First Things: Homeschooling and Christian Duty
By Sally Thomas
Monday, June 18, 2007
By withdrawing from the larger culture, homeschoolers aid and abet the culture’s failings—or so, at least, the charge goes. Christians have a responsibility to be not “of the world,” but, we are told, they also have a responsibility to be “in the world.” And therefore it’s our duty to send our children to public school. After all, Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world, and how can we possibly be those things if we stay at home all day?
According to this logic, we are called not only to witness, via our children, to a diverse population of people but also somehow to salvage public education itself, as if this would right everything that’s out of whack in our society. To decline to do so is, in this view, both personally selfish and culturally destructive.
Though at this stage in my life I have a hard time understanding why I should feel a greater sense of responsibility to a government institution than I do to my children, I must confess that it has not always been so. Our oldest daughter spent four years in an English working-class neighborhood school, where she was conspicuous not only for being American but also for having parents who were actually married to each other and actually both the parents of all children in our home. Aside from the Bangladeshi Muslims who comprised roughly a third of the school population, ours was the only family with any discernable religious orientation whatsoever.