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Mom, You’re Not Qualified. . .to Perform Brain Surgery!

Mom, You’re Not Qualified. . .to Perform Brain Surgery!

Several years ago, our family received a brochure from a local private school, authored by a gentleman whose doctoral credentials in the field of education were prominently displayed. The good doctor explained,

"There is a misjudgment among some circles that a teacher does not need to be university trained or carry the appropriate credentials. . . unqualified persons should not perform brain surgery."

Such statements imply that the education of a child is a highly technical affair that must not, under any circumstances, be placed under the purview of an uneducated parent. Ergo, whatever you do, don't try this at home!"

Never mind the data collected over the last 25 years by those who study the homeschooling movement where this sort of thing is done at home!

Back in the last 1990's the Rudner study found homeschoolers scoring head and shoulders above their counterparts from public and private school. It wasn't until last year that Dr. Brian Ray from NHERI, conducted another significant study on the academic performance of home educated students in this country. To tell you the truth, many leaders were a little nervous about what he would find, since the movement has changed dramatically over the last ten years. In this new study, Dr. Ray included a wider variety of testing services, and covered a sample size in excess of 12,000 students. Amazingly, Ray found that the homeschooling is performing substantially better than they did 10 years earlier! The results are contained in the chart below.

Average Percentile (National Average - 50 percentile)
2009 Ray Study 1999 Rudner Study
Reading 89 85
Language 84 73
Math 84 77

Sources: and

Compare this study also to a significant study just issued by Stanford’s Center for Research on Education Outcomes on Charter School performance. The study of collective reading and math progress in 2,403 charter schools in 15 states and cities, including the District of Columbia was released in June, 2009, showed that almost half of the charter schools produced results similar to those from comparable public schools. Charter schools producing worse results than the traditional schools outnumbered those with better numbers by more than 2 to 1.

Moreover, every study conducted to date shows that there is no statistically significant difference between the academic performance of students with teacher-certified parents vs. those without teacher-certified parents.

In my book Upgrade, I argue that homeschooling maximizes on the principles of the preeminence of character, one-on-one instruction, the parent-child relationship, and the fear of God as the foundation of all knowledge. Where conventional schooling is unable to engage much one-on-one instruction, especially when class sizes exceed 15 children, the average homeschooling parent is able to engage 10 times more one-on-one instruction! Where conventional schooling hardly considers relationships important as children are shuttled from classroom to classroom every year (and sometime every school hour), the student-teacher relationship in the homeschool sustains for years and years. A character-focus is inescapable when the parent-child relationship is brought close and sustained for many succeeding years (if parents and children can survive the oft-times painful relational growing pains)! Where the preeminence of character is ignored when a child cannot be either hugged or lovingly disciplined by biblically-prescribed methods in the classroom, the homeschool mother and father know that they would never survive a day of Algebra and Grammar without the essential hugs, kisses, prayers, encouragements, and firm disciplinary measures. Moreover, the life integration of knowledge is almost impossible in the context of the sterile classroom that is so separated from the real-life experiences of relationships, home, business, church, and government. Most home educators who have caught the true vision of our movement know that you have got to integrate knowledge into life, otherwise 95% of education becomes a waste of time.

If the best education depends on the preeminence of character, one-on-one instruction, the parent-child relationship, life-integration, and the fear of God, what precisely are we talking about here? Perhaps it would be better to call this thing "discipleship"! From a biblical perspective, education is discipleship. We are incorporating knowledge into life and calling it "wisdom." We are teaching God's Word in the womb of relationship, as we sit in our house and as we walk by the way, and we call it "discipleship." This is a far cry from the Greek-humanist form of education, reincorporated into the western world by Thomas Aquinas and others in the 13th century, when these university men separated natural knowledge from spiritual knowledge. The fateful words that ruined education in the western world began with these words, "Theology included in sacred doctrine differs in kind from that theology which is part of philosophy" (Summa, Part 1, Article 1).

We are not as interested in teaching chemistry or even teaching the fear of God, as we are in our students fearing God in the chemistry laboratory! This is true discipleship. For 800 years we have separated these things, but as Christians we must reject this dualism now and forever. For a true renewal of education, we must see 100 times more love between teachers and students, and 100 times more fear of God in the classrooms, and this will only happen when we begin to emulate Christ in His education program. It is interesting that the greatest Teacher of all never started a seminary. He never entered a classroom. He told His students that He loved them, and then He gave His life for them.

In my college days, I never had a single professor ask me about the sins of my youth, whether I was struggling with lust or pride. Not once did I see a chemistry professor fall on his knees in the chemistry laboratory, trembling before the Creator of this marvelous, orderly, complex creation! For it seemed as if worship was incompatible with chemistry. Yet even worse, I never had a professor at seminary address my tendency towards pride, easily detectible in my theological papers! A thousand censures on such an abominable system of education that we have incorporated into this western, materialist world! We have separated character, the fear of God, and life from the business of knowledge, and in the process, have destroyed education. May God forgive us.

At the end of the day, I agree with the well-educated doctor who wrote those words on the back of the brochure. "Unqualified persons should not perform brain surgery!" But we're not performing brain surgery. When we attempt the education of a child, we're performing heart surgery! And, nobody is qualified for that! Without the supernatural aid of the Spirit of God, there will be no love and no fear in our hearts or in our children’s, for that matter.
Generations with Vision has just released a Revised, Second Edition of Kevin Swanson's landmark book, Upgrade, the 10 Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child. A virtual "Copernican Revolution" in the area of education, this timely book is written in a pedestrian-style for parents who just want the best for their children. Available at