Moving Onward and Upward with Alternative Education
Parents have a great responsibility to use the wisdom and resources available in being wise stewards over the lives God has entrusted to them by training their children up in the way they should go and giving them a strong foundation in life so that they are equipped to go out into this world as competent adults with purpose and the tools to fulfill that purpose as not only productive members of society, but even as world-changers in their personal callings and fields of study. A strong and well-rounded education from a worldview compatible with parental beliefs and values is integral in shaping and molding children into the confident and competent adults we hope to produce. As Dr. Martin Luther King so wisely stated, “Intelligence plus character-that is the goal of true education” (1947). Education cannot be merely rote memorization and fact accumulation. Education means so much more than head knowledge; and whether fortunately or unfortunately, the public school system continues to decline in morality and in academic quality, so conscientious parents are being forced to find alternative methods of educating their children in order to ensure that they are being taught in a safe environment by people who can be trusted to have the children’s best interests in mind in a way that is in harmony with parents’ own hopes and dreams regarding the upbringing and education of their children.
One alternative is to send children to private schools that promise to teach from a perspective that is more in line with parental worldviews—often Christians affiliated with a particular church—and to uphold higher academic standards than public schools often do. Although private schools are usually a more favorable choice than public schools, they are usually highly expensive, and they still produce an environment in which children spend more time being influenced by other children than by their parents and the ideals that they would like to instill.
Another alternative, which has been growing rapidly in America over the last decade, is homeschool. In an article posted on the Wyoming Liberty Group website, author Amy Edmonds informs, “The US Department of Education reports that homeschooling increased by over 61% in the past decade. This is a significant increase and continues to highlight why parental choice in education is here to stay” (2015). This is definitely the educational alternative that gives parents the most control over the learning environment of their children and the worldview from which they are taught. Not only that, but it guarantees that children will be taught by the people who care the most about their foundation and have the most invested in truly providing a well-rounded quality education. Although homeschooling is an excellent choice, it also has some drawbacks in that it takes a great deal of time and can hardly be carried out by parents with full time or sometimes even part-time jobs. Also, it sometimes causes a lack of socialization with other students and the important ability to be able to learn in a cooperative environment with a diverse community of both children and adults. There are also certain subjects, particularly at the higher grade levels, that may be better taught by teachers who have studied to gain expertise in those areas.
Homeschooling Co-ops have been created to fulfill some of these needs, such as the need for socialization and for expertise in areas that parents may not have particular gifting for. However co-ops do not always do a great job of allowing students to interact and build friendships with other students because they have different students attending different classes at different times, and there is not one set community of students or teachers that children are interacting with on a regular basis. Also, co-op classes are usually taught by other parents who are participating in the co-op, and while they may be better at a particular subject, they still usually lack the professional training which can be beneficial in certain courses or educational areas of study. Also co-ops do not give parents time for other activities as parents usually sit in the classes provided with their children for the duration of the class.
So what is an educational alternative that allows parents to be full participants in their children’s education while at the same time have an appropriate avenue for socialization and utilize the expertise of professionals in certain areas of study, while also giving parents personal time for other aspects of life? It is a combination of home school and private school in which parents and teachers work together toward the good of the students in a harmonious and collaborative way working from a similar worldview toward agreed upon goals and outcomes. This is a type of education that has actually begun to take root in some areas of the country and has flourished in the lives of those who have embraced this shared responsibility between parents and teachers of educating children, and goes somewhat back to the idea that “it takes a village to raise a child,” but in this instance it is once again a community of like-minded people with shared vision and goals regarding the quality of the education as well as the Christian perspective from which all subjects are being taught. It brings us back to unity in Christ and truly utilizing our skills to work together toward the common good of training children up in the way they should go…morally, socially, spiritually, and academically.
We all want progress, but if you’re on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; in that case, the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive.” — C.S. Lewis
This article was written by author and educator Erica Gray. October 2015.
Dr. Martin Luther King, J. (1947). Martin Luther King, Jr. and the Global Freedom Struggle. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from King Encyclopedia: http://kingencyclopedia.stanford.edu/encyclopedia/documentsentry/doc_470200_000/
Edmonds, A. (2015, June 16). Wyoming Liberty Group. Retrieved January 27, 2016, from wyliberty.org: http://wyliberty.org/feature/homeschooling-on-the-rise-nationally/