Sikkema, Keith. (2002). Home schooling in view of John Calvin: A study in education and communion of saints. Master’s thesis (M.Ed.) Brock University, St. Catharines, Ontario, Canada. (Appears to fairly and dispassionately present the findings, such as the views of homeschool parents and private school personnel. Shows solid understanding of the tensions between some homeschool families and church associates, and about arguments for or against homeschooling and for and against institutional private schooling. Studies those who are a part of The Niagara Peninsula Canadian Reformed (NPCR) community. It is the bibliography author’s view that the following is a common and accurate explanation of how many Christian homeschoolers think about things: “Home Schoolers on School and Church: Several home schoolers expressed concern that the school is made to be too much like the church, or, with Paula, as “just a little bit under the church.” She linked this to undue emphasis on “the triangle of home, church, and school . . . to support the school, even though the Bible gives the responsibility (to raise the children) squarely to the parents.” While recognizing that the school does promote a sense of community, Jerry also asserted that the church is the covenant community: Church and school must be separate, even if 99 or 100% of school members are from the church. He felt that the schools have become too much extensions of the church, and that not sending children to the school is not the same as dividing the church, or “withdrawal of positive influence” (p. 94).“Abstract: This study explores the tension that has emerged around the rise of home schooling in a faith-community strongly committed to establishing and maintaining day schools in the tradition of John Calvin. It aims to identify and understand factors that contributed to this tension and to find ways to bridge, diffuse, reduce, or eliminate it. In line with Calvin, personal convictions, and the nature of the community, the study takes a Christian epistemological and axiological stance. Its premise is that the integrity of the community is more important than the manner in which its children are taught. The study reviews relevant literature and several interviews. It considers both secular and Christian literature to understand communities, community breakdown, and community restoration. It also examines literature about the significance of home, school, and community relationships; the attraction of Reformed day schools; and the appeal of home schooling. Interviews were conducted with 4 home schooling couples and 2 focus groups. One focus group included local school representatives, and the other home schoolers and school representatives from an area with reputedly less tension on the issue. Interviews were designed for participants to give their perspectives on reasons for home schooling, the existing tension, and ways to resolve the issues. The study identifies the rise of home schooling in this particular context as the initial issue and the community=s deficiency to properly deal with it as the chief cause for the rising tensions. However, I argue that, within the norms the community firmly believes in, home schooling need not jeopardize its integrity. I call for personal, social, and spiritual renewal to restore the covenant community in gratitude to God” (p. iii). “This chapter illustrates the tension around home schooling by giving voice to both home schoolers and school representatives. Although school representatives recognized most of the reasons home schoolers had for their choice, they often failed to differentiate between reasons for starting and for continuing. While home schoolers often cited social, psychological, pedagogical, policy, program, personal, and personnel stressors as triggers, school representatives tended to think more of benefits as triggers. Especially in Niagara, school representatives would seek to re-incorporate home schoolers. People agreed that the public schools do not meet the standard required for covenantal education, which views God’s Word, the covenant, the family, and the parents= baptismal vows as principle elements. However, they diverged on the application of these principles, and the respective roles of the family and the community” (p. 99). “School representatives were concerned that the school and church are weakened by home schooling, as not all talents are used for building up the church, and some people get overburdened” (p. 101). “Principles of Orthodoxy and Conduct: Home schoolers and school representatives agreed that it is necessary to go back to Scripture as the basis for orthodoxy, and to regain unity and harmony. Somewhat reminiscent of Sande (1997), four key principles emerged: Go back to Scripture; Show him his fault; A man must examine himself; and Care for one another” (p. 102). “For the Churches: This study’s findings may find general application in controversies among the communion of saints, in any of the places where I have been employed during the last 25 years. It would also suggest a reconsideration of the wording of Article 58 of the Church Order. As it portrays the school as the route of choice, and does not recognize that the responsibility of the parents and of the community goes well beyond the academic focus of the school, clarity and Scriptural correctness could be enhanced. At home visits, elders should do more than just press the good school button” (p. 123)) (Keywords: homeschooling, private schooling, Christianity, faith, reformed Christianity, Canada, reasons, church culture, opinion, attitude)

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