Steadfast Guest — Homeschooling by Holly Scheer

This article comes from Holly Scheer, the wife of Pastor Scheer, who has the task of teaching their children at home.

It’s hard to completely pin down the numbers because some states don’t track homeschoolers at all, but estimates are that in 2007 (the most recent year data is available from ) there were roughly 1.5 million homeschoolers.  http://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=91 and that homeschooling increases by about 7% per year.

Why do people homeschool?  It’s really individual by family, but some of the most common reasons are academics, religion, addressing special needs or giftedness, bullying, family schedules, and safety.

What does this mean for us, as Lutherans?  It means the face of education, something our Synod has traditionally been really focused on, is rapidly and radically shifting.  Our Synod grew on schools, really, really good schools.  Why are Lutherans choosing homeschooling, sometimes in communities with schools?  What’s the deal?

Let’s look at the common reasons for homeschooling and how that touches our schools.

Academics.  This is a touchy subject in our country.  We, as a nation, keep lagging in test scores compared to the rest of the world and it doesn’t seem to be getting better.  It’s a difficult and complicated issue and ideas on why and solutions really vary.

Homeschoolers currently on tests massively outperform their publically, and privately, schooled peers.  http://www.hslda.org/

This is true across financial and racial lines.  Some of our parochial schools have amazing test scores, too.  Some don’t.  Shrinking schools with budget problems and high turnover can have a difficult time with addressing the academic needs of their student body.  More and more parochial schools linger on the edge of closing.  We have far fewer LCMS day schools than we did forty years ago.

Religion.  Homeschooling allows parents to have total control over the religious life of their kids.  In a time when there is such polarization of science and history homeschooling allows parents to teach their kids their values.  This is also a strength found in most of our parochial schools.

Special needs and gifted kids.  You don’t get much more specialized education than a child having school specifically tailored to them at home.  It’s hard with budget issues and shrinking services to meet the specific and often very individual needs of the kids at the very top of the class as well as those needing extra support.  Kids with behavior problems are another common group that leave schools.

Bullying.  This is a terrible problem that has long lasting repercussions for kids.  It’s not rare to see news stories of kids, some of them tragically young, who commit suicide or acts of violence at school as a result of bullying.  This is a problem that I don’t have the answer for.

Schedules.  Some of us have goofy schedules.  With my husband being a pastor he doesn’t keep a standard 9 to 5 work day.  He sees the kids at lunch, but not always for supper.  He can go to the plethora of night time meetings our congregation needs without feeling like he hasn’t seen our kids.

Safety.  It’s an unfortunate reality that in some places schools aren’t safe.  Drugs and violence are around.  That’s scary to think of when it’s your kids.
Am I saying that homeschooling is some magical panacea that solves all?  For all people?

No.

Homeschooling  is a choice that works for some families and I totally support families in the choices that are best for them.  I’m glad to see MORE choices opening up for people, not fewer.

Is there a way that homeschoolers and our LCMS schools can work together?  Some schools have had good success with opening classes to homeschoolers and letting them in on a part time basis.  There are some things that are better in a group.

You’ll notice about this article that I didn’t address socialization.  It’s a common complaint and worry about homeschoolers from people that do not do it.  Here’s why – as a homeschooler I have more than enough activities for my kids through church and community, as well as our local homeschool group.  People often are quick to point out the weird, unsocialized homeschooler they met somewhere.  I’ll take this moment to remind you that some people have a hard time fitting in public or private school as well.

Homeschooling is going to continue to grow from all available signs.  Will we embrace it as a Synod, all work together, and come out with something better, for everyone?


Comments

Steadfast Guest — Homeschooling by Holly Scheer — 91 Comments

  1. Tim,

    It is the parents’ vocation to teach their children. If parents enroll their children in any institution(s) of education they are delegating what is rightfully the parents’ vocation to other teachers in loco parentis. Parents are, indeed, free to delegate some or all of their children’s education, but this does not remove the primary responsibility that parents have for education. Nevertheless, homeschooling does not “dishonor the calling some have to be teachers in our schools, public or parochial.”

    Sunday school is not something parents are obligated to send their children to, and therefore not sending my children does not dishonor Sunday school teachers. If parents believe the Sunday school program is sound and will augment their own instruction at home, there is nothing wrong with sending them. However, parents are not obliged to send them.

    As for the instruction of children in the faith which leads to the rite of confirmation, I would hope I never find myself in the place of believing my pastor is not a good, right, and proper instructor for my children. I certainly believe parents should submit their children to the teaching and continued examination of their pastor under normal circumstances.

    I’m not sure what I would have done in your circumstances, and I’m not even certain what your circumstances are or were. Lord have mercy if we have pastors who are not orthodox teachers and who might do more harm than good in teaching our children. The primary concern, however, should be whether the parents are seeing to it that their children are continuing to learn and grow in the faith. This includes submitting them to further instruction from a pastor who is faithful to his calling. If possible, I would find another church if the pastor was not a proper teacher. If that were not possible, again, Lord have mercy.

    As for your apparent assertion that (some?) Christian parents have a duty to send their children to educational institutions to be “salt” to worldly peers and teachers, I couldn’t possibly disagree with you more vehemently.

  2. @Erich Heidenreich DDS #43
    Six months was just a random number; I gave one month for each chief part. I think every parent is capable of teaching and instructing their child the small catechism. If they weren’t why would we continue to exhort them to do so? As a parent though you are NOT charged with confirming, examining, or administering the sacrament to anyone, the pastor is. If any pastor worth his salt takes that seriously then he will carry out those duties. Transfers are completely different then from parents. A pastor has still examined and confirmed and communed those transfers prior to their arrival at my church. So a pastor has already done all those things and unless I have a reason to doubt otherwise I take him at his word.

  3. @Rev. McCall #52
    I agree with you that as a parent I am NOT charged with confirming, examining, or administering the sacrament to anyone, the pastor is. Amen. However, I still am not sure we agree on the issue of preparation for first communion. If the parents have prepared the child to the extent necessary for first communion, what additional preparation by the pastor is necessary (or can only rightly be done by him) other than examining and absolving the child?

  4. I think Sara did a wonderful job in explaining a bit further my points here.

    I just want to be clear, as there seems to be some muddling, I am not in any way connecting the rite of confirmation to first communion. These are two separate rites of the Church altogether. One is a divine rite and the other a human rite. The divine rite should not have to hinge on a human rite. So, just to be clear, I am not saying that the father of the family should in any way usurp the pastor’s role of ensuring that all of his communicants are prepared to receive the sacrament.

    What I am saying is that our children should not have to wait until they are 13 or 14 to begin learning the Small Catechism (or the Bible… or the Large Catechism…). These, as Luther clearly instructs, should be taught by the father to his household – not by the pastor to the youth in the congregation. Parents ought to be raising their children in the faith given in their baptism from infancy. And, if this happens, the bulk of the teaching will easily be completed far before confirmation age without any pastoral oversight.

    Is that wrong? Should we instead not teach our children these things and wait until the pastor does it for us? I do not see in the Scriptures or in the Confessions precedent for burdening our pastors with such a duty – a duty specifically given to parents. Our pastors already have more than enough on their plates, why thrust upon them the responsibility to thoroughly instruct every child in the congregation?

  5. Dalas, perhaps you missed my comment in an earlier post, where I said:

    “The best thing all families can and should be doing is teaching the Catechism to their children so that when they are ready to receive instruction from their pastor, they already have the “basics” mastered.”

  6. Rev. McCain, my comment was more directed to Tim’s comment:

    “I know I was tempted to here in my situation as I explained earlier, and I’m not one who would otherwise think to homeschool my children. Dalas’ comments in #44 lean awfully close to this by suggesting that ‘parents should do the bulk of the [confirmation] teaching at home’. I respectfully disagree with Dalas on that point, but I believe there are others who do agree.”

    Sorry, I should have been more clear… or tried to figure out how to do the quote/reply thing…

  7. @Erich Heidenreich DDS #53
    I agree with you as well, I guess the only question that seems to linger is “What does examining involve?” I would say simply taking the parents’ word for it is not doing a good job of examining. If a new member class is 8 weeks or 12 weeks or whatever, I think that’s a fair comparison for how long you should spend examining a child who comes in having been well taught at home.

  8. I agree, simply taking the parents’ word for it is not examination. However, the “examination” for confirmation is not that long in our church. It replaces the sermon, basically. Same at our old church, though they take different formats (one an essay from each student, one actual questions which they must quote Scripture or parts of the Small Catechism). Perhaps I just don’t know that an “actual” examination was held since our children were so small when we were at our old church. I know that the public examination at our current church is exactly as I described, having now witnessed 2 of them. They are short. They do not go through everything in the Small Catechism whatsoever. Some kids even have trouble with the answers. They falter and have to have the pastor help them or another student answer it. But they’re still confirmed… When I was confirmed, we had a separate night of examination with tons of questions, all of which we had to quote from Scripture and Small Catechism. I never had even seen the Large Catechism, let alone learned out of it (I think I had at least heard of it by then, but I’m not really sure – I may have learned of that much later on).

    Now, I’m not sure how long a new member class is, since I’ve never gone through one. I wasn’t talking about simply transferring from another church within the Synod. I am talking about new members maybe coming from another Lutheran church body, or perhaps a different church body altogether. Seems sometimes there’s not much in the way of an examination unless the person had never grown up in the church at all or is actually a brand-new Christian, in which case they go through the new member class. A new member class is instruction, not examination, is it not? That’s how I’ve always heard it described, at least.

    So taking both of those into consideration, what exactly does “examining” involve? And is it different because the person is an adult vs not? In other words, are there different questions/amounts of questions depending on the age of the person being examined?

  9. @Rev. McCall #52
    Thank you, Rev. McCall. I agree that the pastor should not just take the parents’ word for it. He most certainly MUST examine the child. However, I disagree that such an examination would require any instruction similar to that normally required of new adult members.

    I do not see how the examination of a child for first communion would take anything but a single visit for a pastor, during which he could adequately discern if a child is “capable of reciting the texts proper of the Ten Commandments, Creed and Lord’s Prayer, and the instituting texts for our Sacraments as Christ has given them: Baptism and the Supper, in a simple manner confessing their sin, their Savior, and what the Lord’s Supper is and what it gives.”

    I would also suggest that the sad state of instruction for “membership” and the lack of closed communion practiced in many LCMS churches today should perhaps give you more than adequate reason to question whether ANY transfer has been adequately instructed in the faith.

    It seems to me that it might be an advisable practice to ask transfers to show at least the same simple and objective evidence that is required of children, i.e. that they “are capable of reciting the texts proper of the Ten Commandments, Creed and Lord’s Prayer, and the instituting texts for our Sacraments as Christ has given them: Baptism and the Supper, in a simple manner confessing their sin, their Savior, and what the Lord’s Supper is and what it gives”?

    I have been impressed and thankful at a few LCMS churches we have simply visited (not transferred to) when we approached the pastor prior to the service, that we have been asked if we know what the Lord’s Supper is and what it gives in order to admit us to the table as visitors. This is in addition to affirming that we are members in good standing of an LCMS church. I applaud pastors who take the proper administration of the Sacrament this seriously, and I am also comforted by such evidence that the Sacrament is rightly administered at these altars.

  10. @Sara B. #50
    Sara wrote, “In a spiritual warfare, with way more at stake than a temporal war, don’t you think the same thing applies? The Apostle Paul talks about when Christians are new in the faith, they get only spiritual milk. They aren’t ready to take on Satan’s full army. But as they grow in their faith, they are trained for more spiritual battles, getting real food and meat. Then they are able to help in the war against Satan. I refuse to send my infants in the faith into battle at the public schools.”

    Do God’s promises in Romans 8:18-39 only apply to those who are mature in their faith,… and only partially, if at all, to those who are new in the faith? I won’t quote the complete passage here, but Romans 8:18-39 begins with “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…” and ends with the nothing can separate us from the love of God passage. The victory is already won for us. By virtue of our baptism, my salvation and that of my child is secure. The way I read Romans 8:18-39, even evil teachers can’t separate us or our children from the love of God. Does God only go into battle with those who are mature in the faith? Is His promise to not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle, a promise only for us adults?

    Please read the complete Romans 8:18-39 passage and apply it to your analogy of a spiritual battle. I’m not sure what you mean by “way more at stake than temporal war” – What’s most important to me is securing my eternal salvation and that of my children, and God promises that that is not at stake – the cross secures this. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)

    Your use of the “spiritual milk” phrase as a reason to avoid spiritual warfare is taking 1 Peter 2:1 out of its context. In fact, please read 1 Peter 2:1-17 and you’ll see Peter urging us to be living stones, chosen people, living among the pagans “that they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (v.12), and to “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” (v13). I find it difficult to hear people trashing the civil educational institutions and their teachers after reading 1 Peter 2.

  11. @Sara B. #58
    I believe the public examination and the pastor’s examination are two distinct matters. The pastor’s examination is not done in public. The public examination is an opportunity for the child to confess the faith publicly and for the congregation to see evidence that the child is, indeed, prepared for receiving the Sacrament. However, that which determines whether the child is prepared to receive first communion is the pastor’s examination. He is the steward of the Sacrament.

  12. Mr. Heidenreich writes:

    “However, I disagree that such an examination would require any instruction similar to that normally required of new adult members.”

    Mr. Heidenreich is, of course, free to have his private opinion, but not free to insist on it with a pastor.

    The pastor, alone, is the one to determine to what extent he feels it is necessary to prepare a child for first communion/confirmation and alone is responsible for determining what is necessary.

    The private opinion of a laypersons such as Mr. Heidenreich should not, and must not, be permitted to replace the pastor’s duties and responsibilities according to his calling and vocation as the steward of the mysteries of grace in the congregation and the one appointed by the Holy Spirit to shepherd the flock of God in that place, including all the children in the congregation.

  13. @Tim #60
    You wrote: “I find it difficult to hear people trashing the civil educational institutions and their teachers after reading 1 Peter 2.”

    You are confusing civil educational institutions with civil authority. Schools, public or otherwise, have no rightful authority over anyone’s children unless the parents delegate such authority to them.

    Here is a quote I am surprised no one has brought up yet in this discussion:

    I would advise no one to send his child where the Holy Scriptures are not supreme. Every institution that does not unceasingly pursue the study of God’s word becomes corrupt. Because of this we can see what kind of people they become in the universities and what they are like now. Nobody is to blame for this except the pope, the bishops, and the prelates, who are all charged with training young people. The universities only ought to turn out men who are experts in the Holy Scriptures, men who can become bishops and priests, and stand in the front line against heretics, the devil, and all the world. But where do you find that? I greatly fear that the universities, unless they teach the Holy Scriptures diligently and impress them on the young students, are wide gates to hell.

    To the Christian Nobility of the German States (1520), Luther’s Works, vol. 44 : The Christian in Society I, page 207

  14. We have five cildren all of whom have been homeschooled at least through eighth grade and several into High School. There is as wide a variety of homeschoolers (and reasons for homeschooling) as there are homeschoolers. Children in public classrooms also are of a wide variety of abilities and proclivities.

    The idea that a child will be gregarious etc. *because* he is in a public classroom is absurd on its face. The same is true for homeschooled kids regarding the inverse. Four of our kids (so far) have been exchange students overseas. The oldest is in her final year of law school and the next was just commissioned as an officer in the Army Nursing Corps. A third is in college (History Major) and the other two are younger. The youngest just finished Eighth Grade. My thoughts:

    1. If you think you need a BA to teach your kids you have probably spoken with very few public school teachers.
    2. If all you manage to do is teach the kids to read well and love learning, they will probably be better off than most kids. Self discipline is more important than any other lesson. If you teach them that, they will be able to do whatever they want and make up for whatever you have lacked.
    3. I taught the older ones Latin and German but not the younger. It doesn’t seem to have created much of a distinction. The fourth is in France this year and learned French about as quickly as the girls learned German (in Germany and Austria).
    4. There is almost no question that homeschooling allows you to skip over many discipline issues suffered by others. For example, I really didn’t notice the onset of puberty as an issue much (honest).
    5. There are also definite drawbacks (especially if you also choose to homeschool in High School). Benefits too. But it is not a cut-and-dried question.
    6. A pastor’s political situation directly impacts whether he can do this or not. This is true whether or not there is a parochial school at his church. (Small towns can be such that homeschooling is viewed as disloyalty.)

    Finally, it is important for all of us to show enormous deference and respect for the decisions of others in child rearing. In my view the right of the parent to educate the child in accord with conscience, even when others may think it less than ideal, is a basic human right.

    Jim S

  15. Again, Rev. McCain, I fail to see where we disagree on principle. You wrote on your own blog on March 30th, 2007:

    My opinion is that whenever children are capable of reciting the “three parts” (the texts proper of the Ten Commandments, Creed and Lord’s Prayer) and the instituting texts for our Sacraments as Christ has given them: Baptism and the Supper, in a simple manner confessing their sin, their Savior, and what the Lord’s Supper is and what it gives, then they are ready to receive it. This is what the teaching of the Lutheran Confessions is.

    Have you changed your mind since you wrote that, Rev. McCain? If not, what part of this examination are parents not qualified and/or called to prepare the child for? And, how long can it possibly take to witness that a child is “capable of reciting the texts proper of the Ten Commandments, Creed and Lord’s Prayer, and the instituting texts for our Sacraments as Christ has given them: Baptism and the Supper, in a simple manner confessing their sin, their Savior, and what the Lord’s Supper is and what it gives”? How can that take weeks? It could only take weeks if they are not already thus prepared.

  16. @Erich Heidenreich DDS #63
    Erich wrote, “You are confusing civil educational institutions with civil authority.”

    I believe the NIV and the ESV are causing some of the confusion here, and I’d appreciate a pastor who can educate us more on this with their understanding of the original language. In writing my response, I was reading 1 Peter 2:13 from the NIV which says, “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority”. Interestingly, this blog automatically links references to the ESV, which in this case says, “Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution.”

    If the ESV is more correct, it supports my original conclusion – public schools would be a “human institution”. Note that in both translations, it says “for the Lord’s sake”, not for our own sake. 1 Peter 2:17, seems to support an all-inclusive interpretation as it says, “Show proper respect to everyone”. I’m not seeing where exceptions are implied, but I’ll wait to be informed further by others. I am free to disagree with the education system and those who teach in it, but I’m not finding where Scripture allows me to express such a lack of respect for school teachers as is being written in some comments here. (8th commandment and Luther’s explanation should be considered here)

  17. Tim, I must say (and I mean this with the utmost respect), that logic concludes that we must submit to the civil authority of education in all cases, no matter what they are teaching (or not teaching). That means no parochial schools, no homeschools, no private colleges. We as parents simply have no right to go against our civil authority’s judgment and their institutions. Of course, this logic will branch out to all matters, educational or not (abortion, marriage, military, food, and every other thing our gov’t could decide for us if there is no way to rein them in and give us basic rights). I am guessing this is not what you meant?

  18. Tim :
    Do God’s promises in Romans 8:18-39 only apply to those who are mature in their faith,… and only partially, if at all, to those who are new in the faith? I won’t quote the complete passage here, but Romans 8:18-39 begins with “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us…” and ends with the nothing can separate us from the love of God passage. The victory is already won for us. By virtue of our baptism, my salvation and that of my child is secure. The way I read Romans 8:18-39, even evil teachers can’t separate us or our children from the love of God. Does God only go into battle with those who are mature in the faith? Is His promise to not allow us to be tempted beyond what we can handle, a promise only for us adults?
    Please read the complete Romans 8:18-39 passage and apply it to your analogy of a spiritual battle. I’m not sure what you mean by “way more at stake than temporal war” – What’s most important to me is securing my eternal salvation and that of my children, and God promises that that is not at stake – the cross secures this. “If God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
    Your use of the “spiritual milk” phrase as a reason to avoid spiritual warfare is taking 1 Peter 2:1 out of its context. In fact, please read 1 Peter 2:1-17 and you’ll see Peter urging us to be living stones, chosen people, living among the pagans “that they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (v.12), and to “Submit yourselves for the Lord’s sake to every human authority” (v13). I find it difficult to hear people trashing the civil educational institutions and their teachers after reading 1 Peter 2.

    The way I am reading your comments, you seem to think that one cannot fall away from the faith as they grow once they are baptized. But one can, and we see it all the time, sadly. I am one of those who left the faith, though I was baptized and confirmed. I was a lost soul. I was not going to heaven. I thank God every day He found me and has kept me steadfastly in His arms ever since. My point was, I am a product of public school. My parents abdicated their responsibility to teach and train me – to the Sunday school, to the Pastor for confirmation, to the government for all the other subjects. And I left the faith. So did several of my friends and many of the kids from my confirmation class.

    Like I said, Proverbs warns that the student will become like his teacher. Oops, it’s Luke. My mistake. 🙂 “A student is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.” An evil teacher (or school system in general, or on a larger scale, government) can and will in all likelihood be a tool for the devil to steal a soul from God.

  19. @Tim #66
    It is important to understand the concept of “rightful authority”. Jesus bids us, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Mark 12:17). We are to pray for, support, and submit to rightful civil authority wherever and whenever we can (Romans 13:1-7). However, when human authority violates God’s will, it is no longer a “rightful authority” and Christians are bound to “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:28-29).

  20. Here is a great comment by Rev. Richard Stuckwisch on regarding the Luther quote I posted above:

    At the level of elementary and secondary education, Luther’s point is one that parents ought to consider and take seriously. Where there is the option of a Lutheran school available, that should be considered. Where that is not the case — and even where it is a viable option — Christian parents should carefully thinkg about the possibility of homeschooling. I realize that approach would not work so well for everyone (and that certain states have made it very difficult, if not illegal; which is travesty of freedom and basic human rights). Yet, parents are (and are to be) the primary educators of their own children; the responsibility is theirs, both for their children’s training in the arts and sciences for life in this world, and for their children’s catechesis in the Christian faith and life for this world and the next.

    It has frustrated me when proponents of Lutheran schools have viewed Lutheran homeschoolers as being opposed to Lutheran education. Quite the opposite is true, at the least in the case of my own family and our many Lutheran homeschooling friends. We homeschool our children in large part for the sake of seeing to it that they are catechized in the Word of God, Lutheran doctrine, piety and practice.

  21. @Sara B. #67
    Of course, I am not arguing the logic you are suggesting that we need to stand aside when human authorities go afoul – and you know that, so please don’t pin that to my comments. I assume you share with me the Lutheran understanding of the limits of submitting to authorities as Luther explained in “Temporal Authority: To What Extent it Should Be Obeyed” (his two kingdoms treatise).

    I have not in any of my comments suggested that we cannot disagree with and speak out against the judgment of a public institution such as the schools. I have not suggested that parents do not have the right to homeschool their children instead of sending them to an institutional school. I do believe for some that homeschooling is the right choice.

    I do have concerns with the language used in a public forum that shows a lack of respect for the teachers in these institutions, and I fail to see where the Scriptures I’ve quoted allow for this type of public speech that broadly condemns those who are called to teach, in public and parochial schools. 1 Peter 2 makes that quite clear to me. I see no room for exceptions to the urging to respect them and to speak well of them. (again, 8th commandment and Luther’s explanation)

    And, I do have concerns as expressed in my comment #60 above about the promises in Romans 8:18-39 not being considered applicable to those less mature in their faith. Don’t God’s promises go with our children wherever they sojourn? Are we trying to fight the battle that God already fought victoriously for us? Peter does not speak in 1 Peter 2 of living among the pagans as spiritual warfare. If there is spiritual warfare going on, it’s in my heart as I daily am confronted with my sin and seek a renewed spirit. It’s a victorious and free life we live among the pagans with nothing at stake because through the cross he has claimed us as his chosen people. I don’t live in fear of a public school being able to take away my faith or my child’s faith because it can’t (Romans 8:38-39). Jesus warned us that we might suffer for our faith, but it’s nothing in light of the glory we’ll share with him later. This is the Christian freedom we and our children live in.

  22. @Erich Heidenreich DDS #59
    The Church even used to require sponsors at Baptism’s to be able to recite the Creed, Lord’s Prayer, and Ten Commandments from memory before being allowed to be a child’s sponsors. What a wonderful standard that would be to return to as well!

  23. @Tim #71
    I do not recall ANYONE in this discussion ‘broadly condemning those who are called to teach in public and parochial schools’. Could you please quote any comments made here that you have interpreted in this way?

  24. I was also hoping you could point to the disrespectful language you are seeing, as I just have not seen it or may have missed it somewhere?

  25. @Erich Heidenreich DDS #73
    Here’s just some of the comments that broadly condemn teachers and schools (below). I left out names and just listed the reply number. At a minimum these are not comments friendly to the teaching profession. I find it odd that only Erich (thank you) is helping me sort through the Scripture passages I’ve quoted, which tells me it’s time to move on from the discussion.

    #50 wrote “I have seen firsthand what happens to the vast majority of Christian children who spend their formative years in a secular system with secular and downright evil teachers.”

    “Vast majority” is a rather broad paint brush. Does the faith of the majority of Christian children not survive through their schooling? “Downright evil” is a rather harsh term. Truly “evil” teachers?… Provide an example of this please.

    #68 wrote “An evil teacher (or school system in general, or on a larger scale, government) can and will in all likelihood be a tool for the devil to steal a soul from God.”

    Again, explain “evil” in this context, and how is an entire system evil in this case? Explain the devil stealing a soul from God in light of Romans 8:38-39.

    #11 wrote “In fact it could be argued that depending on the degree having a degree is detrimental to teaching. I point to the number of teachers with degrees teaching subjects they know very little about.”

    “Having a degree is detrimental to teaching” is a broad judgment against teachers since all have a degree. Most education systems have policies that limit what teachers can teach based on their degree, so please provide the “number” that’s being pointed to.

    #14 wrote “an education degree indicates in almost all circumstances a curriculum based on the educational theories of John Dewey and Horace Mann”

    “In almost all circumstances” is a broad judgment and shows a lack of understanding of what the preparation in our Lutheran universities is that leads to a “Lutheran Teacher Diploma”. It’s implied that there is something anti-Christian about Dewey and Mann, and maybe there is, but it should be explained rather than broadly painted.

    #21 wrote “People are so brainwashed by the current educational establishment.”

    That would be a difficult judgment to prove about an entire establishment. Brainwashed?… Really? How many people?

  26. I have not partaken in the exegetical sides of this debate thus far for reasons I first stated upon entering the conversation. Erich is doing a wonderful job of addressing the Biblical texts and I don’t think I have anything else to add at this point.

    A common mistake I find among proponents of public schools is that those who speak out against them are accused of not respecting the “vocation of teacher” or not appreciating teachers themselves. Most of the statements you quoted speak out specifically against the current establishment of American schools – not against teachers themselves. It seems there are a couple of cases in which personal experience has brought about a direct attack on certain teachers, but nowhere has anyone broadly condemned teachers as a whole in any way.

    I think some of the comments you are misinterpreting as being directed toward teachers when, in fact, it is the flaws in the institution that are being condemned. For example, #11 comments on teachers teaching in fields not of their expertise. This is not a degradation of the teachers themselves, but rather points to the fact that many teachers are forced into positions where they really have little grasp of the subject matter.

    Both of my parents have served as teachers in public schools. After my daughter was born I recall my mom admonishing me that I had “better not put my granddaughter into a public school”. Even teachers realize the problems inherent in the school system that has been set up by our government. The best of teachers have their hands tied and making a difference in that environment is improbable at best. I have a very high respect for those Christians who choose a career in the teaching field with the aim to be a light in place as dark as our government-run schools.

  27. @Tim #76
    I see your confusion, Tim, and I agree with Dalas. Those are broad, sometimes hyperbolical, statements about the current system of public education and about the progressive teaching pedagogies taught in almost all modern schools of education.

    These statements criticize the institutions and their negative effects upon all of us. These statements do not ‘broadly condemn those who are called to teach in public and parochial schools’. Criticizing various aspects of what is taught in public schools and in schools of education does NOT paint all teachers in public schools with the same broad brush any more than it paints all public school students with the same broad brush. I went to public school. There are countless homeschool mothers who graduated from schools of education. I have a sister and a best friend who are public school teachers. For heaven’s sake, I founded a public charter school and hired many teachers for whom I still have great respect. I do not lack respect for all public school teachers.

    There is a big difference between broadly criticizing an institution and saying that therefore all individuals who have anything to do with that institution are to be equally criticized. The latter assertion simply does not follow from the first, and so you have inferred something from these statements that their authors did not actually say.

  28. @Tim, rather than explain all of this ourselves, perhaps it would be easier to defer to an “expert.” John Taylor Gatto has written a few books that help explain the underground workings of our education system.

    BTW, I see nowhere in those quotes that they are sweeping “all teachers are like this” statements. We are classifying many teachers, etc to be this way, but not all.

    I will answer to #50, because that is my quote. I went to a public school all my life (as I’ve stated). I had friends who were Christians when we started out, like me. Of all of those, very few are Christians today, and of those who are, most of us left our faith for a time. I think that stands to reason that I have some firsthand experience with this. Also, read Ken Ham’s book “Already Gone.” There is so much more information in there than I can type here. Evil teachers? You mean like the one who yelled at a student recently for voicing opposition to Obama’s policies? You mean like the ones who are abusing students? You mean like the one from when I was in high school who told me to “get a room” with my boyfriend because I was crying and he was trying to comfort me? If you read the news, there are stories all over the place of teachers who are downright evil. The people who run the schools are anti-Christian. The courts have ruled with the ACLU and other atheists banning prayer, creation, Christian religion, or any mention of God in schools. Is this not the definition of evil?

    Stealing a soul from God – like mine. I was baptized and confirmed. I don’t know how else to put this, but I left the faith because Satan tempted me with things I couldn’t resist. I was not strong enough in my faith to figure out that #1) I was being tempted and #2) that there was a way out. I don’t know how that fits in with Romans 8:38-39, but I’m willing to listen to how that can happen. Because older children especially, and also adults, fall away from God and saving faith in Christ all the time. If we’re not careful, we will fall into the trap of thinking that since one is baptized, he/she will always go to heaven, no matter what they do up until their death. Dangerous thinking, is it not?

    I am also reminded of the passage in Matthew 18:6, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” This passage also affirms that people can lead children astray – such as secular teachers.

  29. Mr. Heidenreich, do you believe it is a sin for Christian parents to send their children to a public school?

    Do you believe a Lutheran Day School is something faithful Lutheran parents should avoid for the sake of their children?

    I look forward to your answers to these two questions.

  30. Tim :
    @Erich Heidenreich DDS #73 “In almost all circumstances” is a broad judgment and shows a lack of understanding of what the preparation in our Lutheran universities is that leads to a “Lutheran Teacher Diploma”. It’s implied that there is something anti-Christian about Dewey and Mann, and maybe there is, but it should be explained rather than broadly painted.

    First off, reread my comment. I never implied that there was something anti-Christian about Dewey or Mann, merely that their theories of education were set dead against homeschooling. First off, Horace Mann’s entire purpose for promoting public schools is that he believed parents to be lousy teachers. Therefore, he believed children should be taken from the home to a public school, where they could be taught to behave in the way the Massachusetts Board of Education saw fit. I know how bombastic it sounds, but read the man in his own words — he says as much. His Lectures on Education are available free in the Kindle Store. Secondly, John Dewey was, flatly, an anti-Christian:

    If I have said anything about religions and religion that seems harsh, I have said those things because of a firm belief that the claim on the part of religions to possess a monopoly of ideals and of the supernatural means by which alone, it is alleged, they can be furthered, stands in the way of the realization of distinctively religious values inherent in natural experience.
    – John Dewey, A Common Faith

    Oh, and I second Sara B’s call (Comment #79) to read some John Taylor Gatto. He’s a pretty good introduction to these issues.

  31. Wow. What an interesting thread of discussion! Here are the parts I agree with that were most meaningful to me:

    “It is the parents’ vocation to teach their children. If parents enroll their children in any institution(s) of education they are delegating what is rightfully the parents’ vocation to other teachers in loco parentis.”

    “Parents have given up their responsibility to train their own children in the faith. They have abdicated it to the church, and the church has willingly complied. ”

    “Parents should do the bulk of the teaching at home, outsourcing to the pastor and other wise Christians as needed. When the child is ready he should be taken to the pastor and the congregation for examination and the performing of the rite. In a secular sense – this is what homeschooling looks like.”

    “Christian parents have a duty to send their children to educational institutions to be “salt” to worldly peers and teachers, I couldn’t possibly disagree with you more vehemently.”

    “I don’t care how good their education or social life would be in public school… I am not going to hand the custody of my children over to the government.”

    I have been homeschooling our two children, ages 11 and 13, for for the last four years because we feared for our children’s physical and spiritual well being at our local government school. It was obvious that they were not receiving an adequate education there. The behavior problems in the classrooms were appalling, and the teachers, however well intentioned, were quite limited in what they could do to make the classroom a safe place. I think that great many parents blindly trust in the government schools without ever really knowing what is going on there.

    My kids have great Iowa Basics test scores. They love learning. They have a great social life filled with friendships from their homeschool co-ops. They are solidly grounded in the Christian faith and look forward to confirmation soon. We’ll be homeschooling until they are 18 and head to college.

    I disagree completely that a parent needs a college degree to homeschool. I have a degree in accounting and it has not helped me in the least! I’ve had to throw out everything I ever thought I knew about teaching and immerse myself in books on classical education. Teaching things like Latin and logic are a bit tricky, but there are plenty of options: hire a tutor, enroll in an online class, utilize a video based course, or learn along along with my kids!

    As for the tangent about confirmation instruction: I would agree that the parents are primarily responsible for instruction in the catechism, and the pastor holds the authority to examine and confirm in the faith, and to administer or withhold communion.

    I have yet to hear a good argument against homeschooling. I believe it is the responsibility of my husband and I to teach our children, and that we have the freedom to delgate that task to others when we feel it is most appropriate. The “salt and light” argument is tricky one. Would you send your 5 year old to another country ALONE to work as a missionary – in a country that is hostile to Christianity? Of course not! They are not prepared! Sending Christian children to a government school alone is just as hazardous – it’s an environment that is not only hostile to Christianity, but seems to teach against it! Children are being sent to government schools and explicitly taught an opposing worldview at increasingly younger ages before parents have any opportunity to give them a solid footing. At what age do the free government preschool programs begin now – three years old? If you send a child to a pagan indoctrination center, it will likely produce a pagan. Which ancient civilization first discovered the tactic of taking the children away from their parents for a re-education process in order to make certain their foothold on a newly conquered people? My conscience screams at the thought of allowing this – and yet many still openly wonder why so many kids never come back to church after confirmation. Parents can’t “un-teach” quickly enough in the evening to offset what their kids are learning all day long at their schools. As for “submitting to government authorities” – our state governement determines the parameters under which homeschooling is a legal option. If it’s legal, then I’m doing it! The problem is looming in our future when the US government starts to dictate what homeschooling should consist of: take a look at what has happened in Canada: http://tinyurl.com/7hlqe6j Is the LCMS prepared to defend our homeschoolers from this in the likely event we will see the same government mandates emerge in the US? I’ll continue to pay my HSLD dues just in case. ; )

    I was very pleased to see the LCMS response of outrage to the health care mandate conscience violation. Where is the outrage about the daily conscience violations our children incur in the government schools! Pick an issue: homosexuality, marriage and family, abortion, extreme environmentalism, evolution, or perhaps the extreme slant with which history and government are taught – or not taught! You can’t remove the Christian worldview from things like history, literature, and government without simultaneously removing the coherency and bedrock of western culture from these subjects. Are the government schools still a conscionable option for Christians? As a church body, I think the LCMS will need to address this soon.

    Not that I pay much attention to the RC pope, but the Vatican defends homeschooling. http://tinyurl.com/7ulmmy7 (logic fallacy – appeal to false authority?) In some very large cities, Catholic schools are now tuition free to encourage such an exodus from government schools. http://tinyurl.com/6ruzopc It seems to me that the LCMS is quite possibly the Christian denomination that is the least supportive of homeschooling. Why is that? Are we protecting our brick and mortar LCMS schools? If that’s the case, then please be aware that we don’t all live near a Luthearn school, and many of us can’t afford it. What are the rest of us to do? Homeschooling should be an option supported by our church body in the form of online schools, local co-ops, and Lutheran homeschool curriculum. Lutheran homeschoolers have been buying white-out in bulk so that we can use the curriculum of other church bodies for lack of an LCMS alternative. Take a look at the curriculum of Veritas Press (reformed) and Memoria Press (catholic). Where is the Lutheran homeschool curriculum? Where is the support from the LCMS?

  32. L.M.,

    I agree with almost everything you have written here. I wish you the best in your home school.

    I would only only temper the response by noting that there are many factors involved in the decision to homeschool including the character of the local public shool, the political or even financial circumstances of the parents, their temperment, the character and proclivity of the child and so forth. Every locality, every parochial school, every public school and every home is different.

    Each year we have (AFS) kids from all over the world living in our home. Educational systems are widely diverse. There are bad as well as excellent outcomes from home, public and parochial schools. Additionally, every school in each category differs from the others in the same category. (e.g. A Nigerian student will have a different understanding and experience of school than an Italian. Both are likely to be Christians.)

    We homeschooled three of ours through eighth grade and two (additionally) into High School. It does indeed encourage a comparitively mature and adult-oriented, goal-oriented, young person. My oldest spent her exchange year in Germany at just fifteen. *But given our experience, and even given our satisfaction with outcome, I am exceedingly thoughtful about creating an issue of conscience for others.*

    All of us feel strongly about the matter because we have made particular choices and they involve those we love most.

    Best wishes for the success of your schooling years. They conclude quickly. 🙂

    Jim S

  33. Jim S.
    “But given our experience, and even given our satisfaction with outcome, I am exceedingly thoughtful about creating an issue of conscience for others.”

    You’re right. I can only speak for my family’s experience with government schools. We found it unconscionable to send our children there. It was a horrifying, stressful two years for us. They came home crying, afraid, injured, and traumatized, yet I kept sending them back. I’m still feeling laden with guilt at times over sending them there for so long. It was absolutely wicked of me to do that to my kids, but I honestly didn’t realize that homeschooling was an option back then. I thought I HAD to send them there. My husband finally insisted that we homeschool. I will concede that other families at different schools might have a better experience. I sincerely hope so. I also hope that other families who are currently going through a similar experience to ours will realize that homeschooling is an option.

  34. L.M. @ 86 I’ve never felt the LCMS was against homeschooling, not particularly supportive… But not against it. Well, except when I tell an LCMS teacher what I’m doing. 🙂 I’m a homeschooling pastor and I could name 5 other Pastor’s families off the top of my head that homeschool. I know I could come up with a few more if I thought on it. Interestingly we all seem to about the same age (born late 1970s and up) and very conservative when it comes to liturgy. I am currently helping to organize a Classical Conversations group out of the church here.

    Just for the sake of the thread. My wife is the main teacher, Only has a HS diploma, C student, my daughter is doing fine… And my wife is smarter than her HS average would imply.

    Parental support and involvement is key no matter what path you choose in educating your children… And that is the point: the parent chooses and thus oversees/has responsibility for their children’s education, even Confirmation instruction.

  35. Ryan: How is your Classical Conversations group working out? I’ve seen their web site and it looks wonderful! I wish we had something like that at our church.

  36. @Dave Likeness #4
    Wow. As a homeschooling mom of 15 years (now having TWO homeschooled grads enrolled in a highly respected university), I am offended by DL’s remarks, and wonder how much you really know about, or have experience with, homeschooling. No degree can replace the relationship of a parent towards their child. This fierce love enables that parent to provide the best for their child, no matter what their educational preparatory background. Though I have a masters degree in education, and taught in the public schools for more than 10 years prior to having my children, I know PLENTY of homeschooling parents who provided incredible educational experiences for their children without the benefits of any educational licensure. Those parents make educational decisions for their children (yes, even into high school) that will provide the best for that child, whether the parent teaches it, they form co-ops, study online, or send their child to the local community college for certain subject matter. The definition of a homeschooling parent is that they “personally direct the schooling of their child,” no matter where that schooling takes place: the kitchen table or community college classroom. I have never met a homeschooling parent who homeschools with the idea of “whatever” and does not make every effort and/or sacrifice to provide the best educational experiences they can. Socialization? – bah! My kids were socialized by mature adults, in multi-aged groups, with their siblings, and with people from a wide variety of backgrounds….NOT in a classroom setting with a bunch of KIDS – their own age. Hmmmm…which is your definition of socialization? My kids can shake your hand, look you in the eye, speak in complete sentences, ask YOU questions, and forge their own paths without looking around to be sure that others are following. Puh-leeze! DL’s list of requirements that homeschoolers must have and/or do is the reason homeschooling families want people (especially legislators) to stay out of our homeschooling realm. Statistics support homeschoolers’ success, all completed without volumes of laws, massive curricula, politically-correct school boards, and expensive, overburdening DOEs. Hold up the mirror of public schools to homeschooling? I think it should be the other way around.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.