I have had a unique viewpoint in the homeschooling movement since 1978 when my mother started homeschooling my sister and me. The modern-day Christian homeschooling movement began in 1983, so I’ve literally seen just about everything that has ever happened in this sub-culture (for better or worse!). In 1988, my mother began publishing the national magazine, Home School Digest, which is the nation’s longest-running Christian home education magazine. I’ve personally worked full time in publishing, writing, and speaking in the homeschooling community since January 1993. I consistently speak to about 10,000-20,000 homeschoolers each year. My viewpoint is not omniscient, but I do think I have a unique perspective on where we have been and where we may be headed.
My heart has been heavy for the future of this movement. In recent months, the homeschooling community has been rocked by a couple of national scandals involving some of the best-known speakers/advocates of homeschooling in America. As a result, many families are struggling to find their sense of “True North.” Many feel angry, some hurt, others betrayed, and more confused.
I believe we are experiencing a shaking. That isn’t all bad. “And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain” (Hebrews 12:27).
We’ve had some shifts before. In the early 1980’s and into the 1990’s, the homeschooling movement was largely controlled by those holding to a conservative, fundamentalist Baptist theology. The dominant curriculum publishers were A BEKA, Bob Jones University Press and ACE/School of Tomorrow.
By the mid-1990’s, homeschooling leadership began to shift towards Reformed Theology. In many sectors of the homeschooling movement, the leaders were predominately adherents to some or all of the following: Christian Reconstruction, Dominion Theology, Postmillenialism, Calvinism, Covenant Theology, and Theonomy
. Certain tenets of their theology influenced them to believe that they should have many children and systematically instruct them in the Christian faith. So homeschooling, for them, is a more logical outworking of their theology than it may be for Christians of other traditions.
However, during this era, which began to diminish several years ago, many Christians who did not hold to this theology felt marginalized within the movement. Because of the staunch Biblical literalism and theological dogmatism entrenched in the movement, and traditional views on marriage and child-training, the Christian homeschooling movement has not been a welcoming place for a lot of people who do not hold to conservative views such as:
- Courtship/Betrothal as a paradigm for approaching marriage
- Young Earth Creationism
- Spanking as a method of child discipline
- Complementarian views of marriage
- Modest dress (which is, of course, defined differently by different people)
- Traditional roles of men/women
- Family-Integrated Church
- Large families as an ideal
- Daughters staying at home until married
- and much more.
To many Christians (let alone non-Christians!) who are entering the homeschooling community, many of these ideas seem like they were deposited here by aliens from another planet! No one (or almost no one) in their churches adhere to these views, and yet, in some circles of homeschooling, these were strongly held convictions that dominated the cultural landscape.
While many of these views (at least dogmatic adherence to them) have been questioned by many people for some time, the fact that a couple of their primary advocates have been caught in moral failure, has given many people a certainty that all (or most) of these views are wrong and must be avoided at any cost (even vilified and fought against). There is a belief among many homeschoolers that there must be something inherently wrong with the theology/ideology of these fallen leaders that has led to an inevitable outcome (sexual indiscretion and more). Of course, I don’t see people applying the same logic when a Charismatic or the recent Calvary Chapel leader commits sexual immorality. I don’t hear anyone saying that it is speaking in tongues or verse-by-verse exposition that is to blame (but I digress).
A Seismic Shift
I believe that an irrevocable shift has taken place in the modern-day Christian homeschooling movement. I personally believe that some of the things that have driven this movement (including many of the viewpoints mentioned in the list above), will no longer have dominance. MY POINT HERE IS NOT TO DEBATE THE VALIDITY OR FALLACIES OF THOSE VIEWS. THAT IS COUNTERPRODUCTIVE TO MY GOAL. What I mean to suggest is that, regardless of how you may feel about it (elated or dejected), the day of the denim jumper in homeschooling is substantively over (in the early 1990′s, the denim jumper was jokingly referred to as the homeschooling mother’s uniform).
Homeschooling continues to grow at an amazing rate every year. More and more families are concerned about the well-being, safety and educational success of their children. Homeshooling will grow, but the face of homeschooling has shifted. As the Millenials join the ranks of the exiting Baby Boomers and the dominant Gen X’ers in homeschooling, it will change. Online education is going to take more of a front stage. Even the academics won’t be done in traditional ways. In many cases, you won’t even find a textbook in the house (and it won’t be because they are “Unschoolers“!). This will also change the marketplace and inevitably impact conventions that sell physical books.
The national “leadership” is also changing. In one sense, it is disingenuous to speak of homeschooling “leaders.” Homeschooling, by design and intent, is decentralized. There has never been one organization, individual or consortium that has controlled the entire movement. That is as it should be. That is one of the major flaws of government education (centralization and all the bureaucracy that comes with that). However, there is a difference between leadership and control. We need good, Biblically-sound leadership, but we don’t need top-down control of our movement. With that in mind, there are two kinds of “leaders” that exist. Okay, maybe three.
1. Speakers and Authors.
Since the 1980’s, there have been individuals who wrote not only about home education, but an entire lifestyle surrounding teaching your children at home. In the early days, most of the people writing books and hosting seminars had very young children. They began talking about a vision of where we needed to go, and what goals our families should be aiming for. Never mind the fact that the vast majority of them had never successfully raised a child, never had a child go through the courtship processes they were advocating, and were, for the most part, just kind of making things up as they went; nonetheless, they were our fearless leaders!
Fast-forward thirty years and many of these self-proclaimed experts ended up recanting much of their message as being misguided and off-base. They not only led their families into a ditch, they informed us, they also inadvertently led those following them into a ditch as well.
How could this happen? I think there are a couple of reasons. First, there are leaders and then there are followers. Some people tend to want to ride on the coat tails of the success of others. If they see a family who appears to be successful, seems to have a game plan, and knows where they are going, they’ll hitch their wagon to that horse and follow along, regardless of what trail they may actually be taking.
Secondly, it seems to me that some people lack the ability to filter teaching. What I mean is that, when I listen to a speaker, or read a book, I tend to spit out a lot of seeds, while still enjoying the fruit. I think, “This is a great point, but THAT is a really dumb idea! I don’t know what I think about that concept … I’ll have to chew on that for a while.” Apparently, some people must lack the ability to do that. If speaker/author “X” tells them to jump off a bridge, by gracious, they’re gonna jump! Some people have taken teaching far beyond anything the original authors ever intended, and have, in a couple of rare occurrences, committed egregious (and even fatal) crimes against their children!
It seems to me that the speakers who have presented cookie-cutter formulas for success, and long lists of rules and methods, are being shown the door. The current trends of speakers tend to be more cheer leaders who come alongside weary families and tell them they are doing great and they just need to hang in there and don’t give up. People want to hear that message. Whether the listeners are actually doing great or not is another subject that we won’t explore here.
2. The Homeschool Convention Coordinators.
How do homeschooling speakers get to have a voice on the national stage?
It used to be that most states had one state organization that networked state-wide support groups, lobbied for pro-homeschooling legislation, and put on an annual convention every year. The proceeds from these events funded the work of these state organizations (most of which were non-profits with volunteer staff). Most of these states were/are part of a national alliance of similar state-run homeschooling organizations. They were/are Christian in focus and had a shared/common statement of faith.
There have always been rival groups in certain states who were not a part of this network of state organizations because of ideological differences with the statement of faith (some wanted to be more inclusive to people of other religions–or no religion), approaches to legislative matters, or just for-profit individuals or organizations that believe the free-market and competition are good ideas in themselves.
There have always been for-profit conferences that weren’t connected to any larger state homeschooling organization, but simply hosted an annual event. However, since about 2008 or so, these regional for-profit mega-conferences have exploded across America. Some of them are boasting attendances of well over 10,000 individuals per event, and homeschooling has gotten a face-lift. A large percentage of the attendees at these events are first-time families, many of whom are simply looking into the home-education option.
As more families abandon the traditional Christian state organization conventions, their revenues have dwindled, and in several states, they can no longer continue to host a convention. This means that the future of these groups (and the year-round services they provide for families) is in jeopardy.
People often ask me, “Do you believe that these mega-conferences are good for homeschooling?” My answer is, as they say on Facebook, “It’s complicated.” At some of these regional mega-conventions, as many as 50% of the attendees are brand new to the concept of homeschooling. Thousands of new families begin home educating their children because of the messages and materials they find at these events. These mega-events are the most significant growth movement for homeschooling in operation today. They also have provided large revenues for the curriculum publishers, who then, in turn, can create even more materials for homeschoolers (which is good).
The downside, as I mentioned, is that there has not, to date, been a successful model created for the traditional state organizations to provide sustainable funding for their groups outside of convention revenue. So this means that the traditional conventions either:
a. Compete and outperform their new competition (which some have done in various states).
b. Seek revenue from memberships, private or corporate donations, or other fund-raising methods yet to be discovered.
The fact is, the mega-conferences, love them or hate them, are here. They will not go away in the near future. For better and worse, they are changing the face of the homeschooling movement.
The reason I spent so much time here discussing the convention coordinators is because they are the gatekeepers that invite the speakers and give them a platform.
3. Curriculum Publishers / Vendors / Magazine Publishers
I suppose it could be argued that those who produce and distribute the actual curriculum and supplementary materials utilized by homeschoolers are another layer of homeschooling “leadership,” although I personally think that is a bit of stretch.
Back in the 1980’s and through about 2000 (before the internet went bonkers), there were a handful of homeschooling magazine publishers who were gatekeepers of a sort, selecting voices they felt had something to offer, and giving them a platform through the printed page. It was kind of like a homeschooling convention that met in your mailbox every month. Now, the independent media of the blogsphere has largely overshadowed these “gatekeepers” and they are less of a dominant influence in the movement today.
So Where Do We Go From Here?
1. This isn’t Your Father’s Oldsmobile
Like it or not, homeschooling has a new face. It is no longer a hippie movement (as it was in the 1970’s). It is no longer a Fundamentalist movement. It is no longer a conservative Reformed movement. Today, it is a mosaic of younger, hipper and more diverse parents, who have no idea what you are talking about if you discuss people like Richard Fugate, Jonathan Lindvall, Chris Klicka, Dr. Raymond Moore, and Dr. Paul Lindstrom. They don’t have a clue. And couldn’t care less.
Personally, I don’t think there is any value in the old-timers of this movement sitting around and cursing the changes. That will only be counter productive. If you want to do something to help grow home education, find out what the new, young families need, and provide it (or direct them to it). Learn to love them, not criticize them.
2. Avoid Pendulum Swings and Driving Into Ditches
There is a ditch on either side of the narrow road. People tend to pendulum swing from one extreme to another (and sometimes back again!). One example of that is a homeschooled graduate I know who decided that there was NO WAY he was going to impose on HIS CHILD the kind of “deprived” upbringing he experienced, so he promptly sent him to public school at age five. Within a couple of years, he had taken his child out and started homeschooling, fuming about, “I can’t believe they teach that stuff to such little children in school!” He was originally reacting against something he felt was oppressive, only to discover in the end, there was some rationale behind it, even if he didn’t get it at first.
What I see looming ahead is a possible over-reaction in the wrong direction to very real errors and excesses in our movement. There have been definite imbalances in promoting a legalistic, formula-based approach to parenting and child-training. There have been very controlling parents who discipline their children in anger, out of a sense of personal indignation, rather than with any real love or redemptive consideration for their child. I must say, I think this is not typical of Christian homeschoolers, and I see it as being an anomaly of the movement, but it has happened (just as it happens in homes where parents send their children to traditional schools).
There have been men who were absent, uninvolved and negligent. Some of them heard messages telling them that they needed to “be the leader in the home,” and they came home, like a bull in a china shop, and implemented their “patriarchal leadership” very badly. A lot of women have felt (or been) run over, and steam-rolled by these men who tried to impose their wishes without showing proper love and gentleness.
In September of 2013, Michael Farris, founder of the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) spoke to state convention coordinators and other national homeschooling leaders, at the annual leadership conference they sponsor. He warned against the dangers of the excesses of extreme child discipline and a low view of women that has taken hold in some corners of the homeschooling community. He warned that unless homeschooling leaders actively speak against abusive and unGodly approaches to child discipline and unBiblical views of Patriarchal authority (that demean and devalue women), we risk losing our very legal freedom to homeschool.
Mr. Farris has sounded a much-needed warning. My concern, however, is that when we over-react and swing to the other ditch, we end up teaching only love, grace and mercy (with no boundaries for children). By rejecting “Patriarchy” (abusive or domineering tendencies of men towards their wives and families), we may revert to the Feminism of the 1960’s, and all the problems that came with it, that led many women to react 180 degrees in the other direction by staying home and homeschooling their children. By rejecting rigid step-by-step rules about issues like strict clothing mandates and courtship procedures, we may revert back to the kind of sexual permissiveness that led to the legalism in the first place.
Do we really want to go back to families where mom is trying to pull that whole family uphill all by herself, while dad is off playing golf, letting mom run the family all by herself? Do we want three-year-olds who rule the parents with an iron fist and parents who jump at their every demand? Do we really want teens who are groping their girlfriends in the back seat of a car because we don’t want to impose a legalistic standard on them? Do we really want to encourage the kind of American narcissism that says children are a nuisance and 0.8 children is the goal, because we want to avoid the imbalance of policing bedrooms and imposing doctrines not clearly spelled out in Scripture?
We need the truth. We don’t need Pharisaism or Cheap-Grace “license to sin” theology. What we need is solid, balanced, truthful theology. We don’t need to pendulum swing back into the errors and excesses of worldliness that caused our movement’s initial pendulum swing into legalism. Neither ditch is helpful or beneficial. We need to stay on the narrow road and get out of ditches on either side.
3. Stop Idolizing Humans
We need idols in the homeschooling movement like we need cancer. There is only one perfect role model for any of us to follow, and that is our Lord Jesus Christ. We can and should learn from other parents/teachers, but we should not assume that our families must look like theirs, or that what works for them will work for us.
4. Talk Less and Live More
There is a need for vision and discussing better strategies to manage our money, budget our time, secure our marriage relationships, disciple our children, transmit a Biblical worldview, etc. However, especially for homeschooling leaders, I think we would all do better to spend more time making sure that our own families are in order and less on making sure everyone else is towing the line. If there is something that is working in your family, live it out and let others decide whether it is of value to them or not. I say this to myself as well. I believe God has given me a platform for a reason. I want to steward it well. I want to share what I have learned from the Scripture and the successes and failures of other families.
However, I have a young family, and I dare not try to save the world at the expense of my own marriage and/or relationship with my own children. I dare say the vast majority of homeschooling speakers on the convention circuit struggle to maintain a proper balance with managing well their own families. It’s a dangerous treadmill. I believe God has called many of us to write and speak, so we shouldn’t abandon it altogether, but we need to be accountable, especially to our spouses, and be willing to come off the road when/if we need to and secure the home front (even if that means asking, “Would you like fries with that?”)!
First Things First
If we ever forget that the homeschooling movement is NOT about academics at the end of the day (they are a means, not an end), then Jesus will abandon us to our own devices. The homeschooling movement must NOT become ultimately about methods and tools (curriculum). It must be about Jesus, and His Lordship over our families.
My concern is that the homeschooling movement may lose a passion for the pursuit of God and His truth. I think, to some extent, we already have. Legalism kills passion. But unGodly license promotes a passion for the wrong things.
My hope is that we will remember that this call of fathers and mothers to turn their hearts back to their children did not originate in the will of man, but rather in the will of God.
Hills On Which to Die
We need to pick a few hills that are worth dying on, and be willing to allow a few others to fall by the wayside. In my view, the authority of Scripture is a hill to die on. If we lose the Bible as the authoritative, inspired, infallible, inerrant Word of God, then we have nothing left on which to stand.
The Lordship of Jesus Christ over every sphere of our existence is another. We cannot merely marginalize the Lord Jesus Christ as an optional plugin to our homeschooling endeavors. He demands supremacy over His people and demands to be recognized as our rightful head.
With this said, how should we position ourselves towards those who deny the authority of Scripture and the Lordship of Jesus Christ? We should love them and reach out to them. We want to represent Christ well, not in a mean-spirited manner, but with humility and love. The leaders of this movement, however, must continue to hold up these banners as supreme, or else our Lord will leave us to our own devices, and the homeschooling movement will denigrate into another expression of humanism.
On a practical level, we must also hold the line against any and all encroachment on our homeschooling liberties by the civil government. Private Christian home education must be the ultimate goal, as it allows parents to make the final educational decision for their children, rather than an over-reaching State.
A Final Word to the Old Guard and the New Arrivals
To the old guard, in the years to come, you are going to see a lot of changes in the homeschooling movement that you won’t like. These new homeschooling families do not resemble The Waltons (from 1970’s TV), and they may dress, act, and believe quite differently than you do. The fact is, they are going to be the new majority. Increasingly, you will find your lifestyle and values becoming more rare and less tolerated culturally. You are going to have to find a way to deal with that. My suggestion is to live well, proselytize less on lifestyle distinctives, and learn to love these new, younger families.
On a personal level, the more that I hang out with these “Millennial Hipsters” (if I may be so bold as to affectionately label them that!), I really like most of them. I think they are sincere, love their children, and want to follow God. They are just REALLY averse to following a list of rules that they don’t find outlined clearly in Scripture. And I don’t blame them for that.
As a side note, please consider this article on some guidelines for navigating issues of Christian liberty and lifestyle preference with those who don’t share your values.
To the Millennial Hipsters, welcome to homeschooling! I’d like to say that we want to hear from you and we welcome your input. You are making (in my personal opinion) the best possible choice for the future of your children. I would encourage you to be kind and gracious to these conservative families who may look more to you like something off Little House on the Prairie than a family living in the new Millennium. You may not get their decisions or motives, and that’s okay. Ask them to tell you about their journey. I think you’ll be blessed and will be given a lot to think about. You may find that you have a lot of commonality with their motives, if not their actual lifestyle preferences and decisions.
I would also encourage you Hipsters to do yourself a favor and research the history of the homeschooling movement. Find out how we got here, and why. Learn about the hundreds of families who sacrificed and risked much to pave the way for you to legally home educate your children. Be willing to give the gray heads in this movement a listen. You may not end up agreeing with them, but I think you’ll be the wiser for having done so.
For the foreseeable future, there is no place for homeschooling to go but straight up in terms of numeric growth. I hope that we can learn how to learn from the mistakes of our past, without running headlong into mistakes in the opposite direction. We HAVE made a lot of progress in this movement. It’s not all been bad. We have needed a correction, and we’ve gotten it. Now it’s time to walk humbly and mercifully into the future. Keep Christ the center. Love each other. That’s my plea.
Israel Wayne is an Author and Conference Speaker. He is the Director of Family Renewal, LLC, and the Site Editor for
Thank you for this insightful article. As homeschoolers consider their lives and what is most important in their schooling and life efforts, I would encourage them to consider that teaching their children to reason Biblically in all areas of life is the most important. Of course, that demands that the parents must first reason Biblically. Rather than “hitching our wagon” to any individual or group, learn to search the Scriptures to know what is truth. This is the only means of true discernment with the many paths which could be taken.
Loved the article, Israel. After 30 years of this life style with many more to go, I, too, have seen the change not only in the HS movement, but in myself as well. I like to think it has been for the better. I recently spoke at a HS monthly support group and tried to just focus on the outcomes and what my 5 graduates were doing now. I tried to express the lessons that we’ve learned and the mistakes we’ve made. I think we “Old timers” would do well to embrace the younger families like you suggest and make ourselves available to help or answer questions. I’d rather not see another larger-than-life personality show up to every convention drawing many to “his way” only to see him fall and hurt so many. Your best point in the article was #3. Follow Christ, not man. Loving on a younger family is nothing more than biblical. Thank you for the article.
Thank you for your feedback! I appreciate it!
I am also an “old timer” of 20 years. I totally agree with you Diana. I think you hit it – #3…follow Christ and not man. The Lord is graciously and mercifully, toppling the idols. When I started homeschooling it was more like mom’s that homeschool, getting together once a week for fellowship and to help each other with teaching or encouragement. When that changed and it became more of an organized movement, that is when we started going off track. We need to cry out to the Lord for His continued mercy.
“If you want to do something to help grow home education, find out what the new, young families need, and provide it (or direct them to it). Learn to love them, not criticize them.”
Love this, Israel. As for the rest of the piece, I think you hit the nail on the head. Our personal story includes being lambasted for sounding the alarm, but given the events of this past year, I think it’s safe to say that it’s time we all stop evangelizing others to our lifestyle and continue pointing us all to Jesus. Homeschooling is a fabulous tool, but it is not our hope.
As a “Millennial Hipster’ who tends to have a more conservative bent, I really appreciate when more experienced Homeschooling families are willing to take us under their wing and give us guidance. I have been in search of a Mentor now for several years and unfortunately am still navigating this new territory almost entirely on my own. I appreciated your comment so much! Thank-you and thank-you, Israel for the catchy nick-name. 😉
Hi, I have been home schooling my son for nine years in Ireland. It’s legal, but very few do it. I have no contact with other home schoolers and apart from online sites and blogs have done it alone. I still did it though. So, never mind if you haven’t any ‘local’ company or hs Friends. There are plenty here;)
Excellent article Israel! Well thought through and compassionate. I’m certain more mistakes are going arise through these changes and adjustments as this metamorphosis continues. James 3:2 is haunting to me as a human in Adam’s Race as we are reminded from him, “…for we all stumble in many ways…”, but I believe that your kind of thinking should keep those errors to a minimum. Thanks for “laying your heart on the line” and making a constructive plea to all! I found your thoughts extremely helpful and Biblically sound!
Thank you, dear brother!
Thanks so much, Israel! I really needed this article. Very well said!!
Thanks so much for this. I’m thankful I have a reasonable voice speaking for both sides, especially as one of “those new people” coming on the scene. My husband and I are partners and our partnership looks differently. He leads but in many ways I’m the engine and we don’t try to hide it. I have a few friends who are the old school home schoolers. I very much love them but, yes, they are big on lifestyle and it is alienating. I don’t know the last time one of they shared a story of an unbelieving friend getting saved. It’s always their new recipe or sewing pattern. I make recipes and sew, too. I also drink vodka and dance. What of it? I love wearing dresses but tell me I have to, to be godly and I’ll probably show up in a mini skirt and briefly take up smoking while my husband tries *not* to high-five me for my bad attitude. Yup. We have a rules problem. Jesus is working on it. I’m learning to let people be and trust that God will deal with their legalism, only addressing what is laid in my lap and that only in love. It’s a process. A process for me to not distain those who try to enslave with the law and for myself not use my freedom as a stumbling block. Great article. Thanks again. 🙂
I am grateful for your feedback! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feeling here.
Thank you. You made me laugh! I totally understand! I’m one of those ancient homeschoolers who had to tiptoe around my fellow homeschoolers who bought into the rigid legalistic lifestyle. I’ve always been an outsider in that group – still am. I love them and some of them think I’m crazy because all are welcome in our homeschool group. We have had unbelievers come to Christ. I also learned that the worst influences on my children could come from my own church! You’re on the right track.
This is great!I’m new to homeschooling and have no knowledge of the beginning of the movement. Quite frankly I’ve been confused about a lot of the recent headlines because I had no idea who the people were, what they believed/taught or what they had done.
Points 3 and 4 are the ones that hit home with me. 😀
Excellent article. Thank you for writing it.
YES! “If we ever forget that the homeschooling movement is NOT about academics at the end of the day (they are a means, not an end), then Jesus will abandon us to our own devices. The homeschooling movement must NOT become ultimately about methods and tools (curriculum). It must be about Jesus, and His Lordship over our families.”
For the old guard – thank you for those who stepped up and paved the way for homeschooling to become legal. For those who fought hard and are now graduating into the world the first fruit of homeschooling!
We owe so many a big thank you.
And yes, don’t die on any hill, unless it’s calvary. Though, only one was called to die there, we are merely called to die to ourselves… When we stop doing that, when we stop loving others, when we stop loving and praying for our enemies, we are no different from anyone else.
I can’t thank you enough for this article, Israel.
Thanks Rebecca. You are always an encouragement!
Thanks so much, Israel. As our state convention coordinator, I find it really difficult to choose the speakers/topics we have. We are seeing so much change in our state involving new homeschoolers that are not Christians. We want to be able to minister to them and assist them in homeschooling but want to maintain our Christian family “training”, etc. at the conventions.
I’d love to speak with you in more detail about this if you have time. email@example.com
I am grateful for your feedback! Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feeling here.
I’ll reply via email. Thank you!
Please since you are the cowardinator you have a huge responsibility. I implore you not to drop our christian standards to please man . The gospel must be preached the full message.That is why I took my children out of public school. So I could teach them about Christ.Remember men are sinners but King David was still a man after God’s own heart . He was repentant.Yes men will fail us but that does not mean we compromise. Fyi I started my homeschool journey in the 90s. I will never regret bringing my children up in that lifestyle. It was what I was called by God to do . Thanks I will pray for God’s will in this matter.
Thank you for this Christ centered excellent article Israel.
Great article, Israel! I think you captured well a significant trend among Millennial homeschoolers. In summary, I’d say homeschooling will still be important to us, but it won’t define our identity as much as it naturally did that of the homeschool pioneers. And I hope to see that trend continue as a great boon for unity and harmony in the church.
I have been praying for someone to speak up with a redemptive voice. Thank you so much for sharing these Biblical thoughts, Israel! The guiding principle for me in homeschooling or any other matter of life has been that it is all about a relationship with the Lord, and not about having a “religion”. As a sinful creature, I must continually assess my life in that respect because it is the glow from spending time with Him that is my most effective and even self unaware witness to others.
Well said, Israel. I love your analogy of the ditches on either side of the narrow road. I shared that concept with my children today after reading your article. I will show your article to the rest of the homeschool board for our area. And I will continue to pray for your marriage, family, and ministry. Be blessed.
This is really good, Israel. Thank you for giving this ample thought.
Oh, Mylanta! I’ve become an Old Timer! We started home schooling in 1998 and I still feel like I’m just getting my feet up under me. My hair is silver now – all of it! – and, with a 5 year old at home I still have a good 13 years or so to go!
As one of the trustees of our state’s homeschool organization, and as a speaker at homeschool and women’s conferences, I can affirm your message with gusto, Mr. Wayne. May it fall on hearing ears, on fertile ground. Thank you for taking the time to write and publish such a thoughtful treatise on this important topic. Thank you for your love for our Lord and His Word. Bless you, Brother, and your household.
Thank you, dear sister, for your service to the Lord and His people! I’m certain that the seeds you are sowing will reap a good harvest!
Israel, as always, you are a delight and a blessing to all of us who have watched you grow up. I love your family, I love what you are doing, I love that after all these years you and your family are still in the trenches, ministering love and truth. I also love this article and find it quite enlightening. I am currently working in an alternative school which is taking the students that the schools have been unable to help for a multitude of reasons. It is tragic to see what the government systems have done to them; even more, to see what their own families have done to these young people. My heart will ever be with the homeschoolers. My heart will ever beat to the love, nurture and training that parents should be giving to their dearest treasures on earth. Bless you, young man, as you endeavor to follow close on the heels of the Savior. Our love to you all!
Terry, I’m pushing 40! I’m gonna be an Old Geezer here pretty soon! 😉 j/k!
It’s a blessing to hear from you. You were publishing my articles when I was a teenager, and I was pushing people to think even back then! Thanks for your encouragement!
Important points. The shift has been underway for a long time, but I agree, recent events point to an acceleration. I think Farris’ distancing himself from the Patriarchy movement is more significant than anyone (other than you!) has noted.
Perhaps it’s time to retire the old pioneers/settlers/refugees analogy, but there is still some of that sorting amongst those arriving at the decision to homeschool.
As a geezer who’s still homeschooling (we started in 1985 and will graduate our youngest from high school in 2016), my fear is that those who currently enjoy the breath-taking freedom we have at the moment are not aware of a) how hard the fight was to win it and b) how tenuous its on-going existence is. The educrats have not conceded. They are merely biding their time. They still believe they are and ought to be responsible for the education of all the village’s children. Homeschooling parents are a pesky annoyance. The price of freedom really is eternal vigilance.
Good article! Keep ’em coming!
Good to hear your input, Mr. Shearer! God bless!
Totally agree, Rob.
I appreciate this article…well done….I chose to home school due to the failure of public school to meet my child’s needs…my master’s thesis was on educational options and home schooling can better meet a child’s needs than fractional public school as it is….
Have you made your MS thesis available online? Many folks would really like to read it, including me.
I found out a few years after doing thus that my own MS thesis was duplicated, using the same tools, with a better sample size and more modest claims, a year BEFORE my effort. Yet, it’s my name, not Linda’s, that shows up on in articles found on page one of Google searches using the key words home school socialization. He who does not blow his own horn may die untouted.
Not just a message for the homeschooling movement, but “the church” as well.
Excellent article. Full of grace and wisdom. Thank you.
I am not familiar with all of your books, so I am not sure if you have already written something like this- but I would love for you to write a book about homeschooling history and how the movement has changed over the years. A who, what, where and why of homeschooling. I have heard you speak several times and I love your realistic approach to the good and the
bad of homeschooling. Sometimes we can get the illusion that just because we home school our kids will turn out great. We need to be pointing our families to Jesus.I was home schooled during the 80’s and 90’s. There was a lot of legalism going on. I would say about half of my home schooled friends are walking with Christ now. I would love to hear more of your thoughts on that in a book as well. I love homeschooling and we have chosen that for our children it was a fabulous experience for me and I hope it will be for them. As I look back it seems like a lot of families became to wrapped up in academics or legalism and lost focus. it seems like homeschooling became an idol and a healthy family was set aside.
Alison, I have an Mp3 audio message where I discuss the “History of the Homeschooling Movement”:
I also highly recommend this one:
I talk about the fallout of a lot of homeschooling graduates abandoning the faith, and how to avoid it (to some measure) in this book:
Hi Israel! This was a good read. I think this snapshot of the current homeschool climate is depicted well in your descriptions.
Just finishing my 16th year next month (and several more to go afterwards), I find the most disturbing detail for the ‘newbies’ is the unawareness of the fragility of our freedom to homeschool. It can be taken from us in a blink and it seems as if folks just walk around in a daze, drinking the feel-good kool-aid that ‘all is well’ and ‘that would never happen’.
I’m the first to oppose shock tactics or scare tactics to motivate, so it becomes difficult to get folks to wise up enough to stay informed & take action with phone calls to their local state heads when necessary.
We need to harness today’s technology to help our homeschool community remain effective with things like apps to send comments to our political leaders in real-time, create public online access to nationwide politician name lists that support homeschooling so we choose wisely when we vote, and things of the like. BUT..who’s gonna pay for that? That’s the problem – nobody likes commitment – so nobody wants to stay committed to organizations that are willing to do the work. Nor does anyone want to give up the dollar bill.
So… I’ll step down off my soapbox. Thanks for writing encouragement that hopefully brings more unity across the board within the homeschool community.
Thanks Christee, you are always a blessing! 🙂
I am the Administrator of an accountability association in SC and have been since 1996. I homeschooled from 1990 until 2006. I have also been the President as well as a board member of a State Association. As such, I have an understanding of all that you talk about in this article. And I agree wholeheartedly. We need to grow with the movement. I also agree with Rob Shearer’s comments about staying vigil. The education establishment is to be kept at bay to keep our freedoms! Whatever leadership looks like now and in the future, we have to be the guardians of homeschooling freedoms!
Amen! I agree.
Good words, Israel. As an official old-timer, I believe that we have yet to complete the vision of the home schooling movement. As for the failures of leaders in the movement, let’s beware of believing everything we hear. Everybody has an ax to grind, and it influences what is reported and how. Beyond that, beware of throwing out the baby with the bath water. You made a good point in cautioning against pendulum swings. They can easily go too far. Finally, we all need to get past the idea that God’s purposes for the home education movement center on me and my family. It’s not just about what home education can do for my children, it’s what God can use my children to do for the world. This movement started out (and I was there to see it) because of the issue of the impact the culture could have on my kids. We need to finish developing the vision and come to see that it’s all about the impact our kids can have on the culture. God bless you friend, and keep up the good work.
Love you, brother! I appreciate you!
I hadn’t really thought about the door opening as the other was closing in terms of homeschooling culture! We are graduating our first this year, and I have a 17 month-old who will keep me in the business for quite some time. I’ve witnessed the dominance of the Patriarchs and now look forward to seeing what and who else God brings to enrich this movement. Such a rich tapestry is woven when one chews the meat and spits out the bones of these different perspectives while still leaning on the filter of God’s Word as the ultimate authority.
Looking forward to hearing you in Redmond next weekend!
…as always like your good words, and humor.
…usually tend to half-roll-my-eyes anymore at ‘State of The Whatever’ talks/articles…I’m with you, though, loving simple decentralization in all things…kinda’ the Amish model, eh?
I’m just really thankful to God that we still have enough of America left that we can legally HomeSchool.
Thanks, again, for all your love – for all of us!
Thanks bro! Good feedback!
What an insightful piece. I thoroughly enjoyed this well-written and obviously well thought-out article.
I was homeschooled in the mid-eighties through early nineties and it wasn’t until I was in college and happened upon a homeschool convention on my college campus that I saw the denim jumper crowd and understood why people expected me to be so very different because I had been homeschooled. Our homeschool group where we had lived was fairly diverse, so I didn’t realize there was a “norm” for homeschooling families at the time.
You offer such balance and truth your writing and that is a rarity, it seems, in the homeschooling world right now – someone who stands up for truth, but has a loving, scriptural mindset that thinks beyond just what we see happening right now.
Thank you, sister, that is my goal…to be a gracious absolutist! 🙂
Good article, Israel. I would probably be considered one of the newer homeschoolers as I didn’t start homeschooling my son until 2007. I am finishing up my 7th year, and now I am more confident to help mentor others who wish to homeschool. I feel it is only right as so many others helped me through the early years of homeschooling. I do not tell anyone I mentor what to teach, or how. I show them what is necessary for reporting in my state and, because I built all my curriculum, I show them where to start looking for things if they wish to do the same. I think that is where homeschooling has been and continues to be. We become a large family who truly just wants each one’s journey to be uniquely their own. Social media has allowed us to network in so many new ways. The community of homeschoolers will continue to make the movement stronger despite our differences.
Israel – well thought out message – thx
Random thoughts: I received a copy of your messages delivered in Indy a few weeks ago since I was working the event and have listened to them multiple times garnering what I could to lead my family – excellent content: especially the salt and light talk. We (mostly my dear wife) have been homeschooling for eight years and seen so many changes and had to shift and rethink many times as we refine the content and approach – keeping the main thing, the main thing. I was saddened to see VF implode, anticipating their demise but disappointed in the impact to its intrenched and possibly naive followers. Went to the Cincy mega conference this weekend and once again saw Mormon and secular content as well as all the pots and pans a person could ever need – where will it end. A couple of years ago in the same conference one of their speakers was portraying the patriarchs as myths and was selling his heresy – there is no rooster guarding the hen house. I walked away thinking how does a young family get fast tracked to be on a solid road for their precious children. I also see the mega conference doing nothing to promote good legislation – its seams to be solely a business venture where a person could sell the book of the dead if packaged with the right marketing message and a rented booth space. There were certainly great ministries represented as well. I have concluded: somehow the geographical constituents need to support their local state conference where a much needed filter can be incorporated. Sorry for the rambling and keep up the excellent thought leadership. To God be the glory!
Thank you for sharing your perspective on the two events, and especially for giving me a hearing at Indy! God bless!
I appreciate this article so much! Though my four children have never attended school, it wasn’t until the end of our second year of homeschooling that I really caught “the vision” – at one of those mega conferences where I heard – most notably – you, Voddie Baucham and Ken Ham speak. I came home so excited over the realization that homeschooling was not just an educational choice, but a lifestyle; and I was eager to share it with anyone who’d listen. However, I didn’t look the part – I’ve never owned a blue jean jumper, I highlight my hair with pink or purple occasionally, and I’m a drummer in a contemporary praise band. As I shared my homeschool excitement via social media, I received very harsh rebukes from an entire family of “experienced” homeschoolers. The matriarch of this group – attempting to prove my ignorance – told me, “I’ve been homeschooling longer than you’ve been alive.” They acted as if they owned this new world I’d discovered. The nasty judgement really took me off guard because – though I’m younger (30 years old, now in my fifth year of homeschooling) – we do subscribe to some of the “older ways.” (I teach a Titus 2 women’s class, value patriarchy, and even had a tubal ligation reversal.)
This article summed up much of what has been on my mind about doctrine, movements, leader-idols, homeschooling. Thanks so much for sharing. As a side note, your mother spoke at a homeschool event hosted by my church a few years ago, and she showed the same grace you did in this article. What a breath of fresh air! Thanks again!
I am so sorry that you have faced harsh criticism from your fellow believers. It’s hard sometimes not to force our personal convictions on other people. We think we are right. I think you will be uniquely able to show grace to others because you see the danger of imposing your standards on them. Blessings to you!
Tina, thank you for opening up and sharing here. I come from a very conservative background, but God is teaching me to look at my own heart to make sure that my heart is loving as He would want. I still have conservative views, but I am learning that there are a lot of people who love GOD and are living it before others….even though they do not have the conservative music or style that I have. And I love those brothers and sisters also!
I am sorry for the treatment that you received. That certainly is not the love of God. I hope some day that I meet you and that we can share our love for God and educating at home! It’s a little late, but welcome to this crazy journey!
Thank you so much for this article, Israel!
I am in my 13th year of home schooling and I can relate to much of what you wrote in your post. When I first looked into home schooling, I was immediately struck by how many curriculum providers out there were not only saying that home schooling was the only godly choice to make (which I disagreed with), but what a Good Christian Home School should look like (which I also never fully bought into)!
I am so very glad to hear that there is a shift in home schooling trends and that some things which were popular in the 1990s are diminishing in popularity. Perhaps it is because I am in Australia and we’re a bit behind you all in some things, but I have to say from where I’m sitting, some of the things you mentioned in your list are still popular here. Certainly it creates an alienating atmosphere within certain home school settings.
“If you want to do something to help grow home education, find out what the new, young families need, and provide it (or direct them to it). Learn to love them, not criticize them.”
A resounding ‘YES’ from me! Too often, what I hear is “You must home school and here is how to do it.”
Loved this article – so many great points! My husband is a public Christian school principal 🙂 and has taught at Christian and public schools – but we have always homeschooled our children – starting around 2001? So my eldest is in grade 12, then grades 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, K, and a baby who will be 2 in a few months. I am so grateful for the good friends i had who encouraged me to listen to God for myself :), and that God will speak louder through His Word than through any other self appointed expert. I do pray for the homeschooling leaders who have blessed me – i know there must be a lot of pressure on them, as there is on pastors who minister to their flock. And i feel like i maybe am astride both worlds. On one hand, yes, obviously we have a big family 🙂 – but we have always been so wary of those who claim to speak for God – we want to obey Him, not just get a mimeographed list of rules from someone else. If we can’t have relationship with God, what use is the Bible? Anyway, my husband just wrote his master’s thesis on motivations of families who homeschool, and a new one has emerged in the last decade that wasn’t at all on the charts before then – and it’s “family togetherness” – whether that’s just putting into words something that they felt previously, but felt that “doctrinal purity” was more important, or if it reflects something changing in our society is something I’d like to know :). My encouragement for younger moms starting out is that God has a plan for your family, your marriage, and each one of your children. There is no one size fits all solution, because we are all created unique and individual and precious to God, for His purpose :)…
Thank you for sharing your thoughts!
Great article, Israel. I started home schooling my 10 children nearly 25 years ago, and wrote a few books and countless home school magazine articles, my own e-magazine articles and blog posts on the subject. I am one of the old-timers who has changed my views rather substantially in recent years as I have seen damage done by some of the hard core teachings in the movement.
My most recent article, posted this afternoon, is about this same topic. You can find it here: http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2014/04/on-patriarchy-scandal-abuse-and-grace.html
Grace and peace,
It’s great to hear from you again!
I’d love to hear your thoughts on my article linked above. It is a follow up to this one written last November:
This has been a long road with U-turns for so many of us.
Meaty thoughts! I think it is really hard to nail down exactly what leads someone to fall. Again, we have this happening from all corners of the Christian community. Liberal priests, Charismatic pastors, Fundamentalists, Seeker-Friendly churches…
I don’t see a lot of commonality there, except for leaders falling into sexual sin.
I think it is hard to always identify the cause. There is no doubt though that the list you mention on your blog are deadly and they’ll eat your lunch!
Excellent list there. I hope it serves as a preventative for other leaders.
Thanks, Israel! Have you read the one I posted first? It is the one from today. http://watchtheshepherd.blogspot.com/2014/04/on-patriarchy-scandal-abuse-and-grace.html
I agree that it’s not just about the sexual fall. That is rampant throughout churches, not just in the home school movement. What I think it starts from is a mindset of entitlement in the area of authority. Power corrupts. That leads to sexual sin (“I can have what I want”), as well as all forms of child abuse, domestic violence, and rigid over control of children and emerging young adults. Based on feedback from my friends and blog readers, as well as those who write on other blogs I read, those issues are on a the rise in the home schooling movement in recent years. Those are things that have unfortunately — and unwittingly — been enabled by the patriarchy movement. THAT is what breaks my heart, rather than the isolated sex scandal.
Did you see my take on that issue here?
Yes, good stuff there. Love this quote:
“Once someone becomes known as a leader, expert, authority, “answer man,” or some other title of adulation, a kind of addictive narcissism often takes over. That leader often has no peers, no equals, and in many cases respects no one besides himself (or herself). So often every interaction this leader has with others is in a capacity of authority, where he is above those he leads, or serves. This can give a person a feeling of power, and in some cases infallibility or invincibility. Rather than recognizing his place as one who serves, he begins to see himself as worthy of being served by others. He often becomes arrogant and demanding of others. Everything is suddenly all about him, not about Jesus.”
Hi I’m a first year “millennium” mom home school a 10, 5, 3 and 1 year old. Schooling focused more on just 10 and 5 but the younger want to join in sometimes. Have to say it was scarey but exciting when the Lord led us on this journey just 9 months but now we’re already talking about putting them back in school per their request. I’m struggling with it because lessons were so great and Christ centered at the beginning but past few months giving our living situation as sold house and temporarily living in 5th wheel has made very hard and lack of community for my kids has made request for public school seem appealing but I’m battling within and could use prayer for the Lord to direct mine and my husband Levi heart in this and may our motive either way be one to serve the Lord and have Him the center of our lives.
Olivia, I’m glad you have bravely headed out on this journey! 🙂 I’d like to encourage you, as a parent, to never make decisions based on what your 10-yr-old (or younger) thinks is best. If they knew what was best, God wouldn’t have given them parents! Make decisions that you and your husband believe are the best choices for them and their future. Be brave! Go with your heart. Be the parent!
Thank you for your encouraging words to homeschool families. It has been very sad to see what has happened recently with “homeschool leaders” in the news. What I find so strange is that everyone has ran away from the fact that they might have ever picked up a vision forum catalog or bought one of their products. I can understand the sick feeling they have after the trueness of one evil man has finally surfaced but my family and I have personally purchased many things from vision forum that has blessed our family. I’m not defending the man at all but the information and training in many of the books they sold by other authors still ring true. Leading your family in bible study, teaching and training your children in Godly living, none of this has changed. I totally agree that things are changing and probably for the better but I like to look back and see the growth in our family and I’m so thankful that the Lord allowed us to focus our homeschool life not necessarily the right way to do things but the way our family needed to. Am I wrong in wondering why bloggers and others that are homeschool leaders” are trying to claim that they never liked vision forum products to start with. I know this has been a difficult thing for so many of us to hear but God’s word is still true. Through the mistakes of one man we will now see people running from a more conservative lifestyle and that is such a shame. I appreciate your words and think you did a wonderful job on sharing your thoughts with us. Thank you!!
Anything that is true belongs to God. It doesn’t become untrue because someone denies it, or abuses it. The difficulty is when a bit of error is mixed in with the truth, it becomes hard to sort out. That’s why we need careful Biblical exegesis and avoiding radical pendulum swings. Stay the course with God’s Word and He’ll help you (all of us) stay on course!
Thank you for this article. Your honesty and transparency was a nice breath of fresh air. I guess I am still just a little confused as whether or not this means our homeschool group standards of dress, and conduct should change as well. I know we all have different ideas of modesty, and what is appropriate between teens and such, so should there be no standard set for a group? I am honestly wrestling with this wondering if we do get rid of these standards will our Christian groups begin to look more secular? & Will these ideas and low standards begin to pull my children into this “all grace,no standards” mentality? It just scares me, because I am seeing more and more people who say they believe in Jesus, and love and worship Him, yet with their lives look nothing like Him. I am by no means an old timer, but I do hold many of the same convictions as the old timers do, not all, but many, and I’m just struggling to find the balance in all of this. Thanks again. I am going to look over this more, & pray for some perspective from the Lord in this because there truly has been alot of heart break over all these things happening. Thank you again for your perspective!
“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5)
May I offer some food for thought? Never back down on what you believe the Scripture teaches in terms of your family’s choices.
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days…” (Col. 2:16)
It’s when it related to the government of OTHER families that we run into jurisdictional issues.
Can a private group have standards? Sure. But they need wisdom because you are in a sense dictating policy to other families. Sure, it is consensual if they join, but they may resent it. Tough decisions.
I’m responsible for my children and what I expose them to. I’m not responsible for what someone else’s children wear
(or act). That’s my view. That’s not my jurisdiction.
I pray that God will give you wisdom and direction.
Very insightful article, and much appreciated. My husband & I were called to home education before we had children thanks to the godly examples of families in our church. At that time, late 80’s, we too asked, “Is it legal?” I went to CHEO, when we had a 3 year old an a newborn; the convention was like a retreat and most attending were conservative Christians.What a change we see today with all the different reasons people choose to homeschool. Few say that they were “called” to home educate their children.
On a humorous note, my husband and I counted 80+ denim jumpers at one convention in the 90’s,(mine included), and joked with another couple who were tallying them as well!
I was a Keynote Speaker for CHEO in 2001. I have very fond memories of that event! 🙂
Carol and I have fond memories of that same CHEO convention because our younger son graduated that year. You did a great job, Israel.
Re your article here, some excellent thoughts. We do need to keep the focus on Jesus and guard our own hearts; it’s so easy to become full of self.
Blessings to you and your family.
There is so much I would like to share Israel. Hopefully we will be able to get together one day and just sit down and talk. We saw what you are talking about when we went through our ordeal (still going through it) We are realizing the opinions expressed about us was likely what they read or heard about homeschoolers in general. Because at that time the girls and I wore dresses that further made government workers even more antagonistic toward us. When my husband boldly told a worker that “he was head of his household” he was viewed with certain disdain. Those things are true but we realize we have to live in a fallen world where people are not going to understand much. we realize they do understand and appreciate longevity of marriages, married couple working together through sickness and health, homeschooling because each of our children have specific and different needs etc. And yes, you are right – new homeschoolers coming in look completely different. I am afraid those of us who are conservative and look like “Little House” people will alienate ourselves and/or them and then we cannot be mentors or be encouraging. We have learned that each family must make these choices and just because they make certain choices we should not alienate them like we don’t want to be. I am pretty tired and it is late here so I may not be making a whole lot of sense – but it would be great to have a conversation with you and share what we have learned. Sorry if I have rambled – nice work here 🙂
This was very helpful for me to read! I homeschooled our four children in the late 80s throughout the 90s, returned to teaching in public school, and am now working in homeschooling again as an advocate for parents with special needs children. There’s some old baggage that I hadn’t quite unpacked from those many years ago, and your article was just what I needed as I re-enter this world. Thank you so much!
After I first read your article, I wanted to respond, but I had to set it aside and focus on other duties. However, this morning, as I was reading 1 Chronicles 11:12-14, I was reminded of a message my wife and I heard many years ago by Greg Harris, and I felt stirred to contact you. To begin with, I want to try to convey to you the depth of my feelings about our family’s homeschool experience. I remember once, when we were giving a tribute to the man who led our homeschool orchestra, we shared with him the account of George Frederick Handel–when he was thanked after a performance of “The Hallelujah Chorus” for the entertainment. Handel’s response was, “Sire, I have not endeavored to entertain you, but to make you better.” The gratitude we felt toward our orchestra leader–that’s the way I feel about all that homeschooling gave to our family. In your article, you said several things that I felt the need to comment upon. I pray that you will indulge me as I try to do so.
You say that “in the early 1980′s and into the 1990′s, the homeschooling movement was largely controlled by those holding to a conservative, fundamentalist Baptist theology. The dominant curriculum publishers were A BEKA, Bob Jones University Press and ACE/School of Tomorrow.” We began homeschooling in the 1989-1990 school year. And I find it interesting that you chose the words “controlled” and “dominant” because I can tell you that at the time we had never felt more freedom in our lives. Although we were grateful for the rock-steady base of A Beka and Bob Jones, my wife put together an eclectic curriculum from many, many vendors and publishers, all with the help of our local support group and the state homeschool convention, which I believe was held, at the time, in Albany.
You refer to the idea that homeschool leadership shifted toward Reformed Theology in the 1990’s. As a Pentecostal, I would like to say that one of the most invigorating aspects of the homeschool community during those days was how committed Christians from many expressions came together in a real faith community that transcended our differences, and we learned from each other and grew. I don’t recall feeling “marginalized.” When I disagreed with someone, and I am thinking of a particular case now, I went to the gentleman and talked it out, and we became friends. I remember that our kids sat, time after time, in history and worldview classes, with Baptists and Presbyterians where we spoke pretty candidly about the Canons of Dort and the “strangely warmed” experience of Wesley, and we learned together.
You speak about Courtship, Young Earth Creationism, Spanking, Modest dress, Traditional roles of men/women, the Family-Integrated Church, and Daughters staying at home until married as if those are extra-biblical teachings, and I do not understand how you have come to that conclusion. You say, “To many Christians (let alone non-Christians!) who are entering the homeschooling community, many of these ideas seem like they were deposited here by aliens from another planet! No one (or almost no one) in their churches adhere to these views, and yet, in some circles of homeschooling, these were strongly held convictions that dominated the cultural landscape.” I am afraid that because of time constraints, this is the last point I can address. However, this, perhaps, is at the center of my concerns with your article. I understand that people who are not Christians are going to be drawn to the Christian homeschooling community. In fact, I think the leaders of the community here in New York State have always expressed that as a desirable thing. However, the community is either Christian, or it has no value, it serves no lasting purpose. There is no question that many people are going to see us as aliens because we are afterall, strangers and pilgrims. I am reminded that John Wesley spent his whole life in church, but it was the Moravians–something winsome, something awe-inspiring, something totally genuine in their alien lives, that drew him to a life-changing experience with Christ.
Israel, I hope we have the opportunity to talk more. Be blessed in the Lord…
Thank you, brother, for writing such a well-articulated comment. I think you took me wrong at a point. I didn’t say the things in the list in my article were extra-Biblical. I was making the point that they are not going to be a part of the new wave of homeschooling. I’m just reporting that. I’m not saying I endorse that, I’m just saying those distinctives will not be what the homeschooling movement will be largely known for moving forward. Like it or not.
So you know where I’m coming from personally, I’m a very conservative, grateful homeschooled graduate. I’m not applauding all of the changes, but I am saying they are inevitable.
Most estimable Palazzo,
My thanks for your consideration in this matter. I must say that, as a long-time fan and, I hope to say, friend of Mr. Wayne, I had initially no slight astonishment in the assessment of yourself and other dear brethren regarding the assumed alteration of conviction by our brother Israel based on the observations given in the above article. [grin]
Given the reaction of other friends of mine who do not know Israel well, I understand better now the nature of your concern. I urge a perhaps more analytical re-reading of his post, considering the main body as being primarily observational in nature. I have long known Israel to be a lover of Truth. He chooses his beliefs carefully, and is not so easily swayed as to alter them based solely on public opinion or the infractions of others.
My regards to you and your family. I suspect we would both greatly enjoy a weekend of study, conversation, and fellowship. If you’re ever down in GA, drop in for a few days. 🙂
Grace and Peace to you and yours…
Israel, this is the first time I’ve come across your site, and I’m very glad I did. Our family has been homeschooling in one fashion or another for a number of years now, and it has been quite an adventure, to say the least. Thanks for your excellent post. I will look forward to reading more from you. God bless.
Thank you for stopping by! I hope we can stay connected. Feel free to subscribe to my blog here, and if you have a Facebook account, please follow my page. My website is: http://www.IsraelWayne.com
Excellent!! Very well said!
I guess I am a bit disconnected, I have no idea what is being referenced in regards to “the events of this year” and I might be okay with that.
This article is nearly perfect. I keep to myself as a homeschooler. I seek any answers I need from the safe blogosphere because I am one of those newbies and I am surrounded mostly by old-timer conservative veterans and their followers. My first 6 years as a homeschool has been incredibly lonely and often painful. I learned early that a survival mechanism was to lay low, not reveal too much because each time I did my Christian faith, my parenting, and my life choices were called into question….and heavens have mercy if I mentioned some of my curriculum choices (some were silent about faith….*GASP*).
I appreciate this article because, other than the blogosphere where moms like me can share, encourage, and find their voice, I have never heard anyone advocate for me or those like me. I don’t do conferences. I didn’t like prep rallies in high school and big crowds intimidate me. I’ve learned to live in the shadows feeling very misunderstood. I cling to the assurance that I live out my faith as I believe GOD wants me to live it and I homeschool the way I feel is best for my family, DESPITE the fact that it doesn’t fit the mold those around me in real life advocate.
The thing your article leaves out is the fact that the SECULAR homeschooling movement is growing as well. To be honest, I have found more support for some of their moderates (those who are accepting and not filled with hatred of believers) than I have from Christian circles who want to force me into their very rigid box. There are good things happening in this world, even if they do not claim Jesus as savoir. I would encourage us all to go a step beyond this article and follow the articles advice EVEN WITH THOSE IN THE SECULAR CAMP. You might be surprised at how loving, caring, concerned about their family and children, and the world around them they actually are. You might also find a good handful of moderate Christians hanging out with this crowd because they are more accepted and encouraged here than they are in the “Christian Homeschooling World.”
Thank you so much for this article. I wish all homeschoolers had to read it!
I haven’t read the comments yet, but I just wanted to take this opportunity to compliment Mr. Wayne on his thoughtful articles and to say he is a wonderful reflection of his parents who homeschooled. Your mother and father are truly blessed and set a good example for others, as do you.
Thank you for your kind words! (As a side note, I was homeschooled by a single-parent mother. Myself and my five sisters.) God bless!
I tend to agree with the point of your article. It is something that we need to realize; not everyone will (or should) agree 100% with us.
We have heard about the need for unity (interpret-uniformity) from just about every angle but what we need more than anything is harmony – some high notes, some low notes, and some notes in between, but all tuned to the same pitch and resonance.
Thank you for taking the time and having the courage to be a vessel unto honor and speaking forth the message. Love you, brother.
“The homeschooling movement must NOT become ultimately about methods and tools (curriculum). It must be about Jesus, and His Lordship over our families.”
AMEN AND AMEN!
You have struck a nerve! I’ve seen this linked all over fb and I am glad to see so many homeschoolers relating to your article.
One thing I would ask is that you consider changing “moral failure” to “sin.” I have several issues with the term “moral failure” that’s been popping up all over Christendom lately. The term implies that morals failed. Morals don’t fail. People sin. Christ died for our sins, not the failure of our morals.
Thank you Israel, I am so glad you took the time to write this.
The so-called homeschool movement is just another way through which the Lord is washing His bride and, as Rick suggested above, preparing her for Great Commission work. It’s about truly being salt and light. It’s about preaching the good news of the Gospel to our own children. It’s about discipling the nations, starting with the little citizens under our own roofs. It’s really about fearing the Lord and obeying the Lord’s commands, which is proof that we are seeking after wisdom and that we love Him.
The church of Jesus Christ will always have trouble, but as one of my favorite hymns tells us:
The Church shall never perish! Her dear LORD to defend,
To guide, sustain, and cherish, is with her to the end
Though there be those who hate her, and false sons in her pale,
Against or foe or traitor she ever shall prevail.
My prayer is that the Apostle Paul’s following admonition would be a guide to those appointed by God to lead in this movement and to those following and trying to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord:
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” (Ephesians 4:11-16)
I appreciate this article very much. I live in a state where the Christian homeschool association is still alive and well and practically the only show in town. I’m a Christian. I believe in the authority of Holy Scripture. I believe in the divinity and lordship of Jesus Christ. My husband is a minister. I am as conservative as can be! My big “failing” in the eyes of the homeschool association is that my children are already baptized. Therefore, they won’t let me join their group. Their children won’t talk to my children. If I need local support, I’m out in the cold all alone out of luck. The “Christian” homeschoolers out there need to take a long hard look at how they are portraying Christianity to the world, because from my view, they’re making us all look like bigots and idiots.
I am so sorry to hear this. I know sometimes people have reasons for their group policies, but this one doesn’t make a lick of sense to me. I hope you can find encouragement through a different channel. Thanks for posting!
I found this to be rather broad discussion of a topic that is still under the radar for most of our country. Why do I say that? Well, I would be considered one of those “legacy” homeschooling parent who needs to learn how to sit down and keep smiling!! I know, I know, I’m exaggerating. Well, mostly. We were in the first wave of homeschooling parents on the West Coast when “homeschooling” was considered a hyphenated compound word. Our first was born in the early 80’s and we homeschooled him until he knew more than we did, and then we didn’t homeschool. Good thing, because son #2 had come on line and needed attention. Both boys decided they were ready to academically launch around the same time in life: 6th or 7th grade. Both are very successful in the spiritual and financial senses of the words. As parents, we are very proud of them and wouldn’t change a thing.
However, I find this notion that we won’t understand their generation’s life-styles or values or whatever, quite enigmatic. “I drink Vodka…etc.” Mr. Wayne couches this as generational, but also as denominational, but also as life-stylish… Well, I’m not sure which it is, after all. THAT it is, kind of intrigues me. We are not so much chagrinned with the current batch of parents who are raising our grandchildren, we ARE chagrinned with the notion that so many of them have to re-invent the wheel….and it always comes out round!!! The comment about vodka catches my eye because it reminds me of the approach: I can, therefore I will!! Really. Well, every generation has found things they embrace and things they reject. This is due to experience and wisdom, not because of generational spreads, historically. Yet, now, with or without the Bible as a “handbook”, you portray the current masters of the universe as those who just want us to close our mouths and let them do all that they intend to do with their little angels. I don’t get that. The reason most parents homeschool is so they can make sure their children get the correct training within the correct context. It’s that simple. Anything on top of that is extraneous. Lifestyle? Christian? Non-Christian? Hippies? I just don’t see why all that is so important. I ‘m sure it is or Mr. Wayne would not be bringing it up. In any case, we will be quiet, and we will watch our kids reinvent the wheel. Too bad they couldn’t spend time on something OTHER than re-inventing the wheel so they could be more productive…Thank you Mr. Wayne for your thought provoking piece. We started with Raymond Moore. That’s how old we are.
Thank you for this Israel! It has been an interesting journey for those of us who have grown up in this movement. I’ve experienced so much joy & lately sorrow. I’ve met people who dont have a clue what it was like in the early years and stare at me dumbfounded as I try to explain. I’m now faced with homeschooling my own children and all the decisions that entails.
I remember being so excited to go to my first convention with my public school graduated hubby and be there as a Mom not a student. I stood in the curriculum fair area in shock at the change. It has taken me a year to really grasp the shift. I should have known it would be different. I’m different. I’m homeschooling 2 of my 6 currently, but 1 of the 6 goes to public school. He has special needs that make that environment the best place for him. I have received some disappointed remarks for this from “the old guard.” But we need to remember to do what’s best for THE CHILD…not what makes us look good.
Anyway, thank you for speaking this in this time. It is a much needed response to the current “earthquakes” we’ve experienced lately. Praise God for our parents who put us on their shoulders as best as they could and let’s do the same for our children! I can only imagine what homeschooling will look like in 20years. And may we continue to pray for our leaders that they would be strong in the face of temptation. Blessings on you and yours!
Great article, Israel. I do have one itty-bitty bone to pick with you, though.
You said, “To the old guard, in the years to come, you are going to see a lot of changes in the homeschooling movement that you won’t like. These new homeschooling families do not resemble The Waltons (from 1970′s TV), and they may dress, act, and believe quite differently than you do. The fact is, they are going to be the new majority. Increasingly, you will find your lifestyle and values becoming more rare and less tolerated culturally. You are going to have to find a way to deal with that. My suggestion is to live well, proselytize less on lifestyle distinctives, and learn to love these new, younger families.”
I’m part of that “old guard”, homeschooling since 1986. Please do not lump us all into the same pot. I, for one, have loved and embraced many of the changes that have come down the pike, especially in the last couple of years. I may have once worn the denim jumper uniform, but these days you’ll find me in jeans and a t-shirt, sporting nine earrings. Please do not marginalize the contributions we can still make to the homeschooling community. Many of us are still right there in the homeschooling trenches with you. I also feel that we have a lot to contribute in the way of “been there, done that” experience. Allow us, the “old guard” to teach the younger (Titus 2 still applies) by virtue of our life experiences, both the positive and the negative. In all honesty, most of us learn best through our own mistakes or through others sharing with us their mistakes.
Again, great article, Israel!
Love the analogy about spitting out the seeds. So true!
I like to listen to lots of podcasts/sermons/conference talks/etc, and I always say that everyone has a disclaimer; their words are not God-breathed. If I only listened to perfect people, well that would be a very quiet commute and a quiet Sunday morning.
Amen, brother! Good to hear from you!
Israel, so well articulated and spot on. We too were part of the pioneer homeschool movement and have seen much across the years, especially when coupled with a business that originally served only the homeschool community. It has been a huge concern for a few years now as I’ve watched certain things happen. I am not interested in beating a dead horse, but in agreeing with your points, any time we make it Jesus PLUS, then it is idolatry and no good fruit comes from that. I am not slamming our national homeschool leaders because much good came from their efforts and work, but there was a mentality that surfaced that put “approved” men and women on a pedestal along with the suggestion that if you homeschooled in the right way, your children would walk with God. This damages everyone, including those set on a pedestal. There has been a prevalent attitude that certain groups (legal and non) call the shots and I’ve only seen judgment and disaster come out of that. I think your analysis of the conventions is also spot on. For 15 years, I’ve watched state groups go from being servants to focusing on the bottom line and again no one wins. I loved your take on the Millennial Hipsters (I put my homeschooled adult children–who are homeschooling in that category) and can only say, YES!YES!YES!
As a few other have mentioned, this article was the first one I have read from you. You are to be complimented on your balanced approach to the subject matter. I agree that we as homeschooling families need to appreciate the differences among ourselves instead of expending that energy pointing out what we do not agree on.
Thanks, David. I’m glad you took time to post your thoughts.
Always blessed by men and women (because I know your wife is in this with you 100%) who keep God and the worship of Him as more important than anything else – and that includes the homeschooling movement. Homeschooling is God’s command for families, but it can (and sadly too often has) quickly become an idol in our lives. We must be careful to worship the Creator, not the creation in all things.
We must also be careful not to become set in the traditions of men, but instead be ready as Paul the apostle was to be “all things to all men.” We need to be willing to minister to new homeschoolers in new ways based on their needs and not our man-made traditions.
Your analysis of where the homeschooling movement has been and where it is going is spot on and more people need to take your advice to heart. Thanks for putting it on paper so we can share it with others.
Thank you for the encouragement!
This is what struck me from your article:
“I think we would all do better to spend more time making sure that our own families are in order and less on making sure everyone else is towing the line. If there is something that is working in your family, live it out and let others decide whether it is of value to them or not. I say this to myself as well. I believe God has given me a platform for a reason. I want to steward it well. I want to share what I have learned from the Scripture and the successes and failures of other families.”
Thank you for this. As a relatively new homeschooler (5 years) that comes from a traditional Lutheran faith background, it has seemed that there has been a lot of condemnation in the homeschool world — specifically religious condemnation.
And, to be very honest, all of the recent banter in the homeschool world about conventions, old guard vs. new guard, etc… just turns others off to homeschool. I believe if we live our lives in such a way to glorify God and follow the Greatest Commandment, we will hear “Well done good and faithful servant” one day.
I was personally told that my family would “regret” attending a particular homeschool convention versus another convention. I don’t believe this judgment brings closer to Christ, and I don’t believe it serves in any way to equip others to homeschool. Period.
I seem to gain the most encouragement, insight, and spiritual discernment from a small local homeschool group that I am a part of — the MEGA organizations are spending too much time fighting each other and it’s very sad.
Homeschooling has changed my family’s life — I blog because I want other people to know the joys, pitfalls, and struggles I have had. At the end of the day each of us is responsible for keeping our own house in order, not dishing out judgement on those who don’t meet a certain set of standards.
Again, I appreciated your thoughts on this issue — it’s nice to read a well written, articulate post on this subject!
Mary, I am grateful for you taking the time to hear me out and for your wise comment here. God bless you!
Israel, I was raised up in a very poor home, my mom was on welfare for almost ten years. Well I didn’t have much for my future. Then I met my husband, whom I am thankful for! It took me almost four full years of growing up after I was married for me to realize that I was an unsaved woman! It took the birth of my second son for me to realize that I needed a “change”! So then I went on to have two girls! I thought I had it all! I mean I had been given four lovely kids, I also had a lovely husband, who made it possible for me to be a stay at home mom. Well I was still in the hospital after I had my fourth daughter, on the third day I had a stroke. A second one just three days after that left me in a coma. I can’t tell you exactly when I awoke from this state of being. It took me probably the better half of the total time I was in the hospital, I was able to go home for a trial run, for my hubby’s birthday week, I do remember that weekend today well over ten years! Anyway, when I came back home, my hubby told me that at least for the upcoming years my kids had to go to school. Man talk about heartbreak! I suddenly felt like I had let down my kids. I felt like I had better work my heart out to get better so that I could have them all at home with me again! It took two full years for it to happen, but it did! Thank you God! I don’t know if I could live through that again!
When we moved in with my mom in law, we had a lot of changes that took place!
The homeschooling movement not being primarily about academics… now I get why the high school graduation rate in my family to date is 25%! In fact, now that the younger kids are in public school the total number of homeschool graduates from my family of 7 kids is going to be a whopping 1. Because it’s about loving Jesus, not being mentally prepared and challenged like the rest of the world.
It’s about loving Jesus… which is why the number of siblings in my family who have rejected their faith/never had a faith is growing more rapidly than is the graduation rate.
Recognizing Jesus’ Lordship over our families is indeed the most important thing. But it is indeed not to be confused with excellence in academics. There are born again believers who choose to send their children to public school, and devout atheists who educate their children in their own living room. Homeschooling is not a pillar of our faith, and hence an emphasis on faith does not replace schooling.
Bingo. Very well said.
Love it, Israel – and while I began homeschooling when the dinosaurs roamed the earth in 1986, I never surcummed to the denium jumper look. I’m not a crowd pleaser, only a Lord pleaser.
My biggest take away is that we need to think for ourselves – seek The Lord, His Word and ignore the rest. I’m what I call “curriculum impaired” … I can never use a book the way it was designed. I as you mentioned I listen and then agree-to-disagree at times, while still finding something beneficial (most of the time). I think we need to remember the “why” of homeschooing, build bridges when possible and draw a line in the sand when needed.
I also think you should consider a podcast on this topic as it will be very well received on your radio show!
So many what I call “meat to idols issues” divide homeeducators and have for years. We need to be mature in our choices and let love cover our expectations of others as we decide what is best for our families.
Too many have been willing to die on the (now I’m going waaay back) the Pokemon hill, or the dating vs courtship views, or whatever hill of choice they wish to make and are willing to fry others over for.
I at one time was asked to speak at a homeschooling convention that was led by non Christians, who at that time in my state were hungry for homeschooling answers. I saw this as an amazing opportunity to speak to non believers using Christian principles, at their invitation. We Christians, who had been homeschooling for almost 50 years at that time, had the answers but were refusing to engage. I cannot tell you how many so called Christian homeschoolers fried me over that. It was sad then, and I think has gotten worse in this day and age.
Thank you for stepping out and speaking truth that many won’t want to hear. I appreciate it!
Well, I feel like an old fogey because I have seen all that you wrote about in our 28 years (so far) of homeschooling. In the beginning (1985)it was very conservative and often legalistic. We struggled with our identity, wanting to be “good homeschoolers” yet not agreeing with all the requirements. We finally broke free of the expectations to be who we are. We have embraced the large family because we believe it is scriptural. We are a “traditional” family but I do work part-time. But so much of the heavy expectations of the early homeschool movement needed to be shed. We try to live our life in a Christlike way, and not dictate to others how they should live. I’m sure most new homescholers don’t have a clue about where we have been, it I hope we can encourage them along this journey that can be very challenging at times.
Thank you for articulating what many of us have been discussing for many years. Your analysis of the movement is spot on and a needed perspective as we navigate a generational transition.
I think only your thoughts about the swinging pendulum need some additional nuance. I would suggest that the danger is not a pendulum swing from strict views of biblical practice to permissive or non-biblical views. Rather, I think the danger is a pendulum swing from one form of Christian legalism to another.
You specifically mentioned child discipline as a potential swing topic. Since 1996, I have been teaching and writing that the dominant doctrine of childhood discipline is not exegetically defensible. I’m a seminary-trained conservative evangelical and want only to know what God’s Word really says. It was dogmatic legalism that would not even allow a discussion, even banning my book in one large venue. For that topic to now be finally getting more attention is not a swing to the extreme, but a swing back to the middle from a legalistic extreme. It is a discussion we must have as a Christian community.
If we allow only what was allowed under legalism to define the terms of the debate, then of course anything else is going to be extreme. Many other similar doctrinal topics have been silenced by the heavy hand of legalism in the past couple of decades, and now is the time we need to resist all legalism and come back to the middle, where Jesus is.
John said, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (1:17). Jesus is the fulcrum that brings balance to the extremes of grace (permissiveness) and truth (dogma). As you suggested, we need middle-minded leaders and influencers who will keep us focused on Christ.
Thanks again. Great insights.
Thanks for your comments, Clay. I should add for clarification that what I DON’T mean by middle of the road is synthesis. What I do mean is Biblical truth.
My 1992 MS Thesis Social Maturity of Home School Students: A Communication Approach still gets cited from time to time, since I sent a copy over to HSLDA at an auspicious moment. I bundled it with other essays on the topic written over the last 20 years into a single Kindle book available here.
In The Beginning, the very act of politely refusing to render unto Caesar that which is God’s was revolutionary enough to satisfy the wildest-eyed Jesus Freak. In the mid-oughts, God led us to take another step, and to apply His grace in a specific and specialized way. We began “adopting” graduate students from a Muslim nation, one couple at a time. Inviting them into our homes. Studying their language, and helping them with their English. This is an ideal missions project for home school families, since we have the leisure, the energy, and the ornery independence to study non-European languages. We have the experience with making unique people at home in our homes, our own children. And we have a sense of obligation to God to express our gratitude for His hospitality, by sharing it with others.
As Martin Luther put it, every tree and plant bears fruit for the benefit of other entities. Only Satan, and men controlled by Satan, seek to bear fruit for themselves. Having a ministry outlet is a moral and psychological necessity.
I am comfortable with the notion of being a gracious minority. It is important to be tolerant under the traditional definition – to be gracious with fellow believers who are reluctant to, say, affirm the authority of Scripture in an area like young-earth creationism.
This does not mean we need to go so far as the modern definition of tolerance, treating all views as equally valid. Especially where Scripture teaches a truth clearly (like young-earth creationism), we cannot accept that the view Scripture teaches and another view are equally valid. But, at the same time, we need to be loving and gracious in these conversations.
It is the responsibility of every Christian to speak the truth in love. We sin if we speak in truth without love, but we also sin if we speak in love without truth.
We should be a loving and gracious minority, but (especially in areas where Scripture speaks unequivocally) we must not be a silent minority.
Thank you so much for your encouraging words!
I’ve been homeschooling for almost seven years “from the beginning” and I have seen a shift in the movement. We need to go back to our roots…we need to be more concern about relationships and discipleship rather than ONLY academics.
God bless you and your family!
Thank you so much for your article Mr. Wayne.
As you know, in recent months I’ve said (and written) to many that I believe that we will see an exodus from the public school system, because of the Common Core Curriculum.
We’ve tried to steer folks to you from the ”Common Core Critics” pages; to help them to connect with conventions within their state, to learn of the laws with which they must comply while homeschooling, and so much more.
Thank you again for this wonderful article!
Thank you for this thoughtful piece. We began our home schooling journey in the early nineties and went through most of the stages you discussed. As a gray head, I sincerely want to encourage this new generation of home educators to consider, as you’ve suggested, the history of home schooling in an effort to avoid repeating the same mistakes many of us made.
Thank you for writing this. As a homeschool graduate, a lot of my peers are in full swing away from all the legalism and standards they were raised with. I sympathize a LOT with them. I will do many things differently. But I don’t think I need to march my three year old off to preschool, although we’re considering some university model school or maybe Classical Conversations type things.
I think what I’m seeing too is that some of the older parents are burnt out. They’ve been doing it a long time and have insisted on doing it all alone and they almost resent new fresh perspectives and energetic, enthusiastic young families. As a homeschool community, I think that we need to be mindful of supporting and helping some of those families as well…and the “old guard” needs to remember that when they insist their method is best, but can’t summon up any joy about it, then they should step back and not rain on the parades of other methods.
Thank you for sharing your thoughts.
I find it curious that an article criticizing those who do not question messages they hear, is coming from someone who is so distressed by the idea of a woman writing a rebuttal to it, that he asks her to take it down.
Questioning messages and making false allegations are two different matters. I’m fine with someone disagreeing. I’m not fine with someone misrepresenting my position. The author of the blog took out the false accusations (which were the result of her misunderstanding my intent), left the disagreements she has with my article, and we’re both fine with it.
I join the rest in saying, “very well done” and needed. You articulated the changing face and the proper response to it. Ditches…humans love those awful ditches.
I appreciate your clarity and honesty as we all navigate through these changing waters. (See you in WA tomorrow!)
I meant to say, You articulated “perfectly”…
Thank you for a wonderfully insightful article. We began homeschooling in 1985 in Mississippi. I met all of the “leaders” you mentioned and loved several of them. Even recognize as friends some of the commenters here. I will be sharing this on FB. Partly so I can finish reading all of the comments. But sharing mostly because I see the swinging pendulum of families reacting to the legalism on one side and the licence on the other side and we all need to stay on the narrow road turning neither to the right or to the left.
It is historical that cultures swing in reaction to what generations before do, wheather it is too severe or too lenient. The conservative views in and of themselves are neither good nor bad, and none of them will “save” our children ‘from their sins’ nor ‘for eternal life’. Only Christ himself can do that. We need to keep our eyes upon Jesus Christ our Lord and keep our relationship with him current, fresh, and on His terms.
Thank you again for this article.
Dear Mr Wayne,
I think I responded too soon and too eagerly in my earlier response to you. This blogpost of yours is my first introduction to you. After looking around your blog some more, I now understand better where you are coming from.
I have a question for you.
I understand you will be speaking at a Family Discipleship and Homeschooling Conference this weekend.
Q: Would a Christian homeschooling family who does not subscribe to anything on your list (YECism, Complementarianism, Modesty, Family-Integrated Churches, etc) feel welcome and accepted at this conference, or would they be better served elsewhere?
Thank you for your time.
Kathy, I have never spoken at that conference before, and I can’t speak for the behavior of other people, so I wouldn’t know any more than you would. I’d be glad to meet them though!
You have heard of the other speakers, yes? You know what they stand for, right?
You say you can’t speak for the behavior of other people. Thanks, I think you’ve just answered my question.
Let me ask you a question. Relationship is a two way street. If someone strongly believes and teaches all of those views that you just mentioned, does that mean that you would not be comfortable being around them? Are you only comfortable being around those who believe and advocate for only the beliefs that you hold? How welcoming would you be toward them is the tables were turned? People shouldn’t be expected to change their deeply held convictions and values because it makes another person uncomfortable. However, they can avoid acting like jerks.
This is personal, so I hesitate to share it, but I think it might give you some insight. I was just with Ken Ham at a conference a couple of months ago. He wife, Mally, was with him and it was so sweet to see them walking around holding hands like newlyweds. It is obvious that after all these years they have a beautiful love for each other.
RC, Jr. was a caregiver to his dear sweet wife, Denise, who recently died of cancer. He was the model of sacrificial love and care for her until she died.
A lot of people don’t know this, but Marshall Foster has served his bed-ridden wife for years, staying up long hours into the night taking care of her, even though he is exhausted from his travels. He doesn’t tell people that.
So when people accuse these men of being abusive, over-bearing ogres because they believe and teach their convictions, it saddens me, because it just isn’t true.
“So when people accuse these men of being abusive, over-bearing ogres because they believe and teach their convictions, it saddens me, because it just isn’t true.”
I hope that comment wasn’t directed at me.
You asked me about my knowledge of the other speakers at the upcoming conference. I certainly cannot predict how they might respond to a hypothetical situation, but wanted to share a quick personal snapshot that might address the question of their character (are they jerks?). I think many of these homeschooling leaders are treated unfairly in the blogsphere by people who have little to no knowledge of them, but nonetheless choose to portray them in the worst possible light. I wasn’t in any way implying that you personally held such a negative view of them.
I have been homeschooling now for over a decade, so I’ve had plenty of opportunity to interact with people who hold those views (or at least read about them). My previous Family-Integrated Church was FULL of people who held some of those views. We were part of that church for over ten years, and still interact with them regularly, so I think I can safely say that I would be comfortable around such people.
I am part of a homeschooling network that offers support to homeschooling parents. We are just that: a support group. Many in the group, but not all, are Christians. I love our group because we welcome and include everyone.
One atheist mum who was part of our group, but left when she stopped home schooling, wrote us a lovely letter thanking us for making her feel welcome. She knew that many of us were Christians, and therefore, our beliefs were at odds with hers; yet, she still liked coming and learned a lot.
Where I get uncomfortable is when some members advertise our group as ‘Christian’ to others who are looking for a support group. No, we are not. We have a Google Group account and the word ‘Christian’ does not appear anywhere in the description!
I’ve had someone ask me in one meeting if I am a Christian simply because I dared say that I did not believe in YECism. I’ve had people unfriend/block me on Facebook.
Have I answered your questions?
“People shouldn’t be expected to change their deeply held convictions and values because it makes another person uncomfortable. However, they can avoid acting like jerks.”
How open would the Conference organisers be to allowing speakers with a different worldview to speak? How would the current panel of speakers take it?
It sounds like your group is endeavoring to show love as I was advocating in my article. Again, I shouldn’t endeavor to presume what other people might think or do. I know that at nearly all the conferences where I speak, we speakers have widely divergent views, but usually all within the spectrum of the Christian faith. I’ve been invited to speak at a few inclusive or secular conferences over the years, but overall, those events have not been very welcoming to me because of my Christian faith and conservative lifestyle.
I have been pondering these things for several days now, and went back and read your article again this morning. I am reminded of Jeff Myers’ book, “Cultivate”(http://www.amazon.com/Cultivate-Generation-Life-life-Mentoring/dp/0981504922). I have been sensing since the death of D. James Kennedy, Bill Bright, and others, that we are moving into a new season. And the recent events you allude to in your article are only confirming that in my mind. I have been starting to think about the apostles Peter, Paul and James, and their letters as they approached the waning years of their lives. And I have found myself, since reading your article, wanting to know about the early church, after the apostles’ deaths, how it went on… I am beginning to understand, I think, that it was the Holy Spirit who took over the role of leadership, and I am hesitantly beginning to suspect that He is going play a larger role in the Christian homeschooling movement as the future unfolds. It is difficult to surrender something you love into His hands, but I am sensing that that is indeed what we will all have to do. Thank you for your thought-provoking article. Be blessed…
Amen! Good insight! I certainly hope that is the case. More of Jesus, and less of us.
I was homeschooled from about 1985-2002, as were all of my siblings. I now have two children, ages 1.5 and 3, and while they are both in daycare/preschool right now, I am leaning more towards homeschooling.
Much of what you said resonates with me, but I do feel a bit offended by your comment about “American narcissism” and policing bedrooms. We have chosen to not have any more children, for many reasons, none of which I feel are anyone’s business. I find offense that I would be considered “narcissistic” because I want to only have two children. And to dismiss the entire feminist movement in the 1960s, and claim that was the reason many women chose to stay at home and homeschool shows a great deal of ignorance on your part. The precise reason we have issues with abusive patriarchal fathers is because there is much ignorance about women’s rights and the feminist movement.
While you have a lot of good points, unfortunately, as a young, non-religious parent seriously considering homeschooling, comments like that leave a bad taste in my mouth. I hope I can find a group of homeschoolers who are OK with really strong women leaders, and who won’t judge me if I don’t have 18 children.
Thank you ….very well said.
We homeschooled 4 boys from the beginnin…1992 until last year. It was quite a journey, well worth it. And now, our two oldest, who are married with babies intend to continue the journey. I know it will be different for them, but I intend to help where I can and I am excited to know they will do better then my husband and me!
Through all of the years, ups and downs, what really kept us going and grounded was our church. And there was only one other family there who homeschooled. It was the living presence of Our Lord Jesus Christ…..
As one of the “new hipsters” in the homeschooling community (this is our 5th year), I just have to say I LOVED this article, and it’s about time someone spoke up. 🙂 To be honest, I didn’t know what legalism, Calvinism, etc. were until I started homeschooling. It has been a very eye-opening experience for me. Somewhere in the middle of figuring it out, I did get caught up in the human aspect of it, and tried to be like others. Of course, that never works! Through it all, I’ve learned so much, and that Christ is my model for what raising my son should be like, not duplicating school at home. Not dressing like or being like the people on a blog or on TV. Just being who the Lord made ME to be, and letting Him be the guide of our heart and home. I love hos you “illustrated” with words staying out of the out-lying ditches and staying on the narrow path! So true!
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughtful words and wisdom!
Well, this was fascinating. As a Catholic homeschooler, I came across a free box of ancient Homeschool Digest magazines dating back to the beginning, and so I feel I’m reading an old friend’s words, although we’ve never met and most likely never will!
Of course we in the Church have exactly the same troubles you’ve referenced. Several very vibrant and seemingly orthodox (your word for it would be “Bible-believing”) priests — excellent and inspiring preachers — have been revealed to have fallen severely in the areas of sexuality and honesty. And what my husband and I have concluded is similar to what you said in the article:
We are lazy! We want to follow a human shepherd uncritically because his immediate effect can be so energizing and because persevering in prayer is so much harder. We want easy answers, and are furious when the fallen man who doles them out is revealed to be — a sinner, just like us. Which we should have known in the first place.
At one point, I was so enraged by the betrayal (especially because in some cases young children were harmed)that I was fantasizing being able to sit those priests down and demand, “Why can’t you just BE HOLY?” And instantly our Lord said to me, very clearly, “Do you want holy priests and bishops? Then YOU must BE HOLY yourself.”
It’s hard to keep walking down the road when everything seems against your children, your marriage, and your way of life. But you put it perfectly in saying that we have to live our witness and talk (and follow methods) less.
So even though there are key doctrines where your church and ours will not agree, many Catholic homeschoolers are right here with you all. It is my hope that even Catholic homeschoolers of good will might be able to be friends with others who are in your world! (And for the record I am right this minute wearing a denim skirt! I’ll apologize as soon as all those right now wearing denim pants do…:)
Thank you for responding. Good insights.
Thank you, Israel, another sensible and well-reasoned perspective. As you might know, I have utterly repudiated the notion of “homeschool leaders,” especially with respect to the “convention celebrity culture of self-promotion.” It’s insidious and pervasive in the movement, on the part of both buyers and sellers.
When I first published a homeschool curriculum, all I wanted was to reach families with a message, from my family to theirs. However, the advice I received from established homeschool marketers was to “build my brand” and “get my face and name out there.” I refused to do this, as I regard that as unBiblical. However, secular marketing techniques have always defined the oxymoronic “Christian celebrity” scene, at least since the days of the televangelists, and the marketplace expects that, in homeschooling and otherwise.
There are “homeschool convention groupies” who are enamored with the “personality cults” of their fave speakers. These folks seem to think that everyone who self-publishes a curriculum is rolling in the bucks, and thus in a position to dispense gifts and favors from their obvious abundance. The small homeschool publishers who masquerade as Fortune 500 corporations only serve to reinforce this misconception.
IMHO, I think the movement needs to get away entirely from the notion of “big names” on the national stage, whose faces and names are a draw to conventions. We need to utterly decentralize, and see more people rising up on the state and local level to provide advice and information, not as “leaders” but as friends. I would like to see informal local gatherings (such as summer campouts and other recreational activities) where homeschoolers could get to know each other, and gather around common interests and shared vision, and thereby establish networks and pool resources, rather than circle around their favorite national personality.
Thanks and God bless your work, jay
As a homeschool administrator, I thank you for affirming the direction we have felt God leading us. Stay focused on Christ, not on statements of faith, or traditional homeschooling approved points of view. It has been a blessing to be a part of a diverse group of homeschoolers, dealing respectfully with our differences, keeping the focus on what defines us as believers. We have chosen to look at the creed to direct on what are essentials as Christians. The changes have not come without criticism and attacks on my faith in Christ, and yet, realizing humility in all things, has been character shaping for me.
Thanks for articulating, so many things that have circulated in my head. You captured well the direction our board has felt God calling us to move!!
Well said. I find myself between generations, I was homeschooled as a child in the 80s and 90s, and am embarking on homeschooling my own children as a parent. My home school mom friends at my church are very much hipster millennials. I’ve seen these issues from all sides, and your article is the best I have read on all the issues. Thank you. May we go forward as homeschoolers, holding fast to Jesus, and retaining the right to educate or children according to or convictions.
Completely relevant! Having been part of this home education movement since 1995, I was part of the jean jumper brigade! I was ready to take on all the worlds evil, and by Gods grace raise my children in the ways of the Lord, to be arrows, warriors, or ambassadors for His cause. At the time I began I was a young Catholic Mom who wanted to do the right thing and keep God in my children’s day. It was by Gods grace and mercy, and, it was by Gods convicting power. How could I even attempt this unknown thing. I was an average “c” student myself, who was I fooling. I couldn’t educate my kids. Conviction, that’s how I think many of us, who have been in it awhile began our adventure. When I entered the convention center that first time, I was blown away by the amazing atmosphere of family togetherness and love. It drew me back year after year. I listened to amazing christian teachers who adored their children. Although some of what I was learning was curriculum based, it was predominately about practical ways to address family issues. Biblical perspective was what I was hearing. It was through the Biblical teaching I inadvertently received, that God touched my heart. My husband and I were both forever changed because of Christians who came along side us and guided us. Having been part of the leadership of one of these state conferences, I’ve seen many levels and sides of the home education movement the old school and the new school perspectives. Your article is so well done, and I Thank you for your opened minded way of thinking. I have older kids who have graduated and benefited from the old ways. I also have younger children who need that same foundational teaching and atmosphere. I believe we should embrace the future, and the new changes. I also believe we mustn’t forget the past and all the truths that accompanied those foundational years of home education. The New Testament, and a clear understanding of life of Christ is dependent on the Old Testament. You need both in their fullness as God had ordained. One should not through away the old, and one should be open to what God is showing us in the new. You might say God saved our family out of the ways of the world and the sin that accompanies it, to a new fullness in Christ! Many of the new home educators coming in need that same opportunity to see Christ practically working through families. It’s not about family size, it’s about family unity and the way Christ is revealed through us!As the statewide conferences begin to go away or change because of the differences we are seeing in the home school movement today, embrace these newcomers and share your stories. If you are new at this seek out those of us who may be a bit out there for you, and ask them how they got there!
Well said. I think your message goes even beyond the homeschooling movement. It could be used to look at the Body of Christ at large.
Israel, thank you for sending the article.It was well thought out and clearly articulated. Also, I appreciate your having taken the time in Nashville to fill me in on what has happened over the years re: HS cinferences.
Part of your article reflected a concern that some old timers carry a jaded, cynical attitude toward the newbies (my words not yours). Of course, you know more of them than do I. The ones I know express only a love for new hsers and applaud their decision, especially in the face of growing political antagonism (which, I suppose will always exist in one for or another).
I so appreciate that my children had grandparents in their lives, something I did not. I hope the young hsers believe some of us oldies still have something of value to give them.
I needed this article today. The reminder of the ‘end of the day’ is about Christ and not the academics and culture shifts are on target. Well taken, Thanks.
I find it interesting that the “old timers” that made homeshcooling an “acceptable” alternative to government run schools by their dedication and faithfulness to what they believed God called them to do ( and at times fighting legal battle so it could be possible for EVERYONE) are the ones now being told to accept changes in the homeschooling movement as if homeschoolers NOW have it all figured out. It seems to me the pendulum has certainly swung the other direction but since everything tends to chaos in this life that might not be the best thing. We need to be thankful to those who have gone before us and made it possible to have this discussion. People are people and whether they believe in God or not are inherently sinful and capable of committing any sin. Therefore, it would be foolish to think anyone, regardless of position or title, is above making any mistakes. You can hold leaders of the homeschool movement in high esteem without idolizing them or thinking they have nothing offer due to their conservatism! I have 7 children ranging from 27 down to 3. We started homeschooling 21 years ago so I guess that puts me in the “old timers” category. ?