The Bible states that because Adam rebelled against God’s commandment, all who are the descendents of Adam are tainted with a sin nature. This sin nature inclines everyone towards rebellion against God and His Law. To be restored in relationship to and fellowship with God, God must regenerate a person. However, such regeneration does not result in an immediate change in behaviour. Consistent godly behaviour change requires a continual and ongoing change in understanding of God’s requirements in how to live life, and a change in motivation to live a godly life. This process is called sanctification, and it should be an ongoing process throughout a person’s life on earth. The effect of sanctification is called character, and the process of developing good character is called character formation.
The Christian school movement in Australia began in 1963, and the schools were called “themelic Christian schools” by Robert Long. He described them as being:
“Christ-centred, particularly in ethos and curriculum; Biblically based in pedagogy; confessors of the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible; interested and consciously confessing an evangelical/reformed Christian world view with relationship to schooling, which is perceptible in a common piety; schools that are God’s schools; schools that are not the same as church/denominational schools or Arnoldian schools; low-fee paying schools; based on the biblical responsibility of parents for children” (Long, 1994, p. 2).
Community-based education is education that is delivered in a context that is larger than the immediate family. It may be delivered through schools, flexible learning centres, flexi-learning centres, or through community (or private) organisations or institutions other than schools.
A denominational school is a school that was founded by, and is financially supplemented with tithes, offerings or donations from the coffers of, an historic Christian denomination. It usually formally adheres to the doctrines of the denomination, and runs chapel services conducted by ecclesiastics from the denomination, which students are required to attend. In Australia such schools are run by the Anglican, Assemblies of God, Baptist, Brethren, Christadelphian, Coptic Orthodox, Free Reformed, Greek Orthodox, Lutheran, Methodist, Pentecostal, Presbyterian, Roman Catholic, Serbian Orthodox, Seventh-Day Adventist, Society of Friends (Quaker) and Uniting Church Denominations.
When first coined by Illich (1970), to deschool meant to deinstitutionalise the processes of education. To deschool was to deliver education outside the institution called school, and deliver it in ways that are different to what happens throughout the school day. Since the original coining of the term by Illich, deschooling has come to mean the process of time and activities that students and parents pass through to remove from their minds automated responses that have been built up over time because of the processes of schooling. To deschool has come to mean a detoxing process. The toxic poison needing to be flushed out of the system, is a metaphor for everything that relates to institutionalised schooling. It is generally thought that one month of deschooling is needed for every year of schooling previously endured.
Discipleship is disciplined learning from a respected role-model (a master). Discipleship implies more than merely learning from someone (in a teaching situation), it includes closely observing another person living their life, and seeking to emulate the attitudes and behaviours of the one from whom the disciple is learning. Discipleship implies living with the master, following them in their daily activities, and taking on greater and greater responsibilities within the ambit of the master’s domain. In the context of home-based education, discipleship implies much more than home schooling; it implies character formation and nurturing into mature ownership and discharge of responsibility.
Educational delivery is the context and mode in which an education is imparted to young people. The term includes such examples as: schools, flexible learning centres, flexi-learning centres, and education in life.
The Bible passage from Deuteronomy 6:6-9 implies that the context for education is the daily living of life alongside those who have lived life before us; as life is being lived, learning opportunities arise, and this learning is to be framed in the context of God’s revealed Law-Word [His revealed will]. Such an education in life is an education for life; by living life under guidance and with instruction, we learn how to live life to its richest and fullest. The process of delivering such an education is sometimes called unschooling (or even radical unschooling; or natural, interest-driven, child-led, organic, eclectic, or self-directed education), but to qualify as education in life, as an education for life, unschooling also must include discipleship.
 Deuteronomy 6:5-9 “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.”
R. J. Rushdoony (1983c) wrote about the trustee family and the importance of raising families that are faithfully careful in learning about the accumulated heritage of the family, and learning how to steward the inheritance passed from generation to generation. Such learning is an important and central component of education in a family context. The accumulation and enlargement of family heritage and inheritance, as a consequence of family education, is to be for the purpose of ever increasing capacities of a family, and its individual members, to serve God and His Kingdom purposes.
Flexible learning centre is the name given by Edmund Rice Education Australia (EREA) for their ‘Youth +’ initiative. ‘Youth +’ is the arm of the EREA which focuses on youth disenfranchised from mainstream education and offers education services in flexible, inclusive and welcoming communities. “They are flexible education services (registered schools … ) providing young people with an opportunity to reengage in a flexible and supported learning environment”. There is a network of flexible learning centres around Australia (http://www.erea.edu.au/).
A flexi-learning centre is a facility, most probably rented and existing only for the time that there is a need for it, that holds resources (such as books, worksheets for copying, equipment for conducting experiments, etc.), provides meeting spaces, advertises available teachers of skills and knowledge, facilitates the meeting of experts in a skill or field of knowledge with those who would like to learn that skill or acquire that field of knowledge, irrespective of age, makes available educational advice, and in other ways flexibly serves the educational needs of a community. Access to the service is on the basis of contractual arrangements made between the providers of the services and the users of the services. There may be financial and staffing contributions made by churches and private businesses, but there are no financial contributions made by governments, and there is no effort to make it a permanent institution beyond its usefulness to the community. At the end of the useful life of a flexi-learning centre, the centre passes on its resources to another flexi-learning centre in another location, and relinquishes its space in the rented venue.
A government school is a school that has been established as a result of legislative requirement. It is resourced and financed by public money, is required to employ government trained, certified, and currently registered and monitored teachers. It is required to deliver a government-developed and approved, politically correct curriculum. And the schooling that takes place is conducted in a government owned, purpose-built, institutional facility.
The term hack schooling was “coined by the homeschooling family of 13 year old Logan LaPlante and explained in Logan’s speech at a TEDx event in February 2013. The concept is that education, like everything else, is open to being hacked or improved, not just by working within the current system, but by going outside the educational establishment to find better ways to accomplish the same goals. The most innovative entrepreneurs are people who are able to hack the status quo and create something completely new. The concept is summarized in this quote by Buckminster Fuller, ‘You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete’” (Millen, n.d.).
The term home school, by implication (and often application), has the connotations of recreating the structures, methodologies and conditions of school, in the home. Schooling does not necessarily result in an education. Therefore, to describe an education that has been delivered and received primarily from the base of the family home (which may also include some elements of education that are received from sources other than the home), the term ‘home-based education’ has been coined.
In the past the expression home school has been an umbrella term describing a mode of educational delivery that has primarily taken place in the home. However, throughout these blogs the term ‘home school’ applies to those home-based educational situations where the structures, methodologies and conditions of school have been recreated in the home. From the perspective of this writer, the term applies to a very small number of those who are practically conducting home-based education, but who continue to call themselves ‘home schoolers’.
Institutionalised education is an education that is delivered through an institution. In Australia, nearly all institutionalised education is delivered within a purpose built building (mostly funded by capital grants from the Federal Government); is governed by compulsory attendance laws; is delivered by state trained, certified, periodically registered and re-registered and monitored teachers; is confined to a politically correct state mandated curriculum; and manifests some, or all, of the characteristics of a total institution as described by Goffman (1961). These institutions include: state schools, private schools, denominational schools, other faiths-based schools, Christian ‘themelic’ schools, Greater Public Schools, private profane schools, Bible schools, and even a small minority of home schools.
In Australia private schools are those which have been established by individuals or organisations other than the government. However, the vast majority of private schools receive government funding (Harrington, 2013, p. 2). Therefore, as an outworking of accountability for using public funds, private schools are required to implement the Australian Curriculum and employ teachers that have conformed to the National Standards for Teachers. They are also required to implement the compulsory school attendance laws. They do, however, have some latitude in how they deliver the government-mandated schooling content, but not a lot on what they deliver as educational content.
According to Ivan Illich, school is “… the age-specific, teacher-related process requiring full-time attendance at an obligatory curriculum” (Illich, 1970, pp. 26-27).
State-funded means: in receipt of public money, collected through taxation, which requires public scrutiny and accountability. In Australia, the vast majority of schools receive some level of public funding, from either the Federal Government and/or the State (or Territory) Governments. In that sense, nearly all schools in Australia are state-funded schools, which includes many Bible schools.
According to Robert Long (1994), themelic (Christian) schools are characterised by the following self understandings or claims to be:
1. A Christian school.
2. Christ-centred, particularly in ethos and curriculum.
3. Biblically based in pedagogy.
4. Confessors of the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible.
5. Interested and consciously confessing an evangelical/reformed Christian world view
with relationship to schooling, which is perceptible in a common piety.
6. Schools that are God’s schools.
7. Schools that are not the same as church/denominational schools or Arnoldian
8. A low-fee paying school.
9. Based on the biblical responsibility of parents for children (p. 2).
To unschool—‘unschooling’—is to deliver an education in a way that does not resemble how education is delivered in a school context. Education delivered in the context of a school is schooling. Education delivered outside of full-time enrolment in a school is unschooling (occasional visits to a school for specific purposes, from time to time, may be a legitimate component of unschooling). There are variations in unschooling practice, which range from unschooling the academic component of education, to radical unschooling which is a child-directed education in the context of living life (which may not include an academic component, but would include: spiritual, social, physical, emotional, familial, relational, intellectual, etc., components of education). Unschooling is a way of delivering education in and through living life, for the purpose of knowing how to live life to its richest and fullest.