Over the last four weeks I have focused on this topic because I think it holds interest for families who wrestle with the best way to educate their children. How we address this can have a big impact on how we understand the family as a little church.
One thing that is clear to me is that going to public school in the 1960s through the mid-1980s is not the same as going to public school today. So many changes have occurred in our social climate. Today the public school system seems to be actively promoting values of a secular humanistic orientation. These values are not consistent with the formation of our children in the Orthodox Christian Faith. The one benefit of home schooling is that it allows for a more complete formation of a child in the Orthodox Faith. There is a greater likelihood that the child will internalize the faith and make it his or her own. Parochial schools also have some advantages similar to home schooling. However, given their size and demographics, I do wonder if the impact on students is diluted. Is there that much of a difference in parochial school students from public school students?
I think it is best to do a combination of home schooling and public/parochial school (if one can afford the cost). For example, could one home school from kintergarden through the seventh grade and then transition to public/parochial school for the rest of a child’s education?
I realize a number of families cannot pursue home schooling because both parents work. Other parents may not have any concerns about sending their children to public school. The public school system is not evil. The teachers and pupils do the best they can, and surely many have good intentions. But I do think the formation of one’s child in the Orthodox Christian Faith is more difficult given the dynamics I have described in the public school system in previous reflections. Parents have to work harder to foster an environment of the family as a little church.
Home schooling should not be about developing an “us vs. them” mentality. The fruit of any home schooling experience should be to affirm the “very good” of creation. All of mankind is created in the image and likeness of God. Students in the public school system who may not think like us are not the enemy. There are times during which students will just need to agree to disagree on some matters. There is no room for animosity and intolerance here. Any home schooling experience that would breed this attitude is not properly rooted in the mind of the Church. I think it is time to put closure on this. I will address a new theme in next week’s reflection. The blessing of the Lord be upon you.
In Christ’s service,
The unworthy +Paul