Ask The Principal

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

In the Nurture and Admonition of .........Their Peers?

As I mentioned earlier, my wife and I don't have cable or satellite TV service. Besides saving $40 a month, it saves me from having to worry about how I spend my time. I know that when I come home whipped after a day of putting out fires that turning on the tube is a great escape. No conflicts that I have to resolve, complete distraction from my responsibilities (though a certain youngster of mine can provide a powerful distraction with his ability to notify the senses of a soiled diaper!)

So I get my little video fix by watching the video clips online of news-stories and commentaries. I hate having to watch the little commercials before the clip, but I do because it won't let me fast forward them. Anyway, I just finished watching a newsclip (already forgot what it was about, but that's another discussion under "dumbing down America") but I remembered the was from the "Parents, the Anti-Drug" campaign. It has a girl leaving the house in the morning shadowed by her mother reminding the girl to exercise the manners (thank you) and safety cautions (look both ways before crossing, put on the safety belt), etc. When the young lady closes the door of the car she is riding in she is offered a "hit" by one of her peers in the car. The mother who had been shadowing her disappears, as if that was the one thing she never spoke to her daughter about. The ad leaves us there with the hope we as parents will speak to our kids about drugs so that when we send our kids out the door into the world to be raised, taught, influenced, nurtured, and admonished in the ways of the world they will at least say no to drugs.

Think about this for a moment. As a culture we widely have accepted as a norm that we send our kids out daily to receive all kinds of instruction. It would be naive to think that our kids are receiving only that which the school factory deems necessary to meet AYP (Adequate Yearly Progress, an NCLB thing). In fact the child will receive input from a plethora of sources. Every glance, every snicker, jostle, push, tug, sneer, grin, burp, smell, poke, whisper, note, wink, game, etc, ad infinitum. As parents we worry often enough about the good example we make to our kids. What about the kids that intentionally make themselves an example to your children?

Just think of the movies and TV shows that have a school setting that are aimed at the youth market. What is the primary influence? Peers. Barbie peers, jock peers, Goth peers, bully peers, victim peers, nerd peers, smarty peers, smoker/doper peers, etc. Throw in the teen version of the violation of the 7th Commandment and you have yourself a summertime teen movie hit. You have the occasional made-for-big-people movies that glorify the adult influence (Mr. Holland's Opus), but that's the big-person world. Not the world of a 5, 6, 7.....15 year old.

I have seen parents throw royal conniption fits if they did not get their favorite teacher and yet remain clueless to the fact that all may come to naught in a 2 minute playground tragedy. Remember the little girl in St. Louis last week? I have seen awesome brain research and incredible intellects perfect various teaching methods, and yet the primary influence in a kid's life when he or she comes home at the end of the day will be what happened on the playground in the morning.

My challenge will be this to parents sending their kids to public school: Ask your child about his/her day. My guess is that most of the recollection will be of the social aspect of the day, what Julie said to Robbie, what Juan wrote on a note, what Billy did to Sally, etc. You will give them a little moral lesson about it and in 3 minutes the day is another part of a building reinforcement of alternative behaviors that wouldn't be allowed at home but seen all day at school. Eventually your child will grow weary of the lessons and discussions and will stop talking about the day and hope the response of "nothing special, we just had a test and I think I did ok" will suffice.

Continued exposure of our children in public school system actually trains them to be bi-cultural. There is a culture at home, and a culture at school They are different as night and day sometimes. I'm going to wrap up this post with part of a comment I posted on Spunkyhomeschool blog a couple weeks ago, and was the catalyst for me starting this blog. It was in response to the prompt "Can schools be fixed"

Can public education be fixed? It has become the venue of the pagan and the sanctuary of the loathsome. It is primarily the place where students learn first their "socialized status" and its implications in the pecking order of peers. Academics come only after as sense of "social survival" occurs in the being of the child. Innocence is diminished and another culture develops in the mind of the child separate to the culture fostered at home. It is a culture of survival. Students respond differently, whether with power or prowess amongst their peers, or hiding in a sub-group that provides protection from the unwanted.

Can a system that forces this to happen to the child be fixed? Should it? How often, I don't know, a parent has told me that the child I described to them is not their own, until confronted with irrefutable evidence, followed by disbelief, tears, and cries for help.

The system as it exists forces a separation in the family whose multi-faceted wounds are difficult, if not impossible, to heal. What the system needs is fixing, like you do to an animal that you don't want to reproduce.

Finally, even a public school administrator can put a Bible verse on his blog:

"Hear, O Israel! The LORD is our God, the LORD is one!

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.

These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart.

You shall teach them diligently to your sons 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 up.

You shall bind them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates."

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

There is no better model of a family teaching method than this. I note how this is an all day affair and the teaching is directed to "your sons" (not pupils in general). Note also how the "school" is adorned. I propose that as Christians we train our children in these "schools" that have "You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might" bound to the doorposts and gates. This teaching is directed by parents to their children, and there is not a mention of sending their children into the pagan cultures so that they could be missionaries to the children of pagans.

This all said, a prayerful consideration may be in order for your family.


  • I just have to say, keep the posts comming. We all may be singing the same song but it sure is nice to know you aren't the only one thinking these thoughts.


    By Blogger The Home School Geek, at Wednesday, May 17, 2006 12:07:00 AM  

  • How do you do it, Bill? Work in a system, day in and day out, that is so obviously dysfunctional - a system that is broken beyond repair? It must just tear at your heart, as a Christian, to have to go in and face a job like this every day. :( I don't think I could do it.

    By Blogger hs'ing mom of two, at Wednesday, May 17, 2006 8:24:00 AM  

  • Thank you for saying this. Many of us feel this way. We even tell other people - they're listening, but they aren't hearing!

    I'd say 'Talk a little louder' but maybe this is a quiet revolution. Maybe when the percentage of kids being homeschooled reaches 50%, maybe then, they'll listen.
    (but I doubt it)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, May 17, 2006 9:13:00 AM  

  • How do I do it? God's grace is sufficient for us in every situation. The system is a battlefield for the Christian, but again, God's grace is sufficient. I won't be in the system much longer though. I am making other plans (seminary) at the moment. I'll let everyone know when that comes to fruition.


    By Blogger The Principal, at Wednesday, May 17, 2006 9:36:00 AM  

  • Don't forget that in leaving the system you will leave a void that may very well be filled by someone who does not love the lord.

    How much worse is a school when the administration and staff doesn't love the lord?

    While seminary may be what you are supposed to do don't ever doubt that God uses you right there in the system you are in.

    By Blogger The Home School Geek, at Wednesday, May 17, 2006 12:15:00 PM  

  • HS Geek, Indeed God is Sovereign. I can't say that God hasn't used me where I am. I know that He has. I also consider my experience in public schools part of the fabric that makes my future...whatever that holds. I believe that I have interposed for the sake of righteousness over relativism quite frequently, but boy does it hit the fan sometimes. The parable of the talents is what I am thinking of now...that is, you cannot bury your talent without consequence. For me I have considered seminary now for the last 2-3 years and it is a persistant desire. When I have the opportunity, I'll take it. I won't judge those that go into public education, as long as they realize it is a mission field full of landmines. I'll post later on the dedication of teachers and it may shed light on why the battle is intense with feelings that go to the depths of one's soul.


    By Blogger The Principal, at Wednesday, May 17, 2006 8:44:00 PM  

  • Bill,

    Keep up the good work and keep writing. It is an ecouragement to read.

    By Blogger guest, at Saturday, May 20, 2006 12:34:00 AM  

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