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.

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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 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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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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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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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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