May 8, 2021

Changing The Heart Of A Rebel

Dr. S.M. Davis Changing the Heart of a Rebel
“No, rebellion is not normal. Yes, there is a solution! Many testimonies from around the world attest to the effectiveness of the Biblical principles expounded in this message.”

“Parents of younger children say that the message has helped them understand parenting so as to prevent problems with their children. Some parents say they listen to the message every few weeks to help them stay “on track” as a parent. Still other parents have found the message to be the “lifeline” to stop a descent into destruction and save the life and future of their rebellious teen. “Your video, ‘Changing the Heart of a Rebel’ did just that for our son! I only regret we didn’t hear it while he was in his early teens so we could have prevented the whole thing!” — TN Mother”

We highly recommend this message and have given it away in tape form to lots of parents. We were thrilled to find this online so that even more parents can listen to it.

Listen to this tape here:

This website has this message written in 4 parts here:

Jul. 11, 2005: Changing the Heart of a Rebel Part 1
Jul. 11, 2005: Changing the Heart of a Rebel Part 2
Jul. 11, 2005: Changing the Heart of a Rebel Part 3
Jul. 11, 2005: Changing the Heart of a Rebel Part 4

Home Education in New Zealand


Loving and genuinely concerned parents are the best qualified of all to teach their own children. Who else is more motivated to invest the time, the money, the blood, sweat, toil and tears required for the child’s best interests than the parents? Who knows and understands the child better than the parents? Who is more motivated for the child’s success than the parents? A homeschooling parent has the vast advantage of a tutoring situation: one parent/teacher to one or two pupils, recognised worldwide as the most effective teaching method. Because of the logistical and political and practical difficulties associated with the conventional classroom, the average parent involved in home education routinely possesses advantages that outweigh even the most gifted of teachers in the most expensively equipped classroom. Two hours of quality one-on-one time with a parent can easily accomplish what a conventional classroom would take two weeks to do. Whatever they may lack in the area of formal educational qualifications, the home educating parent will usually more than compensate for in motivation and the advantages of one-to-one teaching.

Learning the three r’s, or teaching them, is no big mystery. Children learn most in those first 3-4 years when they are like little fact-sponges and are taught to speak and understand a totally foreign language by Mum with no curriculum. Home education is basically an extension to that. Children are natural learners with their own scope and sequence: the constant questions “Why?” and “How?” Simply answering these questions will cover all and probably a lot more than the Nation Curriculum Guidelines.

Schools and teachers only control the access to “schooling”….lecturing, pre-digested notes, certain classrooms and labs and paper qualifications. They do not control “education”. An education is available to all and is virtually free of charge: it is not in short supply, it does not diminish as more people get it. Schooling in schools and other institutions is in a limited, finite supply, and it is this which people like to control for they can make money out of it. Once a person learns to read, write, do numbers plus some research skills, they can teach themselves virtually anything….that is, a true education is out there to be acquired by anyone with the initiative to dig it up for themselves.

Parents’ biggest concern is that they are unqualified or unable to do this. Not so! Parents already know from lifes experiences what facts and skills their children really do need to know and which politically correct lessons can safely be dropped. If they are not themselves in mastery of the 3R skills (Reading wRiting and aRithmetic), they can learn along with their children, perhaps engaging a private tutor now and again. A parent’s enthusiasm and excitement for learning is contageous and will motivate the chidlren like few things else. In addition, we all know that the most important lessons of life each of us learned were not learned in the classroom. These lessons the home educating parent can teach without the bullying and drugs on the school campus.


This is usually the first objection people raise about home education, even before worrying about academic success. Home educators themselves and researchers both in NZ and overseas, regard “socialisation” as a non-issue among home educated children. They consistently demonstrate superior social skills. Children do not need other children to teach them how to be children. They need warm, responsive adults to teach and model proper social graces. Home educated youngsters generally fit in comfortably with a wider age range and are not dependent upon nor intimidated by their peer group.

Curriculum & Resources

Finding resources is not a problem: there is a vast variety available everywhere you look! There are many packaged programmes available, and many parents simply make up their own. One of the best resources is the public library. Friends, neighbours, relations, local support groups, the internet all have expertise in many areas, just waiting for you to tap into it all!

Costs in Time and Money

It can be as expensive or as economical as you like, and time commitment is extremely flexible. First of all, dispel the picture of a mini-school established in your home: many start that way but few ever carry on that way, for schools are designed to deal with logistical problems completely absent from the home. At home you are in a tutoring/mentoring situation, the most superior setting for academic excellence, social training, physical self-discipline, character development and spiritual growth ever devised. Education is not limited to certain activities in a certain place during certain hours of the day: education and learning are taking place all the time, and parents with their children at home are in the unique position to pretty well organise what they learn, to what depth, in what manner and for what purposes.

Legal Issues

Your child does not need to be enrolled in any school until s/he turns six. A couple of months before this, in order to legally home educate, you need to contact the Ministry of Education to obtain a “Certificate of Exemption”. This takes several hours of work writing out what you plan to do, how you plan to do it, and how you’ll know you’re making progress. It is like a statement of intent, rather than a contract, for both the Ministry of Education and the ERO recognise that good parent/teachers will be constntly changing and upgrading their programme.

Getting into University or Employment

Universities have various discretionary schemes whereby one who is under 20 can enrol without paper school-leaving qualifications if the admissions officer is satisfied (usually after an interview) that s/he is able to do the work. Many also offer full-time courses designed to bridge the gap between high school level and university for theose who have no paper qualifications. Sixteen-year-olds can sign up for classes at the NZ Correspondence School at around $80 per paper, take four in a single year at NCEA Level 3 (one does not need to work through Levels 1 and 2 before tackling Level 3), including the right maths and English papers, and end up with a University Entrance Qalification. Or wait until age 20: all kiwis of this age have right of entry to NZ Universities. All you need then is the enrolment fee.

Employers do not necessarily need qualifications but are certainly looking for character traits such as Reliability, Motivation, Honesty, etc. These are best taught at home. Seek creative ways to introduce yourself, showing the strengths you want the employer to see. Get work and character references from short-term, part-time and volunteer jobs. Really positive references such as these are worth their weight in gold.


Every piece of research has shown that home schooling produces children who are superior both academically and socially. Your family can also experience other wonderful benefits: function as a unit with children being thought of and trained up as vital parts of the family corporation, rather than thought of and treated like expensive freeloaders waiting to leave home. Many home educators experience no teen rebellion or generation gap. Kick the public school habit: be done forever with uniforms, peer pressure, school fees, bullying, drugs, and the bad attitudes and language and finger signs and head lice brought home from school. You’ll be glad you did.

For Reference: –National Home Education Research Institute — Home School Legal Defence Association(These first two contain many research articles and results.) — NZ’s Home Education Foundation — More about home education in NZ

Parents vs. Professionals

How can parents armed with only love for their child and good intentions provide an education anywhere near as good as a professional with a teaching degree?

Ok, ok, I can already hear all you veteran home educators out there choking and gagging at this one. But let’s break it down and examine it.

The stated issue is that trained and certified teachers are obviously superior teachers to untrained parents. The assumptions behind this are many: that certified teachers are far more knowledgeable than parents about what constitutes education; that the money and resources behind certified teachers in registered schools are clearly superior to what all but the more financially endowed parents can provide; that the entire school environment, from dedicated Ministry personnel and curriculum developers to textbook providers to overworked school administrators and board of trustee members to the enthusiastic teachers at the coalface and the brilliant variety of peers within the typical classroom, that all these things combine to provide a palpably well-rounded and comprehensive educational experience the like of which an isolated mum at home with only some out-dated School Certificate passes could never hope to match.

These assumptions, however, are all false for they are based on the false foundational idea that politically conceived, taxpayer-funded, secular and compulsory mass schooling is equivalent to even a basic education. Leaving aside completely the argument as to whether Christians should allow their children to attend secular schooling institutions, let us examine the simple logistical advantages of one mum teaching a small number of her own beloved children at home compared to the conventional classroom situation.

Most of us are aware of cases where teacher certification has not meant the same as teacher competency. In addition, there is the almost unrecognised fact that classroom logistics can make even the best teacher’s efforts an exercise in futility: over-crowded classrooms, lack of discipline, unsupportive administration, inability to give needed individual attention, time restraints which force them to move on to new material before the previous material is comprehended. Teacher certification does not ensure a quality education. In fact, many students who do not catch on at school must go home and get their parents to help out. There are already many parents out there who do the real teaching at night after school while the certified teacher gets the credit.

Home education is a tutoring or mentoring situation. One mum can give her full attention to one or two or three children at a time for whatever period of time is practical and comfortable for them all. Or she can focus on just one child for a piece of time and move to the next and then to the other. Overall she will have far, far more significant one-to-one time than what occurs in the typical classroom where the teacher can often expect no more than one minute of significant one-to-one time per pupil per day. Because of this the home school mum can cover a vastly increased measure of subject matter in the same length of time even though she may be dealing with a range of ages, possibly including a toddler and a newborn. She can assess more exactly whether each child has grasped the concepts or mastered the skills for she is observing the child for most of the waking day, is far more concerned for the child’s welfare and future prospects and is more intimately in tune with the child, being her own flesh and blood, than even the most highly trained and skilled professional teacher could ever possibly be. The enthusiasm, commitment, love, vision, intimate knowledge, and one-to-one tutoring situation of the home school mum, combined with the God-given heart-desire of the child for its mother, ensures that the average home education teacher/parent is starting with vast logistical and relational advantages the classroom teacher can only dream about.

So what does a true and useful education consist of? For the school teacher it is in a politically determined mix of subjects pitched a certain way for a classroom full of children from all sorts of backgrounds and filtered through legal and other socio-political parameters with the aim a producing an outcome in students’ lives which matches a stated objective in a Ministerial document. If the powers that be decide a change is necessary, it will be a good seven years before the drafts are formulated, trialled, assessed, redrafted, approved, adopted and actually introduced and implemented. By then of course the initial problem has mutated beyond recognition and the target children have passed through the system and a new set are being served a special mix designed for a situation and a time which no longer exist.

For the home educating mum it consists of those basic skills plus general and specific knowledge she knows are required to get on in the world: she and her husband and extended family talk about what it’s like out there to be a worker, an employer, a homemaker, a spouse, a parent. They know the character qualities employers want, that they have always wanted throughout history, and that neither School Certificate exams nor university degrees impart those qualities. Christian parents in particular are individually crafting unique children to serve the God of the Universe according to the syllabus He has provided in the Scriptures. They are not that impressed with the state’s attempts through the schools to improve children, which the politicians constantly tell us are this country’s most valuable natural resource (right up there with wool bales and chilled lamb carcasses), or with the socialists’ attempt to inculcate the simplistic non-judgmental vision of tolerating every perversion under the sun, somehow making our “global village” a “better place in which to live”.

The home educating mum knows that rooms, desks and books are dead things. It is imparting life from her heart to her child that makes an education. The most important lessons in her life she did not learn in the classroom but in the school of hard knocks. This is what she imparts. The children are not left interminably to interact with books or CD ROMs, but are encouraged to interact with mum and dad and other siblings and people in the real world of the home, the marketplace, the workplace and the community. They don’t only do word problems from a text book, but do real-life problems like working out the week’s menu from the available budget, balancing the cheque book or helping plan and implement a strategy for improving the safety of the neighbourhood.

Christian parents in particular can hardly justify leaving their children in the care of those who discount, deny and even despise their Christian faith. Even Christian teachers in state schools have their hands tied, for the NZ Education Act Section 77 declares that “the teaching shall be entirely of a secular character”. Every Minister of Education with whom this writer has communicated from David Lange onwards has concurred that the working definition of “secular” as it is used in the Act is “with no religious instruction or observance”. This clearly is not a neutral stance toward Christianity, but one that seeks to eliminate it from the classroom.

The Scriptures tell Christian parents what teaching qualifications are necessary. Deuteronomy 6:5 says, “And you shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your might.” Not much left to love anything else. Do you love the LORD this way? Well, one thing is for sure, that teacher in the state school is not legally allowed to demonstrate such a love even if he or she should actually have it. And how many of them that you know actually do? Then Deuteronomy 6:6 says, “And these words which I command you this day shall be upon your heart.” Of course, that which is on your heart will be constantly running through your mind and coming out of your mouth. The Christian teacher in a state school cannot allow that to happen, for it would mean her job. Yet these are the Bible’s credentials for teaching, as the next verse, Deuteronomy 6:7 says, “and you shall teach them diligently to your children.” Note that the word “them” is referring to the words of God. What the Bible commands teachers to teach, teachers in state schools are forbidden by law to teach. Mum at home has no such restriction.
If you are inclined to argue that the verses in Deuteronomy are addressed to parents and not teachers in the classroom, think again. Some say that teachers are still considered in loco parentis, in the place of parents, and therefore theoretically required to conform to whatever parents demand (impossible in our pluralistic society), and Christian parents would need to demand teaching according to these verses. Otherwise the Christian has to justify allowing his child to be filled with nonChristian presuppositions and philosophies, which of course he cannot do and still remain consistent with Scripture. The fact is, Christian parent, you will be held responsible for what you allow your children to be exposed to and influenced by day after day after day.
Deuteronomy 6:7 further says, “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.” There is the context and frequency parents are to employ when teaching: all the time in every situation; that is, in the context of everyday life. Classroom instruction is in an artificial environment, segregated by age groupings and separated from the real everyday life experiences in the workplace, the home, the marketplace and the wider community. Classroom instruction cannot do as the Bible here bids. Mum at home can do this as she goes about her everyday business.

In short, marriage, parenthood and homemaking are probably the best teaching credentials one could have.

“Loving and genuinely concerned parents are the best qualified of all to teach their own children. Who else is more motivated to invest the time, the money, the blood, sweat, toil and tears required for the child’s best interests than the parents? Who knows and understands the child better than the parents?
“Parents only need a shot of confidence to realise that they are qualified to teach, and in most cases will actually do a superior job. Whatever they may lack in the area of formal educational qualifications they will usually more than compensate for in motivation and the advantages of one-to-one teaching.”
– Craig Smith

Common Objections

Obj: Our public schools can provide an education free from religious and political biases.
A: On April 19, 1987, the then Assistant Director, Resources Development, Dept. of Education, Wellington, met with a number of leaders of homeschooling groups in Auckland. This gentleman stated that his own idealism had been somewhat tarnished when, after years in the state education system, he had had to admit to himself that state education “was not only about children and learning, but also about money and politics.”
The Christchurch Press of November 5, 1985, had an article about the then Under Secretary of Trade and Industry, Mr. Neilson, and his 6-point programme to make Labour “the natural party of Government.” Point 3 of this programme called for the introduction “of peace studies into the education system to achieve this end.””
In a speech at Massey University in mid-1990, Finance Minister David Caygill was reported in the papers as saying that Governments should mould public opinion, not follow it. He said it was the politician’s responsibility to pursue policies that were in the public interest “even when the public disagrees.” (It would seem that both Mr. Neilson and Mr. Caygill have eagerly followed up the implications of a statement by Abraham Lincoln who said well over 130 years ago, “The philosophy of the classroom is the philosophy of the government in the next generation.”)
During the 1986 school trials of the draft programme Keeping Our Selves Safe , the Police Youth Aid Officer in Palmer son North, Frank Mault, chaired a public meeting to explain the programme to interested parents at Central Normal School. He was asked why the KOSS programme was targeting potential victims, school aged children, and educating them to understand and recognise perversions such as incest, sexual molestation, rape, exhibitionism, etc., rather than targeting potential offenders and educating them in self control. The constable answered with a shrug of the shoulders and the words, “I guess the children are easier to reach. They are a captive audience in the classroom each day.”
A few years ago Massey University Education Professor Ivan Snook said that the furore over sex education, morals in the schools, etc., was only a smoke screen. The real issues were power and control: whose are the children and who will control their education?
And it must be pointed out that Karl Marx identified free, compulsory and secular state education as one of the tools through which the proponents of Communism would take over the world.
One powerful force at work is the philosophy of humanism. Webster’s International Dictionary, 1926, defines it as “A system, mode, or attitude of thought or action centering upon distinctively human interests or ideals, esp. as contrasted with naturalistic or religious interests.” The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 1975, says humanism is “Belief in the mere humanity of Christ. Any system of thought or action which is concerned with merely human interests, or with those of the human race in general; the ‘Religion of Humanity’.” The Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1975, says, “Though humanism gradually became identified with classroom studies of the classics, it more properly embraced any attitude exalting man’s relationship to God, his free will, and his superiority over nature. Philosophically, humanism made man the measure of all things….In recent years the term humanism has often been used to refer to value systems that emphasize the personal worth of each individual but that do not include a belief in God…..The American Humanist Association publishes a quarterly magazine, The Humanist , and propagates the humanist point of view.”
This magazine, The Humanist , conducted an essay contest and published the prize-winning essays in its Jan/Feb, 1983, issue. One of them entitled “A Religion for a New Age” by John J. Dunphy, is startling in the openness with which it lays all the humanist cards on the table. Part of this essay reads as follows:
“I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being.
“These teachers must embody the same selfless dedication as the most rabid fundamentalist preachers, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the education level– preschool, day care or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new–the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of Humanism, resplendent in its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian idea of “love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved.”
For anyone to suggest that our state schools are not politically influenced is to display a large measure of naiveté.

Obj: It is not legal.
A: It is most definitely legal. The Picot report of 1988 confirmed that it is a right guaranteed to parents.

Obj: Parents are not as qualified as teachers. They should leave it to the experts.
Unfortunately most of us are aware of cases where teacher certification has not meant the same as teacher competency. In addition, there is the almost unrecognised fact that classroom logistics can make even the best teacher’s efforts an exercise in futility: over-crowded classrooms, lack of discipline, unsupportive administration, inability to give needed individual attention, time restraints which force them to move on to new material before the previous material is comprehended. Teacher certification does not ensure a quality education. In fact, many students who do not catch on at school must go home and get their parents to help out. There are already many parents out there who do the real teaching at night after school while the certified teacher gets the credit. Even Massey University Education Professor Ivan Snook was quoted in the Manawatu Evening Standard of 9 July 1990 as saying that teachers cannot be held responsible for students’ learning because there are too many factors beyond their control. So it would seem that although parents have to make sure their children attend the schools, the schools do not have to make sure that the children learn to read or write.
Click here for more info about parents vs professionals

Obj: Home educated children will not be properly socialised. They will never have any friends if they are kept at home all day.
Home educated children will most definitely be socialised in a completely different way than conventionally schooled children. The whole question of what constitutes proper socialisation and who actually socialises whom is dealt with at length here:
socialisation (The present writer asked his own children, who have never been to conventional schools, to respond to the idea that they, being home educated, would not have any friends. The writer was not prepared for their answers. The nine-year-old son said, “It’s a lie. We’ve got millions of friends.” The six year old son said, “We’ve got heaps of them.” The ten-year-old daughter laughed, then stopped suddenly and said, “That’s about the dumbest question you could ask anybody in the whole world. Is school the only place you can make friends?” The three then came up with the following list of places and ways to make friends: walking down the street, in a playground, at the A & P show, at a fair, visiting the neighbours, at camps, at the supermarket, at Boys and Girls Rally, joining sports, at Sunday school and church, while travelling on the Wellington-Picton ferry, on the beach, at home education meetings and field trips, playgroups, your own cousins and brothers and sisters, bicycling down the street, at the BMX track, you meet your friends’ friends when you visit their house, and you get to know the children of your parents’ friends and workmates.)

Obj: Home educating children is being far too overprotective. It is like keeping them in a hot house.
A: Home educating children is most definitely one way of protecting them from the evils and dangers of NZ’s disintegrating post-Christian society. Virtually any parent would wholeheartedly agree that a vital part of parenting is protecting the children. Parents who take up the home education option often believe they need to protect their children from the falling academic standards, the discipline problems, the negative peer pressure, the wasted and potentially dangerous time spent travelling to and from schools.
And they aren’t the only ones. The Manawatu Evening Standard of 1 October 1990 quoted the Manawatu District School Trustees Association chairman Ruma Karaitiana as saying the threat of abduction or molestation of children on their way to school had prompted most primary schools to introduce a policy of ringing the homes of any pupils who had not arrived at school by about 9:15am.
If accused of keeping their children in a hothouse, many home educating parents would unashamedly and enthusiastically respond, “Yes, I am. That’s my job. Why? Aren’t you doing the same?” A hothouse is for growing young plants in an ideal environment until they are strong and healthy and mature enough to be transplanted out into the open. The objective of the hothouse is to prepare the young plants for life outside on their own. How can anyone accusingly charge parents with doing the same for their own children, as if there was something wrong with it? Home-based education is an endeavour to rear young children in an ideal environment until they are strong and healthy and mature enough to face the world on their own. The objective of the home education is to prepare the young child for life in the real world where they are responsible for themselves. Can anyone come up with a comparable commitment on the part of parents toward their children than the loving, sacrificial and vital involvement of home education?
Many home educators see their task as a 24-hour-a-day, 7-day-a-week lifestyle. The spectre of a neurotic suburban-bound housewife whose tentacle-like apron strings entrap her pale deprived waifs indoors away from all contact with the outside world just doesn’t match the reality of the situation. Home education is a serious commitment, and the work involved would soon have those with phobias and neuroses happily sending their children off to school where someone else could worry about them.

Obj: What about those irresponsible parents who would keep their children at home with no intention of teaching them anything, but just using them as unpaid servants?
A: Such irresponsible parents would be just the people most likely to send their children off to school to get them out of their way. If not, their irresponsibility would surely keep them from going through the process of gaining the necessary Certificate of Exemption from the Ministry of Education. In this latter case, there are truancy laws already on the books to deal with such irresponsibility.
What’s worse is those irresponsible parents who send their children off to school expecting the schools to teach them everything, from toilet training to social graces. This is a logical result of over 100 years of compulsory schooling in this country: parents, having been relieved (so they think) of the education of their children, and in fact of the care of them for a huge part of each day, perceive themselves to have less and less responsibility toward their children. As they get more involved in their own personal pursuits, they actually desire to have less and less responsibility toward their children. The fact that the state seems to be eager to nanny us all from cradle to grave only serves to accelerate this process.
But the compulsory schooling isn’t educating the children. It is incredible that as much as 25% of children end up in reading recovering programmes. This is nothing less than an admission of total failure to teach the simple skill of reading, the most foundational and basic of all skills for an education. In addition an unacceptable number of students leave school in a state of function illiteracy. The prisons are full of conventionally schooled inmates, many of them illiterate.

Obj: Home educating children is sheltering them from the real world.
When you stop to think about it, it is the conventional school which shelters children from the real world. Schools segregate children by age and sometimes even by sex. Do you find this situation anywhere in that real world for which schools are supposedly preparing these peer segregated children? The home and family, the neighbourhood, the community, the workplace, the marketplace are all composed of integrated mixtures of ages and sexes. To be prepared for the future, children must learn to live within the age-integrated NZ society at large, not the age-segregated classroom situation.
Classroom logistics demand that instruction is in the form of theory and practical busy-work; there is rarely if ever any ultimately useful or value-creating function involved. Public education’s great philosopher, John Dewey, said as much himself: “The educational process has no end beyond itself….. (Education is) vital energy seeking opportunity for effective exercise.” On the other hand, home educated children observe and take part in the day to day routine of real life situations: a trip to the supermarket is a lesson in stock taking and stock control, menu planning, budgeting, evaluating price differentials, etc.; helping dad build a treehouse is a lesson in design options, architecture, measurement, spatial estimations, geometry, etc.
In fact home educators are ideally situated for turning their hobbies, crafts and special interests into cottage industries so that the children run their own businesses with practical experience in costing, production, marketing, banking, accounting, taxation and profit. When even 8-year-olds see that profit money sitting in their hands, money they earned by their own intellectual and manual labour, money which they can spend however they like, they are really motivated to relearn those old lessons and keen to learn some new ones.

Obj: Home educated students cannot enter institutions of higher learning as these institutions cannot assess what level of competency has been achieved.
A: It is a relatively simple matter of the prospective student chatting to the university’s or polytech’s admissions officer and gaining entry on a “Provisional Enrolment” basis. The student may want to bring along a portfolio of examples of essay writing skills, work records, character references. No paper qualifications of any kind are needed for such enrolment, which is virtually the same as one with impressive bursary scores. As long as they pass most of their chosen papers the first year, there is no longer any question of their enrolment status. If they fail most of their first year papers, they cannot apply to enrol again until age 20, when anyone can enrol without qualifications of any kind.

Home Education and Socialisation

Home Education and Socialisation
by Craig S. Smith

Without a doubt this is the one question, reservation and objection that is raised most often. It is ususlly the one raised first. It is often the one most hotly debated. And common experience among home educators is that socialisation, rather than academic achievement, is the issue over which friends, relatives and educational authorities show the most concern.

What is it, how and where does it take place?

“The earlier you institutionalise your children,
the earlier they will institutionalise you.”

–Developmental Psychologist Dr. Raymond Moore

Popular opinion assumes that children need long periods of interaction with a large group of age-segregated peers to acquire social skills. Now assuming that most of the time spent in the classroom is not spent in interacting but in paying attention to the teacher and doing the assigned work, where does most of the interaction take place? During lunch and break times, and before and after school. And who is supervising this interaction on the playground, on the school bus and on the streets to ensure that the right kind of socialisation is taking place? It is not the teachers but the children themselves. In the typical public school setting, children are being left to socialise themselves as best they can.

This fits in with today’s prevailing philosophy which holds that children are inherently good or perhaps neutral, like blank cassette tapes, and that left to themselves, they will inevitably develop and adapt toward the highest good attainable by the group as a whole. (Although it is unpopular to say so, when this is translated into practical reality it means conformity to the lowest common denominator.) This inevitable “upward” development and adaptation is an idea developed from the theories of evolution.

Unfortunately it was developed in the absense of a) other tenents of evolutionary thought, b) common experience and c) traditional Christian/Western wisdom, all of which contradict this foundational premise upon which our modern ideas of child socialisation are based.

Let us examine these three contradictions to the prevailing thoughts on socialisation:

a) Another tenent of evolution is the survival of the fittest. This is the law of the jungle, eat or be eaten, brute force prevails, might makes right. This is the tendency of children’s behaviour on the playground unless there are sufficient adults present to prevent it.

Even though children are infinitely varied, the socialisation at school causes them to conform to the codes dictated by their particular class or group. We have all witnessed the same phenomenon: There are the few at the top who are setting the pace and the codes, there are the vast numbers in the middle who quietly conform and try to keep out of harm’s way, and there are those at the bottom of the pecking order who are ostracised, victimised, bullied, teased, etc., because they do not conform in their dress, their size, their looks, their speech, their behaviour or whatever.

b) Common experience tells us this profound truth: Monkey see, monkey do. Children emulate the behaviour of those around them. If they spend most time around their friends, they copy them. If it is with the Ninja Turtles on TV, they will copy them. If they spend most time around their parents, they will emulate them.

Most parents know only too well the immediate results of this “copy cat” form of socialisation. After lengthy play with their friends, children can be “hyper” and disrespectful and try out the unacceptable speech or actions they have just picked up from their peers. How true is the ancient proverb which says, “He who walks with wise men becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” (1)

c) Christian wisdom says that children are not basically good or neutral but are fallen, that is, they possess an inherent tendency toward foolishness which manifests itself in temper tantrums, disobedience, disrespect, dishonesty, destructiveness, etc. Proverbs 22:15 says, “Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction will drive it far from him.” In other words, children do not need other children to teach them how to be children. Instead they need loving, responsive adults committed to teaching them, training them, giving them the discipline and setting them the right example in the social graces.

Children do not of themselves learn the social arts of respect, honesty, patience, gentleness, kindness, faithfullness, manners, or self control; they must have consciencious adults to model, discipline, teach and train them to internalise these behaviour traits as habits.

Origins of Modern Socialisation Theories
Critics of home education claim that such children will not be the same as their conventionally schooled friends and will not fit into the peer group. The origins of this concern are somewhat sinister.

First there was Horace Mann, an early leader in the public school movement. He favoured the Prussian patterns of state education because, as he put it, it was devised “more for the purpose of modifying the sentiments and opinions of the rising generation according to a certain government standard than as a mere means of diffusing elementary knowledge.”

Then there was John Dewey, the father of progressive education. He saw truth not in absolutes, but in terms of universal ideas developed and agreed to by a group. A “thesis” or proposed truism would emerge from the group. It would at some stage meet with an opposing idea, an “antithesis.” Debate and conflict would ensue until a compromise or “synthesis” was reached. This synthesis then became the thesis and the whole process would be repeated.

Truth to Dewey was derived by a distillation process within the group. To educators like him, the interaction of children with others in order to help distill these universal ideas of truth is education.

Both Horace Mann and John Dewey believed that this type of education needed to be led by an elite, those educators who had been instrumental in the formation of public education policy, who could gently lead others through this “distillation” process. To have children who did not or would not fit in with the group would be to hamper the distillation of truth, as directed by this elite.

We find, then, that this concern over home educated children not being socialised is actually a political concern that they will not be as easily manipulated by the elite as those who do fit into this all-important group.(2)

Group Socialisation
The following comments are by Dr. James C. Dobson who is Associate Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, University of Southern California School of Medicine; President of Focus on the Family Magazine and “Focus on the Family” radio programmes which are heard daily on 1400 radio facilities around the world; and author of best-seller, Dare to Discipline.

“I have been increasingly concerned during the past 10 years about the damage done to our children by one another. The epidemic of inferiority and inadequacy seen during the teen years is rooted in the ridicule, rejection, and social competition experienced by vulnerable young children. They are simply not ready to handle the threats to the self-concept that are common in any elementary school setting.

“I have seen kids dismantle one another, while parents and teachers passively stood by and observed the “socialisation” process. I’ve then watched the recipients of this pressure begin to develop defense mechanisms and coping strategies that should never be necessary in a young child.

“Dozens of investigations have demonstrated, (at least to my satisfaction), the error of the notion that children must be exposed to other children in order to be properly socialised. I just don’t believe it. In fact, the opposite is true. They need the security and love of parental protection and guidance until their self-concepts are more stabilised and established.

“In summary, I believe the home school is the wave of the future. In addition, it provides a third alternative to a humanistic public school and an expensive or non-existent Christian school.(3)

Socialisation and the Occurance of Genius
In 1960 Harold G. McCurdy examined “The childhood pattern of genius” in a study supported by the Smithsonian Institution of Washington, D.C. In summary, McCurdy wrote:

“The typical developmental pattern includes as important aspects:

a) a high degree of attention focused upon the child by parents and other adults, expressed in intensive educational measures and, usually, abundant love;

b) isolation from other children, especially outside the family; and

c) a rich efflorescence of fantasy as a reaction to the preceeding conditions.

“It might be remarked that the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on the effect of reducing all three factors to a minimum; accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurance of genius.”(4)

Socialisation Statistics
Another answer to those critics who argue that home educated students are deprived socially is provided by Dr. John Wesley Taylor V. He used the Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale, one of the best self-concept instruments available for measuring socialisation, to evaluate 224 home schooling participants aged 9 through 18. Over half scored in the top 10% of the scale. 77.7% ranked in the top 25% of the scale. Only 10.3% scored below the norm.

Home schooled children score signifigantly higher than their conventionally schooled peers in this measurement of socialisation.(5)

Character Development
Dr. Raymond Moore, Developmental psychologist and early childhood educational specialist from the Moore Foundation of Camas, Washington, has developed a three point recipe for sound character development:

1) An academic regimen which takes into consideration the individual child’s readiness to learn as effected by the child’s physical, emotional and intellectual maturity levels; his aptitudes, special gifts and abilities, learnig style, etc.

2) An element of work in the daily programme which may range from simple routine chores to a regular income-generating cottage industry.

3) Service to others such as active membership in voluntary service organisations and visiting, baking, running errands for shut-ins, the infirm or hospitalised.

Dr. Moore maintains that the time and logistics of public schools and the need to integrate all three points into a unified lifestyle or “family corporation” indicates home-based education as the ideal setting for sound, all-round character development.(6)

Some critics of home education paint charicatures of what they say the home-educated brand of socialisation will produce: introverted whimps and social incompetents. If we ignore for a moment the other factors involved in character development such as family background and support, it must be pointed out that these charicatures are already known in society and that they are products of the public schools. So too in fact are other social blights such as irresponsible hooligans, unmotivated slobs, gang members, vandals, and all the other social misfits who have graduated from the public schools’ socialisation programme to subsequently be sent to our country’s prisons, fill them to overflowing, and are now spilling back into society producing ever increasing crime rates.

If we now return to what are probably the major factors in character development, namely family background and support, and assert that increased hooliganism and crime is a result of disintegrating families, then we also have to assert that the schools are not able to correct this trend. Home-based education, however, is an ideal situation for correcting this downward trend as families are of necessity drawn together to strive in unison toward the goal of educating and training each other for the whole of life.

Negative Peer Pressure
Cornell University’s Urie Bronfenfrenner points out the negative socialising effects of the peer group. The knuckling under of children to their agemates in habits, manners, finger signs, obscenities, rivalry and ridicule almost certainly infects all children who spend more of their waking days with their peers than their parents, as is usually the case with conventionally schooled children.

They will become dependent upon their age-segregated peer group, and tend to be alienated from adults and others not in their age group. He says that this robs children of 1) self worth, 2) optimism, 3) respect for parents and 4) even trust in their peers.

Furthermore, this does not happen because peers are so attractive, but because the children perceive they are to some degree rejected by their parents.(7)

Early Childhood Schooling
Martin Engle, who then headed the National Early Childhood Demonstration Centre, vowed that parents who insist on early schooling, for all its claimed advantages to their children, are either deceived or deceiving their children; and that in fact, the children feel rejected.(8)

He is supported by the late John Bowlby, London psychiatrist who headed the World Health Organisation early childhood programme. This rejection, suggests Dr. Bowlby, often amounts to a serious form of child abuse. We are depriving them of the security they need when we institutionalise them before they are ready. (Dr. Moore adds that the earlier you institutionalise your children, the earlier they will institutionalise you.) Says Dr. Bowlby, “…mothers who care for their children well are providing an irreplaceable service and one that society should hold in highest regard and be thankful for.”(9)

Boys and Girls Mature at Different Rates
The negative socialsing effects of age-segregating youngsters into classes, putting all boys and girls of the same age into the same class, is especially damaging to the boys. We require boys to enter school at the same age as girls although we know that boys trail girls in mental and emotional maturity by about a year at school’s start. Boys tend to be more likely than girls to fail, become delinquent or aqutely hyperactive.

Michigan State University family ecologist Anne Soderman says, “Our failure to apply in the classroom what we have learned through research is evident in the secondary schools–boys outnumber girls 13 to 1 in remedial classes and by as much as 8 to 1 in classes for the emotionally impaired.”(10)

Basically, the socialisation argument against home education is one big myth. What statistics are available indicate that socialisation at home is in fact signifigantly superior to that proffered in public schools (Dr. John Taylor’s use of Piers-Harris scale.) And the results of the schools’ socialisation efforts observable in society today are bemoaned by just about everybody involved.

(1) Proverbs 13:20

(2) Theresa Rodman. The Teaching Home, Portland, Oregon: Vol. II, No. 4, Aug/Sep 1984.

(3) Abstracted from a personal letter to a professional collegue who had questioned Dr. Dobson’s stance on homeschooling, quoted in The Teaching Home , Portland, Oregon: Vol. I, No. 2, June 1983.

(4) Quoted in Doctoral thesis of Brian D. Ray, President, National Home Education Research Institute, Seattle, Washington, 29 July 1986.

(5) John Wesley Taylor V. “Self Concept in Home Schooling Children”, Doctoral dissertation, Andrews University, Michigan, May 1986.

(6) Raymond S. Moore. “The Educated Beautiful”, Kappa Delta Pi RECORD, summer 1987.

(7) Urie Bronfenbrenner. Two Worlds of Childhood: U.S. and U.S.S.R., New York, N.Y.: Simon and Schuster, 1970.

(8) Martin Engle. “Rapunzel, Rapunzel, Let Down Your Golden Hair: Some Thoughts on early Childhood Education.” Unpublished manuscript, National Demonstration Center in Early Childhood Education, U.S. Office of Education, Washington, D.C.

(9) John Bowlby. Maternal Care and Mental Health , Geneva World Health Organisation, 1952.

(10) Ann Soderman. Article in Education Week, 14 March 1984.


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