Who Controls the Education of Your Children?
Who Controls the Education of Your Children?
By Kevin Swanson
It’s 7:00 in the morning and the door bell rings. The year is 2020. You answer the door and imagine your shock when you glance at the business card offered you through the doorway. He serves the State Department of Child Nurture. You are curious. This whole new bureaucracy is new to you so, of course, you would like an explanation as to the origins and purposes of this government agency. He patiently explains the whole thing over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table.
"The whole thing started about ten years ago. A conservative caucus of well-meaning parents happened to notice that there were children growing up without proper discipline. In fact, these children were seen everywhere - supermarkets, post offices, libraries, entirely without proper discipline and training. Excuse the expression, but these children were ‘brats,’ and they were proliferating. Now, you have to understand," he continues patiently, "These children were growing up without any self-discipline or character and they were destined for a life of reduced productivity and," his voice cracks just slightly, "self-inflicted poverty. So a law was enacted in the state legislature eight years later to deal with this very problem! The State Department of Child Nurture was birthed, and 10,000 professionals were hired to take care of this very important aspect of child development. We were assigned neighborhoods. We were issued manuals and professionally trained to administer spankings. . ." Suddenly, you awake. Thank God, you were only dreaming. . . or were you?
The Great Worldview Conflict
There is a huge power struggle going on over who controls our children. In fact, I cannot think of a conflict where the stakes are as high nor where the heat is so intense, as in this particular battle. All visionaries know one inescapable fact; whoever shapes the minds of children will shape the future.
There are many folks today, even within the homeschooling movement, who do not realize that there is a war going on. They do not realize that ideas have consequences, ideas are powerful things, and they can produce devastating effects. Not only do they not realize that they are in a worldview conflict, they are unaware of their own worldview position and which worldview position is the right one!
There are radically different worldviews in operation in this conflict over the education of our children. Who will control the education of our children? The question is a serious one because the way you answer that question will play a determining role for the integrity of the family, and the future of our children both in this world and the next.
As Christians, we know that God has a vital, personal interest in the passing along of our faith to our children and to our grandchildren through the generations (Ex. 12:26,27, Ps. 78, Deut. 4:10, 6:7, Proverbs, Eph. 6:4, etc.) This is a message that permeates the whole Bible. But, it is crucial that the integrity of the family be maintained and that the rights and responsibilities of parents be defended if we’re going to pull off this grand task of generational faithfulness. Therefore, it would be well for us if we were well aware of those forces which tend to undermine this important work, and the correct worldview perspective that would support it.
A biblical worldview recognizes four forms of government that God has set over us. The first is self-government, the second is family government, the third is church government, and the fourth is civil government. These are God-instituted powers, but, in every case they are limited powers. Their powers are limited by God’s revealed law in the Bible. Unfortunately, the predominant worldview in our society has taught us to believe that civil government is ultimately responsible for every part of our lives. Of course, if we were to suggest that the civil government ought to establish a Department of Child Nurture, send the spanking police into each house every day to "take care of business," most would still consider this ridiculous. But that is only because most of us do retain a small part of a biblical worldview, which recognizes that the character development of children lie with their parents (as laid out in the book of Proverbs). But, if it were not for the Bible clarifying this, why shouldn’t the village be held responsible and take ultimate control of the discipline and care of children? Without any remnants of a biblical worldview, most likely we would move more in the direction of government-sponsored and controlled child development programs. That is the direction that some socialist countries like Sweden are heading. But what about the more narrow area of academics or education? The Bible, in every case where it is mentioned, places the responsibility of educating children with parents, (not the church and not the state). The message is clear and simple. Civil government is not responsible for the education and training of children. Parents, you are responsible.
It has not been unusual to see the sphere of civil government usurping the responsibilities and abrogating the rights of individuals, churches, and families. In fact, history is thick with many a lamentable tale of statist tyranny in one form or another. Back in the 1600's, at the founding of this nation, the major motivating factor which brought puritans and pilgrims, Baptists and Presbyterians alike to this land was the encroachment of the state into the sphere of the church. The state in England insisted on controlling the choice of a church’s pastors and elders and controlling the administration of the church government. John Bunyan, author of Pilgrim’s Progress, spent a number of years in prison accused of preaching without a license. Many others were martyred for this same crime.
Things have changed over the years, but have they really changed? We do not see many pastors in prison these days, but it was only twenty years ago that parents were imprisoned for teaching without a license! Civil government, in the England of the Stuarts, encroached upon the sphere of church government. Since the 1850's, civil government has been increasingly encroaching into the sphere of the family. Good people, who love liberty, have taken a stand only in the last twenty years of our history, a stand not entirely unlike the stand taken by our pilgrim and puritan forefathers. As best as they can, they have taken down the old book of God’s truth, the Bible, dusted off the cover, and re-applied it to every area of life. They have discovered that education belongs to the family because that is the way God intended it from the beginning.
Somebody once said that there are three kinds of people in the world: those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened! Those who are wise to the worldview conflict, and have a firm grasp on a biblical worldview, will not only avoid the third class of persons, but they will become the true heroes in history as it unfolds. We need to convey a biblical worldview to our children, by taking responsibility in the area of family government. In this way, we will set an example of a biblical worldview in action, in living color. Secondly, we can convey a biblical worldview by teaching it. I highly recommend David Quine’s Cornerstone Curriculum Project materials (www.cornerstonecurriculum.com). I would also recommend the work of Summit Ministries, Worldview Academy, and Teen Pact.
Kevin Swanson is Executive Director of Christian Home Educators of Colorado. With his wife Brenda, they homeschool five of their own. Kevin is author of several books, and has been part of the homeschooling movement since 1968. He speaks regularly at conferences across the country and the world. He hosts a networked radio program called "Generations."
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