While this is republished from our August 2009 epistula
, the challenges discussed remain relevant for many today.
It’s that time of year…the time of year when we all start to think of going back to school. Teachers are thinking of setting up classrooms, home-schooling families are planning their year, parents are buying supplies, and students, well, some are getting excited and others are desperately wishing for more time. This year is different, though. We are starting this year with a burden.
When the recession hit around October 2008 the school year had already begun. Most people could finish out the year without worrying about how it affected our children’s education in the long term. Things have changed drastically for many people for this coming year. Schools have had to downsize or even close, families have had to begin home-schooling because they cannot afford tuition, mothers have had to go to work and cannot be as involved in their children’s education. Things are different. Several men who are close to our family have lost their jobs.
How does this affect the education of our children? First, this does not change the calling God has given us to provide our children a Christian education. Second, as we observe the reaction of our government to the recession—a reaction that appears more and more socialist—it is more important than ever to educate our children in such a way that enables them to be the generation who can bring about godly change. Whether you are a teacher in a school or a home-schooling parent, never forget the importance of giving your children a distinctive Christian worldview.
When asked how he could afford to spend several hours a day in prayer, a wise theologian responded, “I cannot afford to NOT spend these hours in prayer.” We can apply this well-known story to education. These times tempt us to conclude that we cannot afford a Christian education. The question we must entertain is, “Can we afford to NOT give our children a classical and Christian education?” The hard reality is we have to think about the future. Our nation is a mess, and if we are not producing committed, Christian-thinking students, where will we be in twenty years? Riddled with both fiscal and moral dilemmas, more than ever we need thinking minds which are submissive to the Word of God. Let me encourage you, regardless of your situation, to continue to find creative ways to inculcate your children with a thoroughly Christian mindset.
But, you might say, we are living in an economy that has taken its toll on many families. You can’t get blood out of a turnip, as my father used to say. If there’s no money, there’s no money and a quality education is not cheap. Let me respond to this valid concern with a few thoughts. First, the truth is, we tend to find creative ways to get what we want. We spend money on the things we truly desire. When it comes to providing enriching and educational experiences for our children, we often conclude that something else less important has to go. It’s simply a matter of weighing priorities and choosing to spend money on things that have eternal consequences as opposed to luxuries that we can do without.
Second, I know that many are blessed to have grandparents who are involved in the process. I have talked to homeschoolers who make a point of getting grandpa and grandma in on the teaching of their children. What a wonderful way to experience the multi-generational nature of education! But it doesn’t have to stop there. I challenge grandparents to recognize the struggles that their children are having in this economy and step up to lend financial aid as they are able to do so. I cannot think of a better gift that a grandparent can give than to play a role in providing a Christian education for their grandchildren. Now would be a great time to commit to paying for a portion of your grandchildren’s tuition and school uniforms or curriculum if they are homeschooled. All grandparents are not in a position to do so, but many are and should consider the value of assisting in this way.
Finally, education should not be viewed as something that takes place only in the 8:00–3:00 time slot, Monday through Friday. There are activities that we should be doing with our children that do not cost anything (or very little) that get to the heart of what it means to provide them with a Christian worldview. Are we having a regular time of family worship? Are we praying together as a family? When you see a TV commercial or any type of advertising do you use it as a teachable moment to challenge worldly, illogical thinking? When you are having family movie night do you discuss worldviews that fall short of being thoroughly Christian? When you observe ungodly behavior by others in public do you discuss what causes and perpetuates these kinds of actions? Are you taking opportunities daily to provide your children with a mindset that is distinctly Christian?
Remember the words of Deuteronomy 6:6–9: “And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.”
This economy has affected us all in one way or another. Whether it is our common plight of paying more for groceries or gas, a great loss in the stock market, or the loss of a job, you are in the minority if you are not affected by these stressful times. My prayer is that despite the tough circumstances God would allow us to see the fruit of our labors and sacrifices in the hearts and minds of the next generation.
Bruce Etter is the Headmaster and teaches online with Veritas Press Scholars Academy. He lives in Lancaster, Pa., with his wife Julie and their five children. He also has written for the Omnibus curriculum.