Conservative Protestant Monasticism - Commentary On Homeschooling

Though I am out of touch in general to the happenings in the biblioblogosphere, I did catch an interesting post (as many of his posts are) from Jim West. Today With Zwingli- Or, Why Homseschooling is the New Monasticism is a blast from the past about Zwingli (no surprise coming from Jim), where Zwingli’s criticisms of monasticism are applied to the modern homeschool movement. Also note his own comment attached to the entry. Given both, I heartily agree.

But as another commentator on the entry, Ben, said, this is just one outlet or expression of "an entire lifestyle of withdrawal from the world." I generally think of it in terms of separatism, and my general rule is that Christians should be separatist in their practice only when absolutely necessary, and this is incredibly rare. This is one reason why I stopped listening to Christian music years ago. It is a Christian subculture that encourages separatist tendencies, non-communication with the world of art/music and thus non-influence, a false standard of godliness (I’ve heard comments that would equate wearing a Christian t-shirt as a great act of obedience or something), an inferior sensitivity to good art, etc. A withdrawal of children from public schooling for the purpose of withdrawal from the world is just another form of retreat, and is not the best way to engage the world.

But, as was also said in the comments, there are valid reasons for homeschooling. Kathryn and I intend to homeschool the kids for a number of years, though they will rejoin the general school population somewhere in the middle of their schooling (around 5th grade. We haven’t decided on that yet). These reasons are entirely educational. First, there is no way our children will grow up without a great deal of experience to foreign languages. I’m not sure what we’ll end up teaching them, but they’ll likely hit at least two of Greek, French, German, and Spanish. I didn’t get any until High School French, and this is not going to be the case for my children. Second, my wife was an elementary school teacher, as was my mom. They are very limited in the effect that they can have on the children, and this has nothing to do with their skill. It is very difficult for a teacher to really educate a classroom of 23 kids at one time, especially if discipline is lax, which is usually the case. One of the most important things that we can control as parents is the education of our children early in life. It is very important to me that they get a better education than I did.

Now as for the whole monasticism issue, I really do see this as a huge problem in American culture. Christians have very little positive effect on culture as a whole, and the effect is declining as people are polarized ideologically and politically. What can we do about this? Well, that’s a whole other discussion, and I certainly don’t know all the answers.