Interesting Post on Mohler’s Public School Exodus

Out of Ur has an interesting review of Al Mohler’s new book Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth. In the book he argues for an exit strategy to be developed for Christians from public schools. Here is the quote from the book as presented on the Out of Ur blog:

I am convinced that the time has come for Christians to develop an exit strategy from the public schools. Some parents made this decision long ago. The Christian school and home school movements are among the most significant cultural developments of the last thirty years. Other parents are not there yet. In any event, an exit strategy should be in place.

The entire post, and the especially the reaction to it in the comments is well worth a little time to read. I tend to agree with those who would argue that if you are going to subtitle your book as Engaging Culture with Timeless Truth (emphasis mine) you shouldn’t advocate the removal of thousands of witnesses for Christ from the schools. It is entirely possible that he is simply suggesting an exit strategy be planned but not implemented. I confess that I have not read the book. If he is saying the time has come to jump the public school ship I would go back to what I said above. My opinion is that this would be vastly counterproductive to the gospel. Just a thought.

How about you? What do think about what he is proposing?

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~ by bchatcher on February 8, 2008.

13 Responses to “Interesting Post on Mohler’s Public School Exodus”

  1. I think it is up to every family. To say you have to is wrong. We do homeschool. My son went to 1st grade and half of 4th. My daughter went to half of 1st. We do it for the spiritual training they can get and home and the schools are horrible here. Christian school is fine but you have to be rich.

  2. I do not think we should be planning to pull Christian children out of the public school system or even plan for it. Most of the people I know that were home schooled lack social skills with people their own age, especially the young men. They tend to do well relating to adults, but when it comes to engaging others at their age level they really struggle with what to say and how to act. They are just awkard in most cases. The boys I have known seem to have a hard time relating to men especially, since a majority of their childhood is spent around women (mainly mom) and they do not interact with other boys or men much.

    That said I know there are home school groups and associations now that help get the kids around others their age. Personally I think it is a bad idea to say we should pull the kids out of the schools, how are they going to learn to interact with non-believers if we shield them and never let them be around them? How can we minister the gospel to the hurting if all we do is create our own sub culture? We cannot expect them to engage us if we are unwilling to engage them.

    We have to think long term. You can put your child in home school or Christian school to teach them “values” that you want, but at what cost. Eventually they are going to grow up and hear the opposite opinion and if you have not taught them how to think critically about those opposing views it can have a very negative effect on them.

    I really do not understand the argument that a Christian parent has to pull their child out of school to teach them Christian values. Why? Why can’t we teach them the same things when they are home from school at night? It may mean more effort on our part, maybe we miss a TV show now and again, but it will be worth it. They may learn some things that are not true or that have a secular spin on them during the day at school. That said we can take action by asking what they learned at school that day. We can help our kids begin to think critically about those teachings and the teachings of Christ. This will serve them and the Kingdom of God much more down the line. It is not the easier path to follow, but I personally believe it is the one that produces the strongest foundations for Christian faith.

    An exit strategy though? Even if it is just formulating one I think it is a bad idea. What exactly are we running from? We are supposed to be taking the message to these places not removing it. It does not make sense to run.

  3. Samuel,

    You have no idea what you are talking about. Most homeschool kids are well adjusted. Are you a parent? How much time do parents get to spend time with their kids if their in school? Very little. My kids are very well adjusted. My children hang around plenty of unchurched kids right here in our neighborhood. I’m also on staff at a cutting edge church so they get lots of exposure to culture. I hate it when people start talking about socialization when they have no exposure themselves.

  4. Hey Kevin,

    Let me start off by saying this, my wife and I both have been verbally assaulted several times by parents who are very pro home school to the point where they bash any one that does not home school their kiddos. Let me be clear that I am not saying you are one of these people. What I am saying is that I have my own strong opinions on this issue that go deeper than a simple Internet post that have been forged from years of battling these parents with how my children should be raised as well as the youth that I work with on a daily basis.

    Just so you know how I feel on a deeper level, I do believe that many children will get a better education at home than they do in public schools. I also think they can do it in less time. Public teachers just can’t spend the one on one time with a student that a home schooling teacher can. That said, I also believe that there are some things to overcome by home schooling your kids that you would not have to deal with by sending them to public school.

    I will try my best to answer all the questions you posed. First about me. I am 32 years old and a parent of two. I have a 4 year old daughter and a 1 year old boy. I have also lead a young adult group with my wife of 18 – 30 year olds at my church for nearly 2 years as well as helped out with the youth group there. I have spent over 10 years working with youth at various churches in different ministries. It may also be relevant to point out that the church that I attend is part of an organization in Texas that has fought and won the right via the Supreme Court to hold volunteer after school bible studies in the public school system. Each semester we see roughly 20% of these children come to have a relationship with Christ. To say I have no idea what I am talking about without knowing my background is a bit strong if not naive.

    I can literally walk in a room of youth and young adults (15 – 30), spend 5 – 10 minutes watching them and tell you who has been home schooled. They simply act different around others their age because their life experience has been so different. I want to be clear that I am not to saying that they cannot function in life or talk to another peer. It is to say that they simply seem to have a more difficult time doing so.

    I have not met a home schooling parent yet that does not feel as strongly as you do regarding this issue. The thing I have found in working with their kids when they hit 15+ is that over time they do miss out on things that public school can provide, and these stack up over time. If left alone they can make it harder for that kid to adjust to changing social environments.

    It sounds like you are thinking more long term and making sure your children get the proper exposure to the culture as a whole. I can tell you though that the majority of home schooling parents that I have met over the course of my life and ministry in the church brush this off if not outright ignore it.

    In regards to how much time a parent could spend with a child if they were in school, that would all hinge on their schedule as well as the parents. I would guess that the normal amount of time would be somewhere around 2 – 5 hours depending on if those parents worked outside the home. I am a firm believer in spending time with your family and really making sure to invest in your children not only while they are young, but over the course of their lives. Personally I get up early so I can be at work more early than my co-workers. This lets me get off much sooner in the afternoon, giving me much more time with my kids in the evening. That said, what exactly are you suggesting here? Are you saying that if a parent does not spend 8 – 12 hours a day with their child that they will not grow up to have solid values or will somehow loose their way later in life? I guess I just don’t understand where you are really trying to go with that statement.

    In regards to your frustration about socialization, I am not sure exactly what you are saying or referencing. I am assuming you are pointing to my statement about Christian parents pulling their kids out of school to teach them values. I was simply stating that I do not like that argument. I did not say that every home schooler is denied culture if that is what you are implying. I was merely trying to state that I do not think this argument is valid when making the decision to home school your child because Christian values or any set of values can be taught whether a child is in public, private or home school.

    What I have found in my experience is that the home school issue for most parents boils down to two major issues. First many are simply afraid their child is not safe in the public school system. Second, they are also afraid that their child will hear something or will make friends that will challenge their faith causing them to turn away from God. While these are not the core issues for every situation, they do hold true for the parents I have encountered both growing up and my ministry.

    In the end I agree with your statement in your initial post; each family has to make that decision on their own and decide what is best for their kids.

    I am sorry you feel that I have no idea what I am talking about. All I can say is my experience over my life and that of my 10+ years working with youth shows that there are issues to overcome when home schooling your child. Just like issues with public school if they are not addressed the child will go through challenges. It is that simple. But hey, that is the power of the Internet right? Everyone gets to share an opinion even if they are not the same.

    On a side note, I really liked the title of your web site. I thought it was very creative and funny.

  5. Smamuel,

    I’m sorry if I came across so strong. I get people who think my wife walks around with her hair in a bun and we are Bob Jones people.

    All I can say is that we hang around a different group of homeschool people then you are exposed to. Most of the ones in our area are upper middle class people who could afford private school if they wanted to. They just want the individual and customized curriculum that homeschooling offers.

    That said, I don’t think homeschooling or private school is for everyone. I truly believe it is up to every family to decide. My kids were in public school for almost 2 years. I won’t go into the long reasons why but they asked to come back home. My son is extremely athletic and could be a college football player if he continues. I coached 2 years of HS football so I do understand what it takes. He has unchurched friends in the neighborhood. My 9 year old daughter led her neighbor to Christ last year. They aren’t sheltered. My son is on a field trip today. They get lots of socialization.

    Are their wacko’s in Homeschooling? Sure, just like there are some in public and private school. Some of the public school kids we meet are not socialized very well. But we don’t paint a broad brush that they are all that way. Some days I wish my wife didn’t home educate our children so we could go to lunch. She has a deep conviction that this is what we are to do. We take it year by year.

  6. Smamuel and Kevin, both of you guys, thanks for holding to strong opinions and thanks for extending grace to each other. If we don’t hold to our opinions enough to be ruffled by someone not sharing them, then it’s corollary that we really don’t care about that opinion very much.

    Smamuel, back to your first comment, it’s been my experience that public and private schooled kids don’t know how to act around adults as well as homeschoolers. Seriously, homeschooled 12 yr old boys end up shaking my hand and introducing themselves in a clear voice. They use complete sentences. It’s unnerving, really creepy.

  7. Oh, and being a former Youth Guy at a medium-sized Catholic church (1200 families, ~1500 folks each Sundays) and the guitar player at the local Young Life club meant that I shook hands with so many 12 yr-olds that my wife bought Purell by the gallon. They aren’t known for exceptional hygiene, even the homeschoolers.

  8. Hey guys,

    Thanks for the posts.

    In response to Kevin:
    ========================

    I very much appreciate your position on the matter. I can really relate to how some people have reacted to you and your wife, like you are being prudish or uptight. My wife left her job to stay home with our children and the reaction has been mixed. Surprisingly most of the negative has been from family members vs outside influences. Go figure.

    Hopefully to encourage you I have a family at my church in particular that sounds a lot like yours who have home schooled every one of their kids and they are some of the best kids / people I know all around. The main difference for them was much what you described, the home schooling was not a means to shelter them, but more to give them a specific and targeted education. I have absolutely no problem with that and can honestly see the benefit of it.

    Bro if your kids want to be home schooled after having seen the public option, God is telling you and your wife to home school your kids and you are seeing fruit like your daughters friends coming to Christ you better keep doing what you are doing! Do not listen to any one who says otherwise. You are the man.

    In response to Bull
    ========================

    I can appreciate your experience as well. I was raised in the Episcopal church, went through turbulent teenage phase when my parents were fighting and ultimately got divorced. I eventually came back to the church in a non-denomination structure around 17 and have never left since. (Trying to give background so you know where I have been)

    I would like to point out that I did try to clarify in my second post to Kevin that it was the later teenage years where many of these children displayed difficulty socially, specifically when they tried to relate to their peers.

    The common theme I have seen, again in my experience, has been that from ages 4 – 15 the kids do very well in the home school environment. This is true whether they engage in outside influences like public sports leagues, neighbors or stuff like Kevin has described or not.

    Many adults praise the benefits of home schooling during this time because they see these kids and how well mannered they are in church or other public situations vs other kids their own age. The resounding comments are normally that they seem “so mature for their age” or “they are not like other kids.” Boy that makes a parent feel really great and it should.

    I just think what many of us are missing is the later teenage years when these kids are becoming adults and trying to establish some independence. It is at this turning point, usually 15+, where they can begin to have problems if they have not been engaging peers and those of opposite views since childhood. Who knows maybe this has more to do with simply being a teenager instead of if they are home schooled or not. I will say again though, that I have personally seen more late teens and young adults struggle socially who have been home schooled all their lives.

    I get very frustrated with home school advocates who ignore or fail to address this problem while they are home schooling because it can really hurt their kids in the long run. (Not saying you feel this way either, just stating how I personally feel)

    I have had several friends who were home schooled and have grown up to really struggle as adults. Some have even completely walked away from the faith because they were unable to think critically about what they were taught as a child vs the opposing view when they went out into the “world”.

    Again, I am not saying that everyone who home schools is setting their kid up for failure down the line. There are just several issues that those home schooling parents will have to address that a public schooled parent would not. This is just as true of parents who send their kids to public schools, they have separate issues that their situation will raise that home schooling parents do not generally have to deal with. In the end I think the church is more aware of the issues that public school will raise, but pretty blind to the issues that home schooling can raise. That is my opinion anyway.

  9. Yeah, home schooling ends up being something that get applied like snake oil. “It’ll cure EVERYTHING wrong with yer kids! If only you homeschooled them, then all the problems of society won’t come knocking at your door.” I agree, homeschooling has its own set of issues that, if unanswered, will end up with a whole bucket-full of fresh, unforeseen consequences. OK, not so fresh maybe. We started homeschooling this past fall and it’s a love/hate thing. My 13 yr old asked if he could start studying Latin (WOW!) and my 8 yr old (who begged us to start homeschooling her) asked if she could go back to public school next year. Despite being the third of six, she has very little community here. And something my wife noticed, they don’t have the constant strokes from teachers for being high achievers in school. There they are teacher’s pets and star pupils. At home, they are just the kids. Completely different from any of the issues that any one has mentioned, and probably not on the same plane of severity, but another example of stuff you have to deal with when you homeschool. Stuff that can get glossed over.

  10. This is a hot topic right now, and I’ve had the experience of leading Truth Project groups (Focus on the Family – Dell Tackett) where this subject was at the forefront. The one thing I’ve noticed about parents who oppose the idea of pulling kids out of public school, is that they either don’t know or don’t rely on the biblical perspective on education. This exodus decree is not for unchurched people or unbelievers, but for Christians. Therefore, where are we to find the ultimate authority on the subject? That’s right, God. And God’s Word DOES speak to this (Isaiah 54:13, Deuteronomy 6:6-7, Luke 6:39, 40, Jeremiah 10:2, Proverbs 22:6, just to name a few. There are many more). And there are many books such as John Gatto’s The Underground History of American Education that give a lot of insight as to where the idea of public school even came from. But the bottom line is, that our society today is very different than God’s reality. Reality is NOT what we see and experience today, but that which God perceives. The bible is clear that God sees the family as being responsible for their child’s education – specifically the father. However, many fathers today delegate that responsibility to others – most commonly the public school system (aka the State) as well as Christian schools. How does God view the State? His design for society definitely includes the State with the responsibilities of administering justice and prohibiting, preventing, prosecuting, and punishing evil. The State wields the sword, so to speak. That’s it. In Gods’ design, the State is NOT responsible for education, setting wages, taking care of the needy, widows, or orphans, etc… Those are all responsibilities God ordained others to do (i.e. family, church, community). And since the State wields the sword, there is a serious conflict of interest that arises when they DO take the above-mentioned responsibilities. Really, when you study God’s design and compare it to what society is today, it’s easy to understand many of the problems we face. When God is pushed out of the picture, chaos results. I see many parents rely on their own experiences to judge what they see in a situation (e.g. when smamuel said homeschoolers were not socialized properly based on the ones he’s observed). But we can’t rely on that method because our reality is not God’s reality. We HAVE to rely on scripture. From my experience in talking to countless parents on this issue in a biblical setting is that the parents who use the common arguments mentioned in this blog, are the people who don’t spend time in the Word. I’m not accusing anyone here of not being biblically literate, but these arguments are based on personal experience, not God’s Word.

  11. SoliDeoGloria,

    I appreciate the perspective you have brought to the discussion. You make some great points as to responsibility issues and the like. I want to deal with some of the Scripture you allude to. I have not done full study, which as an analytic would take me way too long. But here is a quick reading:

    Isaiah 54:13 – doesn’t apply b/c it refers to a future eternity situation and not fallen finite time as we are in

    Deut. 6:6-7 – applies, but only partially. This passage addresses specifically a spiritual responsibility to share the good news of Christ and personal devotion to God.

    Luke 6:39-40 – interesting application, but could be worked in such a way, but only with manipulation. The text provides an obvious caution toward the family allowing a non-Christian influence to guide the development of a child although it is very loose. Jesus is talking about carrying a judging attitude towards people and not public education. Any correlation is a major stretch.

    Jeremiah 10:3 – God is challenging His people not to appropriate false gods from other nations, which the Israelites were often struggling with as they married foreign women. Again, it is a stretch to say this verse deals with public education on our context.

    Proverbs 22:6 – This is the closest verse you have offered to relate to this topic. It does place responsibility for moral and spiritual development of children on the shoulders of parents, which no one here on this blog is arguing against.

    You claim that we HAVE to rely on Scripture and claim a number of verses that horribly lifted out of their context to self-justify an already determined mode of action. You fail to bring up the ramifications of Romans 13:7 and the Christian’s command to submit to the governing authorities, which by the way have established a public school system to provide an appropriate education to all children in order to assist them in developing life skills that will make them functional adults in society. Perhaps a better argument for those who are believers is not to withdraw but to become involved in government in order to spiritually influence the direction of the school system towards improving the quality of education?

    It is a heated and diverse issue. To be frank though, if you are going to surf by this site and throw Scripture around make sure you do your homework and don’t lift verses out of their God inspired context to justify yourself and your opinions. That’s just bad hermeneutics.

  12. Now, now, Professor X. Charity. Very few of us actually have our opinions created from a vacuum by going to Scripture and performing a detailed exegesis. Most of us are influenced by someone else’s teaching. Usually when when folks spout Scripture on a hotly debated topic like this, it’s a pericope that they’ve lifted from someone else’s poorly thought out arguments. I only say this because, well, uhmm, mea culpa. Some folks even call it a *Topical Bible Study*. ‘Specially for us amateur theologians. Not to defend SolaDeoGloria’s positions, but just to recall that most folks spouting something like this learned it from someone else and never went through the trouble to fully investigate.

    PS, I blogged in your stead on Broadway Baptist.

  13. SoliDeoGloria,

    I can appreciate your opinion, although like the professor I disagree a bit with it mainly because I think you are looking at the scripture to support your idea vs what it is saying in context.

    I am still unclear how pulling the children out of school is a biblical principle and why if a child is in that setting it is wrong. If this were true should we as adults pull out of any job that was not owned by a Christian or sold Christian goods of some kind? Values, especially Christian values, can be taught and re-enforced whether a child is in public school or not. The bible is clear the burden and responsibility for raising a child falls on the parents, no agreement here. That said, having a child in home school does not produce a better Christian anymore than having a publically schooled child does. The parents have to consider all the facts, biblically and socially and raise their children every day, teaching and re-enforcing values by actually living them out themselves.

    My biggest problem with people who preach home schooling in this manner, “it is the only way because it is biblical”, is that this opinion is largely based on just that opinion. You mentioned community as one of the agents for taking care of social situations like orphans and widows as well as education. Does the local community you live in not count in this definition or is it because this community is part of a larger government structure it is suddenly un-biblical to be a part of it? When you say community do you only think of a local church body but ignore the surrounding populace? Your definition of community here can greatly change your statements.

    Again preaching this as the answer for raising successful Christian adult, but failing to address the additional challenges it brings produces young adults who struggle later. That is my main point. I do not think home school is wrong, evil or un-biblical. I do think that Christians withdrawing from our social surroundings and creating our own sub culture is wrong and un-biblical. I also personally feel people who tell you home school is the only responsible and biblical option for Christian parents is wrong.

    I think everyone here is really getting the main point which I do believe is biblical, it is the ultimate responsibility the parent to teach and raise their child. It is up to them to protect that child and teach them how to live in a culture that is contrary to God’s Word and heart. We have to teach them how to have relationship with Jesus and to reach out on His behalf for those that surround us. We all seem to have different views, but the heart is the same; Teach and protect our children to love and serve God.

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