Families Honoring Christ

"It is better to grow a child than to repair a man."
Earl & Diane Rodd 2180 Northland Ave. Lakewood,OH 44107 USA Phone (216) 521-8856
June 6, 1993

This month's FHC letter is a set of loosely related discussions which come from further discussions of last month's discussion of "Certification", a paper our son wrote expanding some of those concepts, and a letter we received from the US Taxpayer's Party.

The CHEO Convention (Christian Home Educator's of Ohio) is in July as well as a family wedding. Consequently, you probably won't hear from us again until August or September depending upon what the Lord gives us to share.

Teaching not Testing

This article comes from a piece written by our eldest son. We have added some examples to the end, but the work is primarily his.

Many homeschooling families have problems with certain children. They say (and often rightly so) that this child just does not have a desire to learn, views schoolwork as a bore, and just doesn't seem very academically oriented. Following is one diagnosis that in some cases may prove to be helpful.

The problem lies in expecting a child to do that which he has not been taught to do. When he was in first grade (or perhaps subsequent grades), he had particular difficulty doing a creative writing assignment. While there may have been other issues involved, one basic problem was that he was told to write this story when he did not have the foggiest idea how to begin. This was repeated throughout his school experience.

The tendency is to test a child on knowledge he has not yet learned. For example, workbooks with fill-in-the-blank questions only teach if the child can readily look up the answers in the text (or if the parents teach the child the answers). Otherwise, it is a purely diagnostic exercise, which, while necessary, serves a useful purpose only after learning has taken place.

The same is true of teaching mathematics in the lower grades. Flashcards only serve to teach if the parent uses them to tell the child the answers to problems he doesn't know. Simply holding up over and over a multiplication problem to which the child doesn't know the answer will only cause the child to count out the problem in his head (as opposed to knowing the answer instantaneously). When using flashcards, each time a parent encounters a fact which the child does not know, do not make him sit and think a long time because he will count it out. Rather, tell him the answer and have him repeat the entire problem ("9 times 9 is 81") 5 or more times.

We cannot just expect a child to know things; he must be taught This problem of expecting the child to do that which he has not been taught to do is more pervasive than most parents realize. What are the results of this pseudo-instruction? The child gets frustrated and disgusted. He has little interest in being expected to do what he cannot. He tends to shy away from anything academic because he has learned that this "learning" process is most miserable and ought to be avoided. Is your child like this?

An adult doesn't have quite the same problem, for when he can't do something, he has the ability to go learn to do it. The child must be taught how to do everything. A child has very limited experience in "learning to learn."

A child matures through the years starting as a young child who needs to be taught everything. When he is a young adult, he can work on subjects himself without someone teaching him every fact and concept. He can do this because he knows how to investigate the subject and do research. Young children do not know how how to investigate subjects and find answers by themselves.

Parents need to be aware that a remotely possible reason for their children's difficulty in answering questions (be they in English, reading assignments, or anything else) is that he does not know the answers. Curiously, the tendency is to sit that child down again the next day in front of a new barrage of similar questions that he cannot answer and expect some improvement. That is not teaching. Perhaps a better approach would be to teach the child the information first by tutorial discussion.

This general principle of teaching before testing can be applied to all areas of schooling with, I believe, most beneficial results. Parents could consider both seeking the Lord and applying their intellects to see if they are doing this to their children. Fixing this problem will lead to much more learning, happier learning, less wear on the parents, and a decrease in the frustration levels of both child and teacher.

This may lead the parents to retreat academically a good deal with a child. This may not necessarily be bad, as long as teaching is taking place. However, retreating to lower level material must be accompanied by a change in method to teaching first! Otherwise, the parents will retreat to testing what the child already knows and he still will be learning nothing new. The goal is neither testing on what he doesn't know nor testing on what he does know, but rather actively teaching. After teaching, testing has its place. The goal is to teach the child that 6 x 7 = 42, World War II was from 1941-1945, and the earth's rotation causes the night/day cycle. It is not cheating to tell your child the answers. That is the whole idea. If they didn't pick it up from their reading, and you don't tell them the answer, how will they learn it? Ah yes, ask them again! Discussion is the Biblical Method of Education

As the child gets older, he will recgonize that answers that he gets wrong need to be studied, and the diagnostic testing that forms the basis of most schoolwork (e.g. questions, quizzes) becomes more useful. However, at the lower levels, testing too much is more damaging than salutary to the whole learning process for both parents and children.


Young Children

With a child who is having difficulty learning a subject, the danger for the parents is that they will push him to continue to do "the next lesson". The result is that the only work he ever sees is work he cannot do! This is frustrating! The Bible says:

Colossians 3:21
22. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, that they may not lose heart.

Instead, the parent must be willing to slow down and persist with each concept and skill until the child knows it. For a child having a slow start in reading, this may mean spending days and days on each phonogram. In math, it may mean days and days on the first addition facts (say adding 1). This may seem like a "failure" to the parent, but it is not! Is it better to cover more pages of the book but have the child able to do nothing?

With a child who seems to be doing well in his subjects, the danger is to assume that he is learning everything just because some subjects seem to be doing so well. Again, be willing to slow down where needed!

Most parents are programmed to "keep up the pace" by covering a lesson a day, a lesson a week, or whatever the textbook seems to say. This pressure to keep up the pace is not necessary! Remember, our goal is to teach our children a skill, not to turn the pages in 12 textbooks in 12 years!

Biblical Method - Language/Copying Bible

We can see an analogy between two methods we believe to be good ones.

We see a strength of the Spalding method of learning to write and read. With Spalding, children always are taught skills before being tested. With Spalding, children learn to write, spell, and read letter by letter. They learn each sound. Only after they are armed with these basic skills are they expected to read. At this point, they have the skill to read anything within their spoken vocabulary which allows a very rewarding experience of reading interesting books. With other reading methods, children are handed boring books with limited vocabulary and then must painfully stumble through each word, thus being "tested without being taught."

As another example, we read a book about a man named Nathanael Bowditch who learned many many foreign languages by using a simple, Biblical method. He copied the Bible in the language he was seeking to learn. We recommend this method for learning a the Enlish language as well as a foreign language. It meets our criteria of "Teaching not Testing". In most foreign language instruction, the student is given a few simple words and grammatical structures and then handed material to translate and a dictionary! This is difficult and frustrating . By copying the Bible, the student copies vocabulary, grammar, and sentence structure for which he knows the English translation and starts to learn the patterns and subtleties of a foreign language without the pain and frustration of "Testing without teaching". Of course, contact with those who can speak the language is necessary to learn proper pronunciation. And a grammar book may be very helpful to organize the student's knowledge, but the Biblical Method of Education will be very successful.

SAT Practice Tests

Our son recently spent some time taking practice SAT tests in order to prepare for taking the tests. He noticed that as long as he had the underlying skills to understand the questions, he could continue to learn from his mistakes. He could analyze his mistakes and understand how to improve. However, if he did not have a needed skill (e.g. if he did not know a particular mathematical concept), more practice tests would not have helped. More practice would have simply caused more mistakes. This is another example of "Teaching not Testing".

If parents are helping a child with preparing for SAT tests, have them take a practice test. After the first practice test, carefully look at the mistakes to determine if perhaps other work is needed. Maybe the student needs to be taught some math concepts which they do not know. Maybe, they need to work on extending their vocabulary. Parent and student may identify certain skills which cannot be quickly acquired. For example, a student may plan to take the SAT tests because they are required for admission to a particular college. However, that student never plans to study trigonometry which is not required for the intended course of study in college. In this case, the student can still take practice SAT tests but learn to identify those questions requiring trigonometry and quickly skip over them without losing confidence or wasting time.

Look to the Past

We sometimes gasp in awe when we read about the academic accomplishments of men of old. Sometimes, the men we read about were exceptionally gifted men called of God to perform great deeds. But we must be willing to ask ourselves the question, "Did they know about better teaching and learning methods than we use?" We must avoid the 20th century pride of assuming that only "new" methods are good or that any "good" method from the past would surely be known to enlightened 20th century educators.

We use the example noted earlier of Nathanael Bowditch and foreign language.

Certification - Part II

A lot of attention is sometimes given to "transcripts". A transcript is a record of what has been studied and the results of that study. Other books have outlined suggestions for keeping records. Records are useful to demonstrate what has been accomplished to potential employers, colleges, or other organizations. However, home educations need to be careful to keep the correct perspective on transcripts and records. In the institutional educational system (public or private schools), a transcript is a record of time spent rather than a record of achievement or productive capability . Home educators need to concentrate their record keeping on what has been accomplished, not how much time was spent We encourage parents to move away from counting "years" and "grade" and move towards looking at goals accomplished and capabilities. For students heading towards college, the most important consideration is not age or number of years of school completed but the answer to the question, "Is this child ready spiritually and academically for work, apprenticeship, or college experience?"

Again, we urge home educators to resist the certification mentality wherever possible. There are two reasons to resist:

  1. Yielding to certification is giving sovereignty to those whom we do not acknowledge as sovereign.
  2. Certification requirements are becoming more and more restrictive. Various forms of certification and licensing are primarily attempts by trade and professional groups to defend monopolies. For example, we have learned that within the counseling profession, certification rules have dramatically tightened in recent years so that not only do counselors need to work with a certified professional, but with a professional specially certified to provide mentoring!

    Also, licensing is usually used as a way to keep individuals out of business areas. This applies to a wide range of areas from plumbing to law. The monopolists of the law profession will try to tell you that licensing is required to "protect" you, but licensing primarily stops a competent, Godly person from entering the courtroom without submitting to 7 years of godless education first.


In a session given by Inge Cannon from the National Center for Home Education, we were shown an analysis by a public education group in Kansas which studied strengths and weaknesses of home education. The motive of the study was to combat home education. The analysis showed two primary strengths and two weaknesses:


We especially call parents' attention to extra curricular activities as a vulnerability. Public educators see this as a way to take control of home education and the lives of home educating families because they believe that extra curricular activities are essential to life. Much has been written about overcoming the pressure to believe the lie of a need for "socialization". However, there is an equally strong lie about the need for "extra curricular" activities in the context of the institutional school. Public educators would like nothing better than to convince Christian home educators that the public school is an essential part of their lives because it provides band or drama or sports! We pray that parents will be discerning of the encroachment of the state into their lives through extra curricular activities. We remind parents of the Biblical definition of a well rounded individual:

Galatians 5:22
23. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
24. gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.


"Extra-curricular activities" are one vulnerability of home educators to state education departments. One specific "extra-curricular" activity deserves special mention - Sports.

Standardized Tests

While standardized tests often represent a reasonably accurate gauge of important competencies such as reading and arithmetic, we urge Christian home educators to avoid depending too heavily upon them. It is good that Christian home educated students have performed well on such tests. This is possible as long as the tests continue to test skills which Christians deem important.

However, the tests are being slowly corrupted. Things we have noticed are:


We believe that God demands that we train a certain kind of discipline into the lives of our children. Jesus said,

Mark 7:20
21. And He was saying, "That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.
22. "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,
23. deeds of coveting {and} wickedness, {as well as} deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride {and} foolishness.

The absolute of God is the need to train self discipline or self control (character) to replace foolishness. The diversity available to us is how to do that. For each family, different day to day experiences may be available to use as a training ground for character. For example, families living in the country can use the many chores on a property as character training. Families with home businesses can often use work in that business as a training ground. For many city dwelling families, one important training ground is academics. For such families, their academic program may be more rigorous and disciplined than absolutely required for academic educational purposes, but correct for their situation because academics is used as a training ground for self discipline and character.

Our observation is that families with very different levels of formality in their academic training are equally successful in the truly important task of making disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.

US Taxpayers Party

We believe that Christian home educators need to thoroughly consider what they believe about education, the home, and the place of government. We have concluded that government should not be involved in education at all. The result of government in education is to move control over religious, moral, and ethical instruction away from the family and into the political arena.

For example, we oppose the idea of "vouchers". While vouchers may be good in the short term, because they will help to break the monopoly of the public education machine, there is a danger out ahead. That danger is that even home educators become dependent upon government as their provider and Lord because they see the importance of these vouchers. Given current political realities, perhaps vouchers are a necessary first step, but we would prefer that they were not available to home educators in order to avoid a dependence upon government.

In any political contacts, we always suggest simply stopping the funding of public education. Yes, this is radical. But if we don't say it, we cannot expect big government legislators to think it up themselves! We suggest that the first step is to abolish the federal department of education. This will eliminate most of the state departments of education (in Ohio 300 of the 500 department members are paid by the federal government). This step removes thousands of people from the public payroll whose jobs are only to

  1. Lobby for more spending on education.
  2. Design anti-Christian curriculums to impose on local schools.

To this end, we recently heard of an emerging political party called the US Taxpayers Party . In its written platform, the party seemed to offer sound ideas and many of the people contributing to the written platform are unashamedly Christians. While Christians in the USA are tempted to continue to rely upon the Republican Party, we must remember that it was a Republican Department of Education which promoted Outcome Based Education and the America 2000 initiatives. The Republicans, as a whole, believe in big government just as much as the Democrats. They differ only on some details and on who should be running the big government. And, to be fair, most pro-life voices in politics today are in the Republican party. The difficulty is that the party does not stand against abortion. During the 1992 presidental campaign, the republicans never sought to convince the electorate of the necessity of righteous laws to protect unborn children.

We wrote to the US Taxpayers Party to ask about educational policy because the platform did not have an explicit statement on home education. We received a personal letter (not form letter) from Howard Phillips, the party's 1992 nominee for president. He says,

Children are a gift from God. Clearly, parents are entrusted with the responsibility to raise up their children in the way that they should go.

This is my view. The official position of the party is reflected in its platform, which will be subject to review at its next national convention in 1996.

Like you, I am opposed to school vouchers which, in my view, would be used to governmentalize private education and to further assert the government's flawed claim to be able to hold us accountable to its standards in the education of our children.

..I would close down all grants and contracts from the Federal government to so-called educational institutions and ... veto any spending bill than included one penny for the propagation of ideas, inasmuch as such expenditures are, in my view, manifestly unconstitutional.

Mr. Phillips' oldest son is an employee of the Home School Legal Defense Association and has his youngest being educated at home so he is obviously aware of Christian home education.

Only God knows how political events will unfold as we pray for His will to be done in our nation, but we have been encouraged that there is an emerging voice willing to stand for the radical change which is required to break the bonds of godless big government.

For further information, write the US Taxpayers Party at
US Taxpayers Party National Committee
450 Maple Ave. E.
Vienna, VA 22180

Copyright by Earl & Diane Rodd