Saturday, February 10, 2007

"What about socialization?

I have been on the receiving end of this question a few times. This is a fantastic excerpt from Sproul's book addressing it.

R C Sproul Jr (When You Rise up-A Covenantal Approach To Homeschoolingp134-139) Published with permission.

"There are two objections left that I am aware of, one from the left, and one from the right. The one from the left is the granddaddy of them all: What about socialization?” Before we begin to look at that question let’s consider once again what the Bible tells us. It tells us that it equips us for every good work. It tells us that we are to raise our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. But it not only doesn’t tell us how to socialize our children, but doesn’t tell us that they should be socialized There is no commandment from God “Thou Shalt socialize thy children.” In fact I’m sometimes a little unclear as to what it is these objectors are seeking for my children. What does it mean to be socialized?

Sometimes I ask those who raise this objection, “Now when you speak of socialization, you’re talking about my child’s ability to get along with others who are different. Is that it? Usually I get some sort of affirmative response, “I see,” I go on, “and your solution is for my ten-year-old to spend seven hours a day stuck in a room with other ten-year-olds?” My daughter Darby interacts with different kinds of people far more than any child at a state school. She interacts every day with her mommy and daddy. I’m not like a ten-year-old girl at all. She spends hours on end with her eight-year-old brother Campbell. She “socializes” with her sister Delaney (five). She reads to her sister Erin Claire (three), and she often gets her sister Maili (one) out of her crib in the morning. Not only that, but for the past six years Darby has been part of a mainstreaming program during the school year and during her nonschool days. She interacts with her special needs little sister Shannon.

She does have friends from church, not because we schedule “socialization” time for her, but because our family is friends with all the families in the church. She interacts with the therapists who come to help Shannon every week. She interacts with the folks at the grocery store, at the post office, and at the Highlands Study Centre. She visits with and serves visiting missionaries and their families. Next month she will be interacting with Korean Christians as she travels with her dad to Seoul, where he will be teaching.

But this isn’t really what people mean by socialization. What they want for my daughter Darby is for her to be hip to all the things other ten-year-olds are concerned about, like fashion labels, television shows, pop singers, and other essentials to the good life. They are concerned that my daughter is not under the sway of Madison Avenue, that she is free. But I have none of that concern. Their identity is in Christ. Not in pop culture.

Oh, but how will she ever meet people where they are? How will she ever be able to relate to the world around her, if she doesn’t know what’s up with Harry Potter? And if she doesn’t know that how can she possibly win the lost? This whole drowning-ourselves-in-pop-culture-sludge argument should be wearing rather thin by now. What exactly do our children need to know in order to win the lost besides the Bible, the very center of our curriculum? Everyone remembers the encounter between Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch. Does Philip approach the eunuch and ask, “So, how is the Ethiopian bob sledding team doing this year? I was up late last night trying to get a report on ESPN, but I must have fallen asleep. Mercy, I’m still tired. Do you mind if I take a nap here in your cart? Maybe when I wake up I’ll tell you about Jesus.”

All children need to know about the lost is that they are lost. When they, in their lostness, yammer on about the latest boy band, all they need to know is that the latest boy band isn’t the answer.

Now our final objection comes from within the Christian church. Here the concern isn’t that if we home schooled our children, they won’t be hip enough to win the lost, but that if we home school, they won’t ever run into the lost. That is when we home school, we fail to send our children out into a dying world as salt and light. After all, isn’t the purpose of our education that our children might have an opportunity to serve as missionaries? Of all the objections we’ve considered this one at least has the virtue of not being motivated by the same greedy pursuit of personal peace and affluence that drives the world. I don’t doubt that there are parents who sincerely believe it their duty to send their children into a hostile environment for the sake of the lost. Their sincerity however doesn’t make it right.

There are two things on the other hand that cause me to question that sincerity. First, there is always a line drawn. I’ve never met a parent who determined to send their teenage child off to a brothel or the crack house for the sake of the lost. The people there are as lost as the people at the state school. The only difference is, in the brothel or crack house, the bad guys don’t have the authority to make our children sit and listen to their worldview being taught for seven hours a day. But there’s another reason for my doubts. I have yet to hear of a parent who is so concerned for the lost that they actually pay to send their children to attend a Muslim school, or Roman Catholic school. Isn’t it at least suspicious that all those who are motivated to send their children out as missionaries send them where it is “free” to attend?

Do I care about the lost? Of course I do. Do my children care about the lost? Enough that they can pray for them at school, out loud, every day. I am homeschooling precisely that my children will be able to know, recognize, and love their enemy. And just as their ability to love their enemy into the Kingdom isn’t contingent on their being trained by the enemy, in like manner their ability to love their enemy into the Kingdom isn’t contingent on their being in the enemy’s schools. The greatest thing that our children can do for the lost is to so let their light shine before men that they glorify their Father in Heaven. My children do, by the grace of God, show forth the glory of the gospel. They humble their father, by constantly eliciting the praise of men for their good behavior.I don’t want their bushels buried. But neither do I want their flames extinguished. 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. That we must never negotiate.

And therein is the end of the matter. 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. But let me concede this. 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 a school where Jesus is not plainly, fully, and publicly honored. In that great name may we hasten the day when no parent at the same time claims to serve the King, and yet allows his child to be trained by those who will not name that King. May it never be said again of any of those who name the name of Christ that they rendered unto Caesar the things that are God’s-his covenant children."

R C Sproul Jr (When You Rise up-A Covenantal Approach To Homeschooling p134-139)
Food for thought!

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