Homeschooling: Why We Did It, Why We Stopped

If you’re a parent wrestling with the pros and cons of educational options for your children, my wife and I can sympathize. A few weeks ago we officially enrolled in a local Christian school (a classical academy). It will be the first year our children have attended school outside of our home.

So why have we quit? Why did we choose homeschooling in the first place? Perhaps the answers to these questions will be helpful to some parents who are trying to sort out what they ought to do.

Why we homeschooled

Four reasons come to mind when I look back on why we chose homeschooling.

Reason 1: the extreme moldability of very young minds

Our children are now ages nine and twelve. But when we began homeschooling, our oldest was five. We were not about to place them under the tutelage of adults who hold to views completely different from ours on who we humans are, how we got here, what life is all about and what distinguishes right from wrong.

An old adage says the important things are more caught than taught. It’s an oversimplification, perhaps, but there is a lot of truth in it. Attitudes, values, priorities, the often-unstated principles we base our evaluations and choices on—these are the most basic and pervasive components of thinking Christianly, and they are more observed and absorbed than studied. (I realize you can think Christianly without being born again and loving the Lord. Neither of these is a substitute for the other.)

My wife and I continue to believe that placing young children in a godless environment for 35 hours a week 9 months of the year and planning to counter that influence at home and church is naïve. Parents have enough of a challenge dealing with the sinful inclinations that are standard equipment with kids.

When it comes to shaping how kids look at the world and their place in it and how they view God and their relationship to Him, their first “thinking years” may well be the most important ones of their entire “educational experience.” If that’s the case (and I make no claim to having proof that it is), it makes sense for parents to handle that early education process personally if they can.

Reason 2: “because we can”

I don’t know what adventurer is supposed to have been the first to say “because it’s there” when asked why he wanted to climb a high mountain—and in reference to mountain climbing, that never seemed like much of a reason to me! But when it comes to homeschooling, a variation of that reason is a strong justification: “because we can.”

Not everybody can homeschool. For some, just keeping food on plates and clothes on backs requires dual incomes, and neither parent can stay home and teach. I believe there are far fewer of these than make the claim, but I accept that they exist.

Others have the time but simply lack the skill. It’s hard to imagine a parent who cannot handle kindergarten and first grade, but I’ve met a few whom I would not advise to attempt homeschooling beyond that point. Doing the job well requires personal discipline, a solid grasp of reading and writing, and at least a willingness to learn a bit about “how to teach” (if the parent doesn’t already grasp that intuitively).

And it requires a solid understanding of the basics of “how to parent” as well—a skill set that seems to be on the wane. Parents who do not understand that they are in charge and also understand how to behave like they’re in charge cannot operate an effective learning environment.

In the case of our family, my wife was apprehensive. But we were pretty sure we could do it for a few years. We both have college degrees and experience working with children in teaching situations. And though being in charge has never been easy, we understood what it meant and the basics of how to carry it out.

Reason 3: the non-problem of socialization

It’s a common stereotype that homeschooled kids are isolated and, as a result, do not learn how to relate to their peers. The stereotype is not entirely unwarranted. I’ve met some very shy and backward homeschooled kids. But when I reflect on the most socially unskilled kids I’ve known over the years, many of them were not homeschooled.

If isolation is the cause of social backwardness, how can it be that any public or Christian school educated kids are socially clumsy recluses? The situation must be more complex than that.

It’s been my experience that homeschooling intensifies both the strengths and the weaknesses of the homeschooling family. So, in addition to genetic factors and who knows what else, kids acquire distant and awkward social habits because they are members of families that are socially distant and awkward. And in many cases, no school can do anything about that.

In our case, we found that our children quickly made friends everywhere they met other kids, whether at playground visits, libraries, clinic waiting rooms or church activities. Though our church hasn’t provided a large number of opportunities to interact with other children, it has provided some, and the homeschool years have included frequent visits from neighborhood kids who came over to play—usually several times a week for several hours.

I don’t personally believe that “socialization” is the great evil that many homeschoolers seem to think. The term is widely misunderstood. But “socialization” in the sense of “learning how to behave in groups of people who are not your family members,” is not inherently prevented by homeschooling. A little extra effort is required for homsechoolers to accomplish that kind of socialization, but not much. In any case, the practice of bunching kids with other kids exactly their own age for just about all of their waking hours is way overrated.

Reason 4: lack of alternatives

My wife and I both attended Christian schools for most of our own education. Our parents made major sacrifices in order to accomplish that. Now it’s our turn. But when our kids first reached schooling age, the only Christian schools we were aware of (that were even sort of nearby) were just not a good fit with us philosophically. Though we both experienced some years in schools with very legalistic environments (“legalistic” here means “resembling legalism”) and came out of those experiences mostly sound in heart and mind, a legalistic environment wasn’t an option that commended itself as long as homeschooling was possible.

The cost of Christian school tuition appeared to be impossible for us to handle as well.

Why we stopped homeschooling

A combination of factors brought us to the decision to enroll the kids in a Christian school. For one, it became increasingly difficult to keep them at grade level in a couple of important subjects. For another, our oldest has reached an age where the parent-child dynamic is sufficiently challenging without being within the same couple thousand square feet of living space all day every day. Since both kids are now older and thinking more independently, the urgency of shaping attitudes and values personally isn’t what it was either. Of course, we don’t expect to delegate that to others entirely any time this side of their adulthood, but we do expect to do so increasingly as they mature.

These factors prompted me to take a look at the educational-options landscape again and see what might be available. When I discovered a Christian classical academy thirty minutes from our home, things appeared to be coming together. Meetings and interviews grew our confidence that this was worth a serious try. The school is small enough to have many of the advantages of the homeschool, but staffed well enough to offset the weaknesses of our particular homeschool. The idea of even older old-fashioned learnin’ than what I received growing up added to the appeal.

We still don’t really know exactly how we’re going to pay for it (let’s not tell the school board about that, OK?). But sometimes you decide first what you value and commit to it, and figure out the financing on the way.

We continue to believe homeschooling—even through high school—is a great option for many families. And I’m convinced that even though homeschooling has become very popular, it is still an underused option for kids’ early years. But schooling at home “all the way” isn’t for everyone. We’re looking forward to working with our new educational partners.


Aaron Blumer, SI’s site publisher, is a native of lower Michigan and a graduate of Bob Jones University (Greenville, SC) and Central Baptist Theological Seminary (Plymouth, MN). He, his wife, and their two children live in a small town in western Wisconsin, where he has pastored Grace Baptist Church (Boyceville, WI) since 2000. Prior to serving as a pastor, Aaron taught school in Stone Mountain, Georgia and worked in customer service and technical support for Unisys Corporation (Eagan, MN). He enjoys science fiction, music, and dabbling in software development.

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There are 69 Comments

Pastor Joe Roof's picture

Aaron,
Thanks for sharing. We have provided home education for our children until this year. On September 9, our 3 school-aged children will all be attending a Christian school for the first time. Our son will be in 8th grade and we just felt the need for him to be in a school. After visting a Christian school in February, we liked it, and my son wanted to attend there. The problem for us was money. So, my son and I would get on our knees regularly and pray about this. Too make a long story short, God provided the funds for all 3 of our school-aged children to attend there this year.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

One of the things that being a school teacher did for me--and the education that preceded it--was make it unmistakably clear that there really is a teaching skill set. It is not just "Well, you know the subject and you communicate what you know" or even "You just follow the curriculum and stay one lesson ahead." You can get by that way to a point, and the advantages of the small, highly personal environment of homeschooling help it along, but there's nothing like a teacher who is just really good at teaching. Put that skill in someone who shares a biblical view of the world and who loves what he/she is doing--and who understands his/her relationship with the parents (in a school that does as well)--and you have something really priceless.
This whole thing is new to us and we'll see how it works out, but I'm very optimistic. My oldest will be learning a good bit of Latin this year and my youngest will be introduced to it soon. The Saxon math is far superior to what I received in school. The writing curriculum looks very thorough and well thought out. And seventh grade studies logic (probably eighth, too, but I don't one in eighth grade yet). So the grammar, logic and rhetoric paradigm is becoming a reality (the elementary and jr high did not 'go classical' until pretty recently).

Edit: one more thing I like about this school... though I haven't seen them put in these terms exactly, it's clear from how they do things (chapel is only once a week, for example) that they do not view themselves as primarily a disciple-making institution. To me, that's a huge plus. We already have the home and church for that purpose. All a school needs to do is mesh with (rather than conflict with) those efforts at home and church and with that as a constraint, provide a really good education. Of course, looking at all subjects through the lens of biblical principle does contribute to discipleship--more than folks might think--but I believe many schools stray by taking on themselves too much of the burden of trying to spiritually nurture students. It's not what a school is for. It shouldn't be like revival meetings with some readin' ritin' and 'rithmetic tacked on.

Dick Dayton's picture

Aaron. Great post. I was raised in an unsaved, secular home by parents who beleived in the high value of education. My teachers taught me, but Mom and Dad reinforced and inspected my work. They did not do the work for me, but expected my best performance. My experience as a public school math teacher many years ago, and now as a volunteer tutor show how far our public system has changed. Now, if there is a problem, the parents automatically seem to assume the school did something wrong. There is little sense that the student and the parent are responsible for the education process. By the way, it seems the same in church far too often. People come as consumers rather than as participants, and are unhappy when "their needs are not met."

I have told our people, and it is my firm conviction, that the parent is the key to the education process, and that the parent has the primary responsiblity before God. Regardless of where you choose to have the formal education of your children take place, you cannot "pass the buck" of responsibility. There is no perfect system, but God has established the family and the church for our spiritual growth.

Dick Dayton

rogercarlson's picture

Good post. We stopped homeschooling 6 years ago. It was a tough decision for us because we had no Christian schools in our area that we thought ideal. We ultimately stopped becuase our youngest had autism and took too much time away from homeschooling our kids. At the time we found a LCMS school that has been the best alternative for us. But that school only went to the 8th grade. So now my oldest is a sophomore in the public high school. That has been scary for us but the Lord has been gracious. Our youngest, with autism, his in public school because of all the services he needs (full-time aid, occupational therapy, speech therapy). And our two middle ones are still thriving in the LCMS school.

I have learned over the last several years that all of the options (homeschool, Christian school, and even public school) can be the best option. There is no cookie cutter solution.

Roger Carlson, Pastor
Berean Baptist Church

Ed Vasicek's picture

Dear Aaron,

We homeschooled our children all the way through. But we were blessed with a great support group, and that made a big difference. We also paid a fee to have Dr. Paul Kates tailor make the curriculum based upon the style of learning and proficiency of our two children. That helped a lot. So did co-op classes.

But having been in the home school world since 1990, it is amazing what I have observed, which echos what you said:

Quote:
It’s been my experience that homeschooling intensifies both the strengths and the weaknesses of the homeschooling family. So, in addition to genetic factors and who knows what else, kids acquire distant and awkward social habits because they are members of families that are socially distant and awkward. And in many cases, no school can do anything about that.

I have seen some of the kids of control freak and stubborn families turn out terribly. Homeschooling is not the "guaranteed" method it is cracked up to be. Healthy, balanced, fun-loving families experienced generally good results; crusaders, extremists, and obsessives, not so much. Control freaks often end up alienating their children in the latter teen/early young adult years. I have seen kids with involved parents in decent public schools and Christian Schools turn out well, and I have seen kids with everything against them turn out well, too. Still, all in all, I have to say that I think the home-schooled kids did better as an average, both academically, socially, and spiritually. But not by the margins that are claimed. I also know how one bad kid can damage many others.

I think my kids would have done well in a Christian school, but I do not think we would have the bond we have. And I do not think they would have had time to develop specialized areas of interest that they have developed (they are both amazing artists, for example, and my son became cadet commander of the Civil Air Patrol chapter). But, on the other hand, if we were a sports bunch (which we are definitely NOT), a school would have been better for them.

All that to say that it is not a matter of one size fits all.

"The Midrash Detective"

Jonathan Charles's picture

Our children attend a small Christian school. It has seemed at times like the school would not survive another year which leads us to think about homeschooling. This would not have been an option for our older child (14 yrs.). Maybe its my fault, maybe it is his, or both, but we don't get along doing school work together, and I think his mother would have been only slightly better. Thankfully, we haven't had to cross that bridge. If we didn't homeschool, then the only other options would be cyber-schooling through state of PA or public school.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Quote:
Others have the time but simply lack the skill. It’s hard to imagine a parent who cannot handle kindergarten and first grade, but I’ve met a few whom I would not advise to attempt homeschooling beyond that point. Doing the job well requires personal discipline, a solid grasp of reading and writing, and at least a willingness to learn a bit about “how to teach” (if the parent doesn’t already grasp that intuitively).

And it requires a solid understanding of the basics of “how to parent” as well—a skill set that seems to be on the wane. Parents who do not understand that they are in charge and also understand how to behave like they’re in charge cannot operate an effective learning environment.


It's really sad to think that there are parents that have attended our churches for years that still do not possess the basic parenting skills. And what's worse is when a Christian parent realizes that they lack parenting skills, but shrug their shoulders and thank God that 1) they can send their kids to school for someone else to deal with 2) they are counting the years and months until their kids turn 18 and can be legally kicked out of the house. It is not coincidental that parental involvement is a meaningful component of a child's educational success, regardless of the institution or method.

Quote:
...it became increasingly difficult to keep them at grade level in a couple of important subjects.

In what way, if'n you don't mind my askin'.

Thanks for posting this, Aaron- it's good for people to understand why different families have chosen different options.

RPittman's picture

Thank you for an open and candid post on your homeschooling experience. Although homeschooling is a fine viable option, it is not for everyone. And it may or may not be the best option under specific circumstances at a given time. Your post opened the door for others to share. This thread, I think, exposes the fallacies of the enthusiasts who would make homeschooling a mandate for all Christian parents. One size doesn't fit all.

Julie Herbster's picture

Thanks, Aaron. What you posted is familiar ground to us, too, in many ways, since we often stop and evaluate the very same issues, give or take a few, that you've articulated. We're still on the homeschooling track, and do plan to stay there throughout the kids' educational process, unless something major happens to make that course an impossibility. I really do think you'll like the "classical" approach...I have learned SO much myself simply by taking that general approach with the kids. (I'm currently working my way through Plutarch's Lives to prepare for discussions with my seventh grader...and actually enjoying it!)

Hey, I'm just curious...Do you happen to know what curricula your kids' classical academy uses? You mentioned Saxon math (which we really like, too), but what about logic, history, Bible, literature and science?

Thanks again for your post. God bless you and your family as you make this transition.

Bob Hayton's picture

Thanks Aaron for a great post.

We were exploring options for our kids a few years back and Christian school was so expensive. And with so many little ones around (we have five girls the oldest is 7), it made homeschooling a less likely option. We found a classical charter school and were blessed to have our admission accepted (through the random draw process). Next year our oldest will start Latin. The school is a public school but they emphasize a "virture" each month (chastity, fortitude, temperance, etc.) and require parental involvement at every level.

As one who was homeschooled or in various Christian schools my whole life, the public school idea was at first scary. But both my wife and I feel that we were so sheltered that we can hardly relate to people in the world at all, and a public setting where parents can shepherd the child through various discernment issues as they grow up can help counter that. Obviously, the quality and other factors about a particular school can vary widely. So it isn't a one-size-fits-all approach by any stretch.

Another observation about Christian school is that far too often small churches cut corners on kids education. I saw more than a few schools run on a shoestring budget that were frankly awful. Some kids did well, but they were self-motivated. Christians need to do Christian schools well, not just put anything together that flies. And I also found the Christian curriculum to be quite slanted when it comes to American history too. I used to think Washington and Lincoln were closet IFBs who wore shirts and ties with a big Bible under their arm to every Sunday service!

Striving for the unity of the faith, for the glory of God ~ Eph. 4:3, 13; Rom. 15:5-7 I blog at Fundamentally Reformed. Follow me on Twitter.

A. Carpenter's picture

We just jumped in with both feet this year with our oldest (1st grade) for the simple reason that there is no Christian school around. We're praying about starting one, but, as you know, the obstacles are huge. We live in the Deep South, where private schools were started about 50 years ago for the purpose of continuing segregation. To this day, they seem to have succeeded, mostly, and there is actually an all-black public school in our area. Anyway, while the majority of public school teachers are professing Christians, and the environment tends to defy the IFB boogeyman stereotype, the idea of truly "Christian education" is practically unheard of and even unimagined. We're trying to convince people that we're talking about something they have probably not seen or heard of.

So, with no other viable option, we have begun homeschooling. I do have a couple of questions, though, for those who have been through this:

1. How do you integrate Latin and other classical components into an otherwise traditional curriculum?

2. Any advice for the homeschooling mother, who also must tend to a 1 and 3 year old?

Faith is obeying when you can't even imagine how things might turn out right.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

That's a great recommendation, Bro. Hayton. I would also recommend http://www.grovepublishing.com/foreign-language/foreign-language-index.htm Cathy Duffy's curriculum reviews . http://www.triviumpursuit.com/ Trivium Pursuit is a good blog about classical homeschooling.

Homeschooling with young children requires an extra degree of discipline and creativity, but if children are trained to sit still and listen, to play quietly for reasonable periods of time, and even to get involved to some degree, it isn't all that difficult. It helps if you have a dependable but flexible routine- which sounds like an oxymoron, but a solid schedule IMO is serves as a framework on which I can hang tasks and activities in a shape that works well and makes sense for us.

I think for children it is important they have a good stick-to-your-ribs kind of breakfast, and plan short breaks throughout the day with healthy snacks and plenty of water to drink. Spend some time with the little ones first, doing household chores together, perhaps to music or an audiobook. When it is time for the older ones to have some instruction or quiet time to work, younger ones can color their own 'school' pages, and bitty ones can play in an enclosed area.

Also, don't feel as if all educational activities must happen during traditional 'school hours'. We often have history after dinner, sitting around the living room, reading biographies, watching a DVD, and talking about what we've learned or what we'd like to know more about. We have science class once a week, spending about two hours reading, watching DVDs, doing experiments, working on projects or presentations, or going on a nature hike.

Our goal has always been to get away from the idea that learning is something you only do a few scheduled hours a day. Instead, our philosophy is that learning is something that you do constantly, and what's more, it's FUN.

BTW, Bro. Hayton, I agree that many Christian schools (while their intentions are good) often are poorly organized and lack academic discipline and quality. Others are merely public schools with a cross on the door and Chapel 3 times a week so everybody can feel good about themselves without actually accomplishing anything either spiritual or educational.

RPittman's picture

Why are we studying Latin?

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Cultural literacy, mental discipline, etymology- for starters. We study Greek and Latin briefly every year until high school, and then more intensely, adding on other languages such as Spanish, Hebrew, and Italian. And it's fun.

RPittman's picture

At one time, I was an advocate for Latin in the curriculum based on some intrinsic value idea. However, I fail to see its value now. It seems that physics, mathematics, and other rigorous disciplines easily surpass Latin for mental discipline, problem-solving, and cognitive training. Furthermore, with the diminishing of structure and grammar in our language, I see a declining role for Latin in language studies. I think modern languages are more relevant. The problem, as I see it, is Latin takes up too much needed space in the curriculum.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

My connection is really spotty right now so I have to be quick (get a few things done on the public wifi)

The rigor of mathematics is not verbal like the language disciplines, so one cannot really replace the other... though my daughter and I were observing the other day that there is a whole lot of language involved in math.
What I see in Latin mainly is the resulting attention to grammar and the logic of language. But it also has a huge payoff in giving students direct access to a large body of western thought written in Latin.
But it's enough for me to have the attention to grammatical concepts (and vocabulary roots) that put a student in a good position to learn many other languages as well as understand Greek better and the whole process of exegesis.

About curriculum... someone asked. I've looked at it all but can't remember now. I remember one of the major high school texts because I recognized the editor: Doug Wilson. They call it "Omnibus," and what it apparently is is a study of history and literature in one package. There are several massive volumes.
I remember the Saxon math because I've been doing catch up math teaching for one of our kids out of one of the textbooks for the last week. Wish I'd had books like these when I was in school.
But I might have ended up an engineer if I had half understood math in 6th grade... so perhaps my elementary math ed. failure was providential.

About parenting skills... Susan observed how sad it wd be that their church didn't teach them. I mostly agree, but a) the parents have to be interested in learning and accept that they do not know what they need to know. The main problem I'm seeing is parents are philosophically confused about what the essence of parenting is and so, while they are frustrated with some of the results they are seeing, they do not think it has anything to do with their parenting skills. b) Much of the skill of parenting is not spelled out in Scripture. In fact, very little of it. We have principles in Scripture but the nitty gritty is all application and there is much more application involved in parenting skill than there is principle... once the philosophical stuff is sorted out. So if a church focuses on exposition of Scripture it's difficult to find a venue for teaching things like "how to use the power of routine to build good habits in your children" etc. Has to be special classes. And then again you run into the "those who need it most are not interested" problem.
I really think parenting ought to be learned from parents but once that cycle breaks, it does have to be restarted somewhere and it makes sense for church to be the place.

Julie Herbster's picture

A. Carpenter wrote:
We just jumped in with both feet this year with our oldest (1st grade) for the simple reason that there is no Christian school around. We're praying about starting one, but, as you know, the obstacles are huge. We live in the Deep South, where private schools were started about 50 years ago for the purpose of continuing segregation. To this day, they seem to have succeeded, mostly, and there is actually an all-black public school in our area. Anyway, while the majority of public school teachers are professing Christians, and the environment tends to defy the IFB boogeyman stereotype, the idea of truly "Christian education" is practically unheard of and even unimagined. We're trying to convince people that we're talking about something they have probably not seen or heard of.

So, with no other viable option, we have begun homeschooling. I do have a couple of questions, though, for those who have been through this:

1. How do you integrate Latin and other classical components into an otherwise traditional curriculum?

2. Any advice for the homeschooling mother, who also must tend to a 1 and 3 year old?

Re. 1: What "classical components" (besides Latin) are you hoping to implement?
Re. 2: Oh, man. Been there, done that! Like Susan, I'd recommend a reasonable routine/structure/curriculum which takes into account the needs of everybody, including Mom--so that everybody stays sane and happy, and the ship stays afloat. When I plan my schedule, I make a list of everything I'd like to accomplish in a normal school day (I know there is actually no "normal" anything when you have young kids). I brainstorm and plan things for the younger ones to do, and try to look at the day from their perspective...Do they have adequate time with me? With each other? alone? naptime/afternoon quiet time? What independent activities do they enjoy? etc. After the list is made up, you can begin to piece together a routine, mostly by trial and error at first. The "school" part is easy compared to juggling the little ones, at least for me.
Whatever you do, don't fret if things don't seem to be working...I've felt like throwing up my hands and calling the school bus more than a few times. Just be patient with yourself, and things will most likely eventually fall into a rhythm...just in time for changing needs. Smile

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

RPittman wrote:
At one time, I was an advocate for Latin in the curriculum based on some intrinsic value idea. However, I fail to see its value now. It seems that physics, mathematics, and other rigorous disciplines easily surpass Latin for mental discipline, problem-solving, and cognitive training. Furthermore, with the diminishing of structure and grammar in our language, I see a declining role for Latin in language studies. I think modern languages are more relevant. The problem, as I see it, is Latin takes up too much needed space in the curriculum.

Latin is in addition to other studies, such as physics and math, not in their stead. We study Greek and Latin for about 6 weeks each year. We also spend about 6 weeks on English grammar at the beginning and end of each 'year' (ours begins in August and ends in June). Most of our language studies are accomplished by reading interesting and well written books, and the older the book, the more Latin comes in handy.

How much 'space' do you think Latin takes up in the average homeschool curriculum? IMO it is a worthy discipline, and enhances every subject, especially science and history.

RPittman's picture

Susan R wrote:
RPittman wrote:
At one time, I was an advocate for Latin in the curriculum based on some intrinsic value idea. However, I fail to see its value now. It seems that physics, mathematics, and other rigorous disciplines easily surpass Latin for mental discipline, problem-solving, and cognitive training. Furthermore, with the diminishing of structure and grammar in our language, I see a declining role for Latin in language studies. I think modern languages are more relevant. The problem, as I see it, is Latin takes up too much needed space in the curriculum.

Latin is in addition to other studies, such as physics and math, not in their stead. We study Greek and Latin for about 6 weeks each year. We also spend about 6 weeks on English grammar at the beginning and end of each 'year' (ours begins in August and ends in June). Most of our language studies are accomplished by reading interesting and well written books, and the older the book, the more Latin comes in handy.

How much 'space' do you think Latin takes up in the average homeschool curriculum? IMO it is a worthy discipline, and enhances every subject, especially science and history.


Well, I had assumed that Latin was accorded a course slot for the whole year. Now, my question is how much Latin can one learn in just 6 weeks per year? Can students read Cicero or other Latin works? And do they ever use it in life (i.e. continue reading Latin? Most pastors who had Greek in college or seminary don't keep it up. I wonder about those who study Latin. Susan, I'm not opposing you; I'm just interested in your views.

RPittman's picture

Susan wrote:
BTW, Bro. Hayton, I agree that many Christian schools (while their intentions are good) often are poorly organized and lack academic discipline and quality. Others are merely public schools with a cross on the door and Chapel 3 times a week so everybody can feel good about themselves without actually accomplishing anything either spiritual or educational.
Susan, your statement is true but it is incomplete. There are poor Christian schools but their life-span is usually limited. I know you are probably not opposed to Christian schools but some people have a bias against them. These folks can and will use your statement in their opposition. I had the privilege of administering a school that averaged from the 88%ile to the 92%ile on nationally standarded tests in group (i.e. school) comparisons for a decade. Although we have no quantified spiritual scale for comparison, many of our graduates are serving God today. There are very good Christian schools.

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
My connection is really spotty right now so I have to be quick (get a few things done on the public wifi)

The rigor of mathematics is not verbal like the language disciplines, so one cannot really replace the other... though my daughter and I were observing the other day that there is a whole lot of language involved in math.
What I see in Latin mainly is the resulting attention to grammar and the logic of language. But it also has a huge payoff in giving students direct access to a large body of western thought written in Latin.

Does anyone read these works in Latin anymore? Most people read them in translation. Also, would not the study of modern languages accomplish the same ends with the benefit of a useful tool in a shrinking world?
Quote:

But it's enough for me to have the attention to grammatical concepts (and vocabulary roots) that put a student in a good position to learn many other languages as well as understand Greek better and the whole process of exegesis.
I'm not sure that I fully understand the importance of the Latin-Greek connection.
Quote:

About curriculum... someone asked. I've looked at it all but can't remember now. I remember one of the major high school texts because I recognized the editor: Doug Wilson. They call it "Omnibus," and what it apparently is is a study of history and literature in one package. There are several massive volumes.
I remember the Saxon math because I've been doing catch up math teaching for one of our kids out of one of the textbooks for the last week. Wish I'd had books like these when I was in school.
But I might have ended up an engineer if I had half understood math in 6th grade... so perhaps my elementary math ed. failure was providential.

Saxon math seems to be effective for HS but it is boring to teach.
Quote:

About parenting skills... Susan observed how sad it wd be that their church didn't teach them. I mostly agree, but a) the parents have to be interested in learning and accept that they do not know what they need to know. The main problem I'm seeing is parents are philosophically confused about what the essence of parenting is and so, while they are frustrated with some of the results they are seeing, they do not think it has anything to do with their parenting skills. b) Much of the skill of parenting is not spelled out in Scripture. In fact, very little of it. We have principles in Scripture but the nitty gritty is all application and there is much more application involved in parenting skill than there is principle... once the philosophical stuff is sorted out. So if a church focuses on exposition of Scripture it's difficult to find a venue for teaching things like "how to use the power of routine to build good habits in your children" etc. Has to be special classes. And then again you run into the "those who need it most are not interested" problem.
I really think parenting ought to be learned from parents but once that cycle breaks, it does have to be restarted somewhere and it makes sense for church to be the place.


Well, Aaron, you and I agree that parenting is learned from parents. The problem of the church teaching skills, as I see it, is that although skills are based on Biblical duties and principles, the individual skills are so highly variable according to temperment and personality. The danger is that young couples may try to implement techniques that are unsuited for them, their family, and their lifestyle. This, IHMO, is a formula for failure. Skills learned from parents are more likely compatible with family and personalities because children acquire significant parts of their personality from their parents.

Susan R's picture

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Latin studies should be age appropriate. I introduce Latin during the elementary years by learning the etymology of certain words we use frequently, like geography, philosophy, telephone, construct. Each year we delve a little deeper, and begin to read classical literature. Latin isn't confined to Cicero, but is used in law, medicine, biology, and serves as a good foundation for learning other Romance languages. I taught myself Latin and Greek because I was interested and I thought it was fun. My kids catch this enthusiasm from me. We aren't obsessed with Latin or anything- we haven't imbued it with magical powers like increasing IQs by 50 points. We also study Egyptian- again, we think it's fun to learn about ancient cultures and languages, and I don't have to make my kids read about Alexander the Great or Akhenaten or Homer's Odyssey. By the time they are in high school, they can handle Cicero, Petronius, Jerome, or Thomas Aquinas. Noah wants to be able to read De Bello Alexandrino by next year. Okey dokey.

I don't mind if they don't continue as an adult to pursue Latin or Greek or any other language they learn as part of their home education program, because what I'm giving them is a foundation- as broad and deep as I can make it. There are many things I learned as a child that I couldn't imagine ever using in the future, but those things in retrospect have lain the foundation for me in ways I couldn't have anticipated, and gave me an understanding of and appreciation for literature and music that I don't believe I would have had without them.

RPittman wrote:
Susan, your statement is true but it is incomplete. There are poor Christian schools but their life-span is usually limited. I know you are probably not opposed to Christian schools but some people have a bias against them. These folks can and will use your statement in their opposition. I had the privilege of administering a school that averaged from the 88%ile to the 92%ile on nationally standarded tests in group (i.e. school) comparisons for a decade. Although we have no quantified spiritual scale for comparison, many of our graduates are serving God today. There are very good Christian schools.

I'm not opposed to Christian schools- just those who can't seem to manage to operate with a basic degree of organization and decent academic quality. I'm glad you were involved with a good school. I haven't said they don't exist, even though I haven't personally experienced an interaction with one. I think we should have more Christian schools, but I'd rather we not have any than have Christian schools that are a bad testimony.

Susan R's picture

EditorModerator

Aaron Blumer wrote:
About parenting skills... Susan observed how sad it wd be that their church didn't teach them. I mostly agree, but a) the parents have to be interested in learning and accept that they do not know what they need to know. The main problem I'm seeing is parents are philosophically confused about what the essence of parenting is and so, while they are frustrated with some of the results they are seeing, they do not think it has anything to do with their parenting skills. b) Much of the skill of parenting is not spelled out in Scripture. In fact, very little of it. We have principles in Scripture but the nitty gritty is all application and there is much more application involved in parenting skill than there is principle... once the philosophical stuff is sorted out. So if a church focuses on exposition of Scripture it's difficult to find a venue for teaching things like "how to use the power of routine to build good habits in your children" etc. Has to be special classes. And then again you run into the "those who need it most are not interested" problem.
I really think parenting ought to be learned from parents but once that cycle breaks, it does have to be restarted somewhere and it makes sense for church to be the place.

I think the church can teach and model parenting skills, because the dynamics of appropriate relationships are spelled out in Scripture by command, principle, and example. Sure- it doesn't say "Kids should be in bed asleep by 9pm" or "One should only eat organic foods and wear natural fibers", but moderation and compassion and patience can be applied to any situation or personality type or family dynamic.

Maybe I'm being too simplistic, but I don't see parenting skills as elusive or difficult to teach, or why would women be commanded to teach each other how to love their husbands and children? How do you teach a woman to "love" her children? That's a rhetorical question, btw- you teach people to love by showing them how to consider someone else's needs ahead of their own. Love is not an emotion, but a decision to sacrifice oneself for the good of someone else.

That's my 1/2 shekel, and I'm callin' it a day.

Julie Herbster's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:

About curriculum... someone asked. I've looked at it all but can't remember now. I remember one of the major high school texts because I recognized the editor: Doug Wilson. They call it "Omnibus," and what it apparently is is a study of history and literature in one package. There are several massive volumes.
I remember the Saxon math because I've been doing catch up math teaching for one of our kids out of one of the textbooks for the last week. Wish I'd had books like these when I was in school.
But I might have ended up an engineer if I had half understood math in 6th grade... so perhaps my elementary math ed. failure was providential.


Hey, we're using Omnibus I with our seventh grader...and we're loving it so far. It is indeed "three subjects in one": history, Bible, and literature. Great stuff!

Quote:
About parenting skills... Susan observed how sad it wd be that their church didn't teach them. I mostly agree, but a) the parents have to be interested in learning and accept that they do not know what they need to know. The main problem I'm seeing is parents are philosophically confused about what the essence of parenting is and so, while they are frustrated with some of the results they are seeing, they do not think it has anything to do with their parenting skills. b) Much of the skill of parenting is not spelled out in Scripture. In fact, very little of it. We have principles in Scripture but the nitty gritty is all application and there is much more application involved in parenting skill than there is principle... once the philosophical stuff is sorted out. So if a church focuses on exposition of Scripture it's difficult to find a venue for teaching things like "how to use the power of routine to build good habits in your children" etc. Has to be special classes. And then again you run into the "those who need it most are not interested" problem.
I really think parenting ought to be learned from parents but once that cycle breaks, it does have to be restarted somewhere and it makes sense for church to be the place.

Yeah. Every so often, our church offers a parenting SS discussion group that focuses around Tedd Tripp's Shepherding a Child's Heart video series. Even though Matt and I have already been through it a few times, we still look forward to attending and being reminded about the "basics" of parenting, and getting the chance to interact with other parents. I, too, have seen the problem you described (parents not making the connection between their poor parenting choices and the resulting issues with their children), and agree that the church (as in the pastor/the platform/official programs) can go only so far in reaching these people. But, as Susan said, informal (but intentional) discipleship among the members can often help those who seem to be falling through the cracks. Moms are chatty people, and it's not hard (at least not for me) to get into conversations with fellow moms about their kids. I've benefitted so many times from the wisdom of older moms, and I've also been able to pass on the things I've learned to younger moms. (Not just talking about "Scriptural principle" here, but also practical ideas that help develop character, etc.) Matt has done the same thing with the older and younger men in our church and at camp.
Is there a place for pastors (or other church leadership and even lay people) to simply take a brother aside and gently confront him and express concern about the direction his family is going, and try to enlighten him about the "disconnect" he is perceiving? I think so, but would you be more hesitant to endorse this, given your thoughts about Scripture and parenting? For sure, no one wants to do this, since parenting can be such a touchy issue, but I think there's a place for it, just like there's a place for any other kind of mutual help and encouragement among believers.

Aaron Blumer's picture

EditorAdmin

Quote:
Is there a place for pastors (or other church leadership and even lay people) to simply take a brother aside and gently confront him and express concern about the direction his family is going, and try to enlighten him about the "disconnect" he is perceiving? I think so, but would you be more hesitant to endorse this, given your thoughts about Scripture and parenting? For sure, no one wants to do this, since parenting can be such a touchy issue, but I think there's a place for it, just like there's a place for any other kind of mutual help and encouragement among believers.

Yes... there is a place definitely and, like you say, nobody wants to do it--especially if you feel like your own parenting is so far below what you'd like it me, KWIM?
Mostly, I have tried to emphasize--on special occasions and when it comes up in the process of preaching through a book (of Scripture)--that being parents means we don't have the luxury of seeking our kid's approval or avoiding their displeasure. We have the responsibility of command (just as they have the responsibility of obedience) and we'll give account for that. Seems like many parents are so afraid of having rebellious kids, they won't actually parent them (on the incorrect assumption that the way to avoid rebellion is to not tell them to do nor not do anything... nothing to rebel against?) But rebellion is in our hearts and it doesn't "come from" authoritative parenting.
Anyway, that's some of the foundational stuff. The nuts and bolts "skill," is another thing. But very little of what I believe in that department can be backed by Scripture. It's mostly observation, experience, reasoning, etc. Very human stuff. I believe in it, but it's not Bible except in the sense that much of it (I hope!) falls under the wisdom umbrella.
I don't believe any of it is unbiblical, but some folks do because some of it is behavioristic. Getting too involved for this thread, but I've always felt that behaviorism is fine as far as it goes, which is not far enough. It cannot touch the inner man. But when you're parenting (or running a classroom) you have to deal with alot of practical realities so that you can touch the heart. And good ol' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning ]operant conditioning can sure make your life easier!
But I think I better duck and cover now since I said something nice about behaviorism!

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Quote:
Is there a place for pastors (or other church leadership and even lay people) to simply take a brother aside and gently confront him and express concern about the direction his family is going, and try to enlighten him about the "disconnect" he is perceiving? I think so, but would you be more hesitant to endorse this, given your thoughts about Scripture and parenting? For sure, no one wants to do this, since parenting can be such a touchy issue, but I think there's a place for it, just like there's a place for any other kind of mutual help and encouragement among believers.

Yes... there is a place definitely and, like you say, nobody wants to do it--especially if you feel like your own parenting is so far below what you'd like it me, KWIM?
Mostly, I have tried to emphasize--on special occasions and when it comes up in the process of preaching through a book (of Scripture)--that being parents means we don't have the luxury of seeking our kid's approval or avoiding their displeasure. We have the responsibility of command (just as they have the responsibility of obedience) and we'll give account for that. Seems like many parents are so afraid of having rebellious kids, they won't actually parent them (on the incorrect assumption that the way to avoid rebellion is to not tell them to do nor not do anything... nothing to rebel against?) But rebellion is in our hearts and it doesn't "come from" authoritative parenting.
Anyway, that's some of the foundational stuff. The nuts and bolts "skill," is another thing. But very little of what I believe in that department can be backed by Scripture. It's mostly observation, experience, reasoning, etc. Very human stuff. I believe in it, but it's not Bible except in the sense that much of it (I hope!) falls under the wisdom umbrella.
I don't believe any of it is unbiblical, but some folks do because some of it is behavioristic. Getting too involved for this thread, but I've always felt that behaviorism is fine as far as it goes, which is not far enough. It cannot touch the inner man. But when you're parenting (or running a classroom) you have to deal with alot of practical realities so that you can touch the heart. And good ol' http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operant_conditioning ]operant conditioning can sure make your life easier!
But I think I better duck and cover now since I said something nice about behaviorism!

Just because it's repetitive training it doesn't have to be behaviorism. Habituation or habit formation long predated behaviorism. I have an old tradition education text on habit formation in the mental discipline genre.

Aaron Blumer's picture

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Well, in that part I'm talking specifically about using reward and punishment in order to reinforce behavior. This is behaviorism, though I'd argue it's also common sense. Skinner--where he got things right--pretty much just did some laboratory stuff to try prove empirically what I suspect most people already thought. Once he got the ideas going in his head he ran wild with it and started getting utopian social ideas, etc. Obviously that won't work, since people do not really change when you condition their behavior with stimuli.
But there is nothing wrong with using reinforcement to control the behavior of children so that you can communicate with them and call them to higher motives. But there is real skill involved in using positive and negative reinforcement well.

Not entirely sure how I got myself on this topic. But anyway, there it is, fwiw.

RPittman's picture

Aaron Blumer wrote:
Well, in that part I'm talking specifically about using reward and punishment in order to reinforce behavior. This is behaviorism, though I'd argue it's also common sense. Skinner--where he got things right--pretty much just did some laboratory stuff to try prove empirically what I suspect most people already thought. Once he got the ideas going in his head he ran wild with it and started getting utopian social ideas, etc. Obviously that won't work, since people do not really change when you condition their behavior with stimuli.
But there is nothing wrong with using reinforcement to control the behavior of children so that you can communicate with them and call them to higher motives. But there is real skill involved in using positive and negative reinforcement well.

Not entirely sure how I got myself on this topic. But anyway, there it is, fwiw.

Well, isn't this the theme of Deuteronomy--blessings (i.e. reward) for well-doing and judgment (i.e. punishment) for wrong-doing?

Jay's picture

FWIW, I took three years of Latin in high school, and although I've lost far more than I realize, it does help tremendously with my reading and comprehensive skills. Now my Greek, on the other hand...Well, I wouldn't be adverse to taking Greek again. From the alphabet forward, perhaps Smile

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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