The Call to Dunkirk

I received an email yesterday with a link to this video.

I don’t know what to think.  On one hand, I graduated from the public school system.  I don’t feel like I was indoctrinated or suffered the worse for it, but I also know the grace of God helped keep me from absorbing some of the things I was taught.

On the other hand, I realize things have changed a LOT since I was a teenager (10 short years ago!), and in that my sheltered, small “everybody’s a Christian” type farm town in the northern Midwest, we didn’t receive the type of education Anja would if we enrolled her in the public school system here in the Twin Cities (i.e. her education would be much more liberal).

There are options here.  Option 1 = Private Christian schooling.  Pros of this are that her teaching would be (presumably) Bible-based.  Cons are the cost (holy MOLY we can’t afford it) and the perceived need of a child to rebel since “everyone” around them is Christians.  I attended a secular university and observed many of my friends  who attended Christian colleges going through such a rebellion.

Option 2 = Homeschooling.  Pros are the cost (less than private school), the time I would get to spend with my child(ren),  and that the teaching would be Bible-based.  Cons are the amount of time involved in preparation (and can I handle it?) and the lack of opportunities for involvement with other kids their own age (maybe this is different in a bigger city, but many homeschooled kids I knew growing up were a bit…different).

After viewing this video, what is your opinion?  If you have chosen public/private/homeschooling, why have you done so and how has it worked out for you?  Please keep the conversation respectful!

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16 thoughts on “The Call to Dunkirk

  1. I’m a bit surprised by some of the language in this video – it seems extreme to me. But you’re right, things have probably changed pretty drastically in the last 10 years.

    Obviously I don’t have kids, but it’s never too early to start thinking about this. I knew a good number of women in MA who home schooled and really enjoyed it, their kids were very normal and well adjusted, and they were well educated. I’ve also seen moms totally mess their kids up by not homeschooling well.

    Private Christian school is a whole ‘nother ball game. I’m pretty averse to the “let’s separate out and our kids will be better” agenda for Christian schools. It just doesn’t seem 100% true.

    Perhaps the biggest factor in your childrens’ education is the context of the public school they might attend – what kind of teachers are there and what kind of families are there? Growing up in the TC suburbs was probably one of the safest places to attend public school. Perhaps being in a more metropolitan school would be different.

    Now that I live in a small town that is heavily influenced by the small liberal arts college I work at, I realize how big an influence the college has on the town, the schools and many other things. But, at the same time, I know many Christian teachers in the public schools. I don’t want to surrender to fear that God isn’t at work in the public schools, because it’s just not true.

  2. I homeschool. I felt my education in public school was something I could easily better for my own kids and they wouldn’t be subject to many of the pressures I fell prey to. I like the options – you pick what kind of education you want for your kid, and there’s an excellent curriculum out there for it. We can pray in school, study the bible in school and base our knowledge and learning on God’s perspective instead of…Darwin’s.

    Socialization for homeschooled kids is such a moot point these days. I get incredulous that people even bring it up anymore. My kids are more well socialized and well-behaved than most public/private schooled kids I know. We have neighbors who have kids their age that they play with. They go to church and there are kids there that they play with. Socialization is up to you. You can isolate them, or you can take them out. The best part is that you have the control of where they go, who they interact with and how they interact with them. Unlike in public school where your 5-year-old may attend her lesbian teachers wedding.

    Obviously I’m no “professional”…actually I have 5 kids, I might be a professional, but from my own observations, toddlers bring out the worst in other toddlers. Teenagers bring out the worst in other teenagers. Check out Jon and Kate Plus Eight. They have 6 toddlers and they are constantly screaming and fighting with each other. My kids do get into arguments and they do yell at each other, but for the most part the older ones play with younger ones well and the learning environment is a pleasant one. We are by NO means perfect and we have our moments-that-I’d-rather-not-talk-about-thank-you-very-much, but on the whole, as far as learning and education goes, we get a lot more done in one morning than any public/private school teacher gets done in an entire day with a classroom full of kids all the same age.

    I’m terrible at explaining myself. Anyway…

    Terry has many good posts on the pros and cons of homeschooling vs. public schooling, as she’s done/going to do both. Surely you’ve read some of them. If not, I’d go there because she is much wiser and a much clearer speaker than I am.

    In the end, I do think that homeschooling is not for everyone and you’re not going to protect your kids from every evil thing out there by doing so and it would be bad for your kids if you did. But it’s definitely an option that should be explored if you feel so called and you should not have to feel like you’re hiding from the world if you do.

  3. Thanks so much, everyone! I’d love to hear more! Here is a response to Heather’s post (mentioned in her comment above) that I felt rude leaving at her site because it’s so long…so I’m putting it here.

    Thanks for your “comment” on my post, Heather. I really appreciate hearing all the different perspectives on this issue. While I obviously haven’t made a firm decision yet, it certainly helps to hear the passion in Christian parents’ voices when they describe what they and their children have gone through.

    The only thing with which I might very slightly disagree (and that only because I might not be interpreting what you said correctly) is this: “If a false idea is encountered before a Christian is able to refute it, there exists the possibility that the idea will be internalized and will influence the person’s development. Once an idea becomes ingrained, it is very hard to displace. I do not want to throw up a stumbling block to BB’s development.”

    I agree that it is important to lay a foundation for our children and teach them truth from birth, basically. However, we will always run into new ideas, and we must trust God that those whom He saves, He keeps. If the slightest difference of opinion sways someone from their faith, they probably didn’t believe in the first place.

    The situation I saw with my more sheltered Christian friends who had never been exposed to other ideas was that they got to college and their faith was really shaken because it had hardly even been tested. They weren’t able to handle it.

    Modern media (TV, Internet, etc.) is probably a more detrimental influence on a child than a teacher. A parent should have a lot more weight in their child’s life by consistent Biblical teaching than the small amount of philosophical or “tolerance” speech a teacher would be able to incorporate into his/her curriculum. Only so many subjects are susceptible to liberal bias. Mathematics, grammar, spelling, and most sciences are fairly concrete subjects.

    That said, I find your concern and passion admirable, and thanks again for your post!

  4. Just dropped in from Heather’s blog.

    In your last comment you made a couple interesting statements that I’ll accept — with a couple qualifiers and caveats…

    The situation I saw with my more sheltered Christian friends who had never been exposed to other ideas was that they got to college and their faith was really shaken because it had hardly even been tested. They weren’t able to handle it.

    I agree that there is a danger in this. And if the methodology for “sheltering” is to recreate The Truman Show and fool them into thinking life is like it was in the ’50’s, abandoning public schools isn’t going to help much. We knew a few families that took this approach. But that’s not the sort of schooling I advocate: we’ve got to beat the secularists to the punch. It’s not about cutting off outside influence altogether, but directing its flow through our children’s worlview. My kids will know about most of the moral issues and philosophical challenges to the faith long before they go to college. And as soon as they’re old enough, they’ll get a job. I was homeschooled and got a job at 15, which opened my eyes to see firsthand what I already knew was out there, but because I knew what it all meant to my faith I was able to stand strong. It’s the difference between teaching your child never to fight and teaching him to not start a fight while making sure he knows how to defend himself.

    Modern media (TV, Internet, etc.) is probably a more detrimental influence on a child than a teacher.

    Definitely so. But you left out the most insidious although seemingly innocuous threat of public school: peers. Even kids whose parents are fastidious about filtering that sort of content out of the home will be influenced by their peers whose parents don’t share the concern. Peer influence serves as an amplification system for everything floating around in pop culture (in fact, this is one thing that causes pop culture). Nowadays many of your first-grader’s classmates are watching PG-13 and R-rated movies and listening to their parents’/older siblings’ raunchy music, and they don’t just leave all that junk at the door to the school. And don’t think for a minute that you will be able to detox your kid from all that stuff (if you can even identify it) while also instilling in them actual positive values in just the time you have with them after school.

    Gosh, this was long — hope you don’t consider it rude!

  5. MM: You have a good point, and I probably should have explained the “false idea” thing a little better. Throughout my post, I was referring to an elementary-aged child. I do expect BB to get a job when he is older, work in the community, etc., whereby he will encounter different viewpoints. Lord willing, by the time he is a teenager he will be well-equipped to handle the differences that come up. He will also still be living at home, where he will hopefully feel comfortable enough to share any doubts or concerns he may have with my husband and I.
    My husband was one of those homeschoolers who had a shaken faith when he went off to college. It took him a long time to come to terms with things. I certainly wouldn’t want BB to be as ill-equipped as he was.
    You are absolutely right about modern media having a detrimental influence, and that is one of the things that we will closely supervise. There are school subjects that don’t lend themselves easily towards liberal bias, but there are others like reading, social studies, and earth science that do.
    I really will shut up now and climb down off of my soap box! 🙂

  6. Such an interesting subject. Something that has been on my mind lately as well.

    When my older son was born, my plans to homeschool were set in stone. Ten years later, he’s in the public school system. I cannot say I’m happy with that decision. Rather, I question it often. Let me put it this way….we are not satisfied with how or what our son is being taught at a public school. However, I’m not confident that I could serve him well enough as a teacher.

    Now, with another little boy, I am revisiting the whole idea of homeschooling.

    Hmmm….very tough decision.

    I hope you decide to try out Mosaic Monday. Think it’s slowly catching on. Very slowly…

    Nothing fancy, as far as the camera is concerned. It’s this one: (http://www.amazon.com/Kodak-EasyShare-Digital-Optical-Stabilized/dp/B000NOQVQK). It is a step up from the one I have now, though. I’m slowly working my way up to a SLR…Canon or Nikon.

    Have a great week!

  7. This decision is such a big one with so many factors – it can be overwhelming to think about. The thing that helps me to keep it all in perspective is to remember that for us, it is a year by year decision. Each year we will evaluate for each of our children if they are still where they need to be. For us, we have chosen to homeschool. It would take up way too much space here, but I’d love to share how we came to that decision with you over e-mail if you want. We had originally planned to use private schools since we also live in a major metropolitan area (Dallas) with not so great public schools and we actually have a wide selection of good private (Christian and non-Christian) schools. Our main reason for choosing to not put our children in the public schools is that we feel like we need to give them a good foundation in their faith before they have to face too many things being taught to them as truth that don’t match our beliefs. Even if some subject matter seems neutral, the worldview of the teacher will color how it is presented. And you would be surprised at how text books now put ideas in places they don’t seem to fit. Spelling books will use words in sentences to show their meaning. I have been very surprised at how many of these sentences are designed to convey an idea that is meant to teach tolerance or promote views contrary to my beliefs! The same is true in grammar books, and especially science books!

    I went to a Christian school all the way through 12th grade and my husband went to public school. We both went to a Christian University, then after we were married, I also attended a secular university. I also taught in Christian schools for 6 years. Although I think the language used in this video is a bit strong, a lot of good points are made. Children are so very impressionable and they face so much in schools today. For me, I want my children to have a firm foundation that they have already started to build on before they have to defend their ideas in a peer pressure filled setting. I agree with you that God will keep them in their salvation, but there are so many things and decisions that are not salvation issues that could still have major consequences. Children are so easily convinced to try new things or believe new ideas. I don’t want my kids in a situation where they are repeatedly taught things that conflict with our faith before they are old enough to search the Bible or research ideas on their own to find the truth. My plan is to teach heavily from the Bible in the earliest years so that my children have God’s Word hidden in their hearts. As they get older and begin to learn more, I want to teach them what we believe and what others believe (for example, creationism vs. evolution) and why we believe what we do. This is something they just won’t get in any school! At this point, I don’t plan to homeschool past 6th-8th grade, but I am convinced that before my kids get to that point God will show us what we are supposed to do for their education!

  8. Heidi, as you know we send our girls to private Christian school. Public school has never been an option for us. Why? Because we want our girls to be able to have the opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ and the Bible in school. They learn about Him from us at home and in church, but we also felt it was important for HIM to be taught to them at school.

    When they learn about nature, they learn that God created it. When they learn about Christmas, they learn about the birth of Jesus. When they learn about good-sportsmanship, they learn about Christian values and principles that go along with that. When they learn about other nations and peoples, they learn that we are all God’s creation. All that they learn at school is reinforced at home. It’s a good balance for us.

    If sending our kids to private school ever became a financial burden for us, then our decision has always been to home-school them. However, the way we have approached our finances, which is living debt free, we’ve been fortunate enough to be able to continue their education now and hopefully for a long time.

    My husband attended a private Christian school until he was in the tenth-grade, at which time he went to public school. I, on the other hand, attended public school my entire school career. When I graduated H.S. 18 years ago, things were much different then, even as they were for you, only 10 years ago.

    Heidi, I think as long as you have Anja’s best interest at heart, you cannot go wrong. If it is God’s will for you to homeschool, then God will give you the strength, courage and drive to do so.

  9. We have five children. One is at a Christian University, three are in a Christian school, and one is homeschooled. I don’t believe we put our children in a Christian school to separate them from the world. Rather, it’s to equip them to be a light in the world. Myself and three siblings were all in Christian schools through college, and none of us ever did anything stupid. (We’re not perfect though!!!!) Our parents gave us a lot of freedom. We went on missions trips and saw the real world. I think if God’s word is down deep, nothing will shake you once you hit the real world.

    As for my children, I’ll take all the help I can get!!! I want them to be immersed in God’s word at home, at church and at school!

  10. I was a public school teacher, then a Christian school teacher, and back to public again. I was *not* going to homeschool my kids. 🙂 Here I am, homeschooling my oldest in first grade, eating my words. 🙂 There are a lot of reasons we decided to homeschool. As a public school teacher, I saw a lot of negatives at school. Most boys I saw that came from “good” families with solid values, were succumbing to peer pressure – at least at school – by fifth or sixth grade. I was worried about that environment for my boys. And boys just need more time to be active than school can allow. Homeschooling gave us a flexibility in our schedule – and we can take family vacations when it suits my husband’s schedule – not just on the school schedule. I was concerned about how much time gets “wasted” in schools, too. So much time spent on discipline, waiting on other students to grasp a concept, spending so much review time on things already understood – and not enough time with things that weren’t gotten the first time around. Homeschooling can individualize education to the child’s needs so much better. Any teacher will tell you that smaller class size is better.

    Private school – they are quite expensive!!!! I couldn’t afford it until I went to work there, and with a younger one I wanted to be home for (and not have to pay for daycare), it just wasn’t an option. And private schools have their issues, too. There’s a lot of peer pressure there as well. And since it seems that one needs to have a bit of wealth to attend – that is one of our issues. We didn’t want our child to be one of the few who didn’t get their own car on their 16th birthday, or have expensive birthday parties, or the right clothes, etc. And there are theological issues in Christian schools, too.

    I’m not sure if we’ll homeschool all the way. I went to a Christian high school and loved it. I made so many lifelong friends there, and had some great opportunities. My teachers were very caring (and still ask my parents about me when they see them). I think I would like that for my kids, too. But things have changed since I was in school, and it’s a different culture. One of the best things you could do to help you make the decision is ask to observe some classes at whatever school you are thinking about for Anja and see for yourself. If you know any local teachers, talk to them about your concerns. Not every situation is going to work for every child. Homeschooling is hard sometimes – I sometimes envy the moms who send their kids off for the day and can get work done uninterrupted for a few hours (or meet a friend for lunch). But I will never get these young years back.

    Oh, and you said homeschool kids were “different.” I used to think that, too. But I joined a homeschool group and the kids are different!! They’re respectful, kind, and have great attitudes about learning. They’re still kids, not trying to be grownups and show-offs for their peers. I agree that kids should be around other kids – but with homeschooling I can be selective about the influences my children have at this young age – until they’re old enough to handle some peer pressure positively. I can’t be selective at all in public school. I want my kids to be different in a positive sense, not weird.

    Well, it’s late on the east coast, and I’m probably not saying anything you haven’t heard before. I hope you find some peace about your decision – you have some time to think about it! 🙂

  11. I’m in the Christian school camp even though it costs more than a tenth of our income each year.

    Our reasons:

    1. our kids’ school is an incredible, very academic place. It’s a CSI school (Christian School International), has accredited teachers, does fantastic on provincial tests, has small classes, and dedicated Christian teachers. The motto of the school is “foundation, challenge, preparation. ” (a foundation in the Word, a challenging program that prepares the kids for real life). It is not a church, it is not home, but it is a place where they can learn, grow, and explore the real world being guided along by professional people who follow Christ as we do.

    2. We believe their education is in investment. Sure we don’t drive new cars, take big vacations, own a boat or eat out all the time. But neither do the majority of the parents at the school. We promised before God in church that we would do all we could to raise our children to have a relationship with Him. We have put their education as a priority in our life, and amazingly, over the past six years, we have been more blessed than ever! People who work with my husband (make the same amount) say they can’t imagine giving all that money to education. But their money is all gone at the end of the month too…and if we ask them, they don’t seem to know where it goes. Life is all about choices–if you want something badly enough, you will go without in another area.

    3. I cannot begin to express the need for as many Christian role models in our kids lives as we can get, especially as they get older. My husband and I truly believe it takes a community to raise children. We can only hope that our kids grow to be beautiful Christian adults like their teachers who genuinely love and care for them each day.

    4, Sheltered? Sure. But so are home-schooled kids. We all want our kids to be in a secure, friendly, safe environment, don’t we? But sheltered from the world? NO.

    At school our kids are exposed to many books, not just Christian ones, and they explore all theories and debate them. They learn the beauty of numbers and patterns, and about the awesome creation God made for us. They go out into their community and they see the sinful world for what it really is: a place in need of redeption. A key word here is that they are taught discernment–to look at the world through God’s “glasses” and to not sit idly by and watch but to get involved.

    5. I wrote about this in my blog, but don’t know how to post a link: the kids learn together. It is a social, dynamic, busy, fun environment where the kids learn to be with a group of children their own age and get along. Group work, projects, plays, chapels, choir, band…I got all choked up seeing my daughter in Grade Four sitting in a student-led novel study, discussing the characters in a book with kids she never plays with on the playground. They were not only discussing the characters, but relating them to their own lives and how they would deal with certain problems. Stuff like that goes on all day long. There are 22 churches represented in a school with less than 160 kids. These kids are just like any other kids; none of them are perfect. They learn to be together in Christian love and accept eachother with the teacher’s guidance.

    6. And lastly, parents run the school. We take ownership. We can enforce change. We can sit in the room whenever we want. We sit on committees, we work at bazaars to keep tuition down. We pray together. We want it to be worth our money and we want the best we can get for our kids.

    My husband and I were both trained as teachers (he’s a police officer now), and I taught for 8 years in a Christian school. Homeschooling has never been an option for us, even though I feel more than qualified to teach our kids. We really, truly love a school environment and so do our kids. We put our trust in God that he will provide and he has!

    I just wanted to share why we chose Christian education for our family. May God guide you as you make your decision!!

  12. I was blog-surfing and found your blog. I live in Eastern North Dakota, so I have a little bit of context for what you’re describing in your post. I couldn’t watch the video, because my computer is too old and slow. However, I have been thinking about this issue extensively lately. Here is what I’ve come up with so far.

    1- Sheltering can be appropriate. Even now as an adult, I choose to shelter myself from some of the stuff that is out there. We don’t watch everything on TV, nor do I read every type of book that is written. There are things I choose not to encounter. As a parent, I have the responsibility to make those decisions for my children until they are at an age at which it becomes appropriate for them to make their own decisions.

    Sheltering can be done appropriately and inappropriately. If I do it in prayer and wisdom with the desire for them to know about their world, I believe I will make (mostly) correct choices. If I make choices based on fear and lies, my sheltering may be/will be inappropriate. We are to fear the Lord, but we don’t need to fear the world. We do need to make wise choices though.

    2- Because I am a Christian, I will not automatically decide to choose a Christian school. First, while faith is a MAJOR priority for me, not all faith-based schools will meet my other priorities. Also, I believe this is an area where my husband and I need to spend MAJOR time in prayer. While it wouldn’t be my first choice, it’s possible that God would choose for us to put your children in the public school for any number of reasons. One might be to have a Christian classmate in a class of non-Christian children. Another may be for my child to ask the teacher questions in class that could lead to thought provoking discussion.

    When I was growing up, most of the “homeschool kids” I knew were weird. This lays primarily on the fact that they all came from 3 families. There were definitely at least three families that attended my school who had weird children. However, when I moved to go to college, I met many peers who had been homeschooled that were normal, well-adjusted, and more ready for college than I was.

    Currently, the town where I live has a very strong home school cooperative and a large population. Because of this, there is very little chance of the children being unsocialized unless it is by the parents’ desire or choice. They have fairs, bees, and other activities just like public and private school children. If you do live in the Twin Cities, I’m sure if you ask around, you’ll be able to find a significant population with quite a few opportunities for socializing.

    Casey/www.beautifulletdown.net

  13. Whoa. That video seemed pretty hardcore….but I agreed with it. I went to private school from K-9 and then switched to public school for 10-12 because our Christian school only went up to grade 9 at the time. That worked out really well for me because I was pretty grounded in my worldview and I had some very close Christian friends; I never felt the need to really rebel in high school. Then I went and did a Bachelor’s at a private college (as you know). God is so gracious and you’re right about His keeping those whom He saves…I had plenty of opportunity in high school and in college to go off ‘exploring’ but for the most part I didn’t.
    I loathe the idea of home-schooling (seriously – GACK!) but public school? Maybe in a very small town we might consider it, but only if there is no Christian school option. I know the private school I went to made a LOT of exceptions for parents who couldn’t afford the whole tuition – there were a large number that paid less than half or paid a prearranged amount they could afford. Plus, they offered family discounts/maximums.
    When we lived in WA, there was a lady in our church who ran a Kindergarten class out of one of the church buildings. Tuition for a year (‘full day’ classes) was MAYBE $1000. She was primarily asking parents to pay for books and materials. She may be an exception though because she was teaching for the love of teaching and the desire to see Christ glorified in education. (I’ll never forget listening to some of the kids play ‘church’ one morning at recess….) This year, another lady started a grade one class out of the same building for the same reasons. I would be so pleased to see a whole elementary school there one day. A bonus is that their class sizes are small. The grade one class has 8 students and the Kindergarten teacher will accept a maximum of 17 students/year. Some of the smaller schools are worth checking into and I’m sure – given that you’re in a huge metropolitan area – there will be lots of options for you.

    All that said, I think a lot of the whole ‘rebellion’ thing comes down to the individual child. My brother had virtually the same education I did but had a horrid time in high school and went through an awful period of rebellion (which he’s since moved on from, thankfully). Also, I think a lot of it depends on catching kids at a young age. You have the ability to begin teaching your Anja about Christian doctrine even at this young age and the more firmly rooted and well-versed she is in what she believes when she’s young, the less likely she’ll be to “depart from it” when she’s older.

    Thanks for posting the video. This is a great discussion.
    P.S. Don’t tell my inlaws! They BOTH work in the public school system and are pretty opinionated about keeping kids in it. 😦

  14. I got the link to you blog when you left a comment about my blue-eyed baby. (Thanks! 🙂 )
    I was browsing…and I’m excited to keep up with your life as a young Christian mom.
    I feel very strongly that I do not want my children (now ages 3,2, 8 months) in the public schools…and this video does a good job of verbalizing what I often have trouble with. I have a teaching degree and taught for 3 years. My sister and brother-in-law teach, and I have 2 younger siblings who are still in the public school system…and I ache in the depths of my soul as I witness what is happening in the public schools. I’ve decided to homeschool, and I’m really excited about it. But, I’m secretly afraid that with “the left” controlling the country, our children may be REQUIRED to attend public schools…just thinking about it makes me feel…nauseous.
    Thanks for sharing the video. It was encouraging and helps me better express my passion about this.
    I’ll be back! 🙂

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