Classical Schools From Hell

I make a sharp distinction between homeschooling that is schooling at home, and homeschooling as ideology. The former is pursued by godly Christian parents who believe that this is what God has called them to, and who diligently labor to that end. Some of the finest students I have ever been privileged to teach at the college level have been homeschooled students. The latter are those that I have elsewhere called “homers.”

Someone might say, “That’s all very well, but why don’t you apply the same approach to classical Christian schools?” The question would be entirely fair if in fact I applied criticism to “homeschooling as ideology” and left out “classical Christian schools as ideology.” But I am concerned about educational ideologues, in all their manifestations, and have spent far more time critiquing schools than I have homeschooling. This is important because the classical Christian school scene is where I have been (bloom where you’re planted!), and Jesus made a particular point, well worth remembering, of getting the beam out of your own eye before taking the show on the road.

Consequently, in the past I have offered criticism that has gone after classical schools for “show poodles,” “scratch and sniff” classical schools, “classical Christian schools from Hell,” educational nazis, schoolmarmishness, and more. In my book The Case for Classical Christian Education, I have a chapter devoted to some of these problems. To all this someone might say, “Sure, you go after every school that is not your Logos School. Your arrogance smokes to the heavens and blackens the sun.” But anyone who has spent any time at all around my family can testify to all the (affectionate) stories my children can tell about the foibles of Logos School — in much the same way that secure homeschoolers can talk about their “home school moments.”

In fact, this is one of the litmus tests for the presence of ideology. Obedience is secure, whether that obedience is taking place in a home school setting or in a classroom. Defensiveness for any particular method, a defensiveness that functions across the board, is a prickly and ideological defensiveness. This kind of defensiveness does not hear qualifications, however extensive or careful, and simply circles the wagons at the first indication of any criticism offered to an approved member of “the group.” And it does not matter what the colors are on the flag hoisted by that group. They might be colors from anywhere, and the defensive are capable of identifying with anything. They could be Calvinists, Marxists, homeschoolers, chiropracters, classical Christian schoolers, agrarians, or teamsters. The problem is not the content of the movement, the problem is ideology — what the Bible calls “party spirit.”

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