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, 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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Certification, deschooling, Education, Funding, Ivan Illich, Schooling

Reflections on Illich 19: The radical heart of Ivan Illich’s proposal: a deschooled but educating society

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. 76  “A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known.  Such a system would require the application of constitutional guarantees to education.  Learners should not be forced to submit to an obligatory curriculum, or to discrimination based on whether they possess a certificate or a diploma.  Nor should the public be forced to support, through a regressive taxation, a huge professional apparatus of educators and buildings which in fact restricts the public’s chances for learning to the services the profession is willing to put on the market.  It should use modern technology to make free speech, free assembly, and a free press truly universal and, therefore, fully educational.”

Of all the quotes from Ivan Illich’s book discussed thus far, this is the most important.  He is proposing a radically deregulated education system.  A schooled society will struggle with this proposal.  It is inconceivable that education can take place without centralized control, and lots and lots of public money being thrown at the bureaucracy.  In fact, as it is more and more evident that publicly-funded, centrally-controlled education does not work, there will be more and more calls for greater controls and vastly increased amounts of money to be chucked down the black hole of the failed secular, free and compulsory schooling experiment.

What Illich is proposing is that there be locally and privately owned educational portals, unfettered by government and other institutional interference through Constitutional guarantee.  These portals are to become educational markets, places of exchange where those who have expertise, and a passion to pass that expertise on to others, can meet up with those who have a passion to learn the knowledge and skills that are being offered.  These portals will assist with due diligence in checking the backgrounds of those presenting themselves as education providers, however, at the end of the day the exchange of knowledge, skills and experience will be a free-market contract, without compulsion and requirement for government approved certification or qualification.  Such markets will not necessarily provide enough remuneration for educators to survive without also having a real ‘job’.  It will require teachers to be grounded in reality, as they deal with the workplace as well as engage in educating others.  Very good teachers will be well patronized, but poor teachers will either have to improve their teaching skills, or go back to their day job.

As I said, a schooled society will find this a very difficult concept to think through.  However, until we take seriously Illich’s proposal, we will continue to subject children to the twelve year sentence*, and waste vast amounts of public funds, that could be spent elsewhere, on a failed educational concept.

* Rickenbacker, W. F. [Ed.]. (1974). The Twelve Year Sentence: Radical Views of Compulsory Schooling. New York, NY: Dell Publishing Co., Inc.

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Ivan Illich, Schooling, Schools

Reflections on Illich 18: The thing that schools are best at is training up workers for the schooling industry and other total institutions

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. 48  “School either keeps people for life or makes sure that they will fit into some institution.”

I have finally left school.  I am nearly 58 years of age.  The best years of my life were given to schools and schooling.  However, when I took small breaks from school, I found myself caught up in other total institutions, the most significant being four years serving in the Australian Army.  I am living evidence of Illich’s words.  Upon deep reflection, I have come to believe that schools are poisonous places, and many attendees of schools are wounded for life as a consequence of their schooling experience.  The only real survivors of schooling are those who are oriented to the schooling process, and therefore are easily groomed to perpetuate the institution at one of its many levels (child care, pre-school, primary/elementary school, high school, university, post-graduate school, trade school, Bible school, etc.).   But are these survivors really survivors at all.  There is something satisfying about sharing knowledge with others.  However, the total institution of school breeds workplace bullying, academic ladder-climbing, playground bullying, workload stress, and gives opportunity for despots to rise to the top of the bureaucratic pyramid.

All of this is just not necessary for an education.  It is necessary to keep an industry flooded with public money to fund: mortgage payments, extended paid leave, sabbaticals, superannuation, textbook writing, seminars, tenured university positions, research projects, education journals, etc.  However, an education does not cost any where near the cost of funding public-financed schooling.

A truly educated person is not institutionalized.  An educated person knows how to live life to its fullest, is productive, creative, and knows how to think outside the school-set boundaries–an entrepreneur, an inventor, a pioneer.  A schooled person thinks narrowly, and is trained to believe that there is only one answer–the answer required by the teacher on the test that is coming up.  A schooled person is politically correct. A schooled person is passive, and expects others to provide for them–the well-trained dole recipient, or compliant worker in the top-down corporation.

It is said that it takes at least one month of deschooling to counter each year that a person has been schooled.  I have been deschooling for 15 months as of this post.  I only have three years of deschooling to go, and hopefully then I can start becoming a useful person in my community.  What a waste of a life!

A deschooled society will save the community an enormous amount of wasted money, and provide a much better educated community, as well.

 

 

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deschooling, Funding, Ivan Illich, Schools

Reflections on Illich 06: The fuzzy state funding of schools vs self-funding of unschooling

Illich, I. (1970). Deschooling Society. Cuernavaca, Mexico: CIDOC.  Downloadable from: http://www.preservenet.com/theory/Illich/Deschooling/intro.html

p. 17  “… discrimination in favour of schools which dominates … discussion on refinancing education could discredit one of the most critically needed principles for educational reform: the return of initiative and accountability for learning to the learner or his most immediate tutor.”

I served as an Educational Leader in a school, and was instructed by my superior to round up records of attendance, because in Australia schools are paid government money according to attendance statistics.  The attendance figures generated on one day in the year, determined the level of funding that was received for the following year.  If the period from which the snapshot was taken reflected poorly for some reason, even if it wasn’t a true reflection of attendance at other times in the year, then funding was reduced.  So, I was required to round up, when checking attendance figures, so that the best possible attendance picture could be presented.

It happens in many schools, and particularly schools with transitory populations.

On the other hand, unschooling does not cost the public anything; it is self-funded education, and you don’t have to round up attendance figures to ensure that an education can take place.  When learning decisions are made at the level of student and immediate tutor, they can be made realistically, and without having to fudge the books.

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Funding

Government involvement in education in Australia

In my dissertation I argue strongly that education is part of the God-defined jurisdiction of the family, the church and the marketplace, but the state has no God-given or God-defined mandate to be involved in education (except maybe military academies, because defense is part of the state’s jurisdiction).

In Australia, because the early colonists were mostly state-dependent prisoners, there were insufficient tithe-paying members of the church to generate the funds for the church to get on with the business that God had called her to be engaged in (which included the business of training fathers to teach their children).  Public funds were distributed to the church from the beginning (particularly for education), so that there has arisen a mindset of dependence upon the state in the church — Anglicare, Baptistcare, Salvation Army, Frontier Services, etc., all receive government funding to enable their organizations to go about the business that God has called the church to be involved in.  Try preaching the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as part of these state-funded services, and you will see how little these church organizations really are ministries of the church.  They are state functionaries in practice, church ministries in name only.

When Christians have no concern about government involvement in welfare, infact, when many Christians are on the cutting edge of advocacy for increased government involvement in the church’s affairs, there is no pang of conscience about government involvement in education.  How many Christian schools receive government funding?  It has come to the point that Christians in every state and territory, in Australia, (except for South Australia), are not permitted to set up their own education facilities without them being registered by a government agency.  The costs of setting up static, purpose-built schools is beyond the financial reach of most Christian parents, so state-funding is called upon to subsidize.  He who pays the piper calls the tune.

The Safe Schools* initiative being rolled out in Victoria, and being planned to be rolled out to all schools across Australia that receive government funding, is a demonstration of how much political correctness is attached to accountability for the use of public funds in education.

The Homeschool Regulations in New South Wales are an illustration of how boldly intrusive governments in Australia have become, demanding that home-based education look like schools, in the home**.  This is one reason why we need to help home-based educators make a shift from using the term home school, when they are unschooling.  Home schools can be registered.  An unschooling life style (i.e. living as if schools do not exist) is outside the state definition.

We have a long way to go in helping the church in Australia to take on the mind of Christ in the realm of education.  But we must begin the journey, and we must commence the task of trialling different things until we get something that works.  If we always do what we have always done, we will always get what we have always got.

* https://www.change.org/en-AU/petitions/unease-over-safe-schools-coalition-let-boys-be-boys-and-girls-be-girls

** http://www.boardofstudies.nsw.edu.au/parents/pdf_doc/home-edu-info-pack-13.pdf

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