The First and Best of Teachers: All Catholic Parents are Home School Parents
All parents are home school parents because they are the first teachers and family is the first school
At Baptism I exhort the parents "You are the first teachers of your children in the ways of faith. May you also be the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what you say and do." At the heart of the teaching of the Church on the Christian family is it's educating mission.
CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - I was recently asked why Catholic Online does not have more articles about Home Schooling. The fact is we have written many - and we would welcome many more. The Home School movement is a great gift to the whole Church. However, with this article I want to consider an underlying truth about the fundamental role of parents in educating children. Because, understood properly, we come to see that all parents are homeschoolers. Let me explain.
As a deacon of the Church I am an ordinary minister of Baptism. At each Baptism I exhort the parents during the Rite, "You are the first teachers of your children in the ways of faith. May you also be the best of teachers, bearing witness to the faith by what you say and do." At the heart of the teaching of the Church on the Christian family as a domestic church is it's educating mission. The home is the first school.
It is because of this that I can say that all parents are "home school parents". Some choose to share that educational mission with others outside of the home as their children mature. When they do, those partners in the educational mission should look first to the parents, not to a bloated federal bureaucracy.
My wife and I raised five children. We now have six grandchildren, one of whom we are helping to raise in our home. We never officially "home schooled". Instead, we chose to extend our teaching mission by empowering others, both in parochial schools and public schools, to assist us in fulfilling our primary educational mission.
However, all parents are "home school parents". Some choose to share that educational mission with others outside of the home as their children mature. There is no conflict between supporting parochial schools and supporting home schooling.
Any controversy or competition between homeschooling parents and supporters of Catholic education is mistaken. It must be dealt with quickly before it undermines the vital teaching of the Church on the primary role of parents in the education of their children and confuses the faithful. We need every home school and every good parochial school, private academy and solid public school we can get!
There was a widely accepted doctrine which was the polestar of educational law for many years that teachers act in loco parentis - a Latin phrase meaning on behalf of the parents. Sadly, we have lost our way and are increasingly usurping the vital role of parents. The very origins of what became the "public" school system in our Nation began with families pooling resources in small community schools. We need to reconsider our history to chart our future.
Some who oppose "school choice" or, more properly "parental choice" in education are entrenched in the current federalized educational bureaucracy and the culture which fuels it. Increasingly people of every walk of life will admit the obvious, our educational system is broken. I write as an ardent supporter of "Parental Choice in Education."
I am not against government.Because I advocate for limited government and the application of the principle of subsidiarity, it is too often assumed that I am "anti-government". That is not the case. I insist that we remember that government begins in the family. Any good governance beyond the family must defer to the first government of the family and follow the social ordering and good governance principle of subsidiarity. That principle reminds us that good government is bottom up, not top down, deferring first to the smallest governing unit; not usurping but empowering and helping families.
The current overly federalized approach to education in the United States is failing. Statistics and experience confirm the obvious. It is time for a change and parental (school) choice is the change that is needed. It means affirming again, as a matter of public policy and legislation, that Parents are the ones who should be able to make the choice of how to best extend their own teaching mission outside of the home.
The proper role of Federal, State or Local Government is to support, NOT USURP, the first government in the home. Rather than focus on the word "School" - which is then used to arouse a "public" school vs. "private" school debate - we should use the phrase "Parental Choice". After all, it is Parents who are the first teachers of their children and the family is the first school. This is where the policy debate should focus.
Those of us who support school choice should watch our language. We are not against government. We simply maintain that government begins in the family. Good governance recognizes the first government of the family and follows the social ordering and good governance principle ...
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