When Christian Homeschooling Violates Title IX

Bill Gothard has long been big in Christian homeschooling circles. Thanks to Jeri Loftland, I was recently pointed to a website on which Gothard lays out some of his ideas concerning education. I’m going to quote Gothard’s list and then pull out a select few items for further discussion. So without further ado, on to Gothard’s “Advanced Seminar Session 16: Successful Education.”

  • The ultimate goal of education is not to produce a degree, but to produce many godly generations.
  • God charges parents and grandparents, not teachers, with the responsibility to train their sons and daughters.
  • God established the home, not the school, as the primary learning center; the school and church must be recognized as extensions of it.
  • The most destructive force in school is peer dependence, and parents must constantly work to protect their children from it.
  • God wants the priorities of every family to be built around daily engrafting of Scripture, rather than accumulating man’s knowledge.
  • The ability of sons and daughters to stand alone is the result not of rules, but of principles thyat assure a superior way of life.
  • When knowledge is learned before godly character, it produces pride and arrogance.
  • Parents who teach sons and daughters at home must be accountable to a local church (Christian school and the government).
  • Sons and daughters thrive with appropriate responsibility, and it is God’s goal that they be mature in their youth.
  • God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.
  • When schools group children by ages, older examples are cut off and rebels usually rise to leadership.
  • When the Bible is separated from courses, the contents come under the control of human reasoning.
  • True socializing takes place not in the arbitrary groupings of school, but in the real world of children-to-adult relationships.
  • Valuable learning time is lost in school; two hours of home teaching is equivalent to six hours of school teaching.
  • The key to effective education is not just a trained teacher and a professional curriculum, but a concerned parent and a motivated child.
  • God has set a limitation on learning; thus, academic freedom is no justification for studying the details of evil.

Okay then, now to take some point by point.

  • When knowledge is learned before godly character, it produces pride and arrogance.

Or in other words, providing your children with academic instruction should take backseat to building their character. And yes, I’ve heard of this used to justify educational neglect. Who cares if the kid doesn’t know algebra? What matters is that the kid has a good godly character!

  • Sons and daughters thrive with appropriate responsibility, and it is God’s goal that they be mature in their youth.

This one is used to justify relying on teenage daughters for the family’s cooking, cleaning, and childcare responsibilities all the while interpreting any bit of nonconformity as “rebellion” and a lack of maturity. Teenage years? Who needs those? Best to jump straight to being hired help—with no pay, of course.

  • God gave boys and girls differing aptitudes; when children are taught together, boys are programmed for failure.

If anyone had doubts about whether there are actually Christian homeschool leaders who devalue the education of girls, look no further. In case you were wondering, in Gothard’s worlds girls have an aptitude for cooking and childcare and boys have aptitude for math and science.

  • When the Bible is separated from courses, the contents come under the control of human reasoning.

And this is why there are “biblical math” textbooks for homeschooled kids. You think I’m kidding? I’m not. The basic argument is that any learning that is not grounded in the Bible is an evil and temptation to be avoided.

  • True socializing takes place not in the arbitrary groupings of school, but in the real world of children-to-adult relationships.

This one is used to justify kids not having too many friends, or much social time with friends. Because what kid needs friends their age when they can just be friends with the adults in their lives, right? Having friends your own age is totally overrated! Or, you know, not.

  • God has set a limitation on learning; thus, academic freedom is no justification for studying the details of evil.

This one’s easy. It’s used to justify not actually learning about the arguments made by your opponents. Because, you know, if you actually studied evolution, like for real and not just through the distortion of creationist literature, you would be studying “the details of evil”!

Did I mention that Gothard has a pretty wide hearing in Christian homeschooling circles? I grew up on the outskirts of Gothard’s ideas, but my family still picked up some of them—umbrella of authority, anyone? Others in my circle attended Gothard seminars either in person or via video. These ideas aren’t fringe in Christian homeschooling, and Gothard is not the only one to hold or spread them, either. And yes, this should make you nervous.

About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.


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