September 26, 2023

Compulsory Schooling is Not a Christian Concept

Compulsory Schooling is Not a Christian Concept

by Craig Smith
Men, we need to understand many things in order to lead
our families aright. Elijah condemned the Israelites of his
day for faltering between two opinions (I Kings 18:21),
and James condemns double-minded men who apparently
do nothing more than harbour some doubts (James
1:6-8)! From a simple pragmatic point of view, if we
don’t have a firm grasp of issues with which we deal
everyday, issues that define and greatly affect our daily
lives, we may find ourselves pushed by circumstances in
directions we do not want to go simply because we cannot
muster a clear argument against doing so.
The concept of “compulsory state education” is one such
issue. It forced us to coin a name for ourselves (home
educators, home schoolers, home-based learners or whatever
we are) and to appear to others to be a tiny minority
fringe group. “Compulsory education” has assumed the
defining benchmark position against which all things
else are measured. If one is not part of the compulsory
school scene, one is “outside the system”, not operating
along normally accepted lines. In NZ we need to approach
the Ministry of Education in order to gain an
“exemption” from the “normal” state of affairs, which is
compulsory attendance at a registered school.1
Further, compulsory education is of necessity defined as
state education, organised and run and funded by a centralised
civil government, for they alone have the legitimate
power to compel school attendance. The law of the
land is enforced by the police and the armed forces. That
is their legitimate role, as we see in Romans 13. But this
same chapter tells us that civil governments are to carry
out only two functions: reward those who do right and
punish those who do wrong. “Right” and “wrong” are
also defined in the Scriptures, and providing children
with an education is not part of these definitions. Education
is primarily reserved for parents, fathers in particular
(Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Ephesians 6:4), with a secondary
role for the church (Nehemiah 8:2-8, Ephesians 4:11-13).
History clearly shows that when civil governments take
over a social responsibility that is not part of their Biblically
defined role, they create more of the problem they
were set up to solve. State schools were going to close
down the prisons and eliminate crime. Have they? No.
Prisons are full to bursting. Three times as many police
in NZ were stabbed in 2003 as in 2002. Unemployment
benefits were going to help people back into work. They
have created permanently unemployed, people now dependent
on these benefits. Sex education to curb teen
pregnancies and STDs has caused both to skyrocket.
State education has seen the overall educational level
of the entire population go into free-fall, including
the occurrence of genius and child prodigies.
It is becoming increasingly hard to deny that today’s
state schools resemble prisons. One can find barbed
wire fences, remote cameras, floodlights, metal detectors,
security officers and ID cards students must
swipe here and there as they move around campus. It
is all for the safety and security of the students and
school property, we are told. Let me get this straight:
the students are being kept safe at public schools
from hoodlums and society at large, almost all of
whom are public school graduates??! Well, I’m not
be surprised when the children start to behave like
inmates or people under siege and the teachers like
prison guards or crowd-control security agents. Actually,
this guard-inmate relationship has been in place
for many decades already. Two Palmerston North
newspaper journalists wrote this month describing
schools in this city back in the 1950s and 1960s:
Mervyn Dykes wrote: “The deputy principle had a
line of boys waiting outside the prefects’ room to be
caned. At the end of the line was a little third former
who became increasingly agitated as the line shortened
in front of him. ‘Sir, I…’ ‘Shut up!’ He was
grabbed and hauled into the room. Whack! Whack!
‘But sir, I only wanted to buy a monogram for my
Tina White wrote: “They all graduated from teachers’
college with an LTS – Licence to Strap. The rule
was, if you did something wrong, you got punished.
End of story. Unfortunately there were times when
they got the wrong person, and if you talked back,
trying to explain, you’d just get a couple of extra
whacks for good measure.”2
The concept of compulsory education has an almost
totally unperceived stranglehold on everyone whose
ever been through the system. Occasionally I hear
long-time home educators say something that shocks
me to the core. “If we didn’t have a compulsory
school system, how would all those children who
wouldn’t otherwise attend ever get an education?”
We need to be clear about some basic elements of
compulsory state schooling:

Schooling Is Not Education

The real question is, “How will all those children
who are compelled to attend state schools ever get an
education?” That which is dispensed by state schools
is “schooling”: it is not at all the same as
“education”. The two things barely have any overlap.
Forcing children to attend school is not giving them
an education….well, certainly not the useful academic
kind we all like to think they’re getting (see
“Secular Education Is Not Education” section below).
Being schooled for 10 years does not guarantee
children will learn anything useful at all. It can only
guarantee two things: that the children “do their
time” and that they’ll be consistently exposed to the
highly-prized state school brand of socialisation. Just
as in state prisons, school inmates are training the
other inmates in the arts associated with being street-wise.
That is precisely the socialisation from which we
home educators fled so gladly in the first place. What
about the bullying, the drugs, the finger signs, the attitudes,
the porn-behind-the-bikesheds, the negative peer
pressure, the “dummy” or “weirdo” labels from teachers
and fellow pupils alike that follow children all
through school? Why do some of us who should know
better ever wish it on other people’s children?
Research is clear that children who do well at school
do so because their parents are totally supportive at
home, so much so they might as well home educate
and miss all the junk which forms the “hidden curriculum”
of every school institution.

Secular Education Is Not Education

The Education Act’s Section 77 says of state primary
schools, “The teaching shall be entirely of a secular
character,” which means “without any form of religious
instruction or observance”. The Lord God above,
His Son Jesus Christ, “in Whom are hidden all the
treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3)
and the Holy Scriptures are obviously banned from the
classroom. Since it is the fool who says in his heart,
“There is no God” (Psalm 14:1, Psalm 53:1), what are
we to think of the state school classroom teacher who
embraces that very philosophy in order to teach others?
Since it is the fear of the Lord which is the beginning
of knowledge and wisdom (Job 28:28, Psalm
111:10, Proverbs 1:7, Proverbs 9:10, Proverbs 15:33),
and since the Lord is officially banned from the classroom,
where does that put the best which secular
schooling has to offer on the scale of true knowledge,
wisdom and understanding?

Compulsory Means Control

Compulsory schooling is a method of control and social
engineering. Why are most of us parents so slow to
admit this, when the bureaucrats count on it and speak
of it freely in their literature and to the media? Dr
Colin Knight, past principal of Christchurch College of
Education, lamented the social, emotional and intellectual
damage being done to children due to unresearched,
government-decreed practices in schools. He
said changes in what went on in schools were mainly
brought about by politically initiated reviews and reports
on questionnaires and Gallup polls, by parliamentary
debate and political expediency.3 “What I would
like to see in the political debate about education,” declared
PPTA past president Phillip Capper, “is a recognition
that public education is an exercise in social engineering
by definition.”4

Control Is the Creed of Communism

Communism has proven to be the most evil and destructive
social/economic/political system ever yet devised
by the mind of man. Its anti-Christian architects,
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engles, insisted in their Communist
Manifesto that compulsory, state-funded, secular
schooling was one of the essential ten points for the
political takeover of communism throughout the world.
For communism to succeed, they needed to strictly
censor all media, which the former communist countries
did by pulling down the “iron curtain” in Eastern
Europe and the former USSR and by pulling down the
“bamboo curtain” in China. They needed to simultaneously
pump the citizens full of communist world view
propaganda and forbid the teaching of contrary views.
This they did via compulsory schooling, where students
were encouraged to revile the ideas and religious
beliefs of their parents and grandparents and even to
turn them in to the authorities should these oldies dare
to disagree with any pronouncement of those paragons
of wisdom and virtue, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Khrushchev,
Pol Pot, etc.

Divide and Conquer

By severing the children from their parents and breaking
the monopoly parents naturally have over their
children’s affections and character development –
which includes attitudes and values (see next paragraph
below) – state schools have proven to be very efficient
at delivering a peer-dependent, malleable population
who do as they are told with a minimum of objection.
Politicians world-wide and of every political persuasion
(except consistent libertarians) have seen the
benefits such a schooling system can have for their particular
cause. In New Zealand, a past Undersecretary of
Trade and Industry, Mr Neilson, publicised a six-point
plan of his, point three of which was the introduction
of “peace studies” into the schools to help ensure future
voters would look upon Labour as “the natural
party of Government.”5

The State Pushes Attitudes & Values

An MoE document titled “Education in the 21st Century”
was introduced by Lockwood Smith when he was
Minister of Education back in 1990. Right there, on
page 21 for all to see, is the statement that the purpose
of state schooling is to ensure the students develop the
“attitudes and values” (as well as knowledge, skills and
understandings) that they’ll need for the 21st Century.
Lovely words. But since when does a secular, politically
guided and tax-payer funded body ever have the
competence to determine which attitudes and values
anyone’s children should have? Assuming the readers
here are Christians, surely we all agree that such state
organisations don’t even get near the ballpark as far as
the attitudes and values we want for our children are
concerned. This is clearly, obviously a grab for mind
control and social engineering at its most blatant.
And let us not think this was some aberration that occurred
14 years ago which has since righted itself. Let
me quote the current Minister of Education, Trevor
Mallard, from a speech he made in July 2000 at the
launch of the UNESCO and Living Values Trust
“Values Education” seminars: “Whether we like it or
not schools and teachers have a strong influence on the
developing values of young people, and they have that
influence whether they plan to or not. We have to acknowledge
that all people live by a set of values and
that there is certainly no such thing as value neutrality
in education. It is not an easy thing to meet the obligation
to include attitudes and values as an integral
part of the New Zealand curriculum.” (Emphases

Loss of Authority and Responsibility

Compulsory schooling raises the question, “Who’s in
charge here? Who’s responsible for children’s education?”
When parents have had the authority and responsibility
for their children’s education forcibly removed
from them, there will be serious consequences down
stream. We home educators sometimes fail to see or
even comprehend these next points, for we have made
the effort to obtain exemptions from compulsory
schooling so that we may go to the extra effort of fully
educating our children: that is, we got the authority and
responsibility for our children’s education back from
the state. We, therefore, do not suffer these consequences.
So what are the consequences of losing this authority
and responsibility to the state? Are the consequences
really so bad? Well, just think about it for a moment. If
you are no longer responsible, why would you expend
more than the minimum effort to think and plan and do
anything for the children? Schools and teachers are the
professionals, not like those slovenly parents, who
hardly spend any time with the kids and only complain
about it when they do, wishing fifth birthdays and the
end of holidays would come sooner than they do. And it
makes good economic sense to herd all the kids into
one place, does it not: division of labour, economies of
scale and all that? Teachers teach; we parents need only
feed and water them and get them to school, the place
of learning, on time. Even if parents wanted to impart
something to the kids, it had better not contradict or
cause confusion in regards to the school programme. It
would also have to be done when the kids are at home
and when parents are not overly committed or exhausted
from their involvements outside the family.
And the fact is, these outside involvements grow and
overshadow concerns for the children since children are
rarely home anyway and are under the care of professionals….
so who needs to worry?
Some parents, themselves graduates of the state school
system, worry so little they never quite get the knack of
even feeding and watering the kids. So schools now
provide breakfasts and lunches for growing numbers,
matching the growing sense among parents that since
they don’t have to be responsible for education or social
training or dental care, hey, why be responsible for
feeding all the time? And then we find that a growing
number of parents are also leaving to the
“professionals” the responsibility for really basic training.
I am referring here to toilet training, hygiene, dress,
grooming, speech and basic social graces. All those
other emotional and psychological needs of children,
what the schools refer to as “pastoral needs”: sex and
sexuality education, drug education, grief/stress/
loneliness counselling, etc., are also provided for at
school by careers and guidance counsellors, social
workers and those wonderful experts from the Family
Planning Association and the AIDS Foundation.6
The schools actually use the phrase “pastoral needs”…..
as in pastor, minister, priest of a church. Slowly but
surely the truth is coming out of the closet: the official
“secular” philosophy of state schools is another religion:
that of secular humanism, one opposed to virtually
every tenet of Christianity. It is hard to understand how
we got into this position: Christians are not only required
by law to send their children to be instructed in
this foreign religion five days a week, but through compulsory
taxation, they are even made to pay for the subversion
of their own children. The worst part is that
many “Christian” parents are exceedingly happy about
how well their children are doing in the enemy’s camp.
They don’t see the issues.

Conflicting Authorities

When children perceive they have conflicting authority
figures over them — the teacher(s) at school and the
parents at home — what are they to do? I recall that
many of my peers at school told their parents (not the
teachers) where to go. They became sullen and rebellious,
“turning on, tuning in and dropping out” as we
said back then. But nobody worried too much for, as all
the experts told us, rebellion is a natural part of the turbulent
teen years.7 I personally developed a split personality
and became a master of deceit really, being one
kind of person at school and a totally different kind at
home. Most kids fell into one of these two groups. Why
would we say such consequences are not so bad, especially
when many of us home educators have discovered
that, once outside the school system and away
from the peer pressure of the playground, the classroom
and the youth group, teen rebellion just plain fails to
materialise? I’m not saying teen rebellion is a myth: it
is a serious condition. But it is one brought on by institutional
schooling situations and the malady spawned
by these institutions: parental abdication.

Abdication or Meddling

If MoE bureaucrats are not competent to map out my
children’s educational, social and pastoral needs….and
as far as this writer is concerned, they definitely are
not…. and if these same bureaucrats ought not to be
doing so in a compulsory way….and this writer also
believes they most definitely ought not….then how can
any of us come out with statements in favour of compulsory
schooling for those children who, we opine,
“wouldn’t otherwise get an education”? Yes, there are
incompetent, irresponsible, dead-beat parents out there:
and more are being raised up every year due to the previous
generation of incompetent parents, compulsory
dumbed-down schooling and welfare dependency. For
these folks the churches need to re-gain their Biblical
calling: that of providing social welfare services
through the deacons’ committees. The church needs to
take the government in this area back away from the
state. In assuming this role to itself, the state has created
a growing social welfare dependency problem. Not all
parents are drongoes: if most had to see to the education
of their own children in the absence of a state schooling
system, they would: just as they did for thousands of
years before compulsory state schooling appeared less
than 200 years ago.
What is the real problem, the one we’re thinking about
when we say we should hang onto compulsory schooling
for those kids who wouldn’t otherwise go to
school? It is the usual: sinful hearts wanting to abdicate
their own responsibilities on the one hand and meddle
in responsibilities not their own on the other. People
want convenience first and foremost: Dr John Clark,
Senior Lecturer in Philosophy of Education in the Department
of Policy Studies in Education at Massey
University, says the number one reason we have
schools in this country is as a baby-sitting service!
That’s the abdication. And when we say that some people
really shouldn’t be allowed to home educate, that’s
the meddling: it’s the same offensive game the state
plays, social control of those of whom we disapprove.
One crazy form of abdication is framed in terms of
fairness and justice: how could parents be so callous
and manipulative as to impose their will onto their children?
Such ideas are absurd: if we parents don’t impose
our will, wisdom, knowledge and understanding
upon our children, it is certain that someone else’s version
of these things is going to be impressed upon
them. This is precisely what takes place at schools, and
this needs to be recognised by us fathers in particular
as one of the main reasons we home educate: we want
our children to embrace our beliefs and understandings,
our religion, our faith, our worldview, our Saviour,
our God and definitely not the secular version of
these things or the pot-luck milieu of whatever multicultural
mix they may get at school.

Political Correctness

Now I’ve done it! Political Correctness demands that
no one speak against multi-culturalism. It sounds so
intolerant, racist and prejudiced. That’s only because
the politically correct have captured the language so as
to make someone sound like a bigot when he does not
want his children coming home with certain ideas from
outside of his mono-cultural, Christian paradigm. I for
one am happy to confess that I really don’t want my
little primary aged children to pick up ideas about it
being OK to have multiple wives; to construct one’s
own meaning from interacting with a text rather than
assume the author had a specific meaning in mind; to
practise female circumcision; to offer daily, colourful
sacrifices to Rama and Sita; to believe we evolved
from pond slime over millions of years; to pray to
idols; to watch and even participate in orgies, incest
and all forms of pornography; to rely on bullying and
intimidation and blackmail as valid forms of negotiation;
to wear nose rings; to look at history as a series of
totally meaningless, random events; to use Christ’s
name as a cuss word; to see women as nothing more
than sexual playthings and servants of men; to hold the
pursuit of money and pleasure as the highest good; to
believe that the four most important authorities in the
world are the UN, the majority vote of your national
parliament, your school teachers and your own personal
choice; to view mathematics as a human invention
rather than as God’s invention that man discovered;
to think that homosexuality is a valid lifestyle or
that divorce, de facto set-ups, serial boyfriends and
girlfriends and abortions are all acceptable social
norms. This is the kind of multi-culturalism one will
find in today’s New Zealand state schools. My four
eldest aged 24, 22, 20 and 17 have, are and will continue
to face and deal with these things – graciously
and friendly, but also firmly and clearly – without
themselves being confused by any of these things, for
they were taught from a solid Biblical foundation of
unchangeable truth and from a reasonably consistentworld view. They did not grow up in a multi-cultural
environment which said all cultures and cultural practises
are equally valid, that truth is negotiable or relative
or changes from place to place or person to person.
We are quite happy to be called intolerant: we do in
fact refuse to tolerate the intolerable.

We’re Always Responsible

We fathers need to come to grips with the fact that we
are responsible and will always be responsible for our
children’s education. Even when the state forcibly removes
our responsibility to see to the schooling/
education of our children; even when it forces us to
ensure they attend the state schools for six hours a day,
five days a week, nine months a year for 10 years;
guess who will be blamed (that is, said to be responsible)
if our little Johnny still turns out illiterate? You
got it….you will, little Johnny’s parents!
The great news in all of this is that by the grace of God
the home always exerts the greatest influence over
children. This explains why some children from godly
and orderly homes can come through the state system
still intact, sane and with positive habits and attitudes.
But all the studies tell us that schools cause far too
many casualties.
The sooner we can get rid of compulsory schooling as
well as the effective monopoly the state has over
schooling, the better off our country will be.
1. Of course, in NZ all schools must be registered – with the
state – even totally private schools. And the state reserves
to itself the right to define a school as it sees fit in the
circumstances. You will not find a definition of a school
in the NZ Education Act, which helps explain why we
actually have the absurd situation of a state school being
open, staffed and consuming tax dollars while there is not
a single student enrolled or attending.
Now that presents an idea: why don’t we individual
home educators, or maybe a group of us, band together
and apply to become a registered school? Just think of all
the funding we’d get! And the unbelievable provisions of
the Integration Act would guarantee that we could keep
our thoroughly Christian character! I am told at least one
family of home educators in NZ have in fact taken this
route. Well, it appears the Minister of Education, Trevor
Mallard, has declared a temporary stop to integrating any
more private schools into the state system, so maybe that
route isn’t open any more. I would actually object to this
route because of the other regulations we’d automatically
be subject to as a registered school (building codes, OSH
regs, square meters per child, wheelchair access, etc.).
The money isn’t worth the loss of freedom. Our family
has enjoyed nearly two decades of freedom, and we’d
never give it up for government money. What a lousy
deal that would be.
2. Manawatu Evening Standard, 6 March 2004, “The Best
and Worst of Days”, p. 4.
3. Manawatu Evening Standard, 4 December 1990
4. Phillip Capper, PPTA, Dominion Sunday Times, 14 October
5. Christchurch Press, 5 November 1985.
6. Experts in perversion. Don’t just take my word for it. Ring
the local hospital or health board and ask for the sexual
health services and ask them to please send you a set of
the materials handed out to high school kiddies aged 13
and over at sexuality workshops: a “tutu pak”, a sexual
health W.O.F. questionnaire and a condom/lubricant/
information card pack. Then explore the websites promoted
therein: you will be treated to tours of incest and
sex-with-the-teacher possibilities and tips from the FPA
to young bucks on how to seduce young girls. All courtesy
of your tax dollars.
7. This is not true, of course. Such rebellion is a function of
feeling rejected by parents and getting conflicting messages
from the other authorities in their lives: the teachers

From Keystone Magazine

March 2004 , Vol. X No. 2
P O Box 9064
Palmerston North
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