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Expanding the Circle

By Andrea G. Schwartz
January 27, 2009

Homeschooling parents should prepare for the time when they need to “expand the circle” of influence in their children’s lives as it pertains to certain academic subjects. This is often accomplished in co-op settings, tutoring, part-time attendance at a day school, or even getting a jump-start on college. These opportunities serve several good purposes: allowing the children to learn from teachers with potentially greater expertise and experience AND allowing the homeschooling parent to concentrate on younger children in the family. However, the parent must remain at the helm, directing the course of study and monitoring the process as well as the result.

I learned this first hand as my children participated in junior college classes. Making use of this resource is beneficial when it comes to lab sciences and other activities that are better experienced in group settings (choral ensembles etc.). It can also serve as a testing ground for interaction with groups that are not distinctively Christian. However, along with the beneficial aspects are a myriad of potential snares. This is where the early practice of making the study of God’s law-word the foremost aspect of your homeschool will pay off. By teaching all subjects and disciplines from the perspective of what the Bible has to say on the subject, you train your children to see every area of thought and life through the lens of Scripture. They are thus better prepared to recognize assaults on their faith.

It is imperative that your child understands that your responsibility and role as a parent is not nullified or abdicated because he is going to receive instruction outside of the home. Although you are delegating some of your parental responsibilities, you still are answerable to God and culpable for failure to uphold His standards. This means that even if the institution that you send your child to fails to respect the role and authority of parents, the Fifth Commandment remains in force!

I recommend that before children take college level classes, parents teach the biblical philosophy of the subject and require certain reading or instruction in preparation. For example, before taking a psychology class it would be valuable to read and listen to R. J. Rushdoony’s material on a biblical perspective of psychology (Revolt against Maturity and his many lectures on the subject) and make use of other excellent resources. Sending a child to a Christian worldview conference would prepare the student to recognize the behavior modification techniques and psychotherapeutic perspectives that permeate many of the courses he will encounter.

My daughter recently enrolled in a required college-level class called “College Success.” This semester-length class is especially designed for new and transfer students promising “…to cover college survival skills, career decision making, educational planning, and degree and transfer information.” However, as those info-mercials on television add, “But wait! There’s more!” Unfortunately, a lot more than what most Christian parents might bargain for.

Some “highlights”:

• Students were required to participate in a personality assessment, based on Jungian psychology, designed to steer them toward majors and careers most suited to their abilities. They were given a series of oddly phrased questions, instructed to pick one of two answers, even when neither adequately reflected their actual perspective. In my daughter’s case, the analysis of the test results directed her away from almost every area of talent and inclination we have seen demonstrated throughout her life and toward careers that were comically unsuitable.

• Excessive amounts of homework questions that delve into the “inner thoughts,” fears, anxieties, and personal problem areas must be completed daily with students using as their only resource remedies lifted out of the pages of modern psychology. (No other perspectives need apply!) One method of dealing with problem solving was so convoluted and unintuitive, that I still do not understand it and get a headache contemplating the possibility of ever having to apply it.

• One of my daughter’s homework assignments asked: “Which of the resistors to change is most evident in your life? Discuss the specific actions you will take to overcome it.” She responded that she has a tendency to fear the unknown in certain subject areas and that she plans to discipline herself against falling into that trap, while trusting God to help her. Her instructor responded by giving her 1/3 of the total points possible for that question with the comment, “Your response is weak and incomplete. Trusting God is not an action. It is a belief. I would like to read more specific, thoughtful responses.” (I guess my daughter has not “learned” how to regurgitate the psychobabble as well as she should!)

My guidance to my daughter as she goes through these experiences is that she must make sure she survives the assaults on her Christian faith by discussing her assignments, lectures, and other aspects of her course work with her dad and me so we can all take time to replace any lies with the Truth. One byproduct of this course is an increased gratitude on her part for the Christian education she has received.

We look at this season of her education as an opportunity to understand first-hand the ways of Babylon, while, like her biblical forebears (Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego), refusing to bow the knee to the idols of our time.


Topics: Education

Andrea G. Schwartz

Andrea Schwartz is Chalcedon’s family and Christian education advocate, and the author of eight books including: A House for God: Building a Kingdom-Driven FamilyThe Biblical Trustee Family: Understanding God’s Purpose for Your HouseholdEmpowered: Developing Strong Women for Kingdom ServiceWoman of the House: A Mother’s Role in Building a Christian Culture, and The Homeschool Life: Discovering God’s Way to Family-Based Education. She’s also the co-host of the Out of the Question podcast, and Homeschooling Helps (weekly live Facebook event). She can be reached at [email protected]

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