Up until around 175 years ago, most people were educated at home, or by the church. As such, public education is a relatively new phenomenon. But today it is the major means of education in the Western world. Sure, there are religious schools, private schools, and home-schooling, but most people attend public schools.
Perhaps 50 or 100 years ago, this was not a bad thing, as most schools back then reflected the culture at large, and in most of the Western world, that culture was primarily Christian in nature. But times have changed, and secularisation has pushed out religion, making our schools – and everything else – not only devoid of religion but often quite hostile to it.
Christianity is especially unwanted in our modern educational system. Secularist values, along with New Age nonsense, political correctness, and leftwing politics and ideology reign in most of our schools. Thus the Christian parent is in a dilemma as to where their children should be educated.
Because of this increase in the radicalisation and secularisation of our educational system, more and more parents are putting their kids into private schools – especially Christian schools – or are resorting to home-schooling. These trends have been steady for some time now and look to continue for quite a while.
A major reason given as to why parents are unhappy with the public education system is the lack of values. Faith and family values are largely absent from our public schools. Instead, they have become hotbeds for all sorts of radical and trendy causes. Thus schools are breeding grounds for political correctness, homosexuality, radical feminism, and anti-Western values.
Many have documented these worrying trends. Kevin Donnelly, an education expert, has written extensively on these concerns. So too has this author (see my website for example). The horror stories coming out of our public schools are all too frequent and all too problematic, and many parents are voting with their feet as a result.
But there are critics of the exodus away from public schools. Secular objections include the fact that students will be brainwashed by religious indoctrination, and will come out as rabid fundamentalists, incapable of objective thinking.
In response it can be pointed out that for many children in public education, there can be similar results. They are subjected to a relentless barrage of secularist propaganda masquerading as education. As a result, many students are coming out of public schools not only illiterate, but lacking in basic conceptual tools. They simply imbibe the secular syllabus, and come out rabid secular fundamentalists. Secular indoctrination, in other words, can be just as mind-numbing and dangerous as any religious indoctrination.
Religious concerns can also be heard about abandoning the public school system. Some Christians rightly ask, “If all the Christian kids pull out of our education system, it will just go further downhill. Why not let them stay and be salt and light?” That is a fair comment. Our school system certainly does need Christian influence, as does our political sphere, our legal world, our media and all other areas of society.
But what about the reverse concern: of Christian kids losing their faith in a secular classroom? That is a very real concern as well. We have all heard stories of good Christian kids losing their faith while in school, at least when going through college.
So what is the answer? I think it depends on the family. If the parents are sure the child has a solid faith and a well-thought out Christian worldview, and will not be easily swayed by secular educators, then it would be great to have those students in the public schools, standing up for truth and biblical values. But the parents and students together must decide if that is the case.
The same criticisms can be said about home-schooling. It is said that in home-schooling, we are leaving out much needed salt and light in the school system. We are depriving non-believing students and teachers of a Christian witness, of a chance to hear the gospel. Yes that is a concern, and again, parents and students need to think these issues through carefully.
Another criticism levelled at home-schoolers (and I have heard this made by both believers and non-believers) is that the children will lack socialisation. They will not be mixing with other kids, and will grow up stunted in their social skills.
I do not think this is much of an objection. Home-schooled kids get plenty of socialisation, including that of other home-schoolers. And I always wonder, what important socialisation skills will they be missing out on at public schools? They might avoid drug use, promiscuity, profanities, experimentation with alternative lifestyles and other “socialisation skills”. That might be a very good thing indeed. There is so much negative influence in our public schools, that I do not see it as a great loss, if kids are not exposed to it.
In sum, there are many good reasons why parents may want to opt out of the public school system. The Christian school alternative is vitally needed. But it needs to be zealously guarded, as there are many secularists who would like to see it closed down or over-regulated in this country.