Marisa Boonstra, homeschool mom, blogger, and writer, has written the perfect book for those Christian parents who are on the fence about their child’s education. If you aren’t sure what route to take, for whatever reason, she will shed some serious light on the cons of the public school system and the pros of home education. I’m excited to share my book review of Bucking the System: Reclaiming Our Children’s Minds for Christ.
Bonstra’s desire in this book (as with her blog) is to encourage Christian parents to see the importance of a Christan education, and how that can be achieved with full-time parenting. It’s not so much about grades and achievements (though she definitely talks about that); it’s about the fact that we have a choice in this post-Christian world — a choice between a secular humanist upbringing for our kids, or a full-time, intentional shepherding of our children’s hearts.
The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God. (1 Corinthians 3:19) God provides the wisdom we need in His word, and it’s not as complicated as we humans sometimes make it out to be. This is true for parenting, as it is for all aspects of our lives. Marisa Boonstra is shares how this wisdom is so needed today as we raise children to impact our world for God.
With a Masters Degree and a career in social work she never even considered the idea of home education. But then she began to hear about Common Core and the problems associated with it. As she researched, what she found made her (and her husband) seek another way.
She is a mom after my own heart.
Bucking the System is a short book and a quick read, but is packed with powerful conviction backed up with statistics from American education. The chapters are as follows:
- Competing Worldviews
- What Public Schools Are Really Teaching Our Children
- A History of Public Education in America
- Biblical Principles for Education
- Discovering a Better Way
“Plainly speaking, whoever disciples the child will have his heart. Matthew 6:40 says, “A pupil is not above his teachers; but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher.” The one who teaches a child (the “system” or curriculum, not necessarily the individual) forms that child’s worldview. Children will ultimately default to the worldview they have been exposed to the most during their youth.
One of the reasons we are losing the culture war is because many of us do not understand how critical Christian education is, in the evangelism and discipleship of the next generation.” (Chapter 1 – Competing Worldviews)
Boonstra examines the secular humanism that is prevalent in every subject taught in the public schools, not to mention the culture that permeates even non-academic hours. No education is neutral.
Even with the nicest teachers, the highest test scores, or the best sports program, the education provided in government schools is based on curriculum designed specifically to be politically correct, anti-biblical, and humanistic.
“When most people think of humanist ideas being taught in school they concentrate mainly on evolution, which, they reason, is limited only to the subject of science. It is the most obvious toxin to Christian parents, as it clearly opposes the Creation account in Genesis. However, it cannot be neatly categorized as a topic relegated to just one academic subject;; it is a belief that underscores all the other subjects. Renowned secular humanist Sir Julian Huxley said that the keynote, central concept to which all of humanism’s details are related is evolution.” (Chapter 2 – What Public Schools Are Really Teaching Our Children)
The author explores the creation/evolution debate in and out of schools, and why this is so important for Christian students. But she goes on to explain how these ideas are interwoven throughout all public school curriculum — in history, language arts, sex education, and even math.
“Over the past century and a half of the American education system, humanists and socialists have sought to indoctrinate youth with their philosophies, while deliberately dumbing down curriculum. The outcome has been abysmal academic results and moral decline in all sectors of society. We don’t need more reforms; we need to jettison the model completely.”
“Common Core adapts a bottom-line, pragmatic approach to education. The heart of its philosophy is that it is a waste of resources to “over-educate” people. Proponents of Common Core Standards believe the basic goal of K-12 schools is to provide everyone with a modest skill set, and after that people can specialize in college. The reasoning is that truck drivers do not need to know how to read Huckelberry Finn, physicians have no use for the humanities, and only those destined to major in literature need to worry about Ulysses. Rather than explore the creativity of man, the great lessons of life, tragedy, love, good and evil, and the rich textures of history that underline great works of fiction, Common Core reduces reading to a servile activity.” (Chapter 3 – A History of Public Education in America) She could not be more correct!!
Chapter 3 gives a brief overview of how we got the public school system in America and how it has changed (only a little) over the years. Its founders were secular and humanist and had the goal of removing the masses of children from the influence of their parents, plain and simple. Though each town feels a sense of community and support in their local school, what they are supporting is a very anti-biblical method of raising children, and the results have included a sub-par education as a bonus.
“Fathers are commanded to bring their children up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord, with mothers as their primary helpers, and with the support of the church (Ephesians 6:4, Psalm 78:5-8, Deuteronomy 6:1-7). According to the First and Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in the public schools the state determines what the children will be taught, not the father.” (Chapter 4 – Biblical Principles for Education)
The Bible has a lot to say about parenting, and Boonstra makes no apology for following these biblical principles. We have made so many excuses for adapting to a worldly system out of fear, when following God’s very simple plan is superior. The famous salt-and-light argument is addressed in this chpater, as well.
“As a homeschooling mom, I am not merely educating my children at home. I am also discipling them. I teach God’s providential rule over creation and history as well as addition, subtraction, reading, and spelling. I have the ability to shape my children’s worldview according to God’s word, and instruct them in the ways of the Lord, instead of exposing them to the empty pagan philosophies of the world.” (Chapter 5 – Discovering a Better Way)
This last chapter gives both information and encouragement for the parent who is ready to make a change to home education (and maybe even for the parent who has already chosen it but is not fully committed).
My favorite part is the very last quote that Boonstra shares from John Wesley, which perfectly sums up the entire book:
“Let it be remembered, that I do not speak to the wild, giddy, thoughtless world, but to those that fear God. I ask, then, for what end to you send your children to the school? Why? That they may be fit to live in the world? In which world do you mean, — this or the next? Perhaps you thought of this world only; and had forgot that there is a world to come; yea, and one that will last forever! Pray take this into your account, and send them to such masters as will keep it always before their eyes. Otherwise, to send them to school (permit me to speak plainly) is little better than sending them to the devil. At all events, then, send your boys [and girls], if you have any concern for their souls, not to any of the large public schools, (for they are all nurseries for all manner of wickedness) but private school, kept by some pious man, who endeavors to instruct a small number of children in religion and learning together.”
If you don’t want to experience some eye-opening conviction about where your children spend the majority of their time, don’t read this book. If you are concerned, however, with the worldview they learn and with their souls for eternity, I cannot recommend this book enough. It is straightforward, infused with scripture, and comes from the heart of a mom who loved public school at one time. It’s one I will recommend again and again.
Read Marisa Boonstra’s book Bucking the System
Related Post: Christian Education
Nicki Truesdell is a 2nd-generation homeschooler and mother to 5. She is a homemaker at heart, and loves books, freedom, history and quilts, and blogs about all of these at nickitruesdell.com. She believes that homeschooling can be relaxed and that history is fun, and both can be done with minimal cost or stress, no matter your family’s circumstances. Nicki is a member of the Texas Home Educators Advisory Board. You can follow her on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.