Pulled the Kids out of School…Now What?

You have pulled the kids out of school. Now what? This is a situation being faced by many Christian parents as the problems in modern schools force them to take actions they must take, but never planned to take. Removing the kids from school is an important first step, but now the challenge of homeschooling begins. Ini this talk, I discuss what parents need to do after they’ve pulled their children out of school and are ready to begin homeschooling.

Tell us about what’s going on in the lives of your children affects you when the children are young. But as they get older, and you get more experienced parenting, you start to realize that it’s not you. It’s not the parents. The problems that are in our kids lives are not being caused by their parents. No matter how much we punish, and fight and try to discipline and control and restrict and block on and on and on, there comes a point where we finally are persuaded that the problem is not my fault. I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. I should not have to deal with this, and that and that, and this and that, these things are coming into our home from outside. And once they’re in, it’s too late, we’re fighting the fight too far down the road as it were, we’re giving the enemies too much of a head start. And when we finally wake up, when we finally have this revelation, it’s often too late. The kids are 16-17 years old. And we’ve just lost so much time and the influence has taken so much root within them. That we’re in emergency mode. And that’s what provokes this final pull out. Because there’s just no more hope we can’t continue telling ourselves, it’ll be okay. It’ll be okay. It’s just because he’s young, it’s just a matter of time held mature, he’ll get through this, this is just a phase, we get to a point where we can’t keep explaining it away. And we have to do something. And so the parents pull the kids out. Thanks be to God. The problem is that the breakthrough for the parents is not great enough. The breakthrough that the parents have, doesn’t go far enough. Just as I said before, the parents didn’t think of the school necessarily as being a source of the problem. They might have blamed a few kids, they might have blamed the kid, their own child, they might have blamed themselves. But eventually they have this breakthrough. And they realize like no, wait, it’s not my kid. It’s not me. It’s not these other kids. It’s the school itself, this whole idea of cramming all these kids together indiscriminately. And having the worst kids in town from the worst parents in town right in the middle of the classroom, influencing all the other kids whoever who designed this idea. This whole idea is stupid. proverb says that He who walks with wise men will become wise. He who walks with wise men will become wise. You don’t send a kid into the company of fools and expect him to come out wise. Whoever thought of this idea? Well, the answer is that the public school system wasn’t intended to educate good kids. It wasn’t intended to be a place where Christian parents sent their children to be taught and prepared for college and career. The public school was created for all of the street kids who had no other opportunity for education, who were loose in the streets, doing evil committing all kinds of crime, making it impossible for people to do business or run stores. To get them off the streets and put them in school. So that through the public expensive education, they could prevent the crime and destruction that these kids were getting into and could possibly help them to accomplish some good in their lives. The public school was created aidid for kids who had no other alternative in education, it was intended to be a place for the bad kids. But every kid who was there was expected to be bad, to need help to have no other options, and so on. The arguments that were originally made for the public to fund the public schools argued that the money that was spent on public education would be saved on public law enforcement and incarceration. In other words, if we spend the money on education, we can spend less on the prisons. Of course, that hasn’t worked out either. But that was the original financial argument. We’re going to spend money on these kids in one way or another. Let’s spend it on their education rather than on their incarceration. So the public school was never created or intended for quote, unquote, good kids, was never intended for kids from good Christian families was never intended for the children, of educated parents or professional parents was never intended to be a college preparatory school. The worst people in our society, the drug addicts and drunks and prostitutes, gang members, the worst criminals in our society, send their children to the public school. What in the world is your child doing there? You know, I know everyone knows that there’s only one reason the children are there. And it’s because the parents are using the free public education system, it’s a welfare program. And parents will justify sending their kids to the public school. For because it’s free. That’s problem number one. Christian kids shouldn’t be there. The children of educated parents of professional parents should not be there. The other problem is that all of the private schools available have modeled themselves on the public school system. The problems in the private schools are not solved in the private schools. Let me say that, again, the problems of the public schools are not solved or avoided. In the private schools, they do the same things. Now. The difference is that a private school where there’s tuition allows the school to filter out who can come. So there’s a filter. And in a strong school community, that filter may include issues of family culture, and morals and things like that to create a school culture. But most of the time, what happens is that degenerates, and eventually, the curriculum and the academic program, the actual school itself, is just like the public school. And what happens is the only filter the only filter that controls who comes in is financial, who can pay tuition? That becomes the only filter in most private schools. And so you can say, well, this is a Catholic school. We have a curriculum, that’s, you know, we we monitored the curriculum to make sure that nothing that’s anti Catholic is taught in the schools. And the curriculum on paper can appear to be better than the curriculum in the public school. However, the cultural problems remain. Because if you think that wealthy parents kids are not morally evil, you just haven’t been around On wealthy parents kids, as I said before, in even elite, private Christian schools, where there is some effort to filter the students there is a also a financial filter, a socio economic filter. The same evils that are present in the schools, in the public schools are found in the private schools. The parents may be good people, but the kids seek out evil and bring it with them to school. And there are all other issues because private schools are always struggling financially. And the standard of admission is rarely kept high enough to ensure that the student body is of such a quality that students in the school can in fact, grow wise by walking with the wise rather than being immersed as a companion of fools. So anyway, the problem is that when parents choose to pull the kids out of school, what they think to themselves, because they don’t go far enough, they don’t pursue the problem to its real roots. Parents are willing to pull the kids out of school. But then what they think is, okay, the school community was the problem. The school the school culture was the problem. If I can take the school culture out of the way, and just give my kids the school curriculum, then the problem will be solved. But you’re wrong. Because you don’t go far enough to school culture is what it is. Because the school curriculum is what it is. And this is what I explained to the parent I spoke with yesterday. The school culture is what it is. The faculty is what it is. The student body is what it is, because the curriculum at the school is what it is. I’ll say that one more time. The culture, this student body and the faculty at the school is what it is. Because the curriculum at the school is what it is. The curriculum is not an ally. The curriculum is the enemy. The curriculum is what’s ultimately responsible for the moral corruption in the school. For the idleness in the school, for the low standards for the teachers in the school, for the material and financial focus, rather than intellectual and moral focus of the school, the curriculum is the problem. What most parents will do is they’ll say I’m going to pull my kid out of the school, eliminate the influence of the school culture, and then everything will be okay, but that’s false. And you can learn that the hard way. Or you can avoid this mistake, the curriculum is not innocent. The curriculum in the modern school does not provide for the education of a good person. It doesn’t. The educational standards in the public school are so low that they do not require enough work and time to keep a student busy, focused on good things and challenged to keep growing. The modern curriculum doesn’t provide enough content and doesn’t provide the quality of content to produce wise and good students, the curriculum also has to be changed. So pulling the kid out of school is a good first step. But if you intend to simply give your kid the public school education at home, you’re going to find that the problems don’t go away. Because your son or your daughter is still idle, they are still not learning the essential subjects that will can lead them to be good people. They’re not being challenged spiritually, and intellectually, they’re being treated like computers, or like robots that simply need to be programmed to do their work. They’re not being educated, like human beings, creatures composed of body and soul with understanding and freewill. They’re not being educated like human beings, they’re being educated, like robots. And if you don’t change that curriculum, and if you don’t give your children a human education, the problems are not going to be taken away. And it doesn’t matter if you try to throw superficial religious books and religion classes or faith formation classes at the problem. The problem is too deep the foundation, the foundation that’s needed for real studies and intellectual growth, to take root, or not there. And when you throw all of these religious materials and religious resources at these students, they just glance off. So the danger that I’d like to warn you about is twofold. First of all, if and when you pull your kid out of school, don’t simply plan to administer the modern school curriculum at home, you have to go further. The other problem is you have to get out of the K to 12 grade system. That’s another source of the problems. Get rid of the public school curriculum, get rid of the whole grade system structure, where you look at your kid and try to put him in a certain class. There are essential subjects to be learned. There are essential concepts and skills that constitute a good education. Your child either has these, or he doesn’t, it doesn’t matter what grade he’s in. It doesn’t matter how old he is. He either has these concepts, and has the skills or he doesn’t. And that’s the only thing that we should be talking about. We should be talking about whether or not a child has the essential skills and knowledge that constitute a true Christian education. We should not be talking about nonsense, like, what grade level he’s in. What Public Schools subject at what level he’s working on and so on. We should be asking questions like, can the child read and comprehend what he reads? Can the child compose a clear and articulate essay? Does the child have a good set of study habits? Does the child know how to approach a lesson and study it for mastery? Does the child know how to solve problems that are of a mathematical nature? Does the student understand what it means to reason what it means to give proof For a judgment or a conclusion that’s made this student know how to investigate a problem. Does a student understand the difference between reasoning and philosophy? And modern science? Does the student understand the difference between reasoning and philosophy? And theology? Does the student know where to look for answers? Does the student have a working outline of world chronology that allows him to easily place people events, ideas in historical context? These are the kinds of questions that we should be asking. Because if a kid doesn’t have these abilities, who cares if he’s in 11th grade? What are you going to do? Give him a diploma and call your job done because he turned 18. The goal of education has to stop being focused on giving your kids some piece of paper or excusing yourself from further responsibility for the kids life. The goal of education has to return to making sure that our children are taught and lead to master essential concepts and skills that are necessary for the Christian life. It’s an objective and content based assessment, not a grade level assessment, not an age based assessment. And so when you decide to pull your kid out of the school, you have to keep going. You have to go beyond the walls of the school, beyond the school curriculum, beyond the grade level model, and you have to bring that kid back to the point where the focus is on subjects, and concepts and skills. You have to bring the kid back far enough until you reach the place where the focus is on subjects on specific textbooks and sources on concepts and skills. If you’re talking about day numbers, grade levels, what day it is, how old you are, you’re lost in modern education. You haven’t gone far enough. When you start to talk about subjects, and sources, and concepts and skills. Now you’re talking now we’re getting to education. Now we’re starting to sound like human beings, educating human beings. And you have to be willing to keep going until you reach that place. The error that parents make when they choose to homeschool is they, they get excited about this big first step that they take. They get excited, and they’re they’re eager to tell everybody, I pulled my kid out of school. But they don’t go far enough. They don’t go far enough. And in the end. While it may be true that some evils are avoided, the problems are not remedied. You can take the boy out of the public school and listen to this carefully. You can take the boy out of the public school, but you have to make sure that you take the public school out of the boy and you can’t stop until that’s done. You can take the boy out of the public school but you have to make sure that you take The public school out of the boy. If you don’t, you’re going to find homeschooling doesn’t solve the problem. This was what concerned me. When I was 2530 years old, I was a Upper School classics teacher in an elite, Christian, private school. Top students, top dollar, quality, everything but modern curriculum, grade level school system. And as I went to work every day, I felt frustrated. Because there just wasn’t enough time. There wasn’t enough time for the kids to get into the studies far enough to really profit. There wasn’t enough time to offer courses that were really essential courses for Christian education. There was too much distraction, too much idleness too much wasted time. And on top of that, we only had 180 days to work. As I was seeking to become the most effective teacher I could be, I began to realize that the school the restrictions created by the school which were artificial, were impossible to overcome. And I knew that if I was going to remedy the problems, there was nothing that could be done within the framework of a modern, private school. It was simply too much. It was simply formed too much in the image of a public school, a minimum requirements, public school. It made no sense. I chose to homeschool my own children even though I could have had them attend elite private schools at no cost. I chose to homeschool because I knew that there was no private school, no private school that could solve the problems that I had come to see present in modern education. Changing from one school to the other may cause a change in appearances. But but the the core problems are still in place. And so we chose to homeschool our children even with access to elite private schooling. I wanted my children focused on subjects not stupid talk about what grade level they’re in, or what their grades are in a certain course or what their grade point averages. As if any of that means anything. As if a 3.5 GPA means you’re smart enough to live a Christian life. I don’t understand objectively what a grade point average says about a person’s education. Everyone knows it’s it’s meaningless. But we just go around babbling this academic nonsense pretending that it makes sense. I wanted my kids to focus and talk about subjects. If we study English grammar, I want to talk about the art of grammar, the actual content of the textbook in its completeness. You either know it or you don’t. It’s objective. It’s systematic. That’s what scientific knowledge really is. You can know something. When you understand its principles, its causes its elements. If you don’t know those things, then you don’t know the subject. I wanted to hear my children talking about rules and definitions, axioms, propositions and so on. I didn’t want to hear talk about grades or grade levels or their age, or what day in the school year it was, I want to talk about subjects courses, authors, concepts, skills. And I knew that that was not available in modern schools. In 2008, I chose to leave private school teaching, and devote myself entirely to this work of making such an educational program available to two students. I did that as a Catholic class assist, who was concerned about educating Christian children, but I honestly think that when I started the classical liberal arts academy, I made one great mistake. I made one great mistake, and that is that I made the focus of my educational work, to religious I made it to religious, I appealed too narrowly, to a Catholic audience because in all honesty, I don’t believe that the Catholic audience has any advantage over the non Catholic audience when it comes to these issues. I can demonstrate that Protestant homeschool families are far more successful than Catholic homeschool families. I can even show that secular families, non Catholic non Christian families are succeeding with homeschooling. And for a number of reasons, Catholic families actually struggle with homeschooling and accomplish much less. And one of the reasons is that the idea of church authority gives Catholics a false a false sense that so long as something is approved by the church, or is allowed by the church. It’s sufficient. That attitude, which the church itself does not communicate, or teach. It’s simple and easy to see that if I tell my children, they’re allowed to do something, it doesn’t mean that that’s all that they should do. But often church approval, or church permission, is used by Catholics as a justification for doing nothing more. And this is true of many Catholic study programs that I would argue are even worse than public school programs. The standards are even lower, the achievement is lower. The skills and concepts taught are fewer. The assessment is inferior. The families spend even fewer days and fewer hours on academic work. And it’s all justified by saying this program is approved by some bishop or some has some endorsement from some celebrity priest. And there’s this false sense of justification for parents to set the bar very, very low and appeal to the fact that a priest approved of this program. I wish when I started the classical liberal arts academy that I focused on classical education. I wish that I focused on the classical liberal arts and classical philosophy if I could do it all again. I would have made the classical liberal arts academy a secular study program. And I would have offered the Catholic curriculum as A supplement to it because I would have been able to communicate more clearly, that just because something is approved by the Catholic Church doesn’t mean that it’s the goal of Catholic education or the or the limit to be aimed at by Catholic students. I’ve been very disappointed by the decisions, have Catholic families and and continue to be so for example, you can look at the classical liberal arts curriculum, and you see classical reasoning, classical rhetoric, classical philosophy courses Summa Theologica, Sacred Scripture. And yet, if you look at what the kids are working on, the parents have them enrolled in modern arithmetic, algebra, they’re trying to sign them up for chemistry, or biology. The parents cannot get out of the modern K to 12 school curriculum, they cannot think beyond it. And this is what ultimately causes homeschooling to fail, as an alternative. Parents are willing to go so far, but not far enough. They want to be congratulated for going so far. But the reality is, is that they refuse to go far enough to accomplish the goal. And even worse, when you come out of the school, you lose the benefits that are in the school. And they are often not replaced at home. And then nothing superior is put in place of them. And the kids end up like I said, more idle, less educated. And in deeper trouble, than they would have been like me with a secular education, at least. If you go, you have to go all the way. If you go, you have to go all the way. You can’t sit in the middle, on the fence. In the middle of nowhere, in limbo between real classical Christian education, and modern education, you can’t sit in the middle. You can’t try to have one foot in one side and one foot in the other side, or avoid committing to either you have to either get out of modern education, and go all the way to the other side. So that you have a complete classical education. Or you might as well just stay in the modern education. Because the limbo in between the two is going to be worse, it’s going to be neither one or the other. And instead of getting one or the other, you’re going to have neither. And that’s going to be the worst situation. You’re going to have a kid in high school who hasn’t progressed in math, because she’s messed around with some Latin, but she didn’t progress in the Latin. She doesn’t have three or four years of real Latin studies. She’s just played around with some Latin, and played around with some science and played around with some algebra and played around with some philosophy and played around with some religion. And when it’s time to put the transcript together. There’s nothing to write on the transcript. You can’t play in the middle. If you choose to go, you have to go all the way. It’s like jumping out of a burning ship. If you jump out of a burning ship, you have to swim to shore. You can’t just stay in the water and boast that you’re not in the burning ship because you’re going to die in the water. You have to jump out of the boat and then swim to the shore. You can’t just be out of the boat and pretend that you’ve saved yourself That’s what I’d like to warn parents about. If you’ve grown to the point where you can’t take the modern school influence anymore, good for you. Good for you. If you’ve gone ahead and taken the courageous step of pulling the kid out of the school good for you, you’re headed in the right direction. You’re on your way to fixing the problem, or at least eliminating the cause. But you’ve got to keep going. Don’t think it’s enough to just pull the kid out of school, and then do whatever. Keep going, keep asking, keep thinking about the problems keep digging and searching for the root and cause of the trouble keep going. Because it’s deeper than just the school culture. It’s the school curriculum. It’s the school structure, the school model, the way that the modern school thinks about education, it’s all wrong, it all has to go. And if you’re going to go, go all the way. Go all the way to classical education, if you’re a Catholic family, go all the way to classical Catholic education. If you’re not a Christian family, that’s fine. Go all the way to a classical liberal arts, education, classical philosophy, education, go all the way. You’ll be amazed at what the kids study, if you go all the way. And if you trust the wise men of the past, whose works we study, if you trust them, and let them lead your children intellectually, you’ll be amazed to find a solution. But if you don’t go all the way, and you never trust, you’re just going to be stuck at sea, treading water in the midst of an ocean, which is just another form of death. If you jump, swim all the way to shore. To give you an example, and I know we’re we just broke an hour. So I’m going to try to wrap this talk up as soon as I can. Just to give you an example of why you need to go further. The problem in the school. Oh, let me say before I before I even say this, I published a video titled The difference between modern and classical education. Where I go into the details of the curriculum. I’ll put a link to that video in the description of this video or talk. Watch that video, because I explain the difference between modern education between the curriculum what’s actually different about the studies, and you’ll easily see the problem. But to summarize that a simple example that shows the difference is that classical education has as probably its two most important courses. Two most important subjects I should say, the subject of reasoning, and ethics. These are probably the two most important studies in the classical curriculum, the art of reasoning, and the science of ethics or moral philosophy. Just think about it. In a modern school curriculum, or in a modern homeschool curriculum, your children will not study the art of reasoning or the science of ethics. How can you explain an education that doesn’t formally teach how to reason and does not formally teach the knowledge of moral philosophy? How can you ask your children to be reasonable and moral when the subjects where they learn how to be so are removed from the curriculum. This is the problem I’m talking about. The curriculum is responsible for the culture. When the curriculum changes, the culture can also change. I think I’ve said enough on this topic. I’m not going to be cute about my desire to persuade you on this topic. I know that almost every single parent that listens to this talk, if they’ve even listened to this point, I know that almost every parent will choose to ignore what I say. And just go with a modern study program at home, or end up just sending the kid back to school after a brief, lazy attempt to teach the kid at home. That’s the reality. I’m not I’m not deluded, in thinking that Christian parents are ready to follow saints and wise men down the path of education, I already know what parents are looking for. I’m posting this talk, because I know at the same time, that there are a few sincere parents who have a vague sense that something’s wrong, are willing to do what it takes to solve it, but they just can’t put their finger on it. Usually, the parents who join me are parents who find that I simply articulate something they know, in a clear and practical way. And it gives them an understanding of how to actually get after it. Those are the people that I intend these talks for. Because they’re the people who simply need to understand something a little more clearly something that if they keep going, they will eventually figure out but I’m able to explain it to them and help them to get to the answer, as if by a shortcut. And it’s for those parents that I publish this talk, and I know that those parents are going to respond to this talk in the right way. And I know that most people who are just interested in pretending that they want something different and like this, like this new opportunity they have to, to bash the school and boast about how they’ve pulled the kid out of school. They have no intention of continuing to remedy the problem in pulling the kid out of school, which is, you know, what does that require? You just don’t drop the kid off anymore. That’s as heroic as they’re going to get. And I know that but I’m talking to the parent that wants to go all the way. You need to go all the way to the restoration of classical liberal arts education, of classical philosophy study, and if you’re Catholic, to Catholic theological study, based on Sacred Scripture and the teaching of the doctors of the church. If you go all the way, you’ll be glad you did. And if you don’t go all the way. You’ll just be back where you started from in a matter of time. So I hope that’s a helpful talk on the topic. I hope that you do pull the kids out of modern education and not just out of the Modern School. I hope that you go all the way. And I look forward to working with you if you do, and I assure you that I will give everything that I can to help you. And if you’re willing to go there, you’ll enjoy success. Most importantly, as a parent, regardless of what your child chooses, in the end, because that’s not in your control, you’ll be able to lay down at night, knowing that you went all the way that you dug to the root of the issue, that you brought your child into the presence of the solution that you made the solution accessible to your child, did everything in your power to fulfill your duties as a parent. And if God forbid, the child chooses to despise instruction, as foolish people do. You will have a good conscience. And you will not be tormented by the consequences because you’ll know you did everything in your power. And that should be your motive not to try to judge a thing by its results or its effects. When there is another person’s will in between you and those results. They’re not in your control. What you should focus on objectively is what is your duty and whether or not you fulfill that duty. The rest is between your children and God You know the saying you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. What do you think that illustration refers to it refers to this. It’s your duty to make your children or to to make the truth and the resources your children need available to them. To provide them with the opportunity to enjoy the benefits of them to bring them to the water as it were. But you can’t make them drink. In modern education, you’re bringing them to a bucket of water. That’s not even pure water. Not even healthy water. And it’s no surprise that they don’t drink. But when you bring them to classical education, you’re bringing them to pure refreshing water that can satisfy them that can nourish them. That can help them and is actually more attractive to drink. And they may choose not to drink it. But you’ll know for the rest of your life that you did all you could and you fulfilled your duty and that’s what you should be focused on. As a parent. God bless.

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