I Learned A Lot in Public School

I Learned A Lot in Public School

I actually learned a lot in my conservative, small-town public school where virtually every well-intentioned teacher, as far as I knew, as well as the principal, was a self-proclaimed Christian. We still had devotions over the intercom and Teens for Christ meetings in the morning.

I graduated a smiling Homecoming Queen, a cheerleader, with an Advanced diploma, a college scholarship and a semester of college already finished. And completely, utterly, broken. But I learned things.

In my sociology class in the 10th grade, I learned about the relative value of human life in a project where we were given a disaster/survival scenario and had to choose who got to live. Would it be the 24 year old doctor, or the 87 year old grandmother? That’s literally the only thing I remember about my sociology class.

In my Home Economics class in the ninth grade I learned about birth control. Because everyone knows it would be silly to teach 14 year olds that sex before marriage is wrong. I did not learn to sew.

In my Literature class, which I dearly loved, I learned that there aren’t really any moral absolutes, but rather, each individual should make decisions based on his unique circumstance. We discussed most all of the political and social issues of the day. Without our parents but with someone else’s worldview leading the conversation.

In the hallways I learned about sexual overtones, groping when no adults were looking, and bad words, just to mention a few.

Thankfully, I didn’t learn much about drugs because “back in my day”, drugs were done by the group of “really bad kids” and they were pretty secretive about it. I don’t think that’s the case anymore.

At break, I learned about sexual acts that I would NEVER repeat publicly. But I learned them in the context of “this is what everyone does and it’s fun” not so much about diseases, pregnancy and permanent scars for life that will follow you into your marriage.

In P.E. I learned that the athletic and popular kids had worth; everyone else just had to make do and form their own cliques to survive.

Overall I learned that teachers were stupid, parents were stupid and if you want to be popular, which was really the most important thing in a teenager’s life, there are just certain things you do to fit in.

I chucked 12 years of intense Christian teaching and influence by my parents, former teachers and mentors for the temporary popularity of high school.

I became a companion of fools and I suffered much harm.

I gave my heart to my peers while my parents begged, “My daughter, give me your heart.” (Proverbs 23:26) Their words fell on empty ears.

My point in this post is to say that we have chosen to not place our children in public school because from our simple experiences and observations, our parents weren’t able to train us in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, though they tried. There was too much conflicting noise and confusion, too many vying for our affection.

And while nothing is guaranteed to us, regardless of our choices, I do believe that fact in no way removes our obligation to walk as carefully and obediently as possible.

I believe choices have consequences in the context of God’s sovereignty.

If God has commanded us to teach our children about Him, I believe that means we cannot relinquish their education to the state, wherein it has explicitly denied God and His lordship over our lives. Such is subjecting our children to walk in the counsel of the ungodly, (Psalm 1:1) and to be under the teaching of false doctrine (humanism).

If God has commanded that we walk with the wise and not become companions of fools, I believe we have an obligation to help our children do just that, while they are growing and maturing in Christ, walking with them as we minister to the lost, but not giving them to walk alongside the unfruitful works of darkness. (Ephesians 5:11, 1 Corinthians 15:33)

We have been made to accept public school as a privilege and a necessity, but I believe that as a Christian parent, it is my duty to instruct my children in the way they should go, and that, by nature, rules out an education not devoted to the fear of the Lord. (Proverbs 1:7)

28 Responses to “I Learned A Lot in Public School”

  1. 6 arrows says:

    I learned in my public school sociology class that suicide was “awesome.”

    A boy in the class did not show up one Monday. He had committed suicide over the weekend, we learned. Our soc teacher, with a dreamy look in her eyes, and a smile on her face, told us how awesome it was that our classmate had had such a high level of self-awareness, that he knew just what he wanted and had the courage to fulfill his desires.

    Yeah.

    • Claudia says:

      Oh. No. 🙁 Grieves my heart.

      • 6 arrows says:

        Mine too. And I was shocked an adult would respond that way to such a tragedy. I wish I had had the courage to speak out against such a statement made in front of impressionable youth, some of whom were likely dealing with their own troubles at the time, but I was not very bold in those days.

  2. How could we ever think that putting our precious children in government run schools for many hours every day for many years was a good thing? There is nothing in the Bible that speaks about doing this with our children! Here is a post written by a public high school teacher warning parents to “Get Your Kids Out?” It is VERY good and should be heeded by Christian parents.

    http://lorialexander.blogspot.com/2014/12/public-school-teacher-says-get-your.html

  3. laura says:

    Going to parks, roller-skating rinks, etc. Are enough ‘public schooling’ in reality. It baffles me as to why parents believe they are going to ever have well behaved perfect children when they are sent to socialist institutions. The children simply will never turn out with good character when they are out. The few who do have good character had to get it by consequence while many still hide their ‘bratty’ dirt under the rug.

    • Laura,

      I don’t think parents are aiming for perfect children, as none of us should. And as I said in the post, our choices alone do not guarantee our children to be anything. I think our aim needs to be obedience to bringing up children in the Lord, to the best of our ability, and doing so with a humility and understanding that God is the author and finisher of our children’s faith.

  4. […] I actually learned a lot in my conservative, small-town public school where virtually every well-intentioned teacher, as far as I …read more       […]

  5. Michelle says:

    I love homeschooling, and the world can still enter in. Struggling now as we have moved a year and a half ago, thinking it would be easy to make new friends. No friends, not many activities available for their ages. They have turned to the internet. You tubers are not sensored. The world is in my home. Not as easy as you may think to kick it out. Causes rebellion. Praying. None of our public schooled friends have this issue. I still would not choose public, but they do have to have friends and activities.

    • Michelle,

      The responsibility to teach our children in the admonition of the Lord does not mean they are (or even should be) shielded from sin. Sin lives within us. There is sin to deal with no matter where we are. The difference is that we are there, walking beside them, instructing them in wisdom, instead of letting an ideology contrary to God’s Word instruct them.

      The internet is a problem every parent must deal with. But I would challenge you on something: while it’s good for our children to have friends and activities, they do not “have to.” I’ve spoken with several families in your situation and they said it was a hard, lonely road, BUT, their families are now closer and their adult children are healthy, normally functioning adults (we buy too much into the idea of peer dependency).

      Learn to have fun as a family. Be their activities. Be their friends. Get involved in some ministry work, even if it’s just sending cards or meals to those who need it. Get them thinking outside of themselves and the need to be entertained and amused. (Understand though, we deal with the internet monster too.) Get them busier.

      • I feel the biggest opportunity between a homeschooled and public schooled child is that the first has his parents right there next to him to ask questions and to glean wisdom from a Godly source. Now that is only true if the parent is involved and available for the child. There are many parents that homeschool but know nothing about their child and are not willing to get involved. Like marriage, parenting takes work, takes dying to self, seeing things from a different point of view, willingness to change, to forgive, to repent. It’s daily work. I was public and private schooled and I hated it. I felt my life was wasted away. I felt like I did not belong or had any significance. I don’t want that for my kids. I am striving for them to know they belong to our family and have significance to us and God. YouTube is a great opportunity to discuss why we choose not to watch this or that, why we don’t agree or do this or that. It’s an opportunity to teach my kids to make wise choices and flee temptations. All the while, standing right there next to them, checking the history. One of our recent topics has been on friendship. Explaining to them that someone they play a game online is not a real “friend”. It’s important so they won’t give people more value than they really deserve, if you know what I mean. One thing I noticed is my children are so carefree. they are not people pleasers, have no concern for what brand of clothes they wear or what they watch. They could care less what their peers thing of them. I hope they will continue to develop their sense of self and awareness of God in them.

      • Kim M says:

        Michelle,

        I would like to second Kelly’s comment about ministry. My kids and I volunteer in a soup kitchen (except this place serves a full meal instead of just soup). My children were disappointed recently because we had bad weather and couldn’t make it for a couple of weeks. Just by being there, we’ve made some interesting new friends. If we were unable to commit to a particular organized ministry, I think having at least one day set aside for ministry where you make things for people, write letters, etc, would give your children something to which to look forward. You could use the letter writing, or crafting, or baking as a way to bless the older people in your church, the sick, or your neighbors, servicemen in your community (police & firemen, etc). Baking as home ec, letter writing as language arts. Pinterest has some great gift ideas.

  6. Michelle says:

    Thank you so much for the encouragement!! We have a baby and a toddler which makes those things harder. I often wonder how you do it. I will be more intentional.

  7. Amy says:

    I feel the desire & I see the need to homeschool, but do not have the agreement of my spouse at this point. I am simply writing this to ask you to pray for God’s will to be known in our family on this matter. As well as, the willingness by all family members to make the necessary sacrifices to live off my husband’s salary. You do need to publish this. Thanks

    • Claudia says:

      Dear Amy,

      The Lord is sovereign. He knows your heart. He will stand in the gap. I too, have struggled with this same issue with my husband regarding our son who has a disability, even though I homeschool my typically-developing (whatever that is:) children. I prayed long and hard over this, and in the end, the Lord made clear to me that our children will fare far better if Mom and Dad are happy and enjoy each other than if I get what I want at the cost of marital happiness. I handed it over to the Lord, and 8 years later, when he started high school (who would have thought), I had the privilege to homeschool him for 3 years because of a unique situation going on at the high school, and because my husband knew my heart. Three hardest years. Ever. Still, I have no regrets. He is now in an after-high school life skills program, again, by my husband’s lead (though I didn’t make a true appeal, even though I prayed through that time for a way to keep him home). And my son would name “dada” as his best friend, if he could speak. I am writing your name in my prayer journal, Amy. Just be still, and know He is God. Watch and see what He will do. It may not mean homeschooling, but He will do a great work in your heart if you lean into Him hard.

    • Natalie says:

      Dear Amy, I am praying too. I have witnessed seen the Lord turn the heart of a husband toward homeschooling. If this is his will, he will accomplish it!

  8. Bonnie says:

    Some 17 years later, hardly a day goes by where I don’t think of some way that high school impacted my life profoundly.

    Not only was I peer oriented and a people pleaser, but I was not bold in my faith, thought abortion in ‘special circumstances’ was probably okay and felt that some form of evolution was most likely our origin.

    Nine children later and a bustling homeschool life have opened my eyes to new vistas of possibility as I see my ‘un-schooled’ children blossoming without the pressure and propaganda of the system.

    It’s good to be free!! This is how we were made to be.

  9. Claudia says:

    Your brush painted the picture beautifully, Kelly. I agree. And boy is this an encouragement on a day when homeschooling is hard. Do write that ebook soon: When Homeschooling Feels Hard. And put me at the top of the waiting list, dear sister!

    • Claudia says:

      Referring to my above comment: “Beautifully” seems paradoxical here, don’t ya think? I should have said vividly. 🙂

  10. Neil Roy says:

    Wow! Awesome article! This was my experience as well. If I had children (sadly my wife of 30 years and I cannot) I would never subject them to school. Every time I see a young child, so sweet and innocent, who looks up to their parents for guidance go off to school it grieves me because I know, someday soon, they will come up and tell their parents to shut up, and start making demands. School IS THE MAIN PROBLEM with our society.

  11. Katie says:

    Wow…I’m pretty sure you’re noticeably older than am I and I’m suddenly grateful, relatively speaking, for how my own public school experience went! I graduated in 2000. (We homeschool our own children, the oldest of whom is 8. )
    At any rate, on the face of it there’s nothing to explain why my high school was one of the better ones- I never have figured out why that is. Or was, anyhow. Noted for its choral, Latin, and girls’ tennis programs, of all things! I recall learning “just-the-facts” about sex, once in 9th grade health and agagin with a bit more explanation in 12th grade health. The message was basically “it’s definitely best to wait until you’re married; if not that, the longer you wait the better” and straightforward information about STDS and forms of birth-control. Something worked out all right, because there were a tiny number of pregnancies in the school and I recall zero rumors about pregnancies or abortions!
    I don’t recall getting a relativist attitude from our literature classes- I do recall the AP 12th grade teacher’s theme for the year was “Life is absurd!” and there were some R-rated passages in books like Catch-22 in that class. The gym teachers were pretty good- they involved everyone in class and taught a wide variety of activities, so if you didn’t like one thing, you might enjoy the next.
    Oh- and home ec? We learned about how babies develop prior to birth, and we did sew, plenty.

  12. Katie says:

    I’m NOT defending public school, in my above comment- just realizing I got off better than I’d thought before! And I’d already appreciated that I’d had a pretty decent experience compared to many, especially with the aforementioned Latin and choir. I suppose not even public school is always completely bad…every time I see our copy of THE textbook for Latin I (Using Latin, copyright 1961), I mentally calculate how long it is until my daughter is 11 and I can reasonably start it with her! 🙂

  13. Natalie says:

    WOW, wonderfully written Kelly!

  14. amadeus says:

    Speaking of poor sex ed, do you, Kelly, or any of the other wise ladies on here, have suggestions for good books/articles on sex education, from a Christian (or just wholesome) perspective? I’m a homeschool graduate, but the older I get, the more I feel very ill-prepared for marriage (someday Lord willing). I never got much information from parents who were shy to talk about it. I want to learn about how God made us (I mean, really basic stuff I’ve never been told!), but in a way that will honor God.
    Thanks!

  15. C says:

    I’m struggling with the sarcastic tone of the title of the post. The difficulties, challenges, heart breaks – seem honest. But to approach this important topic with the refrain of “I learned….” – I think it undermines your sincerity. You did actually learn to write a five paragraph essay, to turn assignments in on time, to do geometry, etc., also, right? (Not that all those things can’t be learned at home! Of course they can.) It doesn’t sound – in the long run – like you believed any of the stuff you “learned” in public high school. Maybe some of it stuck for awhile, but ultimately you found your way out – and God lead you out of those things you’d learned.

    • 6 arrows says:

      It is my opinion that the title of this post is very fitting.

      School is a place where far more than “subject matter” is learned. What are the life lessons we absorb and carry into adulthood? That is where true learning has occurred.

      Those things shape our worldview and impact us on a much deeper level than, for example, learning how to not split infinitives.

    • 6 arrows says:

      And, yes, you’re right, C, the Lord, in His mercy and grace, led Kelly out of those things. But there is a heavy price we pay while we are “stuck [in those things] for awhile,” to use your terminology. And it’s especially important to note (and Kelly did, when she mentioned “permanent scars,”) that the choices we’ve made in the past can and often do have lifelong ramifications, far beyond the time after which we’ve gotten out of the lifestyle we formerly had.

      You may see the title of her post as something that “undermines [her] sincerity” but I think you are far off base in that analysis. Her whole post, and the title itself, is, in my estimation, a strong and sincere plea to understand that schooling, education, is far more than what most of us think of.

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