Sunday, March 1, 2009

The 2009 Leadership Summit

What are homeschooling families to think of the up-and-coming 2009 Leadership Summit? Certainly they ought to hope for the best (that is my hope). Yet, hope ought to be exercised by proper information. The following are some observations about this conference from 1) its own promotional material online & 2) knowledge of some of the new beliefs being propagated by some of the leading speakers.


"For Such a Time as This, in a Changing Political and Socio-Economic Climate . . .

Home education is poised to bear significant effects on the how we do education, economics, church, and politics in the years to come. As leaders, we feel it is important that we be self-aware of the direction we are headed."
(quotes found here).

Is it too much to ask Christian leaders (in any arena) to tone it down a bit? The rhetoric in the above quote is too much. Homeschooling is on the verge of transforming education, economics, church and politics?

What else does "bear significant effects" mean? It means homeschooling as homeschooling will have an important impact upon all the major components of American civilization. Like a good advertisement, this ad will not technically assert anything beyond its bare words ("effects"--good, bad or indifferent--are about to happen), but the import is clear: not just any kind of effect but good and important effects, that you dear reader, ought not miss out on.

The online ad continues:

"The goal of the 2009 Leadership summit is to define a vision for the future of the Christian home education movement."

The nice thing about being in a duly constituted church is that you get to pick your leaders. Either by simply joining the church after proper investigation of the church and her leadership and/or by voting in new leadership when the time comes. The not-so-nice thing about movements is that you don't get much of a choice either way. In this summit, Radical Homeschooling and Family-Integratedness leaders are some of the main speakers. Presumably, if such men have a voice in this conference (and its creation of an ambitious Christian Education Manifesto), they will--in good conscience--integrate their new and unique views into the "vision for the future" of homeschooling.

Lastly, the rhetoric finally moves into vague yet significant historical claims:

"Another objective for the leadership summit will be the development of a Christian Education Manifesto statement. After 1000 years of a secular, Greek education model first taking the university, then later capturing K-12 childhood education, home educators are recovering the biblical discipleship paradigm. The 2009 Summit will include discussion on this Manifesto."

This claim that the "Greek education model" dominating Western Civilization for 1000 years is incredible--and demeaning to the Reformation which occurred almost 500 years ago. It is an unproven assertion, giving the reader the distinct impression that this is an unchallenged historical 'fact'. It is challenged; it's just that those voices are marginalized. In this usage, it is simply an attempt to shock the reader into the obvious response: "you don't want an unbelieving Greek-based education for your children, do you?"

Furthermore, what is this "Greek education model" anyway? The reader has no idea--unless he or she has heard this catch-all phrase used by some of the key speakers. And I have heard the definition (at least Vision Forum's president): it is an "efficiency-driven approach to maximal, instantaneous education, divorced from relationship..." (History of the Sunday School Movement, track 3). In fact, the VF about page specifies: "modern classroom…is a distinctly Greek and pagan approach to education." This idosyncretic interpretation of the history of Christian education arises from a narrow hermeneutic and will be discussed later.

For now, dear reader, whether you agree with me or not, when and if you are able to evaluate the 2009 Leadership Summit I hope this primer will put the event into proper perspective.

1 comment:

Kathy said...

Thank you for addressing the leadership summit and the claims of those who have self-appointed themselves as leaders of the home education movement. These comments of yours said it well: The nice thing about being in a duly constituted church is that you get to pick your leaders. Either by simply joining the church after proper investigation of the church and her leadership and/or by voting in new leadership when the time comes. The not-so-nice thing about movements is that you don't get much of a choice either way.

With regards to what comes out of the summit, I am hoping for the best, and doing a lot of praying, too... Homeschooling is already in danger of being hit with more regulations under the present administration. Homeschoolers don't need someone to put a face on the movement like the one I see these "leaders" wearing. If that is how government will come to perceive it, I think its very radical (and possibly unhealthy) nature may set homeschooling up for an earlier demise.