I recently read an article from Answers in Genesis on this exact topic. As said previously, I have been in a public school my entire life, I am a senior in high school currently. My father worked in public schools early on before going into ministry. All of my siblings went to public school, as did some of my Christian friends. So what is the right answer? Is there a solid answer?
Factors Should Be Determined First
The fact is, there is no correct answer to this question. I have seen young Christians thrive in both home school and public school, but have also seen teens fall. There are several things to consider first:
- How strong is your faith, or your child’s faith? Do you remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3? They went into a fiery furnace with complete confidence in their God. They knew the greatness of their God. As I have found, public school is a fiery furnace, can your faith withhold the test?
- Where are you located regionally? This is a big factor that influences the environment and community of the public school. Are you in the North, South, West Coast, or Southwest? Although there are standards throughout the whole of the US, there are regional differences in attitudes towards religion, specifically Christianity. Also, maybe you are located overseas in a place where the education they offer is sub-par to what you could offer.
- What are the motives behind the decision? Many people may choose to educate their children at home because the education provided publicly in their region is poor. This is tied into the regional differences. Are you trying to protect your child from the world or educate them in ways you believe are better than the national standards?
A Thought For Parents
I realize I am only 18, but Caleb and I both have discussed different parenting tactics that we have experienced or seen. One of the biggest issues I see today is parents struggling to know how to protect their kid from the evil of the world. The hard, painful truth is you can’t. What you can do as a parent is influence your child’s worldview, give them a Christian perspective, an eternal perspective. That’s your job.
The teen years are the times when a kid is learning and growing, but is doing it with their parent by their side. That’s the key. I strongly believe that this time should be taken advantage of. I don’t believe that the best way to do this is hiding a child from the pains of our broken world while they are under the influence of their parents, then leave them out to dry when they go to college or off to work. This is only asking for trouble. Public school is an opportunity for a teen to experience the world in a small scale with their parent by their side. This can be a semi-controlled environment, you just have to be willing to discuss it among the family.
The last thing we want to do as a Christian community is retreat. Now, this does not mean that all people everywhere go to public schools and do all they can to be of the world. I am simply saying that we should not be scared of the implications of standing up for our faith in tough places- public school. The Gospel is offensive, that’s true, but we can’t shy away from putting it on display for the lost and broken.
It is important that you know HOW to share your faith, in public school or any place. That is essential. This will at least allow you to stand up for your beliefs and share them. My greatest mission field for the past 13 years has been my school. I have learned excellent ways to share the Gospel as well as ways that don’t work well. The point is that I practiced it. I grew. I learned from it, and the whole time my parents were there to guide me and give me advice. Public school allowed me to make my evangelism skills more precise and effective.
One Final Thought
Public schools vs. Private schools/ home schools. Which one is the best way for a teen to grow spiritually? Well, as examined above, their are factors that need to first be examined. The choice is not a one-size-fits-all answer. There is, however, I believe a good argument for sending a teen Christian to a public school. We need to start looking at public school as a mission field, not simply worrying about its curriculum.
The teenage years is a time to grow, to learn, and to discover. All of these things are necessary in a fruitful walk with Christ. If viewed correctly and used wisely, public school could be a Christians greatest asset in the younger years. A Godly teen will learn how to effectively share their faith in real, practical ways. Moreover, they will get to do this while seeking wisdom throughout from their parents. This experience allows a guardian to walk through the real world with their teen, helping them grow in their faith. Then when the time comes to leave home, they will be ready.