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).

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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”
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Education and Culture-making, Education and Worship

Home-based education and culture: culture-making as an expression of worship

Culture-making is a fundamental attribute of our humanness.  When God created the first man, Adam, He created him to be a culture-maker.

And the Lord God planted a garden in Eden, in the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. … The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it [cultivate it (KJV/NKJV) a word relating to culture and culture-making (Lee, 1976)] (Genesis 2:8, 15).

Smith (2009) points out that all culture-making, and participation in cultural expressions, is at root essentially an expression of religious worship.  Smith writes:

education … is not primarily about the absorption of ideas and information, but about the formation of hearts and desires.  Every part of a culture is formative, through the cultural liturgies, the ways of doing and perceiving things that arise out of the fundamental loves of the members of the culture.  These loves are akin to worship.  Every person is primarily a worshipper–a lover at the deepest level, and this motivation and orientation is much deeper than the cognitive level of worldview (Smith, 2009, pp.17-18).

This is why the Apostle John writes:

Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.  For all that is in the world–the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of life–is not from the Father but is from the world.  And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever (I John 2:15-17).

The kinds of cultural expressions that we engage in and enjoy are shadows of the god that we deep-down, really worship.  If the God that we worship is the Triune God of the Bible, then the cultural engagements of our lives with reflect the Apostle Paul’s following list:

… whatever is true, whatever is honourable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, (we will) think about these things.  What (we) have learned and received and heard and seen in (the Apostle Paul–as an imitator of Christ)–(we will) practice these things, and the God of peace will be with (us) (Philippians 4:8-9).

Home-based education, more than any other mode of educational delivery, provides a family an opportunity to guard its cultural participation, and determine its course and depth of cultural creation.

Let us listen to the admonition of the Apostle Paul, who wrote:

So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (I Corinthians 10:31).

 

References

Lee, F. N. (1976). The Central Significance of Culture. U.S.A.: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company.

Smith, J. K. A. (2009). Desiring the Kingdom: Worship, Worldview, and Cultural Formation. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Academic.

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Education

Imagination versus memorization in education

The Triune God of the Bible has declared that His thoughts are not our thoughts, and that to be able to live in accord with the reality of the universe that He has created, we need to think His thoughts after Him.  This highlights a tension between memory and imagination.  God’s complaint is that “The Lord saw the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5) … “for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Genesis 8:21).

Rushdoony (2008), commenting on the Songs of Moses (Exodus 15, Deuteronomy 32 and Psalm 90), writes:

There is a contrast in our text between imagination and memory.  Men must not trust in the imagination, because it reflects their fallen history.  God’s appointed servants must discipline and teach, so that man’s memory is mindful of God’s works, covenant, law, grace and mercy.  The issue is between educational approaches stressing memory versus those stressing imagination.  To stress imagination means to believe in the child’s or person’s creative powers, whereas to emphasize memory is to maintain that the future must be built on the knowledge of the past under God.  Knowledge is not manufactured anew with every generation.  It is a growing structure based on biblical premises, whereas modern education is deliberately rootless and barren (Rushdoony, 2008, p. 491).

There are windows of opportunity in a child’s life, where memory and repetition are fun.  If you miss those windows, then it is harder to develop a discipline of memorization later in life.  Home-based education should include sessions of memorization, of things like: Books of the Bible, names of the Patriarchs and the Apostles, significant historical events, and their dates (Bishop Ussher’s (2003 [1658])  Annals of the World is helpful with this) — i.e Creation, Deluge, Tower of Babel, etc. — Creeds and Catechisms, countries around the world and their capitals, local mountain ranges and rivers, and many other things.

An education is much more than memorization, but at the same time must include memorization.

References

Rushdoony, R. J. (2008). Commentaries on the Pentateuch: Deuteronomy. Vallencito, California: Ross House Books.

Ussher, J. (2003 [1658]). The Annals of the World. U.S.A.: Master Books.

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Aboriginal Education, Home-Based Education, Indigenous Education, Indigenous Pedagogies, Schooling

The way forward for Indigenous education may have a link with home-based education research

I worked for eight and a half years in schools that were dedicated to delivering schooling to Australian Indigenous children.  One of the perennial problems was getting the children to come to school, and then if they did come, get them to stay at school for the full day.  Many children reacted violently to their experience of school and schooling, and it was not unusual to have a chair over-turned, obscenities shouted, or other similar displays of extreme behaviour.  I have been spat on, kicked, accused of all kinds of physical contortions that are just not possible, and I believe that I was a well-liked teacher — at least that was what I was led to believe by the children outside the school context.

Biermann  wrote:

… the (Australian) education system played a central part in the colonisation of Indigenous peoples, by devaluing and apprehending the transmission of their cultures, knowledges and languages.  This has led to a deep suspicion, shared by many Indigenous people, towards the ultimate goals and effects of mainstream schooling (Biermann, 2008, p. 28).

In my Master of Education (Leadership) dissertation I addressed the way that schooling has, to date, been delivered to Indigenous children and suggested that they would feel much more comfortable in an environment that reflects their Indigenous pedagogical heritage.  I also argued that Indigenous pedagogies mirror cutting-edge, best practice pedagogies around the world.

A central component of Indigenous pedagogies is relationship.  Learning that lasts does not take place without trust, perseverence, and a sense of purpose about it.  It is not good enough to say that schooling will get you a good job.  It doesn’t, necessarily, lead to a job, and generations of schooled (but unemployed) Indigenous people will testify to that.  I would argue that it is an education that they are needing, not schooling: with its busy work, age-segregation, teachers who have no relationship with the family, centralised curriculum, bells, subject fragmentation, etc..

Home-based education has a lot to offer, and there is a need for much more research to discover why it is that many, if not most, home-based educators get it so right.  Maybe the lessons we learn from the home-based education community will provide us some clues as to how we can do education much better for our Indigenous communities.  My suspicion is that the findings will point to Indigenous pedagogies being used in the home-based education context as being an important contributor to the success of the movement.

We shall see.

References

Biermann, S. (2008). Indigenous Pedagogies and Environmental Education: Starting a conversation. International Journal of Pedagogies and Learning. 4 (3), pp. 27-38.

Box, L.A. (2013). Warlpiri Business as Pedagogy: A Learning Journey. A monograph submitted as partial fulfillment for the degree of Master of Education (Leadership), Moreling College (National Institute for Christian Education), Melbourne, Victoria.

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Aboriginal Education, Hebrew Pedagogies, Indigenous Education, Indigenous Pedagogies

The importance of narrative in home-based education: Learning from our Indigenous friends

Yunkaporta and Kirby, writing from an Indigenous perspective, in their chapter from Purdie, et al., entitled ‘Yarning up Indigenous pedagogies: A dialogue about eight Aboriginal ways of learning” (pp. 205-214) had this to say: “… the narrative and yarning modalities of our oral culture have been the keys to our thinking, learning, doing, knowing and being for many thousands of years” (Purdie, et al., 2011, p. 205).  This implies that from an Indigenous perspective, lots of story telling is an important feature of their educational processes.  This is supported by the original research of Etherington (2006), in his doctoral dissertation, Learning to be Kunwinjku.  Etherington points out that “… the function of Kunwinjku*  narrative is to provide the internalised, automatic models on which personal life decisions and behaviours are built, consciously or not, in emulation of the story tellers as much as of characters in the stories” (p. 375).

Story telling is an important Hebraic pedagogical strategy.  Jesus told lots of stories, many of them parables, and the images that are evoked by the stories have a singular meaning, but a multiplicity of applications.  Story telling is an economic means of communicating  complex and important concepts with a minimum of words.  The good story teller can tell the same story over and over, and by emphasizing or drawing attention to different elements in the story, through the way it is told, can help the listener to apply the same story to a range of appropriate circumstances.

The lecture of school has someone telling the listeners what to think and what is important.  The story teller, on the other hand, leaves room for the listener to draw from the story those elements of the story that are appropriate to their own situation.  The lecture abstracts knowledge, the story embeds knowledge in the concrete, but allows the listener to move from the concrete to the abstract as they are able.  Everyone gains from the story.  With the lecture, if you don’t get it, then you are dumb.

Home-based education is enriched by lots and lots of stories – stories from the heritage of the family, Bible stories, stories that provide interest for everyone from the youngest to the oldest in the family, but which also have varying levels of application throughout the family as appropriate.  Shared stories create a bond of relationship.  They provide a relational dimension to learning and education.
*First Nations People of Western Arnhem Land

References

Etherington, S. J. (2006). Learning to be Kunwinjku: Kunwinjku People Discuss Their Pedagogy.  A thesis submitted in Faculty of Education, Health and Science, Charles Darwin University for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy.

Purdie, N., Milgate, G. and Bell, H.R.. (eds). (2011). Two Way Teaching and Learning: Toward culturally reflective and relevant education. Campberwell, Victoria: ACER Press

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Aboriginal Education, Hebrew Pedagogies, Indigenous Education, Indigenous Pedagogies

What can we learn about education from out Indigenous friends?

Having worked for five years in an Indigenous community, amongst the Warlpiri people in Lajamanu, and having worked for four years in a school for Town Camp Indigenous students in town, I have come to appreciate that there is much to be learned from traditional Indigenous culture in Australia.  Because of the things that I learned whilst out bush, I count my five years amongst the Warlpiri as the best five years of my life.

One of the most important areas of learning was in the domain of education.  Armstrong wrote, in the chapter called ‘Talking the talk: the soft tissue of reconciliation’, of the Purdie, et al. (2011) book, called, Two Way Teaching and Learning, the following:

“You had to do so much on your own at school; this was not the way my mum taught us.  This was not the way we worked together.  Everything (at school) was done over and over to be perfect, and to look clean.  At home we learnt from doing and having a go, not by just reading all the time with a person who didn’t even know you or our family and talking at you all the time.  At home and in the bush we would talk and work things out for ourselves.  We could head off on the station as a group of kids with no adult and not be home for hours.  At School they had these rules” Purdie, et all., 2011, p. 227).

This is the case.  I have learned that there are many things that differ in the way Indigenous people conduct education, and the way that it is conducted in mainstream schools.

1.   With Indigenous people, learning is done in the context of intimate relationships.  It took me about three years in the bush to realize that relationships were critical in the learning process.  Aboriginal children don’t orient themselves towards learning unless they know you, and letting yourself be known takes years of being around–“OK, so he’s not like all the other plastic bags, blowing into the community, and then blowing out again.”

2.   With Indigenous people, the goal is not faultless perfection, it is participation.  While bureaucrats are concerned about outcomes and quantitative data collection as indicators of educational success, Aboriginal families, in many cases, are concerned about whether the children have enjoyed their attendance.  Many families reported to me that they were satisfied with their children’s progress at school, because the children enjoyed being in my class.  I could not show much, in terms of test results, but I did have students come back to my home after school and on the weekends, because they liked hanging out with me.  They were not at all interested in the school work, but they craved the relationship.  After school and on the weekends we did stuff like gun handling, hunting, telling stories, and such like.  A lot of learning took place, it just did not relate to school work.

3.   In community, children learned on their own.  From our perspective, it seemed that no one was looking after the children.  However, the children learned a measure of problem-solving and independent confidence that no amount of instruction in a school could impart.  A lot of the learning was destructive, but a lot of the learning was also creative.  Watch the film series, “Bush Mechanics” and you will see the level of creative problem solving that Indigenous children derive from the style of learning that they grow up with.

4.   Traditional people remember the days when there were no fences.  There were no boundaries for thousands of kilometres, and young people could explore in any direction for days and not exhaust the learning possibilities.  In many cases, this was done without adult supervision.  School teaches that there is only one track, and one direction, and one set of answers and that is set by the answers required by the teacher in the tests that are given.  Narrow thinking produces fear, dependence and vulnerability to control.  In days gone by there was such a thing as a liberal education.  By liberal was meant that it was expansive and covered a broad range of learning that enabled a global perspective of life.  These days, specialization is started early, and the capacity to have an integrated perspective is limited.

5.   Indigenous education is multi-sensory and multi-modal.  Children learn by dancing, singing, listening to stories, watching, painting, having the body painted whilst being spoken and sung over, eating, making artifacts, being caressed, ground-pounding, tasting, smelling, hearing, seeing, feeling; a cacophony of experiences all focused on one single message to be communicated.  However, that single message had layers and layers of application in complex inter-related fields of study: philosophy, religion, geography, geology, earth sciences, astronomy, sociology, psychology, etc.  So much data, from so many directions, that knowledge is not thought about, it is felt.  It is an immersion in knowledge, but the knowledge has immediately practical application.  For me, Indigenous pedagogies resonate with the pedagogies of the ancient Hebrews, with their cycles of feasts, sabbaths, temple and ceremonial rituals, priestly garb, and day-to-day learning in the context of living life: “when you rise, and when you go to bed, when you walk along the way”.

A coordinating value system is required in all of this.  However, having established the home base, children need the opportunity to range in their questions, and be exposed to a very broad range of learning situations and opportunities.  Life is not simplistically black and white.  There is not just one way to solve problems and resolve conundrums.  With a firm anchor within the grace of God, and full exposure to the boundaries set by the Law of God, we have the invitation: “Of all the trees in the garden you may freely eat, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you may not eat.  For in the day that you eat thereof, you will surely die.”  A vast paddock full of trees to eat from.  Only one forbidden.  There is a lot to learn from that, in terms of how education should be conducted.  And I think our Indigenous friends can teach us a lot, if we had the grace to humble ourselves and become as children, willing to learn.

References

Purdie, N., Milgate, G. and Bell, H.R.. (eds). (2011). Two Way Teaching and Learning: Toward culturally reflective and relevant education. Campberwell, Victoria: ACER Press

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Education, Education and the Family, Education and the State, Funding, Home-Based Education, State Schools, Teaching

Globalisation, Schools and Home-based Education: the economic pressures

Sean Casham (2014), writing from an unashamedly socialist perspective, discussed the impact of globalisation on education, in his paper: Globalisation and Education.  He argued that globalisation has ensured that schooling is finance-driven rather than education-driven.  Measurable outcomes, such as high exam scores, become the educational objective of schooling to attract parents to enroll their children and to secure government funding.  These globally originated economic pressures, from such sources as The World Bank (Casham, 2014, p. 2), create insecurity of employment for school staff and ensure that there is a need for particular teachers to prove their ongoing right to be employed.  In this context, data collection becomes connected to professional competence, rather than actual teaching ability and learning outcomes in the lives of the children; value is given to things that can be measured and produced, rather than to the elements of a true education.  Casham writes: “By focusing on the knowable and instantly quantifiable, we may diminish the more abstract qualities of being human, such as kindness and wisdom” (p. 2).

Casham points out that Waters (2011) wrote: “In Australia, 25% of our young people (aged 15-19 years) have a mental disorder and 1 in 3 young people experience moderate to high levels of psychological distress” (Waters, 2011, p. 75).  This figure is an increase on the number of mentally disturbed young people reported in the earlier Sawyer, et al. (2000) Mental Health of Young People in Australia, report.  In the Sawyer report it was recorded that “Fourteen percent of children and adolescents in Australia have mental health problems” (p. xi).  However, it is interesting to note that Sawyer, et al. claimed that there was “a higher prevalence of child and adolescent mental health problems among those living in low-income, step/blended and sole-parent families” (Sawyer, et al., 2000, p. xi).  The Sawyer report claimed to be accurate because “the prevalence of mental health problems identified in (the) survey (was) very similar to the prevalence identified in previous Australian and overseas surveys” (p. xi).

Casham suggests that  these globalisation pressures may have a negative influence on young people.  Making educational processes finance-driven rather than education-driven may be limiting our human capabilities, and “limiting our human capabilities could paradoxically prove harmful to our mental health and the economy” (Casham, 2014, p. 2).  Maseman (2007) pointed out that the increasing trend in measuring school effectiveness “rests on productivity-oriented criteria, and analysis that is used on every level of education from early elementary school up to the tertiary level” (Maseman, 2007, p. 101).  This has led to “the increasing homogenization of the culture of education on a worldwide scale, with the accompanying assumption by educators that there is only one valid epistemology” (Maseman, 2007, p. 110).  Casham summarises this phenomenon by suggesting that “financial objectives can … be at the expense of a truly coherent focus on school improvement” (Casham, 2014, p. 6).

It is my argument that schools cannot be improved, whilst they are the recipients of Government funding.  It is the pressure of Government accountability measures that is apparently skewing pedagogical approaches.  Teachers who are anxious about their job security will not be primarily concerned about the educational outcomes of their charges, rather they will be driven by considerations that revolve around assessment imperatives.  Testing does not deliver an education.  Tests test whether the students have memorised the data that is deemed important to pass the test.  An education results in a lifestyle change.  Testing involves cramming as late as possible before the test date, then promptly forgetting as much as possible after the test.

Home-based education does have its financial pressures.  Home-based education families mostly choose to live a leaner lifestyle than they could if both parents were working and the children were sent to school.  However, when there is a resolve to live contentedly within the family’s single-income means, there are no pressures for financial accountability in relation to the education of the children.  Time can be dedicated to education, and if there is no state-mandated registration, then the testing regime can be done away with all together.  The proof of educational success is not in the results of tests; the proof is in the adjustments to lifestyle that the children make as a result of their educational development.

Casham’s essay is helpful in understanding some of the pressures upon schools and their teaching staff.  Those pressures may also be contributing to the poor mental health of many of the children attending the schools.  Add the pressures of globalisation to the factors of bullying, academic struggle and the corresponding shame that many children experience, and it is no wonder that a large number (between 14% and 25%) of children exhibit mental health problems.  However, Casham holds out hope for schools, and this is where I depart from his analysis.  The hope will be found in strengthening families, and then mandating families to deliver an education from the base of their own home sweet home.

References

Casham, S. (2014). Globalisation and Education. Unpublished Masters level assignment.

Maseman, V.L. (2007). Culture and Education. In: Arnove, R.F. and Torrens, C.A. (eds). Comparative Education: The Dialectic of the Global and the Local, 3rd Edition. pp. 101-116.

Sawyer, M.G., Arney, F.M., Baghurst, P.A., Clark, J.J., Graetz, B.W., Kosky, R.J., Nurcombe, B., Patton, G.C., Prior, M.R., Raphael, B., Rey, J., Waites, L.C. and Zubrick, S.R. (2000). Mental Health of Young People in Australia. Child and adolescent component of the National Survey of Mental Health and Well-being.  Canberra: Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care.

Waters, L. (2011) A review of school-based positive psychology interventions. The Australian Educational and Developmental Psychologist. 28(2), pp. 75-90. DOI 10.1375/aedp.28.2.75

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Education, Home-Based Education

Home education, community values and Divine heart surgury

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

 

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Education

What about Article 26 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)?

The Bible does not teach rights.  There are no stated or implied rights anywhere in Scripture.  The Bible does teach, however, responsibility and privileges.  The Biblical argument is: “If you obey… then …; if you disobey … then …”  Privileges are withdrawn when responsibilities are not taken up.  It is possible, for a time, to claim privileges whilst shirking the corresponding responsibilities.  However, God is not mocked.  Sins committed in private will eventually be shouted from the rooftops, if not repented of.

The claim to rights, however, is to clamor for the privileges without reference to the corresponding responsibilities.  A rights orientation will always lead to conflict in the marketplace.  As one claims rights, then it will be at the denial of privileges to another.  For example, when a woman claims the right to control her body, and by exercising that right she has the baby in her womb murdered through the process called abortion; by exercising her right, she has denied the privilege of life to the baby.  None of us have a right to life, and the Bible indicates that there are instances where God will reclaim our privilege when we have neglected to fulfill our responsibilities (murdering – neglecting to show respect for another’s privilege to enjoy life – for example).

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) states that … “parents will have the right to choose the type of education they want for their child” (article 26).  In a rights oriented society, this may be helpful, in the short term, to obtain liberty in home educating.  However, it is not a long-term solution to the problem of civil resistance to home-based education.  The long-term solution has to be through the conversion of the general population until there is a majority who upholds the sovereignty of God and accepts His sovereign will, as expressed through His Law.  Parents have a responsibility before God to raise their children in the fear and admonition of the Lord.  This is accompanied with the privilege of choosing for themselves, under God, the method of fulfilling that responsibility – which may include home-based education; enrolment in a local, privately funded, Academy; or tapping into a network of experts throughout the community who assist with the God-given responsibility.  No one has a right to state-funded education.  The satisfying of that so-called right, is to deny others the privilege of stewarding the blessings that God has given them through labour (i.e. taxation to pay for state-funded education is stealing from parents the capacity to fund the education of their own children).

We have a lot of work to do, but we are to be encouraged by the promise that it is the “Gospel which is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first and also to the Greek”.

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