I was deeply moved by Sally Thomas' article about her experience as a homeschooling mother ("Schooling at Home," April). Her description of the order of her children's days was inspiring; she seems to have constructed a truly Christ-centered learning environment--no mean feat!
I feel compelled to offer some thoughts that are aimed not at undermining Thomas' efforts and intentions but rather at understanding the implications of homeschooling as an American "movement." As the mother of five children, I wrestle most days with how to help them sort out and make sense of the contradictory messages they receive in their public school classrooms--messages in the form of curriculum but also in the form of the personal sidenotes and opinions of teachers who are, in general, dedicated, self-sacrificing, and wholly surrendered to secular humanism. I cringe at the sex education inflicted on my eighth-grader. I rankle at the revisionist history fed to my fifth-grader. I groan at the endless, tedious homework over which my third-grader toils--preparation for a standardized state test that I believe to be intellectually pointless.
But, tempting as it is some days, I cannot in good conscience pull the children out of their schools. Why? Because their schools need them. Their teachers need them. Their friends need them. Christ calls us to be "salt and light" and admonishes us not to hide our light under bushel baskets. How can I keep these young Christians from shining and being salty? Indeed, it takes more moral effort for me to send them out--to encourage their being "in the world but not of the world"--when, like any mother, I'd much rather protect them! I suppose it is accurate to say that I see this as a case of my Christian responsibility taking authority over my maternal instincts.
For committed Christians to cede the public schools and the next generation (even in the cause of sheltering our own children) is, to me, a betrayal of those to whom we are most emphatically called to serve: the lost. It compromises our witness to the very children we are seeking to form for Christ. And it leaves both our own children and those left within the system we abandon progressively more vulnerable to the forces and voices that replace us in that system.
I thank Sally Thomas for presenting homeschooling in a way that would be enlightening to those who are unfamiliar with the concept, without presenting such an idealized vision that it...