This week I had a friend ask my opinion on home-schooling. His little family is reaching that stage where a decision needs to be made. Knowing that Barby and I had chosen to public-school, he wanted to hear some reasons for doing so.
The arguments can go on forever. I realise that.
Our view is that our children are not ours. They belong to God. So our basic purpose as parents is to disciple our children and prepare them as best we can to be participants in the mission of God in the world wherever that may lead them. Everything else - and I mean 'everything' - is secondary.
Now, as followers of Jesus, the basic stance for such participation is as 'salt' and 'light'. There is tension with these two. Being salt has us mixing-in and participating in society, helping to stop the rot ... whereas being light has us standing apart, being distinctive, helping to show the way. They sound contradictory. But Jesus calls us to participate and then to be distinctive as we do so.
Our view is that our children need to experience this tension in the life of following Jesus from the earliest possible time. We want them to wrestle with the difficulties associated with mixing in and standing apart at the same time. The earlier they start the more likely it is to become a way of life for them. Each age and stage carries its own challenge. From discovering how people respond when Jesus keeps being drawn into their written stories in Year One right through to making decisions about alcohol and sexuality and language-use and movies and music in Year Twelve.
While I have softened over the years and become more sympathetic to the motivation of home-schoolers we could never have made that decision ourselves. And if we had our five children all over again we still wouldn't make that decision.
To us the decision to home-school appears to be one which involves too much light and not enough salt.