Monday, October 4, 2010

A Biblical Vision for Homeschooling

Culled from an outline I wrote for Dad and my talk last Saturday with the Mi Casa homeschool group.

The Christian Worldview is the necessary ingredient for proper homeschooling.

1. What is Biblical Worldview?
⁃ By "Biblical" I mean "according to The Bible," or subject to The Word of God. Submitting to God and His Word as The Standard of Truth- and Truth Itself. By "Worldview" I simply mean the way we view the world- the set of presuppositions by which we interpret everything else. So by "Biblical Worldview" I mean that we have aligned our presuppositions with God's Word so that we see things as God sees them. This we do to the best of our ability, very imperfectly of course, and only by The Grace of God.

2. Why Biblical Worldview?
⁃ Without a Biblical Worldview, Proper Learning Can't Happen "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge...." Proverb 1:7a, NAS A Biblical Worldview is foundational to all learning. The knowledge of God is more important than any other study- and is also foundational to all other studies.
⁃ Facts - Truth = Who Cares? Biblical Worldview gives reason for life. Trying to teach facts without a Biblical Worldview framework is not only unBiblical, as stated above, but is also impractical and nonsensical. An understanding of facts without an understanding of God are easily reduced to meaninglessness by the simple questions "So what?" and "Who cares?" Without a vision for the future, for why we do what we do, learning is a bore, a chore, a trophy, or, at best, something we do to "excel"- as an end goal in itself. However, when we look at wisdom and knowledge as a treasure (Pr. 8:19), a testimony to The Glory, Wisdom, Creativity, and very Existence of God (Ps. 19, Rom. 1:20), and also simply as a practical way to be skillful in our work (Ps 22:29, 1 Tim. 5:8), it takes on new meaning, worth, and value. Facts and Truth are two different things, and to blend them seamlessly we need to realize that Christ is The Creator of facts and The Source and Person of Truth.
⁃ Most Importantly, God Commands It All throughout Scripture we see that God Himself is The Fount of all good things (Jas. 1), and specifically of Wisdom and Knowledge (Proverbs). We are commanded as fathers and fathers-to-be to train our children in the "nurture and admonition of The LORD" (Eph. 6:4) and exhorted that the "fear of the LORD is the beginning" of knowledge and wisdom. If there were no other reason, the fact the God's Word commands it is evidence enough that we should be giving our families instruction specifically in Biblical Worldview and also in the light of Biblical Worldview when it comes to any other subject. More on that in Point 2.
⁃ Illustration The illustrations for this point can be drawn from many areas of my life personally. I'll pick two- physical exercise and piano practice. Sometimes I enjoy doing these things. Sometimes I don't. Sometimes I fail to do them at all. But knowing why I do these things- ah, now that adds another dimension to it. I'm not exercising to look buff. I'm not practicing to get "WOW" from the audience (at least I shouldn't be...). I do these things for The Glory of God. I want to be strong so that I can obey Him better. So that I can protect and provide for my family. I learn music so that I can, again, provide for a family one day, and so that I can make excellent art also. God is Worthy of my best- and my best can always get better. It's not a matter of what I want to do. It's a matter of what I need to do- therefore I want to do it.
⁃ Application How to apply this to leading our families will be addressed more in Point 2, but applying the simple knowledge of the fact that we need Biblical Worldview in our homeschooling is also important. We must get used to seeing everything as God's. Films we watch, books we read, things we study- in "school-time" and out of it- must no longer simply be facts. We must realize, and as husbands and fathers and brothers, men of the house, take the lead in showing that these things are not neutral. These seemingly innocent things must be actively and consistently brought into subjection to our Theology and to The Word of God. We must be diligent to "take every thought captive" (2 Cor. 10:5). It won't just happen.

3. How Biblical Worldview?
⁃ And While We're Dreaming... Theories and philosophies and doctrines and ideas aren't just nice things, they're important things. However, if we never take these ideas and doctrines and apply them to our day-to-day lives, it is reduced to mere talk- however profitable the subject matter may be (Pr. 14:23). There are two specific ways of applying Biblical Worldview to homeschooling that I want to address- one being blatant application, didactic teaching of Biblical Truth, the other being the more vague but very important need to see everything through The Eyes of God, as it were.
⁃ Specific Instruction "Family Worship" is a very important ingredient of The Christian Home. Children need to be brought up in an environment that explicitly worships The God of The Bible- and teaches His Word (Deut. 6). Family Worship, a gathering together of the family for prayer, singing, and doctrinal instruction, is a crucial part of that environment. More on how to apply that in a moment. But theological instruction isn't limited to an hour of time where the family comes together and does their theological penance. No, the picture painted in Deuteronomy 6 is even more intimate and spontaneous. We can teach children in The Fear of The LORD by reciting Scripture while tucking them into bed, singing Godly songs as we go throughout the house, stopping our work and theirs for a moment to talk about The Glory of God in what we're doing, or a myriad of other things.
⁃ Teaching "In Light Of This" While in the application I described above, we are building Biblical Worldview, now we're looking at applying worldview. All instruction, all teaching, all knowledge, must be taught in the fear of God. This is one of the major Biblical reasons for homeschooling. Not only is homeschooling simply Biblical in itself- Deuteronomy 6- but it also allows for the fulfillment of Biblical commands and exhortations. Also, everything must be interpreted in the fear of God.
⁃ Illustration I teach piano lessons. Sometimes I get questions about why music works the way it does. Why does a certain pattern of notes make a Major Scale? The simple answer that I give is that "that's how God made it!"
⁃ Application
⁃ The laws of nature are what they are because they are The Laws of Nature's God. "Why does 2+2=4?" "Because that's how God made it, Johnny."
⁃ Give children a time to do their devotions- read their Bible, pray, memorize Scripture- it's a good habit to start young!
⁃ Do family worship. There's plenty of resources that can be used for these, and it can be as basic as coming together for 15 minutes every day, singing a hymn, reading a Proverb, and talking about what it means. If you'd be interested in getting other supplementary resources- a catechism is very useful, and there are many good books- we have some that we'd be glad to recommend.
⁃ When watching movies or reading books, pause and talk about things- "Was what that little boy did very honoring to his father?" "Now when that man said 'believe in yourself,' was that a Biblical thing to say?" "See how the character in this book is obeying God by defending his family?"
⁃ Be a lover of God and His Works. Let your children see that Dad or Brother doesn't just keep his religion in Church on Sunday. Pray with your kids, memorize Scripture with them, talk theology with them. It is excellent training for a young person to be able to hold deep discussions with adults.