3.8 What Would Biblical Christian Unschooling Look Like?

3.8.1 Role of the Family—Family-based Education
In the book of Malachi God indicates that a key purpose of marriage is “Godly offspring” (Malachi 2:15). For offspring to be godly they must be trained to know God and to obey His commandments (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). Raising godly offspring, therefore, is the goal of Biblical education, and the principle context for this goal is the trustee family (Rushdoony, 1983c, pp. 201-206). This, therefore, provides the context for the commandment that God gave to the newly formed family in Genesis 1:26-28. Man, both male and female joined in marriage, is to be “fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” with ‘godly’ offspring. Godly offspring will then ‘subdue’ and ‘have dominion’ until such time that “the meek … shall inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5; c.f. Psalm 37:11). “God is not a man that He should lie” (Numbers 23:19). He commanded us to pray that His kingdom come, and His will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10) right up until the time that His promise is fulfilled that says: “But as truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of the Lord” (Numbers 14:21, KJV). This shall be a day when multitudes of godly offspring, across the face of the whole earth, willingly live out the commandments of God, to the glory of His Son our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, and the manifestation of His kingdom in time and on earth.
Sin introduced frustration to this dominion mandate. God cursed the ground and ordained thorns and thistles to frustrate man’s dominion efforts (Genesis 3:17-18). Ungodly offspring is one of the outworkings of unatoned-for sin (Genesis 6:1-7). David wrote: “Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalm 51:5). This does not imply that the act leading to conception is sinful (necessarily), but rather, sin resides in a person from the moment of conception, and ensures that all who are born are born sinners, needing a Saviour; “None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12).
It is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, worked out on the Cross of Calvary, that deals with the sinful nature. Paul writes: “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20). As the redeemed of God, we are to live as those who are dead to sin, but alive unto God, walking in newness of life, in Jesus Christ (Romans 6).
Education does not make children of God. Education is not the Saviour/Messiah. Giving new birth to children of God is the work of God’s regenerating Word and the Holy Spirit, according to the will of God (I Peter 1:3; I Peter 1:23; John 3:5; John 1:12-13). However, a godly upbringing inclines the hearts of children to the Lord, and makes it easier for them to respond to the Holy Spirit when He calls them.
Willing obedience to Jesus’ commandments is the principle Biblical evidence of new birth (John 14:15; John 15:10; I John 2:3). The evidence of love one for another (John 13:34-35; John 14:15; I John 4:7-11) is qualified in the statement that love is expressed in the willing keeping of God’s Law; “(by) this we know that we love the children of God, that we keep his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome” (I John 5:2-3). Therefore, this is the fulfilment of the New Covenant promise made by God in Ezekiel when He said:
“I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules” (Ezekiel 36:25-27).
This sanctifying work of Biblical education is to be conducted in the context of family and family life. R. J. Rushdoony (1973), in his book, The Institutes of Biblical Law Volume I, wrote a chapter called ‘Education and the Family’. In this chapter he outlines six aspects of family-based education, from a Biblical perspective. These aspects include: chastisement; sound instruction (a godly education); an intensely practical education; the responsibility of parents and children to be productive, responsible family members; a consciousness of membership of a family; and godly learning (pp 182-185). These things are instilled by teaching and practically applying the Law-Word of God as the foundation of family-based education. Paul alludes to this kind of education when he writes to Timothy:
I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well (II Timothy 1:5).
But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (II Timothy 3:14-17).
The Christian home education movement takes these Scriptural injunctions seriously. Home educators seek to provide Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education for their children in the context of the home. Some home educators simply try and replicate the structures of school, and administer schooling in the context of the home. These I would call ‘homeschoolers’. Others, however, take seriously the passage in Deuteronomy that says:
Now this is the commandment—the statutes and the rules—that the Lord your God commanded me to teach you, that you may do them in the land to which you are going over, to possess it, that you may fear the Lord your God, you and your son and your son’s son, by keeping all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be long. Hear therefore, O Israel, and be careful to do them, that it may go well with you, and that you may multiply greatly, as the Lord the God of your fathers has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind then as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates (Deuteronomy 6:1-9).
This is what I would call, education in the context of life. God’s Law-Word places education in the context of family members living life together, and parents teaching their children in how to live life in a way that is pleasing to God; living life in the light of His Law-Word (“when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise”). Nothing of this implies the need for schools or schooling (even homeschooling). Later in this chapter I will talk about the process of deschooling and then delivering education through unschooling. And it is my contention that the unschooling model is much closer to what God was talking about in this passage from the book of Deuteronomy.
3.8.2 Role of private enterprise—Private Skills Delivery
According to the answer to Q. 141. of the The Larger (Westminster) Catechism, “What are the duties required in the eighth commandment?”—being, ‘Thou shalt not steal!’—many of the duties relate to the acquisition of private property through the diligent conducting of legal and legitimate business in the market place:
A. The duties required in the eighth commandment are, truth, faithfulness, and justice in contracts and commerce between man and man; rendering to every one (sic.) his due; restitution of goods unlawfully detained from the right owners thereof; giving and lending freely, according to our abilities, and the necessities of others; moderation of our judgments, wills, and affections concerning worldly goods; a provident care and study to get, keep, use, and dispose these things which are necessary and convenient for the sustentation of our nature, and suitable to our condition; a lawful calling, and diligence in it; frugality; avoiding unnecessary law-suits, and suretiship, or other like engagements; and an endeavour by all just and lawful means, to procure, preserve, and further the wealth and outward estate of others, as well as our own (Wilkinson, et. al., 1976, pp. 225-227).
Jesus spoke much about the importance of conducting business in a godly way, and soundly condemned laziness, indolence and improvidence:
He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You know that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 25:24-30).
A nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return. Calling ten of his servants, he gave them ten minas, and said to them, ‘Engage in business until I come’. But his citizens hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’ When he returned, having received the kingdom, he ordered these servants to whom he had given the money to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by doing business. … Then another came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your mina, which I kept laid away in a handkerchief; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man. You take what you did not deposit, and reap where you did not sow. He said to him, ‘I will condemn you with your own words, you wicked servant! You knew that I was a severe man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not saw? Why then did you not put my money in the bank, and at my coming I might have collected it with interest: And he said to those who stood by, ‘Take the mina from him, and give it to the one who has the ten minas.’ And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten minas!’ ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. But as for these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slaughter them before me’” (Luke 19:12-27).
The Apostle Paul also spoke of the importance of godly labour as a Christian man’s duty, and the evils of idleness and dependence upon others for sustenance, when a person is able-bodied:
Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother (II Thessalonians 3:6-15).
Now concerning brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love one another, for that indeed is what you are doing to all the brothers throughout Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers, to do this more and more, and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs (mind your own business, KJV), and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one (I Thessalonians 4:9-12).
It is legitimate to offer one’s skills and knowledge for sale in the marketplace, along with one’s labour. Therefore, most people should have an unhindered let, under God, to be paid for passing on their knowledge and skills to others in a fair market contractual arrangement. In this sense, education is a free-market commodity. If there is a demand for a specific skill, and/or element of knowledge, then those who have legally and legitimately acquired or created such should, in turn, have the right to pass such skill, and/or knowledge, on to others for a negotiated and agreed upon price. This is a free market decision, and should not be regulated by governments, other than, governments do have an obligation to ensure that the weights and measures that are being used in the market place are accurate (Leviticus 19:36). In this context, most people have the opportunity to be teachers, and most people have the opportunity to be students.
The market place will set its own value on skills and knowledge. Those who are enterprising, entrepreneurial, and enthusiastic will do well. Those who are lazy, sloppy and/or dull-witted will not do so well. However, hunger will spur such on to do better (Proverbs 19:15).
3.8.3 Role of the Church—The Levitical Ministry
According to R. J. Rushdoony, “a tithe was given to the Levites, who gave a tithe of the tithe to the priests (Num. 18:25-28)” (1999, p. 12) “… the Temple or priestly tithe was only one percent of the believer’s tithe, which was paid to the Levites (Num. 18:26). This was used by the Levites to provide a variety of services, care of the sanctuary, its music, service as educators, judges, and more” (1999, pp. 23-24). The ministry of the Levites was to “be in all the tribes” (1999, p. 57). From this we learn that the church’s economy is funded by one tenth of the increase gained by its members. Of that one tenth, one tenth of the tenth is spent on church-oriented ministries (ministries of the sanctuary), and nine-tenths of the tenth is spent on kingdom-oriented ministries, which can include teaching functions serving the broader community.
Jesus specifically said that teaching is a legitimate and necessary role of the Church (Matthew 28:20), and that such teaching should be oriented to discipleship of all the nations (Matthew 28:19), and the content of the teaching is to be the Law of God (Matthew 28:20).
Paul lists teachers of the Church amongst the servant gifts that Christ gave to His people upon His ascension (Ephesians 4:11). Such teachers are to “equip the saints for the work of ministry”, so that the saints, having been equipped, can build “up the body of Christ” into “mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12-13).
The Church, therefore, has a legitimate and essential role in education in the world, and also in the Church itself. Steve M. Schlissel (1996), quoting R. J. Rushdoony, wrote: “The point is that the church itself in the New Testament was more a school than a temple.” “The training of … mature men is the function of the church. The purpose of the church should not be to bring men into subjection to the church, but rather to train them into a royal priesthood capable of bringing the world into subjection to Christ the King” (p. 53).
Therefore, Church-subsidised teaching ministries, who can also receive contractual top-ups to their subsidies from community members for teaching services rendered, are able to make an important contribution to the general education market. Such teachers have a critical role in communicating God’s Law-Word in relation to all of life in the market place, contributing to the complete training and equipping of anyone and everyone conducting a legitimate vocation and calling. For example, such teachers have a critical role in communicating the details of God’s Law to those who are learning to practice law in the general market place. An education market, thus served, would greatly facilitate the ushering in of God’s Kingdom (i.e., God’s will being done God’s way) as it relates to every facet of life.
3.8.4 Role of the State—Guaranteeing Liberty
Christ said, “So if the Son sets you free (from slavery to sin), you will be free indeed” (John 8:36). Christian liberty has been a compelling catch-cry throughout the ages, especially in the English-speaking world. Paul wrote: “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery” (Galatians 5:1). This compelling call to liberty is what inspired Patrick Henry, in 1775, to finish his rousing speech to the second Virginia Convention with the words:
Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death! (Henry, 1836 [1775]).
The role of the State is to guard this freedom for all those in its jurisdiction. The State is to protect the Church, the family, and the general marketplace, from invasion from without, and from corruption within. However, God has strictly defined and limited this activity of the State. The Apostle Paul wrote: “Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God” (Romans 13:1). This authority is given by God so that the State can be “a terror … to (the) bad” (Romans 13:3) “bear(ing) the sword (not) in vain. For (the State) is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on wrongdoers” (Romans 13:4). It is those who steal who are to fear the sword of the State; it is those who commit adultery (and every other sexually deviant activity under the broader application of the word adultery) that should fear the sword of the State; it is the murderer, the idolater, the man-stealer, the covetous, the breaker of God’s holy Laws, who should fear the sword of the State. When the State capitally punishes the adulterer, it protects the family. When the State capitally punishes the murderer, it protects the lives of people in the street. When the State exacts the prescribed punishments of God’s Law, it administers God’s justice, and ensures that those who live within the boundaries of God’s Law live in peace and liberty.
On the other hand, when the State over-steps its jurisdiction, then God’s people must respectfully dissent. Peter, and the other Apostles, when confronted with a State that over-stepped its jurisdiction responded: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Peter was echoing Jesus when Jesus said that we must “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21). Education does not belong to Caesar, it belongs to God, and God has delegated it to the family, the Church and the market place. The State has a duty to protect the freedom of the family, Church and market place to go about their educational business without hindrances. The State is to promote liberty in this area, not be guilty of repression through certification, registration, legislation and taxation. The State and the Family
In his book, Baptized Patriarchalism: the Cult of the Family, Gary North (1995) writes:
The Roman state steadily absorbed the Roman family under the Empire. This is the perpetual threat to all partiarchalism. The patriarchal system begins with almost total loyalty to the father, but eventually this loyalty is transferred to the state because the state takes over the family’s welfare functions and its sacramental office. Bread and circuses are provided by the state. Copulating priestesses replace the father’s lustral rites … The autonomous family is not an alternative to the state; rather, it becomes the state’s most important agent. The father represents the state to his children. The willingness of fathers to send their children into the established church known as the public school system is the obvious example.
The family is not an agency of public law enforcement, for it cannot lawfully impose sanctions outside its own boundaries. The ability of the state to tax away the wealth of the family makes the state the primary agency in society if it is a question of family vs. state. The family will always lose the contest. Only by converting the family into a mini-state – warlordism – can partiarchalism reverse the drift into centralized statism. Warlordism is the sociology of the Mafia, not the Bible (North, 1995, p. 2-3).
In terms of education, publicly funded schools are un-Biblical. Under God, as has been established earlier, education is a family jurisdiction in the first instance. When the state enters this jurisdiction, it does so by violating the Law of God, and sets up a tyranny over the family. Families that choose to reclaim this jurisdiction are often persecuted by the state. Some recent instances are cited as examples of such persecution.
In an article by My News Desk [MND] (2013) it is reported that a Swedish homeschooling family was fined USD$15,000 by the Swedish Supreme Court for home educating their 12 year old daughter. The fine was imposed retroactively, and without any consideration of the family’s financial situation and capacity to pay. The law under which they were fined was passed on July 1, 2011. The homeschooling took place in the school year 2010-2011, when homeschooling was being allowed in Sweden. The article goes on to state:
… the current centre-right government has outlawed home education in Sweden. … (the) rise in interest (in home education in Sweden, despite this law) is understandable as the quality of Swedish schools is declining with poor academic results, disorder in the classrooms, an all too common inability to handle children with special needs, and a level of bullying which creates a great distress for many families” (MND, 2013).
Previously the Swedish government had permanently removed a 7-year-old child, Dominic Johannsson, from his parents, Christer and Annie Johansson, because the parents were taking the child to India so that they could homeschool the child overseas, away from the repressive Swedish laws (WND, 2013).
In Darmstadt, Germany, there was a recent example of a home educating family having their children forcefully removed from them (WND, 2013). Police armed with a battering ram forced their way into the family home, and the parents were told that they wouldn’t see their children again soon. The state had previously admitted that the children “were well cared for,” but declared that force was needed to remove the children because the “children had ‘adopted the parents’ opinions’ regarding homeschooling”. The reported crime was simply: “the parents were providing their children’s education;” the parents “had failed to meet the government’s demands for (religious) ‘integration’”. The actions of the government were necessary to “bring the religious convictions of the family into line with the unalterable school attendance requirement.” In the article it was pointed out that the action of the police was based on a law that was drafted by Hitler’s regime during World War II. The intention of the law was to ensure “that all children submit to the indoctrination programs in the nation’s public schools”. In the article it is explained:
It was in 1937 when Adolf Hitler said: “The youth of today is ever the people of tomorrow. For this reason we have set before ourselves the task of inoculating our youth with the spirit of this community of the people at a very early age, at an age when human beings are still unperverted and therefore unspoiled. The Reich stands, and it is building itself up for the future, upon its youth. And this new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing” (WND, 2013)
A contemporary German politician, Wolfgang Drautz, was reported to have “emphasized the importance of socializing children through public schools” (WND, 2013).
In 2010 a U.S. immigration judge, in a Supreme Court, granted the Romeike family, a German family, asylum status because of German government persecution against them for homeschooling. However, the Obama administration had the ruling overturned. It was reported:
The Obama administration, unhappy with the outcome, appealed and obtained an order from a higher court that the family must return to Germany. The Obama administration has urged in court parents essentially have no right to determine how and what their children are taught leaving the authority with the government (WND, 2013).
And the situation in Australia is no different. Without consultation with the home educating constituency, the New South Wales government released its, Registration for Home Schooling in NSW-Information Package early in 2013. In this package the Office of the Board of Studies, NSW goes to lengths to make clear to parents that they may only home school on government terms, and effectively, only if the government-mandated schooling content and processes are replicated in the home.
In NSW, parents who decide to home school their children must have the approval of the Minister for Education or the Minister’s delegate. Approval to home school is through registration. The Office of the Board of Studies is responsible for administering the home schooling registration program and has been delegated the authority to register children for home schooling (OBOSNSW, 2013, p. 4).
The assumption of this paragraph of the Information Package is that the State is the highest jurisdiction in the sphere of education. However, God’s Law specifically indicates that family and church are the highest jurisdictions (family heads are answerable to Church Officers in issues of education, not to the Officers of the State, but family heads are mandated by God to take the primary responsibility for educating the members of their family).
Under the Education Acts 1990, the parent of a child of compulsory school-age has a duty to ensure that the child is enrolled at, and attending, a government school or registered non-government school or that a child is registered for home schooling and receiving instruction in accordance with the conditions of registration for home schooling.
Registration for home schooling requires that parents accept responsibility for developing, implementing and assessing their child’s educational program as based on Board of Studies syllabuses. The educational program upon which a child’s registration is based must be delivered in the child’s home.
Home schooling, also referred to as home educating, requires a parent to deliver the NSW Board of Studies curriculum (OBOSNSW, 2013, p. 5).
These instructions imply that there is to be no difference, essentially, between the education delivered by State schools, non-State schools and home schools. All schools are to conform to the State mandated curriculum and syllabuses. Furthermore, home schooling families are required to deliver their State structured schooling in the confines of the home. Many home educators use the home as a base, but much of their education is delivered in context (museums, art galleries, concert halls, dance studios, work sites, shopping malls, homes of friends and family, and also the homes of the poor and the needy in the community). For many families, education is a much more extensive activity, with a far more ranging curriculum and syllabus than that which is mandated by the State. Conforming to this State requirement forces families to deliver a much narrower and truncated education than the families desire.
Registered home schooled children are authorised to be home schooled in accordance with the conditions specified on the relevant certificate of registration including the home address, the period of registration and the Year or Years of schooling, as relevant to the educational program to be delivered (OBOSNSW, 2013, p. 5).
The nature of “schools” and “schooling” is to produce children who are the same as every other child. Children are not the same, and should not be treated the same. Their educational needs are not the same as every other child, and therefore, for the State to insist that every child be educated to the same, arbitrarily decided set of parameters is tyrannical, oppressive, and for many children a cruel and unusual punishment – a twelve, thirteen, fourteen year sentence.
Home schooling does not provide for a child to be eligible for the award of the Record of School Achievement or the Higher School Certificate. To be eligible for either of these awards, a child must have attended a government school, a registered and accredited non-government school or a college of TAFE in order to complete the prescribed study, assessments and examinations for the awards (OBOSNSW, 2013, p. 8).
Children who have been home schooled are not even given the dignity of being acknowledge as having been schooled. Parents who have been schooled, and who believe that the schooling certificates are important to get on in life, are driven by this paragraph to send their children to government approved, certified, registered schools so that their children can be classed as “properly” schooled. This is demeaning to parents who work hard to provide an education for their children. However, parents need to realise that their children may need a schooling certificate to get a particular job, but their children do not need schooling certificates to be entrepreneurial, productive and successful in life. By many measures, certification is not an accurate indicator of eventual success in life. Some of the most successful people in history were school drop-outs, or never went to school at all.
Children registered for home schooling for Kindergarten to Year 10 must be undertaking a full-time educational program delivered in the home. Part-time home schooling is not possible for children registered for Kindergarten to Year 10. All children of compulsory school age must be enrolled in a school (government or non-government) or registered for home schooling on a full-time basis (OBOSNSW, 2013, p. 8).
This paragraph is hypocritical. Anyone who has worked in a school knows that much of the school days is spent in activities other than on-task, academic learning. Wicks (2012) suggested that in American schools one in 88 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. This means that many classrooms will have at least one, if not more, autistic children to contend with. Wicks, when describing the off-task activity of the diagnosed Autistic student that she was researching, observed the following:
Six sessions of baseline data were collected. During baseline, rates of off-task behaviour ranged from 45% to 65% of the intervals observed. … (Student) was off-task for a mean of 9.7 out of the 20 one-minute time intervals in which data were collected. In other words, (student) was off-task for 49% percent (sic) of the time intervals. … The highest rate of off-task behaviour occurred on the last day of baseline #Session 6# where (student) was off-task for 65% of the intervals observed (Wicks, 2012).
When a small group of students are off-task, and most likely engaging in annoying, interruptive and sometimes dangerous behaviour, it is not just the child(ren) concerned who are affected, but the whole class is distracted from learning while the teacher has to deal with the issue that is manifesting. Many home educating families can accomplish the same amount of academic activity (or more) as is achieved in school, in half the time (or less), because there are far less distractions to contend with. This paragraph, therefore, is demanding of homeschooling families a commitment that is not even achieved in the best of schools; in fact, in most schools, the academic commitment of students is way less than the full-time required in this paragraph.
It is in the State’s best interest to promote healthy family life. Strong and healthy families contribute to strong and healthy communities. Invariably, slums and poorer areas of a city are generally coupled with poor family life (acknowledging exceptions to the rule). Parke, in the CLASP paper, Are Married Parents Really Better for Children? What Research Says About the Effects of Family Structure on Child Well-being, admitted:
Over the past 20 years, a body of research has developed on how changes in patterns of family structure affect children. Most researchers now agree that together these studies support the notion that, on average, children do best when raised by their two married, biological parents who have low-conflict relationships” (Park, 2003, p. 1).
Therefore, the State must work with families that mean the very best for their children, not against them. The State and the Church
As has been established, the State has the God-ordained function of being a minister of justice, “not a terror to good conduct, but to bad.” Justice is to be defined in terms of God’s Law-Word, and the State is “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer,” i.e. to those who transgress God’s Law (Romans 13:1-7). However, when the State assumes jurisdiction beyond that which God has assigned it, because it bears the sword (Romans 13:4)—i.e. the capacity to inflict sanctions in terms of fines, imprisonment, or even administering capital punishment—God’s people need to be protected from the State because it has taken to itself too much power and authority. The Church standing between the State and the Family, and between the State and the individual, is a legitimate role of the Church.
When the church is weak, the Family is vulnerable to the State. I Kings 21:1-16 is a story of the de-capitalisation of a family by the State. The Church was nowhere to be seen. It should have been there to defend the family with the prophetic word in regards to God’s Law concerning inviolable land inheritance (Numbers 34:1-29). On the other hand, when David violated a family’s sanctity in regards to his sin with Bathsheba, the Church was there to pronounce, “You are the man!” (II Samuel 11:1-12:23).
Gary North (1995) wrote: “… the family is a legitimate and necessary institution, but separate from the institutional church, it has been no match for the state in history” (p. 6). Part of the problem is that the church has not insisted that the family pay the Tithe. When tithes are not properly paid, and then properly administered, then the church does not have the financial resources to administer all the proper social functions that God has ordained should be conducted by the Church. The State, according to God’s command, should be collecting less than the Tithe to administer its God-ordained functions (ISamuel 8:10-18 – a tenth being given to the State considered a great judgement upon the people). North, commenting on this writes:
… What are the biblical limits of State authority? …the tithe sets these limits. Civil government at all levels combined is not authorized by God to collect taxes equal to the tithe (I Sam. 8:17). Nothing funded by the state beyond this limit is biblically legitimate. Taxation in the twentieth century has exceeded this limit by at least three to one in every nation. The modern world stands condemned (North, 1995, p. 6).
The condemnation is upon the church for failing to collect the Tithe as commanded by God, and thereby failing to engage in the work that God has ordained for the church. The condemnation is upon the family because by failing to pay the Tithe, it has created a vacuum that the State has willingly filled. Filling the vacuum is funded by stripping the family of its assets through taxation. Such assets should be used to capitalize families across multiple generations. The condemnation is upon the State, because by weakening the family, and over-riding a weak church, the fabric of society is weakened and ultimately the State is undone.
It is the Church’s responsibility to defend the role of the family in the education of its children. However, family heads are accountable to church officers for the way in which they discharge this responsibility. It is not for the State to dictate the curriculum and enforce syllabi upon families. This is a family responsibility. However, family should obtain assistance from the Church in this matter, and assistance from Church trained experts in the market place. The State and the Market place
We often talk about a free market. However, God’s Law acknowledges the fact of original sin. Therefore, the market place cannot be totally free. For instance, governments are required by God to impose standards of weights and measures (Leviticus 19:35-36). This is not to hinder free trade, but to ensure that there is integrity in free transactions in the market place. Money should not be controlled by the State, however, the weights and measures that are used to establish fair market amounts of those commodities being used as money must be determined by a body that has the capacity to administer general sanctions when false weights and measures are being used. This cannot be performed by the family, because the family cannot administer sanctions outside its own sphere. This cannot be performed by the Church, because the Church is to be a minister of God’s grace and mercy, principally. The State, on the other hand, is given general sanctions, such as enforced restitution, enforced temporary slavery, public corporal discipline, confinement to a specific location and capital punishment (Rushdoony, 1973, p. 228). The State, under God, has sufficient power and authority to deter widespread criminality in the market place.
At the same time, it is to the State’s best advantage to allow relatively free trade in the market place. Free trade enables wealth accumulation. Wealthy families in the market place are able to create employment, provide housing, minister social welfare, and so on.
3.8.5 What does Unschooling look like?
Ivan Illich (1970), in his book Deschooling Society, proposed a method of delivery of education that looks nothing like a school-based system. The principal difference is that the controls around what and how education is delivered are shifted from the State and returned to the family (Illich, 1970, p. 9). This would enable a much greater participation in educational delivery by private individuals through, what Illich called, “educational webs” (p. xix). Illich argues that many people in the market place are experts in their fields, and if education was deregulated, and did not require State certification for entry, then “a great range of skills (could be) passed on by (a) very large expert base” (p. 16). He wrote:
The most radical alternative to school would be a network or service which gave each man the same opportunity to share his current concern with others motivated by the same concern” (p. 20).
Subsequent to Illich writing his book, others have built on his ideas, and what Illich called ‘de-schooling’ now includes the concept of ‘unschooling’. Though continuing to have Illich’s original application in a philosophical sense, deschooling now often is defined as:
… the mental process a person goes through after being removed from a formal schooling environment, when the “school mindset” is eroded over time. … the time period it takes for children removed from school to adjust to learning in an unstructured environment. … learning to live without the reinforcement of grading and regimented learning (Wikipedia-Deschooling, 2013).
The ideas that Illich expounded as relating to what he called deschooling, fit neatly into the framework which others have called unschooling. Whereas Rousas John Rushdoony has been identified as the ‘Father’ of the modern homeschooling movement (Wikipedia-Rousas John Rushdoony, 2013), John Holt is often identified as the ‘Father’ of the unschooling movement (Wikipedia-Unschooling, 2013). Unschooling has been defined as:
an educational method and philosophy that rejects compulsory school as a means for learning. Unschoolers learn through their natural life experiences including play, game play, household responsibilities, personal interests and curiosity, internships and work experience, travel, books, elective classes, family, mentors, and social interaction. Unschooling encourages exploration of activities initiated by the children themselves, believing that the more personal learning is, the more meaningful well-understood and therefore useful it is to the child. While courses may occasionally be taken, unschooling questions the usefulness of standard curricula, conventional grading methods, and other features of traditional schooling in maximising the education of each unique child (Wikipedia-Unschooling, 2013).
Adding to this definition, Farenga (n.d.) states that unschooling is “also known as interest driven, child-led, natural, organic, eclectic, or self-directed learning”.

According to Illich, schooling has institutionalised much of Western society. The de-institutionalisation of education, according to Illich, will lead to a greater number of members of society who will be able to think outside pre-determined paradigms. This would enhance individuality (Illich, 1970, p. 39) and ultimately, when a critical mass has been realised, lead to the de-institutionalising of all of life (p. 48).
As with other institutions, such as prisons, orphanages, hospitals for the mentally insane, and so on, there are negative outcomes to the condition of institutionalisation; and schools, as institutions, are not immune from these outcomes. Illich identifies institutions as places where criminal activity is bred. He wrote:
… jails, up until two centuries ago, served as a means of detaining men until they were sentenced, maimed, killed or exiled, and were sometimes deliberately used as a form of torture. Only recently have we begun to claim that locking people up in cages will have a beneficial effect on their character and behaviour. Now quite a few people are beginning to understand that jail increases both the quality and the quantity of criminals, that, in fact, it often creates them out of mere nonconformists. Far fewer people, however, seem to understand that mental hospitals, nursing homes, and orphan asylums (and by implication, schools) do much the same thing (Illich, 1970, p.55).
It is not necessary to research too thoroughly to come up with reports (A.S.A, 2004; McGrath, 2005; Wolke, et al., 2013), programs (Brown, et al., 2011; SSSCWG, 2013; Vignando, 2013), news articles (Hope, 2013; Norton, 2013; Young, 2013), radio interviews (Mitchell, 2012; Rivera, 2013), etc., that highlight the extent to which bullying and other criminal activities are endemic in schools—a logical bi-product of the institutionalisation (imprisonment) of children. According to R. J. Rushdoony, the humanistic prison system is a relatively modern institution. In earlier periods, a prison was only used to hold people awaiting trial (1973, pp. 228, 514-522; 1982, p. 32; 1999, p. 36). However, “a prison holds in enforced community a large number of incorrigible criminals …” (Rushdoony, 1973, p. 519). The book edited by William F. Richkenbacker (1974), The Twelve-Year Sentence, supports Illich in his contentions, and documents the negative effects upon children, families and society that arise out of the compulsory institutionalising (imprisonment) of children. Illich’s model facilitates the forming of multi-generational groups of like-minded students around a trained, gifted and enthusiastic practitioner of the skills/knowledge to be learned. The gathering is a free market decision, not a State-imposed requirement. The model eliminates the institutionalising of education within the confines of schools, and eliminates their prison-like qualities.
One important feature that characterises schools is their dependence upon assessment and test scores. In many cases, the sole outcome of many years of schooling is a single number (in Australia called the Australian Tertiary Admission Rank [ATAR]). Richardson (2012) made the comment in his Youtube presentation that:
… test scores tell us little, if anything, about our children’s preparedness for future success in a fast-changing world. A recent IBM survey of CEOs asked them to name the most crucial factor for future success, and their answers had nothing to do with state assessments, SAT scores, or even Advanced Placement tests. Instead they cited creativity and “managing the growing complexity of the world”. I can’t find one state or local test currently in use that captures our kids’ mastery of those two areas (Richardson, 2012).
According to Illich, deschooling (in the context of this dissertation, ‘unschooling’) provides an education that is “complex, lifelong, and unplanned” (p. 23), and that enables an unhampered participation in a meaningful setting (p. 40). None of this is testable, in the sense of school-based assessment.
An unschooling context means access to any knowledge or training that is deemed necessary at the moment. In the words of Illich:
A good educational system should have three purposes: it should provide all who want to learn with access to available resources at any time in their lives; empower all who want to share what they know to find those who want to learn it from them; and, finally, furnish all who want to present an issue to the public with the opportunity to make their challenge known. Such a system would require the application of constitutional guarantees to education. Learners should not be forced to submit to an obligatory curriculum, or to discrimination based on whether they possess a certificate or a diploma. Nor should the public be forced to support, through a regressive taxation, a huge professional apparatus of educators and buildings which in fact restricts the public’s chances for learning to the services the profession is willing to put on the market. It should use modern technology to make free speech, free assembly, and a free press truly universal and, therefore, fully educational (p. 76).
In a Youtube presentation, Sir Ken Robinson (2013) discussed his concept of an ideal learning place. He called it, ‘The Explore Academy’. He highlighted the need for intergenerational learning, with a facility that was open all day and all evening for learning to take place. In The Explore Academy classes would include: art, music, dance, theatre, literature, science, maths, language teaching, sport, and such like. None of these disciplines would be placed in some kind of hierarchy of importance over others. In the initial stages of attendance at the Academy, some classes would be mandatory, but this would simply be to enable the students to try a range of things to help them work out what their preferences really are. After the initial stages, the students could follow their preferences. The Explore Academy would be, what he called, ‘a flexi-school’. Robinson’s idea could be used by unschoolers as a location point for access to specific skills and disciplines when needed. It could be a location point for those who have marketable skills and disciplines to engage in contractual arrangements with those who attended the Academy. The facilities could be rented, not necessarily purpose-built, and when the demand wanes, the Academy could be unwound and relocated to an area with a higher demand for its services. Sir Ken Robinson’s idea could be highly transportable, and readily accessible.
Sir Ken Robinson (2012), in his Kindle ebook, Why School? How Education Must Change When Learning and Information are Everywhere, points out that the internet gives access, by unschoolers, to almost limitless information. He writes:
Today, if we have an internet connection, we have fingertip, on-demand access to an amazing library that holds close to the sum of human knowledge and, equally important, to more than two billion people with whom we can potentially learn (Richardson, 2012).
This internet access is to both structured and unstructured knowledge that can ground, extend and challenge any branch of learning. An excellent example is the Khan Academy. The web address is: http://www.khanacademy.org/. The stated mission of Khan Academy is:
A free world-class education for anyone anywhere
Khan Academy is an organization on a mission. We’re a not-for-profit with the goal of changing education for the better by providing a free world-class education for anyone anywhere.
All of the site’s resources are available to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you are a student, teacher, homeschooler, principal, adult returning to the classroom after 20 years, or a friendly alien just trying to get a leg up in earthly biology. Khan Academy’s materials and resources are available to you completely free of charge.
How it works for students
Students can make use of our extensive library of content, including interactive challenges, assessments, and videos from any computer with access to the web.
Coaches, parents, and teachers
Coaches, parents, and teachers have unprecedented visibility into what their students are learning and doing in the Khan Adacemy. (Khan Academy, 2013, /about)
The Khan Academy is expanding the range of disciplines that it offers, but at the time of writing this dissertation, Khan Academy was offering instruction in Maths subjects, Science subjects, Economics and Finance subjects and Humanities subjects. The Khan Academy provides opportunity for learning facilitators to monitor the progress of students, and to set up classes of students. The concept of the Khan Academy is a reproducible concept, and many such learning providers could be replicated across the internet providing freely available education to anyone who wanted it, quite outside the bounds of schools and schooling. Unschooling families have access to all they need for the formal aspects of their unschooling processes.
Knewton is a web based organisation that facilitates highly personalized pathways for learning. Knewton works with organisations that create computer-based learning packages, and helps them to deliver those packages in a way that ensures the students spend as little time as possible in working towards their educational goals. Knewton does concept-level analysis and enables flexible implementation of programs. Knewton can be found at: http://www.knewton.com/.
The internet provides access to free libraries and collections of information. A sample selection of such resources include:
http://www.gutenberg.org/ Project Gutenberg, a site that gives free access to important historical literature
http://oll.libertyfund.org/index.php?option=com_frontpage&Itemid=149 The On-line Library of Liberty, a site that provides access to works that promote civil liberty
http://www.wikipedia.org/ Wikipedia, the On-line interactive Encyclopaedia
http://www.freebooks.com/ Free Books, a site the provides ebooks on a whole range of subjects for free.
http://www.garynorth.com/freebooks/ Gary North’s Free Books, a location to get free books written by Gary North and other writers of similar persuasion
http://www.ccel.org/ Christian Classics Ethereal Library, a digital library of free books that have been written by Christian authors over the centuries
http://www.swrb.com/ Still Waters Revival Books, a web site that provides free and low cost books written by Calvinist and Puritan authors.
http://chalcedon.edu/research/ Chalcedon Research, a web site that allows on-line search of a growing number of the titles written by Rev. R. J. Rushdoony, and authors of similar persuasion
http://www.youtube.com/ Youtube, a web site where literally millions of video clips have been store, that are searchable, and can provide information on just about any topic that can be conceived
The range of on-line print, audio and video resources is enormous. There is no requirement for students to be schooled, attend school, or be subjected to schooling to learn and master skills, information and knowledge. Wisdom comes from living life, applying knowledge and relating to significant others, none of which can be done in a school context, adequately. In an unschooled context, all of these on-line resources are immediately available when they are needed in the context of living life. They can be accessed when relevant; when the child is ready and passionate about learning, when the parent sees an opportunity and can lead the child to the resolution of that opportunity. As Richardson said of schooling, “… the system … (is) vastly out of sync with the realities our children are facing” (Robertson, 2012). Unschooling is grounded in reality. Furthermore, he said, “… based on visits to hundreds of schools in the past few years, I’d estimate that 95 percent of them are doing little or nothing to truly prepare their students for the world as it currently exists” (Robertson, 2012). Unschooling is as current as the adventures the family cares to embark upon as an educational endeavour.
Illich noted that adolescence, or youth, was an unknown concept in much of history. It has only been the advent of schooling that has facilitated the perpetuation of childhood and its corresponding immaturity in older people. Illich wrote:
Childhood as distinct from infancy, adolescence, or youth was unknown to most historical periods. … Only with the advent of industrial society did the mass production of “childhood” become feasible and come within the reach of the masses. The school system is a modern phenomenon, as is the childhood it produces” (Illich, 1970, pp. 27-28).
Clearly the goal of the Christian life, according to the Apostle Paul, is maturity. He wrote: “…let us … go on to maturity …” (Hebrews 6:1). Paul points out that it is shameful that older Christians still behave as immature children – babies – when they should be mature (Hebrews 5:12-13). Sadly, many churchmen live a perpetual childhood, because they refuse to grow up in righteousness by applying the Law-Word of God to every area of their lives and the lives of those around them (Hebrews 5:14). R. J. Rushdoony (1987) addresses this condition of immaturity in his book, Revolt Against Maturity: a Biblical Psychology of Man. In this book he writes: “Man’s revolt against the maturity God requires of him is … ultimately a revolt against life” (p. 3). In understanding the importance of maturity as an educational and life-style goal, Rushdoony observes that “man was created a mature being, not a child. … man was created a mature being in terms of the sovereign purpose of God, so that the meaning of man’s life transcends man. Man can never be understood in terms of himself but only by reference to the sovereign purpose of God” (pp. 6, 7).
Schooling perpetuates immaturity, and Statist schooling militates against the sovereign purposes of God; relegating them, at best, as irrelevant musings of religious people in the context of their holy huddles. Whereas, the purposes of God are universal and mandated for all mankind, to obey in every place and in every age (Matthew 28:18-20).