About a month ago, I was WAY behind visiting blogs (and when I did, I probably overcompensated with my comments.) I almost missed an interesting discussion. Though I'd love to continue that discussion with the people involved I think it's probably a discussion that people in Children's Ministry and Pastoral Ministry need to have, not just among themselves but with ears to listen and hear the experiences of others and ears to hear the people they're caring for. It's important because it affects children, homes, families and their faith.
Let's call the discussion "education options." I'm grateful for the priviledge to have choices in this country. But priviledge brings the responsibility of stewardship.
Whatever educational option you choose, if you look hard enough you'll find mixed fruit. Sometimes your observations grow stereotypes, sometimes they break those stereotypes apart. My observations left me with broken stereotypes. Does this mean that every similar learning situation (urban/suburban/rural, public/parochial/homeschool) matches my observations? No. Are there patterns? Maybe, but be careful how you interpret your observations. Sometimes cause and effect get skewed. There are lots of reasons people have for making the choices that they make. Often the causes for good fruit and bad fruit aren't simple.
Families and those who care for families need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of the various educational options available in your local area. It pays to know not just individual children and their needs, but the family, what kind of marriage holds that family together, how parents and children relate to each other, how they relate to the outside world as individuals and as a family. It pays to understand what matters to them and why those things matter. What are their educational goals and objectives? What are their life goals and objectives?
It's important to keep a close eye on the fruit that grows from the educational option you choose. (Not just cognitive/learning fruit but social fruit, values, faith, work ethic...) Those who succeed in business regularly inspect the fruit of their labor.
Every educational option has it's ups and downs. Every family has it's ups and downs. We have opportunity to choose the educational options that we believe best for our children. A wonderful priviledge! And most important, I believe, God will hold us accountable for the way that we steward it. Hard choices. Hard work.