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.

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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

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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

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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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