Saturday, September 09, 2006

The Problem with Christian Schools

Largely from my years of involvement in youth ministry, I’ve seen several Christian schools in action. And more often than not, I don’t like what I see.

The problem with Christian schools (and I’m referring to the K through 12 variety) is that they commit too many of the same prevalent sins against students and families as secular schools. And since those sins now have a “Christian” label stamped on them, they often drive students away from Christianity.

For now, I’ll tackle one of those sins: excessive homework, particularly when given over weekends. Few things angered me as a student than being assigned a lot of homework on Friday due Monday. That practice can still make me get a good rant on too many years later.

My current anger stems largely from seeing one family’s experience years ago. They had a two high school kids at my church -- the main reason I knew this family – and a good-natured 5th grade little brother. This good family often took me into their home on Sunday afternoons.

But more often than not on these visits, the 5th grade boy, who went to a prominent Christian school, had busywork homework taking up most of his Sunday afternoon . . . in 5th grade. And it was indeed busywork. I often saw little point to it.

What this homework did accomplish was make it more difficult for him to interact with family and friends and just have some relaxed weekend time that everyone needs.

The kid took it well, but I thought that something was very wrong.

There’s a girl in my current youth group that goes to another Christian school. She couldn’t go to her brother’s football game today because she had two essays due Monday, one of which was assigned Friday!

These are supposedly Christian schools. But what happened to the Judeo-Christian concept of Sabbath? What happened to respecting families and their time? Instead, most of the “Christian” schools I know engage in a one-sided competition with family time and weekends with their homework.

The typical school, Christian or otherwise, has their students for 7 hours a day, 5 days a week. If they aren’t using that time well enough that they feel they must take up multiple hours of a kid’s and family’s evenings and weekends with homework . . . . Well any school that tries to pull that on any kid and family of mine is going to hear about it.

And that’s goes double for Christian schools. They should know better. Christian schools more than others should know enough to respect family time and the need for Sabbath. Excessive homework does neither.

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