Most Christians think all schooling options are legitimate, resulting from their assumption that God does not have anything to say about education. Israel Wayne shows the errors of this assumption. His book Education: Does God Have an Opinion? makes the case that God actually has a lot to say in His Word about educating children.
God Wants Parents to Teach a Christian Worldview
The first part of the book argues that Christian parents should provide their children with a Christian education. Wayne spends these six chapters establishing a biblical philosophy of education. Parents have an important role in discipling their own children, yet many have failed at this task. Students spend a minimum of 10,800 hours sitting in a classroom (p. 7), so it is no wonder that such time under an unbelieving worldview is producing awful results. Parents, and sadly even most pastors, assume that government schooling is a good option for Christian children.
Wayne smashes these assumptions by showing that importance of worldview. The goal of education is to train children in the Christian faith, and this cannot be done in a non-Christian environment. Wayne makes a strong case against government (public) schooling by showing that it encourages parental abdication, is based on naturalistic presuppositions, and is not religiously neutral but actually anti-Christian.
The Salt and Light Argument for Public Schooling
It is often argued by Christians using the public schools that children should be “salt and light” there. But as Wayne points out, most Christians contradict themselves on this point. They will say that their local public school is filled with lots of good people (even Christians) and is not like those “bad” schools out there. Yet they will turn around and say their children are acting as missionaries in the schools (which assumes the schools are not sogood). So which is it? Wayne says, “If you are so convinced that your local school is so different, and so Christian, then it definitely doesn’t need your children” (p. 31). Of course, parents know their local public schools have serious problems. They also know that their children are not equipped to be missionaries. If they thought otherwise, they would consider sending them to even harder places, such as Muslim or inner city schools.
The fact of the matter is that the public schools today are in bad shape. And if Christian children were so effective at influencing the schools (with 90% of Christians sending their kids to public schools), then one would expect the schools to be much more Christian than they currently are. But as Wayne points out, “As a rule, bad children have a corrupting influence on the good” (p. 30). The salt and light argument falls apart when we examine the reality that unbelievers influence Christian children much more than the other way around.
The Socialization Problem of Both Public and Christian Schools
Wayne spends the entire third chapter debunking the argument that public schooling is necessary for the “socialization” of children. Wayne’s response is that the socialization in the public schools is mostly bad. In fact, “socialization” (instead of genuine education), has been the very goal of government schools (p. 38). Children adapt to peer group socialization, and even good children from good families will cave to “peer pressure.” So why do parents continue to expose their children to such bad influences? As Wayne shows, there are ways for children to receive positive socialization outside of the schooling environment, including interacting with other families, church activities, and homeschool co-op classes.
This leads into some of the problems of private Christian schools. While Wayne does not think homeschooling is the only legitimate option for Christian education, he does point out that some of the same socialization problems happen in Christian schools. This is because many of the children in Christian schools are not all that Christian. On top of this, private Christian schools are often built on the same paradigm as the government school system (p. 51). That being said, Wayne recognizes that there are some good Christian schools out there and that they can be a good fit for some families.
Wayne spends the fifth chapter making the biblical and theological case for homeschooling. He starts with God’s command to parents to teach their children His ways in Deuteronomy 6, and then he proceeds to cite great theologians on the religious nature of education (as he does throughout the book). Homeschooling is ultimately about responding to God’s instruction rather than reacting against the public schools. Homeschooling allows parents to modify teaching methods to suit their children and form the character as part of their education.
The sixth chapter explains what a worldview is and why it is an essential aspect of education. Beliefs are fundamental to teaching, which is why Christian children need to be taught a Christian worldview by Christian teachers. There is no place better to do this than in the home by Christian parents.
Applying the Bible to All Subjects
The biblical worldview should be applied to all aspects of education. This is why Wayne spends the second part of the book applying the biblical philosophy of education to the curricula and subjects that children ought to study. He has a chapter devoted to each of the following: logic, math, science, philosophy and apologetics, social studies, art, language arts, literature, history, and government.
Children must be taught to think rightly, and that is where the study of logic comes in. Both math and logic should be taught from a Christian perspective because this shows children why we live in such an orderly universe. Wayne provides a helpful discussion of science, including the problems of evolution and unbelieving views of creation. He rightly embraces the six-day creationist view.
Wayne advocates teaching children philosophy and apologetics. He surveys the different views of apologetics and explains why we should equip children to defend the faith. Wayne shows the importance of studying the arts (art, music, and film), as well as language arts (including rhetoric—writing and public speaking). He also has good discussions of the influence of worldview on literature, history, and government. The concluding chapter on government shows how the “right” to homeschool is given by God and not the state.
Overall, Israel Wayne has written a helpful book for Christian parents, both for those who currently do not homeschool and those looking to improve their homeschooling practices. Education: Does God Have an Opinion? shows that God does indeed have an opinion about education. More than an opinion, God demands that Christian parents give their children a Christian education. And for many parents, this is best done through homeschooling.