I made a somewhat rash statement yesterday, to the effect that I thought that religion would not be a major factor in the decision to home educate, at least not in this country. Of course, there are those who home educate for this reason. I have to say that my decision to teach my own child was not primarily motivated by this consideration, but it was certainly an important pointer to me that I was on the right track. I wonder if there is anybody else here for whom this was taken into account?
I suppose that two important injunctions have always been to the forefront of my mind. The first is Proverbs 22 verse 6; Raise up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it even in old age. Secondly, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. I believe that the family and not the individual is the basic unit of society. I also believe that the Lord instituted this plan. Which, I am bound to confess, makes my stand on new legislation a little tricky. After all, if as I truly believe home education is sanctioned by scripture, why should I want the essentially secular state to concern itself in the matter?
I would probably have home educated even if the law had been against me. The reason for this is plain; I believe that the family is sacred and that it is where children learn everything worth knowing. I think that anything that strikes at the institution of the family, strikes at the heart of society. I also believe of course, that I have a duty to teach my child about God and his commandments and that this duty to is best fulfilled by keeping her at home to teach her. Why then am I in favour of a change in the law which would allow the state to interfere in family life? Because it is what families do that make the family sacred. There are bad families and good families.
If I had decided to follow Jephthah's example, as related in Chapter 11 of Judges, then I would taken a wrong turn and it would be time for others to intervene and set things straight. For those unfamiliar with the story, Jepththah, although a God fearing man, vowed that if he won a battle then he would sacrifice the first living thing he saw when he returned home. This turned out to be his daughter and he duly offered her up as a burnt sacrifice. Personally, I think that it would have been a better thing if the other Gileadites had had a quiet word with him and told him he was doing wrong. (I hope that nobody from the DCSF reads this, otherwise they will be launching an enquiry in the possibility of home educating fathers offering up their children as burnt sacrifices!)
In other words, the family is very important to me, but I recognise that others might have a right to step in if, for instance, I decided to follow Jephthah's example and sacrifice my daughter. Even if I neglected her health or education, then I feel that others might also have a right to take notice. My child is a precious gift from God, but she does not belong to me to do with as I will. Society as a whole is concerned with her as well. It is in that context that I believe that society, as represented by the DCSF, has the right to be concerned about children.
As an aside, I never tire of telling people that there is no mention of school in the Bible. A brief mention of a schoolmaster in Galatians, but school, not at all! Another ringing endorsement of home education.
I would be curious to know if anybody else who reads this Blog has any view on this, particularly from a Biblical perspective. For those who do not home educate for this reason, I can only offer my apologies if I have sounded like some species of religious maniac here. But hey, didn't somebody talk recently about the great diversity of home education....