This past weekend, while everyone was Christmas shopping, I had the pleasure of a bright and early hospital visit. My doctor had ordered a two hour glucose test, and I needed to be there at the crack of dawn. Even though I was dreading this test for the obvious reasons, there were two things I was looking forward to. The being out and about early enough to see the sun rise, and two hours to just sit and read. I absolutely love to see the sun rise and greet the new day with all of its magnificent colors. And who doesn't like alone time to read? I had ordered a book awhile back (Already Gone by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer) and haven't found any spare time to read it yet. Well this day seemed like the perfect one. Besides the fact that I got extremely ill and they had to get me a bed...I kind of enjoyed the little hospital visit. One section of this book hit me so hard I thought I would share.
"Susan is in fifth grade and she loves it. Typical of children her age, her learning curve seems to be going straight up. She loves making friends; she loves reading books; she loves her mom and dad; and she loves Jesus...sort of. In all honesty, she's not too sure about Jesus right now. Yes, Susan grew up in the church and faithfully attended with her family on a regular basis. For the last several years she has enjoyed the bliss of faith as a child. Now, however, on the verge of adolescence, she is beginning to make her faith her own...or not. Her spiritual life is hanging in the balance and no one even knows that's the case.
On Monday morning, with a ponytail sticking out from the side of her head and her favorite cartoon character embossed on her back pack, Susan will go to school.
At school, Susan learns many things. She learns about history, mathematics, language, and science--both observational and historical science. She learns the science from men and women who wear white coats and safety glasses. They use test tubes and Bunsen burners. They dissect animals and use microscopes to look at cells, and they carry clipboards under their arms to record all of their scientific findings. To Susan, they look smart. They do research. They test hypotheses. They prove them with their experiments. Susan knows that these people deal with real things--things that you can touch and feel--the kinds of things that matter. She spends many hours a week learning from these people. And she sees that they are dealing with fact. Because of this, when the same people talk about the history of the universe, dinosaurs, fossils, the origin of life, and the like, and interpret them in a particular way (e.g., millions of years and evolution)--Susan thinks they are speaking with the same authority as when they discuss their observational science that involves what you can observe and experiment with directly. Susan can't discern the difference between observational and historical (origins) science: to her, it is all science. And, that is how it is usually presented anyway.
On Sunday morning Susan's mom and dad will dress her up and take her to church. For two hours or so, she will enjoy the company of friends under the care of committed Christian volunteers. To Susan, they look nice. They read stories to her. She is not sure if they are true or not--but they are nice stories. They don't really connect to reality and they come from and old book anyway. They help her with her crafts. They sing songs together. Susan knows that these are good people and that they are teaching her about things that can't be seen. They tell her what to believe about many things. She actually has a 90 percent chance that her pastor and teachers will tell her that God created everything.
However, there is a very strong likelihood she will get the idea she can believe in millions of years. Yes, this is a bible-believing church after all. Or they will tell her what the bible says, but they don't tell her why to believe. No charts, not time-lines, no experiments. She's learning about things that she can't touch or feel, and she's not entirely sure anymore that these things really matter. All in all, Susan will get about ten minutes of focused, spiritual input from adults this week at church, and none of it will include science. And she knows that they are dealing with faith.
Over the next few years, Susan's "worldview" will be formed. She doesn't even know this is happening, but connections and assumptions are being made in her mind that will determine how she interprets everything that goes on around her for the rest of her life. By ninth grade or so, she will be able to articulate her worldview to herself and others. She will even think she came up with her worldview herself, but that's not true. Her belief has mostly been shaped by all of the input that she has been getting throughout her childhood. What has she learned? She has learned about the facts that supposedly govern the world, and she has learned about the faith that supposedly governs the heavens. The problem is that many of the "facts" that she has learned seem to contradict her faith--but no one talks about those things at church."
Many people ask me why we home school, and I always have a hard time summing it up, for there are so many reasons. It's not because of bullies, scary school lunches, having to vaccinate, or fear of letting my kids out of my sight. It is absolutely NOT because I am an genius and think I can figure out math problems better than anyone else...or where to put a stinkin comma. ;-) All though those are all wonderful reasons for some, they are not what motivates Sweet Man and I to choose this life style.
I can still remember my fifth grade Science fair. I won on my school level and got to go to the finals. What did I do it on? The evolution of horses. I was raised in a Christian home; went to church every Sunday; prayed before meals ;-), but somehow still didn't understand that we didn't evolve from things. Or that the universe took millions of years to "happen". How is this possible? My teachers told me so, that's how. And I was taught to listen to them... after all they were the "educated" ones.
I am finding out just how much time it takes to lay a good foundation of faith for my girls. If they were in school I don't think I would be able to do it. It is exhausting. It is confusing. It takes patience...which I don't always have. It has turned our school days upside down. If a faith question comes up, all other school books get put away. After all, what are we here for? To honor and glorify God. Bible times have taken precedence over all other school materials. Do they do that in public schools? How about Christian schools? No. I went to both of those. Our Christian school had a bible class, but it left me more confused than ever. They were not able to talk about doctrinal issues, or anything that might be controversial...you know...didn't want to upset anyone. Most of the time those bible classes were used as study halls. If Sweet Man was in that class you better believe the only thing I was studying....was him. ;-) Am I saying that home schooling is the only way to be able to teach your children these truths? Of course not. I just don't think I would be able to juggle it all if they weren't home so much. I don't have to worry about tardy slips, or unfinished homework. ;-)
I guess the thing that startled me the most was the statistics in this book. The rate that children are leaving church as soon as they are old enough, is so sad. The percent of parents that leave all biblical education for their children, up to just the church or Christian school, is even sadder. We need to take a more proactive role in teaching our children not just the stories of the bible that are easy to read, but the why's and the how's. The trip to the Creation Museum was a huge help in this area. For the kids to be able to actually hear from the Christian Scientists and Architects made it that more "real" to them. Isn't that what we want? For Jesus to be real to our children?! After all...their child like faith only lasts for so long....