Sunday, September 5, 2010

What is biblical homeschooling?

A few of the resources we used last week in our homeschool.

I have to write a new series.  I'm compelled, obsessed almost, to write about this topic as I embark on a search for answers that I thought I already had. 

What is biblical homeschooling?  Is this not the fundamental question every Christian homeschooling family must answer?  If we fail even to pose the question, what does that say about our view of God's Word?  What could it mean for our homeschooling efforts, will they be in vain?

You might be wondering, as my husband did, about the bee that has gotten into my bonnett.  Why can't I rest until I answer this question?  Why am I no longer to content to trudge along trying a little of this or a bit of that, trusting this curriculum now, or that method next?  The answer is, it's not any one thing or person that has prompted me onto this journey. 

Kimberly at Raising Olives has challenged me to think in different terms when it comes to homeschooling.  She is the one who first introduced me to the world of multi-level homeschooling and she and her husband have chosen this approach, not for convenience sake, but to follow the biblical example of discipleship in their home.  I'm so grateful for having stumbled upon Kimberly's blog early last fall.  I think she's the one who first caused me to question what biblical homeschooling is and whether the Bible even addresses the issue of education.  Robin Sampson's book The Heart of Wisdom Teaching Approach:  Bible-based homeschooling, which I'm currently reading for the second time, has also made me think differently about biblical education.  Sampson has made me examine my assumptions about education, in general, and how much they have been formed by the Bible versus our culture or even Western Heritage at large. 

Then last week Robin Sampson and Luke Holtz both had interesting articles on their blogs concerning choice of literature in homeschooling.  Sampson's article entitled Great Classics:  Exposing the Emporer Even More encouraged Christian homeschoolers to take a good hard look at why they allow the great books into their homeschool curriculum, asserting that there's no place in a Christian homeschool for many of the books considered to be great literature by the world.  Sampson does not endorse including Greek mythology within a Christian homeschool setting, for instance, since in her view it fails the Philippians 4:8 test of thinking on what is true, etc.  Holtz of Sonlight curriculum, on the other hand, takes a different view that we should expose our children to non-Christian themes for the teaching opportunities they provide (for example we'll be reading The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare next week as part of Core 3+4 American History).  Holtz would propose that Christian parents take these opportunities to discuss their faith with their children and reinforce biblical truth with them even as they read a book together with a hero or heroine who acts like the lost pagan they are (my words, not his.)  Sonlight has a heart for missions and wants to pass on that heart for missions to the next generation.  So, who's right?  Or more importantly, which view is more biblical?

Also last week I was watching a DVD message by RC Sproul as part of his Pleasing God study.  The topic was being separate from the world.  It's an excellent lecture, by the way, that contrasts the separateness of the Pharisees, which was external, to the believer's call to being separate, which is a matter of the heart.  The Pharisees went to great pains to keep every jot and tiddle of the ceremonial law providing the appearance of holiness while neglecting the weightier matters of love, justice, mercy, etc.  Anyway, during his lecture Sproul gives an example from the realm of education.  He had a friend who was the head of a private Christian school.  His friend was under pressure from several parents to ban some books from their curriculum.  Sproul asked his friend what books they wanted to get rid of and what class they were being taught in.  His friend answered that the parents didn't want their kids reading Hemingway and Steinbeck and that the class was American literature.  Sproul responded to his friend that it was impossible to teach a class on American Lit without works by two of America's greatest writers.  Then Sproul went on to ask the question, "What is a great Christian education?"  Is it "studying only the works of other Christians" or "an education that is sheltered from pagan philosophies that have been held through the centuries"?  In Sproul's opinion, the answer is no, and he and went on to assert that "an excellent Christian education is simply an excellent education from a Christian worldview."

So these are some of the people and circumstances that have caused me to ask the question, "What is biblical homeschooling?"  Really, we first have to answer the question "What is a biblical education?"  If you already know the answer, please bear with me as I hopefully discover it for myself- I can be a slow learner.  I do welcome your input along the way, however, just be patient with me.  I intend to examine the Scriptures to see what they say about education and also attempt to glean what I can from church history about biblical education.  I hope you'll join me on this journey.


  1. I am extremely excited to know that you will be studying this topic. I am childless (so far) but we plan on having children and we plan on homeschooling them. I've been thinking lately that I've wanted to go back and fill in some of the gaps in my education since I have more time to read now than I will when we start having babies.

    I have seen all the recommendations for reading classics but hesitate to read all of them. I still can't really vocalize why, though. I've looked at the great books list (The Great Conversation is actually the next book on my to-read list so I'll get to see why the "great books" are recommended). I'm excited to see what you learn and hopefully learn right along with you!

  2. I’m excited! You are discussing something that I think over almost every year as I continue to seek the LORD for the children education.
    I will say I LOVE that quote by Sproul.
    Looking forward to more....

  3. I am looking forward to this series. I think it is a balance. We don't want to harm our children, of course, but we need to teach them how to give an answer for their beliefs. I look at all books and curriculum in light of God's Word. As we read aloud books with questionable themes, I stop, discuss them, and compare the theme, the lessons, the content, etc. with Scripture. We have many lively discussions. This is all age-appropriate, of course. I also am prereading ALL of the Sonlight and Notgrass books. I have already chosen one to skip. I want to read before they do so I can discuss questionable content.

    Our goal is heaven!

  4. Well, you know roughly where I stand on this issue already [smile]. But I have enjoyed these first two posts thus far (I'm behind from the long weekend). Thanks for sharing your thoughts as you consider this and look into this matter more.


  5. I'm excited that you're writing on this topic! I will be starting home schooling with my son when he turns 5 in Dec. Thus far I think I'm going to be teaching him age-appropriate education from a Christian point of view. Example: if we learn about Greek mythology it will be, "This is what the ancient Greeks believed" and then we will maybe discuss Biblical things like false gods and our real true God, the difference between "mythology" and Biblical stories that are REAL.

  6. Roan and Rachel- This is what we do, too whether it's literature, science, or whatever.


  7. Ack. I am behind ;). Now I need to catch up with this series.

    We don't put a large emphasis on the 'classics', which is why TOG (and other classical methods) aren't good fit for us. I don't want to focus on pagan mythology with my children - they can definitely get by without in depth stories rooted in paganism! I really want to dedicate that learning time to God's Word and what He teaches us.

    He actually warned the Israelites NOT to learn the ways of pagan Gods so that they wouldn't be led astray. As a child I was fascinated by mythology (Norse in particular) and it was just one of many factors that later led me into the occult.

    Of course, my children are young, so when we run into mythology I just take the false gods stance, simple enough, without going into details :).



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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.