By Irven Lee
This article is in answer to several letters that came as a reaction to my recent articles on this subject. Those who wrote had a right to write, and I am better for their having written. The number and content of the letters clearly indicate that there are several families that are very much interested in their children’s spiritual welfare. This is as it should be. Parents have a fearful responsibility.
Concern is important, but it takes more than a mental awareness of danger to train children. Skill and effort are also necessary. I admit that I do not know many of those who are training their children at home, but my very limited association in this regard has let me know that some who kept their children out of school seemed to be doing a very poor job of training them. It may be that the vast majority of the home trained children are well trained. Let those who are failing to do the job awaken to their responsibility.
It has been called to my attention that tutors are sometimes used to train children in special fields in which the parents recognize their need for help. This can evidently help in many cases. It was also pointed out to me that training in special fields of endeavor might be done in school on the college and graduate level. A few mentioned that home trained children usually make better on ACT and SAT tests than those from public schools. I congratulate the parents of such children as well as the children who show up well on the tests.
Each of my two children had the first grade at home with their mother as their teacher. The primary reason for this was that they had birthdays in the fall so they would have been approximately a year behind their classmates except for the home training. It is certainly true that they entered second grade ahead of those who had been in school for their first grade. My wife took her work seriously, and she was trained and experienced as a teacher. She and the girls enjoyed their study together. They read more little books than most school children did, and they also went ahead in their number work. The “hen with one chick” can take special interest in her little class. That we admit.
If children are home trained there would apparently be a big advantage in starting at the first. To take a junior high pupil, for example, out of his class and away from his games, might bring on the temptation for rebellion. Even if something better is offered it would still require time for a big adjustment.
The letters sent in response to my articles listed many great Americans who were home trained. One who was mentioned has a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. I do not know how far he went in his home training. Tens of thousands have been home trained. It can be done.
We hear of “self-made” men. I have known a few learned men who went to school none or very little, but they were not home trained. I am thinking of one who obtained the old “blue back speller” and McGuffey readers and learned to read on his own after he had passed the age at which children usually learn to read. He had three months in school in his whole life, I think. We had learned much in the “university of hard knocks,” in the hard work which his generation knew. Only a very small percent of such people had sufficient hunger for knowledge to educate themselves. After learning to read they could by will power train themselves in many fields. Most who were not trained by others remained illiterate until the day of death.
Studies have been made to reveal that very many capable adults in America today cannot read or write. A few of these men and women are learning these skills now and are very happy with the doors they have opened by their efforts. There are adult education classes available over our nation. One can certainly learn to read at home. A great preacher that I have heard many times was taught to read by his wife after he married. She did much for her husband and indirectly for the thousands who heard him preach. Why is there not more done for these good people who cannot read? Some have decided that they are “dumb” when they are obviously capable people showing special skills in their work. Swallowing their pride, calling on their patience’ and leaning on some loved ones to help them could enrich their lives very much.
Skill in reading and the use of this skill in Bible study could do much for the church. Many who could read just watch television to use up their time after work. “Give attendance to reading” is an inspired suggestion (1 Tim. 4:13). In fact, various passages that speak of study and of the need for knowledge point out the need for reading (2 Tim. 2:15; Heb. 5:12-14; Rom. 10:1-3; etc.). Some who could be pillars in the church do not read in this day when atheists do so much teaching by television. Shame on these who bury their own talents and open their minds to the atheists.
I taught twenty years in private schools. My daughters had almost all their training in private schools. This grew out of my realization that there were great blessings to be gained in having Christians for teachers and in having well taught children for classmates. I think that my children obtained what some are seeking when they home train theirs. Few have the opportunity that we had because there are not many such schools available. Parents everywhere are to protect, guide, train, and whatever else is included in bringing up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord (Eph. 6:4).
Every son and daughter needs to obtain faith and knowledge of the word so that he or she can stand against the wiles of the devil. At first parents stand by their side, but gradually they grow up and stand on their own convictions. If there is a lack of conviction, courage, faith, and knowledge their training was not what it should have been. Some who have not been taught reading, writing, and arithmetic at home do have on the Christian armor (Eph.6:10-20).
Guardian of Truth XXX: 10, pp. 300, 311
May 15, 1986