [A variant on the endorsement given upon graduation from Cambridge University (Bodkin, 2014)].  The personal reputation of the mentor is at stake.  If a mentee subsequently proves to be less than an expert in the area studied, then subsequent mentees will not choose to work with that particular mentor.

Mentors and mentess could be linked by internet connection, could have personal sessions in the mentor’s home/workplace (wherever their personal library is located).  This would mean that there is no need for the real estate and infra-structure costs associated with existing universities.  Some fields of study may need to continue in the research universities, in such fields as engineering and medicine, but many areas of study do not need such costly institutions.  Students need to be given the liberty to pursue their passion, not be required to regurgitate the lecture notes of a tenured professor.

Jobs will continue to require standardized certification as entry requirements.  However, jobs come and go.  Such an idea is not about training young people for jobs, it is about enabling them to become experts in something, and then marketing that expertise in a way that will enable them to earn a living as an entrepreneur on the cutting edge of whatever it is that they are passionate about.

There is much more that could be written about this idea, and I would be very interested in engaging in discussion with others who have concerns about the influence that modern universities have upon the morals and dumbed-down thinking of our young people.

References

Bodkin, G. (2014). What I Learned at Cambridge. Western Conservatory of the Arts and Sciences. Accessed: Sat 08/11/2014 16:14, from: http://westernconservatory.com/search/node/Cambridge

Standard
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.

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