The Right Educational Choice An Examination of the Parameters Involved in choosing the direction for your children’s education
A Brief Resume – Why Listen to Us? Janet David B.A., Psychology, Maryville, 1975 Strong interaction with Ed. prof.s Senior Thesis: Education & the Media M.A.R., Westminster Sem., 1982 Focus on apologetics, pedagogy and andragogy Cooperation with Janet in home-schooling with the 2 local Christian schools Home-schooling umbrella group NCPC Intro to Classical Christian Ed. Read widely, took G. Grant’s Humanities courses Wrote my own Bible Survey curriculum & taught 2 years • B.A., El. Ed, Geneva, 1975 • M.A. El. Ed, Penn St., 1982 • 9 yr.s El Ed. experience in two Christian schools • 12 yr.s Home Schooling experience under two umbrella groups • 12 yr.s El Ed. experience at NCCS • Strengths: • a strong commitment to a Calvinist world and life view • very knowledgeable about children’s literature • has seen/understood the growth of the Homeschool Curriculum industry
The Educational Choice –Where to begin? • Perspective • Long-range – The world your child is growing up in will not be the world they will live in. • Successfully instilling a Christian world/life view is essential • The broader the preparation the better. • Any practical skills that could be gained should be pursued/taught. • Short-term – The world your child is growing up in is the one you live in, the one you can afford/abide. • Individual circumstances can/will dictate your options. • All educational choices are costly investments – financial, emotional, chronological, spiritual. • No choice in education guarantees your desired outcome. The child, himself, must/will decide how he turns out. • You can only choose the path you take based on the biblical priorities/challenges the Lord puts in your way.
The Educational Choice –Where to begin? • Perspective • Anticipating College – • The view of college education has radically changed: • At first, higher education was for future leaders of the community – pastors, lawyers, doctors, politicians, teachers • Slowly, it has become much more the “norm” for more and more students • Statistics still indicate a financial advantage in one’s career with a college degree • Sciences simply require more education • “Liberal arts” have expanded into more secular studies but without vision/purpose • More & more emphasis is placed on the atmosphere/enjoyment of the student’s experience • With more & more students (male and female) attending college, other life choices are delayed and debts accumulate
The Educational Choice –Where to begin? • Perspective • Anticipating College – • The view of college education has radically changed: • Now, the “see-saw” is tipping • Traditional college/university education consistently increases above the average cost of living • More and more are viewing college as a “necessary evil” • Pragmatic studies for future employment is a must • Parents’ saving/investing in their student’s college education is now an all-controlling, herculean task • Alternative sources of education (Internet) • are offering significant savings and flexibility • but with a “muddling” of actual accomplishment
The Educational Choice –Where to begin? • Perspective • Anticipating College – • What to expect for your child? • College may not be possible or even relevant • The emphasis on a pragmatic usefulness will only increase • Many colleges/universities will likely begin to drop or reduce “liberal arts” in order to cut costs. • What that means for you: • College will, again, become something more for the elite, wealthy, well-positioned • Pragmatic, less expensive training alternatives will become more abundant
The Educational Choice –Where to begin? • Perspective • Anticipating College – • More & more pressure will be applied to the pre-collegiate educational experience: • For the student, more maturity faster • For the Christian parents, • the need for more emphasis on world and life view sooner • the possibility of putting more investment into earlier education than saving for graduate education.
The Educational Choice –Where to begin? • Perspective • Anticipating College – • Sooner or later, • the statistics showing the financial advantage to a college education • will balance with the immense debt incurred in getting the degree(s) • will leave less career time to prove financially profitable • will require more & more 2-career households • the government will become more involved • meaning less control/choice in college curriculum and worldview • and that funding college will be forced on you anyway through taxes.
A Comparison and General Evaluation of Educational Options (in alphabetical order) Christian School • Myth: it could be for every child/family (guilt) • “Every parent is Christian, every child becomes a Christian.” • “A ‘rest-assured’ environment the parent would always approve of.” • “Teachers are less qualified.” • The debate regarding church’s role in providing education • The wide range in educational approaches: • a Christianized public school • a doctrinally controlled environment • evangelical vs. fortress-mentality • bare essentials vs. “college-preparatory”
Christian School • The cost commitment/sacrifice – • sometimes impossible for larger families to consider at all – this clashes with a biblical view towards the blessing of multiple children and larger families. • competes with parental goals for eliminating their own debts, affording college or aiming for any other larger purchases/investments • Strengths: worldview training, humanities • Character development: peer pressure, competition, nurturing independence, receiving non-familial evaluations, dealing with failure and rejection • Societal structure: following instructions, paying attention, receiving rebuke, encouragement and challenge • Weaknesses: “early” exposure to some worldliness, influences • absence of parental supervision • differences among parental permissions, tolerations and pre-occupations • Issues can fester “under the surface”
Home-Schooling • Myth: it should be for every Christian child/family (fear) • “Parents always know what is best.” • “Home is the only ‘safe’ environment.” • The history and “default” of Home-Schooling • until community schooling was created to assist rural residents • and the government began supportive funding for compliant local schools • The enthusiastic growth of the HS curriculum industry • targeting/catering to the “novice” parent • funding/sponsoring conferences/support seminars • which aim to motivate and encourage the struggling or insecure parent/teacher • but which also tend to “re-prioritize” the Christian home
Home-Schooling • The cost commitment/sacrifice – • Make no mistake: this is a full-time job • Really requires one-income households with two parents in a committed marital relationship • The larger the family, the longer the commitment • Strengths: • enormous advances in curriculum, support, “self-teaching” structures • shelter, one-on-one mentoring, sensitivity to individual issues • up-front financial savings – no tuition • parental supervision/control, educational pace • Weaknesses: • subjective evaluations and expectations • possible confusion of parent/teacher relationship • casual structure/atmosphere, more free time that needs filling • lack of competition • Increasing inability for parent to address an older child’s need for higher math, engineering, other sciences.
Public (Government-funded) Education • Myth: it should not be for any Christian child/family (prejudice) • It will be the only or final choice for some and should be respected as such by others • It may be the only financial choice available under the larger, family picture. • Some systems are, actually, academically worthy. (The same draw, for instance, as secular private schools.) • Some students are biblically well-grounded and mature enough to handle it. • But choosing public school should not be defended naively. • “It won’t affect mychild.” • “It is an evangelistic field for my child.” • “It is what my older child wants, where his friends go, what makes him feel the most comfortable.”
Public (Government-funded) Education • This is the education you are already paying too much for - $12,608 per student in 2010-11 (I.E.S. statistic) • Public Ed is funded by your tax dollars and federal allowances based on an individual school system’s compliance with federal standards • Public Ed is governed by the state which determines curriculum, macro-policy standards and over-all budget control. • Public Ed is supervised by each county which constructs/maintains facilities, sports, bussing, etc. • Public Ed is obligated to work with the NAE teachers’ union which sets salaries, tenures, freedom of expression in the classroom, hiring/firing procedures, and pensions
Public (Government-funded) Education • The cost commitment/sacrifice – • not a financial choice • quality of the local system is often the single determinant in buying/selling a house • discourages and can even counter/oppose parental authority/involvement • no guarantee that the system will provide your student with the best teachers (salary, tenure and pension are very attractive)
Public (Government-funded) Education • Strengths: • best physical facilities/resources money can buy (supposedly) • “real” opportunities of participation in sports, music, drama, social events • introduction to “real-world” attitudes, behaviors, challenges (which can often be very attractive to your child) • Weaknesses: • students treated “en masse” (Again, your student may like this!) • personal issues will be addressed/handled from a secular, psychological perspective (behavior, grief, failure, etc.) • Govt. standards change every 4-5 years but still only produce mediocrity. • Top book publishers produce materials that say what will sell the most. • Promotion of biblically-defined immoralities as “amoral” and beyond judgment – pornography/sex, drug and alcohol use, homosexuality and violence • A much wider set of differences in parental permissions/tolerations/pre-occupations • A quickly deteriorating authority system of classroom control and discipline
Closing Encouragements • Money will always be the “800 lb gorilla in the room”. It really is OK to talk about it. Be sure you talk about it as parents and within your family goals and evaluate your priorities with your realities. You should be committed first to your child, not to an educational philosophy. Have the courage to evaluate yourself and your choice as closely as you evaluate others and their choices. If you have become defensive and stubborn, you have probably lost sight of the goal. Be aware that at the middle-school age, the voice of your student will join in the conversation as to educational choice.