Friday, June 25, 2010

Raising dazed out, stupefied kids

I have been thinking a lot about why we made the decision to home educate recently. My wife and I have been reviewing our family mission statement and vision, I had a good and very provoking conversation with an old friend about this subject, and one of my current roles is the national media spokesperson for Education Otherwise.

We are both convinced that, in the end, the educational decision a family make for their kids is their own decision, and that it isn't right for anyone - an individual, a church, pressure groups or the state - to compel educational conformity upon people (the problem of neglect, abuse or similar problems notwithstanding). Actually, I think the ideal would be small, community-based educational cooperatives run through a blend of parental involvement and employed teachers, where parents are intimately involved in the philosophy and overall direction, as well as the pastoral things.

However, one of the books that came up when my wife and I were discussing these things was the excellent Colossians Remixed by Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat. In that they discuss their decision to home education in a question and answer format. Here are some of their thoughts:

Q: So what's the alternative? Are you saying that we all have to send out children to Christian schools?

A: Actually, we believe we need to rethink the whole notion of schooling - Christian or otherwise. Our question is this: if it is true that schooling is an institution of the modernist progress myth and is preoccupied with quantification, testing, standardization, passivity, docility and consumption resulting in a dazed, numbed-out, stupefied, disinterested, disempowered and unmotivated population of unthinking consumers, then why are Christians playing this educational game of schooling at all?


And insofar as Christian schools are applauded in our society for producing fine, middle class, hardworking and hard-consuming citizens, we are not sure they are providing much of an alternative.

Q: Won't they end up being social misfits?

A: We hope so. Yes, social misfits, that's what we long for. May it be that we raise up a generation of social misfits, because to "fit into" this culture, to find your place of comfort in it, is to be accommodated to the empire. we have argued that this is precisely what this subversive little tract called Colossians is arguing against.

But no, it is not a matter of isolationism. The issue here is not to isolate our children from the world, but to expose them to the world through the liberating vision of a biblical worldview. Precisely where the powers that be don't want children to make connections, don't want them to really see, we want our children's eyes to be opened. We want our kids to see through the targeted advertising of McDonalds toys, games and playlands and recognize the manipulative come-ons that they are. We want them to see through the packaging and grease in order to see that the stuff being served is not food. We want our little girls to be offended, not enamoured, by Barbie's figure. We want them to know that while the news of war that they are constantly hearing on the radio and on the street makes them worry, there are other little girls in places like Palestine, Israel, Iraq, Colombia, Guatemala, Sierra Leone and Zimbabwe who have to live with the daily fear of war in their neighbourhoods. We want them to think about the little girls who work in the fields producing cash crops or who slave in sweatshops producing cute clothes for little girls.

Provoking stuff.

What are we here for?