I have read several books on homeschooling that have been essential to my sanity because they encourage me, inspire me, and keep me on the right path. The first is the Bible because it is the most important instructional manual for parents. My next favorite is When You Rise Up, by R.C. Sproul Jr. I need to read it each year to renew my heart, and to remind me why I homeschool, what I am supposed to be doing, and how I should apply it. Here is a brief review of When You Rise Up:
THE GOAL OF EDUCATION
What are children for? Man's chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever (Westminster Catechism). God commands man to love, trust, and obey Him...and teach his children to do the same. ("Man" also means women and children.)
The author says, "This is our goal - raising God-glorifying children, rather than raising responsible citizens who can manage to get along with the world around them." Scripture tells us to seek first the Kingdom of God - that is, to embrace the gospel - and parents are to raise their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We should want our children "to embrace the work of Christ, and to do the work of Christ."
The Bible is the perfect curriculum because God is truth; there is no other wiser or higher curriculum than Him. In addition, we cannot separate morality from academia. Even schools are in the interest of teaching morality (but whose moral standards are they using?).
Robert Louis Dabney, American Christian theologian, said,
True education is, in one sense, a spiritual process. It is the nurture of the soul. Education is the nurture of a spirit that is rational and moral, in which conscience is the regulative and imperative faculty. The proper purpose of conscience, even in this world, is moral.
Puritan poet John Milton wrote,
The end of learning is to repair the ruin of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge, to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him.
I'm not arguing that it's a bad thing for children to be smart. Rather, I am suggesting that the issue of education is always the heart. Changed hearts is the goal, the function, the very purpose of education.
Parents must teach their children to teach their own children, and so on, these same tenants of the faith: to seek the Kingdom of God, to fear Him, to love, serve, and obey His commands, and to walk in truth; and parents must teach these things when they lie down and when they rise up. If our goal is not the Bible's goal, then we will fail.
PARENTS: GOD'S CHOSEN TEACHERS
Parents are obligated to pass their own conviction to their offspring, but our culture has taught mistrust of parents raising their own children; hence, they rather be taxed to pay someone else to raise up their children. We believe that if we allow schools more time with our children - longer days and longer school years - and give the State more money, then students will excel.
However, if our goal is to raise up godly children into godly adults, then parents are the right ones for the job. God is the Expert on everything, and He gave parents the responsibility to teach their children. Instead, when time with our children is a burden, then we are have fallen into the worldly trap of lies. (Worldly means "lack of faith.")
YOU SHALL SPEAK OF THEM
The Bible is the place where God speaks to us. "If we would believe and value God, we must come to the Bible, seeing it not just as true, but as valuable, powerful. This is God, the creator of all things!"
The Bible equips us for every good work. "Once we understand biblical truth, and once we remove the worldly desire to pursue personal peace and affluence," we can do God's will, which means making our lives a living sacrifice by "training up our children in godliness, taking up our cross, and teaching them to do the same."
Not only does God command parents to teach their children, but He also tells them by what method: by talking, using "simple conversation." Lack of faith causes us to develop complicated ideas and models and unnecessary curriculum and plans to educate our children.
Our children will adopt a Christian worldview as we talk to them about God and how He relates to everything. That's how we raise up a godly seed.
THE THREE Gs
If conversation is how we teach, what is the context? This is what we teach (Deuteronomy 6):
1. Who is God?
2. What has God done?
3. What does God require?
BOYS AND GIRLS
Our children need to know the glory and the beauty of heaven, to long for a better country, to know that their citizenship is in heaven alone.If we belong to God, we are in the midst of war between Him and Satan. We are raising warriors for God. Both sexes are fighting the same battle and are trained to be warriors for the kingdom, though they fight differently. Daughters, being feminine and inward-looking, are protective, keepers of the home; while sons, being masculine, are outward-looking and aggressive. They should be trained accordingly.
Many of these issues are directed at the Christian community, and either repeat the world method of education at home or reject the idea of homeschooling altogether. Following is one example:
What are the qualifications necessary to be a teacher? If God gives you a child, He gives you the responsibility of raising him "by [His] grace, through [His] power, and with [His] Holy Spirit."
Sproul says of his own family,
Never will I put my children under the authority of those who are enemies of the gospel, who despise the lordship of Christ such that His name cannot even be mentioned.
And finally, he adds,
I have tried to make the case in this book, under the authority of Christ, that parents are commanded to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. While biblical education is done by parents' teaching the Three Gs to their children when they rise up and when they lie down, the most grievous error we can make is to send them off to schools where Jesus is not plainly, fully, and publicly honored.
MY PERSONAL THOUGHTS
When You Rise Up removed a heavy burden from my shoulders. When I took responsibility of my children's education at home, I reproduced the only method I knew, which was the complicated world method that left God out. Sproul opened my eyes to the right way God intended parents to raise up God-fearing, God-honoring citizens, with salvation as the end goal. The author does not advocate the elimination of math or science or history or grammar; no, rather he is making the case that parents are capable of teaching their children, are commanded to teach their children, and need to get back to the simple biblical method of education. Parents need to rethink what they value most.