Editor’s Note: Earlier this week, I put up posts from two ladies whom I asked to write about the educational method their family chose. Today, my husband has written the third and final installment in this series. I believe this is a Romans 14 issue where we need to learn how to offer grace and freedom to each other. I am convinced that unless we stay tethered to the gospel, these types of issues will rise up to cause schisms in the local church. We are Christians; our center is Jesus Christ. Disputes over personal choices have no place in the household of God. I would like our comments to be charitable, even if we disagree. Disagreement is fine, after all, our God did not create a monolithic people. However, charity must always rule our tongues. Today I welcome to Gospel Grace: My husband, Geoffrey Simms
We’ve done it all, I think: church-run private school, public curriculum at home, public charter online virtual home school, self-directed self-assembled curriculum homeschool, parachurch private school, single-source curriculum home school, home/classroom hybrid co-operative school, classical curriculum charter school… well, everything except “normal” public school, I guess. But my wife and I both matriculated in public (state) schools, from elementary all the way through college even, so that’s gotta count for something toward our experience with public school. The point is, when it comes to educational choices for our children, we’re of above average experience… or expectation… or expenditure… or exhaustion… or something.
This isn’t to say that we’re now somehow qualified to objectively compare all these different methods and environments and offer authoritative answers to anyone about educating their children. In fact, as you may have guessed, we’ve been a bit schizophrenic about our schooling over the years. At times I think the cornucopia of options we have in this land tempt us to gorge ourselves on peculiar and incongruous mixtures of educational selections, imagining ourselves to be Cordon Bleu chefs, creating the best possible meal from the best possible ingredients. That’s what we imagine, at least.
We have always had a reason for our turning to a new educational tack for the various children within our flock: five of them, ages spaced evenly over a span of nearly eighteen years, at one time or another living in two different states with unique jurisdictional educational legal environments, sometimes simultaneously. And, as you might have guessed, we always had a reason to once again turn away from those chosen educational directions in favor of new ones.
I wish I could say that our choices had a unifying theme throughout, or that the changes we made always worked out for the best in some objective practical measure. In reality, we just repeatedly did what we thought was right and best, even as in our own spiritual and philosophical growth, what we thought was right and best often changed. There is the fact that through it all, our children were ours, that they lived with us, prayed with us, ate with us, went to church with us, talked with us… in fact, the education we’ve provided for them has had a common thread, and that is that, we in this home are Christians; we trust and follow Christ because he has redeemed us.
There was a time in which we figured that lesson might sink in, and it might not, and there was nothing we could do about it. There was also a time in which we thought that lesson would be learned if and only if we never let our children out of our sight and even their math books had the name of Jesus on every page. More often than not, we placed trust in “school” to convey this lesson, whether we were homeschooling and therefore the ones doing the teaching, or whether we had our children learning in a classroom under a different teacher.
Right now, we have faith and confidence that our lessons are fundamental in our childrens’ hearts and minds. We deliberately sought out a school that would be the most aligned with what we would teach here at home. In our case, it happens to be a charter school with a curriculum rooted in the classical traditions of Western thought, from the Bible through Greek and Roman civilization, to the Renaissance, Enlightenment, American political foundations, and modern developments as well. Obviously, no one else could teach everything exactly the way we would, but we know our own limitations and we know that there are many things they will teach better than we would, or have, at home. Since it is a charter school, they do not have the religious liberties that a private school would have, but we are being vigilant. Unless and until they begin teaching things contrary to what we would have our children learn, and in a way that outweighs the lessons we teach our children with the rest of our lives, we will be pleased to have them learning there.
I can’t guarantee that we will make no more changes for our children, some of whom have yet to reach classroom age, but I can tell you that we have no plans to change from our current choice. No matter what comes of this, and no matter what other educational environments we place them in in the future, our home—and their home—will be a Christian home, and the lessons they learn here will be about the goodness and grace of Christ in Heaven and on Earth.