If you recently finished uni or school, you may not be keen to relive those years! Let’s get on with life, right? But it’s worth looking back sometimes, because your school experience has shaped you as a person. Children spend most of their time involved with school (more than church and even family) during their most formative years. A school’s influence is therefore considerable.
Looking back, did you ever wonder what kind of person you might be if you had attended a different school? Or looking ahead: if you plan to have children in future, have you considered their education? As a pastor and school chaplain, I’ve often interacted with parents who are concerned for their children’s education. Some parents have made unwise decisions in their choice of school, while others must make do with limited options.
I attended Christian schools: one was small and utilised self-directed curriculum, and the other was a large, traditional school. I was also home-schooled. In these three types of school, I was able to progress academically in order to transition smoothly into uni.
The small school could not offer the resources of a larger school, yet the teachers and curriculum were sufficient for effective learning. In the large school, there was less personal instruction due to the greater class sizes, but this was not a real barrier to learning. Home school was the most flexible but also the most limited in terms of learning with peers.
Which school experience was most helpful for spiritual growth? Both Christian schools included Bible classes and incorporated the Christian worldview in other classes. Students were expected to behave according to Bible standards (i.e. the Ten Commandments), which were enforced. Both schools affirmed my faith in God and the Scriptures and, through the example of godly teachers and the enforced standards, helped to discipline me toward godly choices. In home school, I benefited from my parents’ teaching and example, as well as weekly interaction with a local youth group.
None of these modes were perfect and I was not a perfect student, but just as each school experience was academically helpful, each school provided help in my spiritual development.
During high school and uni, I made friends who came from public school, home school, or other Christian schools. I found that they loved God and lived by His word, and were able to succeed academically—regardless of their school background.
What I’m finding is this: as a parent, your choice of school is very important and will surely impact your family’s spiritual growth for better or worse. But while school does matter, it is not the only place where children learn. God’s design is for the parents to take the lead in discipling at home, in community with their church (Deuteronomy 6, Ephesians 6).
I believe a child is best nurtured by godly parents, within a Bible-believing church, and supported with a Christian education that is an extension of the church and home.
How did your school experience affect your faith? How can Christian schools improve in their role? Any input is appreciated.