HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview
Author: Israel Wayne
Publisher: Wisdom’s Gate, 2000
Related website: http://www.wisgate.com
Language level: 1 (nothing objectionable)
Reading Level: for parents
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
Wayne, Israel. Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview (published in 2000 by Wisdom’s Gate, P. O. Box 374, Covert, MI 49043). I like to keep in my library books that I can recommend and even lend to people who are interested in learning more about home schooling. This is especially true for those who are considering the possibility of home schooling, However, I usually do not like to recommend anything that I have not read myself, so I try to read as many home schooling books as I can, time permitting.
In 2001, at the Christian Home Educators of Ohio convention in Columbus, we heard Israel Wayne speak. Israel is a home-schooled student who has now graduated and is working in his family’s business, Wisdom’s Gate which publishes The Homeschool Digest. He is an electrifying speaker who authored the 2000 book Homeschooling from a Biblical Worldview. Samuel Blumenfeld wrote, “This is a book that will challenge many Christian homeschoolers and make them think. I want to commend you for writing such a superb dissertation.”
The book contains an introduction and ten chapters. Let me quote a few paragraphs from the introduction. “This book is a unique reflection on an educational philosophy that has under girded my up-bringing. Home education is as natural to me as eating and breathing. The decision to homeschool was made before I was even ‘school age,’ so I have been immersed in the home learning environment from the beginning. Our family officially began our homeschooling journey in 1978, when my older sister started kindergarten.
“The whole experience has been antithetical to the flow of secular, govermentalized, institutional learning. We had an entirely different agenda. The goal was always to help us, as children, to know God….
“In this book, I want to point out some stepping stones for the travelers following behind. There are pitfalls in the journey, and much can be gained by learning from the experiences of others. For what it’s worth, the concepts in this book are things we learned, as a family. I hope they will strengthen your family. This book will always be incomplete, but I pray it will be a good starting point, to set you on a journey of thinking Biblically in all areas of life….
“[H]ome education is a means to an end, and not an end in and of itself. It’s a part of a whole, not the whole itself. We have seen many successes through homeschooling. We’ve also seen many failures. We do not wear rose-colored glasses. Homeschooling is not the answer to life’s problems — Jesus is. Only under the authority and Lordship of Christ will the homeschool journey be successful” (pp. 4-5). These thoughts set the tone for the whole book.
Chapter One is entitled, “Keeping An Eternal Perspective.” Drawing upon his own family’s experience, Israel writes, “By keeping in mind that we are homeschooling out of obedience, not preference, our family has avoided becoming discouraged when things become difficult. If my mother were to look at the temporal for motivation, there would have been days when she would have despaired and said, ‘This isn’t working! My children are never going to be obedient, mature, responsible adults.’
“We’d have soon found ourselves behind a desk at the local elementary school! However, we are committed to the process of discipleship and we look for what God is presently doing in our lives — not just the end result. We realize that hard times will come. There may be days of conflict where we struggle to keep a loving attitude, but we know that God wants to perfect us” (pp. 9-10).
He also quotes from S. Phillips in The Christian Home — As It Is In The Sphere Of Nature And The Church (1861), reprinted in Rosalie J. Slayter’s Teaching And Learning America’s Christian History (1992; San Francisco, CA: Foundation for American Christian Education): “Home education in all its parts is most sadly neglected and abused at the present day. Many parents think that the office of teacher is not included in the parental mission and character. The neglect of home-training seems to arise out of an existing prejudice against it…” (p. 11).
Chapter Two, “A Biblical Education,” discusses the three main world-views that have affected American education (Christian, Modernist, and Post-Modernist). Chapter Three, “The Importance Of Reason,” gives twelve guidelines in teaching children how to think rationally. These principles are applied in Chapter Four to “Teaching The Core Subjects” (history, science, mathematics, language arts, philosophy, and literature), in Chapter Five to “Social Studies,” and in Chapter Six to “Multiculturalism.” Chapter Seven deals with “Parents’ Rights” and Chapter Eight with “Socialization or Socialism?” The discussion on socialization alone is worth the price of the book. Consider the following comments.
“‘“You need to break delinquents from the group where anti-social behavior is reinforced,” explains psychologist Michael Nelson of Xavier University in Cincinnati’ [quoted in ‘Our Violent Kids,’ Time Magazine, June 12, 1989].
“It seems professional psychologists are confused on this issue. On the one hand, they say you have to break children from the peer group, but on the other hand, if you do, your children will be social mis-fits who won’t know how to relate to society.
“What should we do? Should we lock our children in the closet and forbid them to see people outside our family? Don’t children need some form of social interaction?
“I am convinced that homeschooling families can find a social balance. We need the tools to make the right decisions. I would like to encourage you to examine the following criteria and seek God’s will concerning the socialization of your children. I believe it is safe to say that, in our American culture, children face a much greater risk of being over-socialized than being socially underdeveloped” (pp. 130-131).
He then gives illustrations of negative socialization, citing one example from his own experience. “I’ll give you a real life scenario. When I was a young teen, I went with a group of young people from our church to see an ‘approved’ movie. We had no parental supervision, so when we arrived at the theater, several teens decided to see another movie which was definitely not approved. Those of us who stayed in ‘family-friendly’ movie kept worrying the whole time about what would happen if the adults found out about the others — we would all be in trouble. We passively stared at the movie screen, and the mood was tense as we drove home that evening. The parents never found out, and the next Sunday, after church, I heard the mother of one of the deceptive teens bragging to another woman, ‘We can trust our daughter to be out on dates. Parents who don’t trust their teenagers are just too legalistic!’ I couldn’t keep from thinking, ‘Lady, if you only knew…’” (p. 132).
He continued, “I could go on and on with negative activities, but I think you get the point. The main agenda here is not to develop a legalistic list of do’s and don’ts, but rather to challenge families to pursue God’s best in the area of socialization. The criteria mentioned above will bring about wonderful results, but only by willing submission to the control of the Holy Spirit. Apart from Him, implementing this type of radical social reform would be a disaster. The children will hate it and the parents will be frustrated. Only after serious prayer and unhesitating surrender to God’s will can a family successfully employ the suggestions outlined in this chapter” (p. 134).
Before moving on, I have to share his response to the “Myth: If I shelter my children from negative influences, they won’t know how to handle trouble when it comes.
“By using the term sheltering, I’m not referring to sheltering a child from the consequences of a wrong decision. I’m referring to situations, within the control of parents, where the child can be spared from unnecessary harm. It goes against everything God has instituted to refuse to provide a safe haven for the children.
“When my little sister was small, she was terribly afraid of dogs. It seemed every time we would go to someone’s house, a dog would come running around the corner, and my sister would immediately want to be held. The world’s philosophy would say, ‘Sorry, but I’m not always going to be here to shelter you when you face difficult situations. You’re going to have to face the real world someday.’ However, once my sister found herself securely lifted into protective arms, she was able to see this potential threat from a higher vantage point and effectively develop a different perspective that would serve her well during future encounters.
“If your child walks out in the street in front of a truck, you aren’t going to say, ‘I’d help you out, but I don’t want the neighbors to think I’m overprotective!’ The obvious instinct is to snatch the child from imminent danger. When peer groups, pop culture, and modern philosophy pull at your children, threatening to destroy their God-given potential, Christian parents need to rise up in the name of Jesus and declare, ‘You can’t have my child! God has entrusted this life into my hands, and I will do whatever I can to bring my child into the Kingdom of God.’
“By daring to shelter your children from negative influences, you will help to cultivate a Godly character in his life. He will have a solid foundation on which to build his life and, someday, when you aren’t around and your children face a difficult situation, they won’t depart from the training they have received.
“‘My Prayer is not that You take them out of the world, but that You protect them from the evil one’ (John 17:15)” (pp. 135-136).
In Chapter Nine, “Developing A Family Ministry,” he makes the following point: “If the homeschooling movement produces only in-turned, selfish individuals who care exclusively for themselves and their comfort, we will have failed miserably. There is a world in need, and we are the hands and feet, the Body of Christ, who must bring the good news to those who have ears to hear” (p. 142).
Finally, Chapter Ten consists of “Common Excuses To Keep From Homeschooling.” I especially like his answer to “Excuse #8: I want my children to be ‘salt and light’ in the public school.
“Let me ask you a question. Do you have religious cults in your neighborhood? If so, do you send your children to their services every Sunday morning? Shouldn’t they be there being ‘salt and light’ to cult members? I wouldn’t advocate that you as parents go, just your children.
“Let me ask you another question. Do you have bars and nightclubs nearby? Surely your children should also go to these places to be ‘salt and light.’ Perhaps you should have them join a street gang so they can witness to their peers. We can’t shelter our children from everything, can we?
“You may find my exaggeration abrasive, but I hope you can see the logical fallacy with this argument. Let’s face it: it isn’t concern for our children, or a burden for the lost that causes us to use this excuse. If we cared so much for the souls of these lost children in the government schools, we would be there ourselves. We wouldn’t sacrifice our children on a humanistic altar under the supposed desire to ‘reach the lost.’ We would lay down our own lives for those lost kids, and we would still choose to protect our own children” (p. 152).
There may be a few statements in this book of a “doctrinal” nature that one might disagree with, depending upon his theological views, but all the good advice and suggestions that it contains far outweigh any such minor disagreements. This book is well worth the price of $12.00 to remind those of us who are already homeschooling of our glorious purpose in so doing and to encourage anyone who is considering it of the spiritual benefits of such an endeavor. I highly recommend this book.