Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Integrating My Philosophy: House Churches, Homeschooling and Removing Shoes at the Door

For most people removing shoes is just about keeping their floor clean or protecting their children from lead. For me it goes a little deeper. I will say things in this post that you may well disagree with. That is fine. If you are a Communist, an Hindu or an atheist you are welcome on this blog and if you have a shoes-off policy, we have something in common, which is even better.

It is my belief that churches should meet in homes rather than special buildings. I believe the church is meant to be a family. Yet so often, churches just become formal institutions with no life and no dynamism. The earliest Christians met in homes; meeting in a special building was a later development.

So often the norm for Christians is to put on their Sunday best and to put on a facade of piety for a couple of hours at their local congregation. Meeting in a home makes possible a far greater degree of intimacy. They have space to really share what is going on in their lives.

I believe that God made family to be central in society. Meeting in a family home draws attention to the centrality of family life. When Christians meet in a non-domestic building, they tend to end up adopting institutional practices. Typically, a congregation is divided up into a specific groups; a group for children, a group for teenagers meeting on a Friday, a group for single people on a Saturday and a group for the elderly on a Wednesday morning. Yet this is totally the opposite of family life, where all the different ages draw upon each other and enjoy each others' company.

Removing shoes at the door fits in neatly with house churches. Not only does it show respect to the needs of the family hosting the meeting, but it reflects the intimacy of the fellowship. It is amazing how much more comfortable on feels in a room full of people in their socks, as opposed to a room full of people in shoes. The group have removed their shoes and are comfortable in each others' company.

I believe that the education ought to be done in the home rather than at school.

I find it hard to understand why any Christian parent would send their child to a state school, to be taught evolutionary falsely-called science and sex education that removes children's' inhibitions and arouses their curiosity.

There are of course some great independent Christian schools and I went to one myself. However, I think that something is fundamentally lacking in the academic model of education.

We are created to live in family relationships. If being in family is fundamental to our essence as beings, then a child's education ought to take place within a family context.

In general, schools are terrible places. Quite frightful places.

It should not be a surprise that in most schools (in the UK), children are required to wear shoes all time. Schools are modelled on the world of employment, perhaps even on the military. Children are forced to follow a mass of rules and regulations; required to do all sorts of things they would not choose to do.

Education in schools follows a state prescribed curriculum. Instead of learning things that make them balanced individuals, children are taught the things that the government believe are important. They are taught to do what the teachers tell them, in order that when they grow up they may be compliant workers.

As if children are not institutionalised enough by schools, the government is actually keen that children should do extra-curricular activities outside of school, further removed from the protective influence of parents. And the government will never tire of promoting the agenda of getting mothers into work and ever younger children into child care.

Schools are totally removed from family life. Family values could never really be Incorporated into school education. When careers are discussed, there is never any suggestion that being a full time wife or mother might be a valid option. The sex education that children receive is all about making choices, the idea that sex is for marriage is an idea undreamed of in state schools.

Home education means that children receive a curriculum that can be tailored to finding their identities in family life. They have the opportunity to develop identities outside of state prescription.

Just as I think it is right and good for parents to have a shoes-off rule to keep dirt and filth from their homes, to protect their children's health, I believe parents must take on the responsibility of protecting their children's minds.


richyrich said...

in most schools (in the UK), children are required to wear shoes all time.

I can't remember if I said this previously on this blog but when I was in primary school we were actually made to take off our shoes if they were dirty. This was after we had moved to a new building where the classrooms were carpeted. Some of the teachers were quite strict in enforcing it too. On one occassion I remember trailing some mud on the floor (that being long before I was converted to the cause and in a time when shoes off policies were much less common that they are now)and the teacher asked me if my shoes were clean and I said that they were fine and she then asked to see the soles of them. She then said quite angrily "Do you think so? Take them off at once!" At the time I (in my foolishness) thought she was being harsh but I now know that she was right. If it had been muddy outside she would check all of our shoes before we were allowed into the classroom and she would then say if they were clean enough to be kept on or not. If we had pumps we were allowed to change into those but the majority of us would just stay in our socks most times. When they weather was wet with a lot of mud outside you would always see piles of muddy shoes outside every classroom.

The only criticism that I would have of the rule was that it wasn't applicable to all children at all times and not just to those whose shoes were muddy when the weather was bad. Also the teachers would always keep their own outdoor shoes on and I think that we the children would have shown more respect for the rule if they had led by example.

Celestial Fundy said...

Of course, there are occasions in some schools where shoes-off is sometimes required, such as assemblies in gym halls and indoor PE in bare feet.

Good point about different standards for pupils and teachers. Sometimes teachers will wear their shoes in gym halls or will wear running shoes while pupils go bare foot for indoor PE. I think this comes down to the fact that schools are all about reinforcing hierarchies.

There are some primary schools in the UK where pupils wear slip-on plimsoles indoors, but on the whole schools in the UK have strict regulations about acceptable shoes (all about imitating military and workplaces).

It is interesting to compare this with Finland where pupils spend their schooltime in socks.

Removing shoes in school is practiced in a number of countries.

richyrich said...

When I was in secondary school outdoor shoes were worn at all times by everyone except in the gym. However if we were there teachers as well as pupils had to take them off. I once remember an occasion where we were having end of term fun and games in the gym (the oldest sixth form students were helping out arranging it for the youngest pupils) and I can still remember the sight of one middle aged female teacher who was close to retirement running around in her stockinged feet. We the pupilsthought it was rather an amusing sight but of course that should really be the norm for people of all age groups.

Mind you, despite shoes off becoming more commonplace in homes now, it may well be that schools would be more reluctant to make children to go barefoot or in stockinged feet now than in the past because of (often excessive in my view) concerns about health and safety and fear of litigation from the parents of anyone who had an accident.

Celestial Fundy said...

I did read somewhere about a primary school which seemed to be in the UK where pupils had to be shoeless. Not common, as you say.

At a school I attended where some assemblies were held in the gym, removing shoes seemed to be left up to the teacher; some removed them others, kept them on.

I remember the deputy headmistress always removing her very high-heeled shoes. I remember feeling surprised by this at the time. I must have been unused to seeing adults remove their shoes. Times have changed.

richyrich said...

Yes last Friday as well (with all the snow outside) another woman I work with (I said about the one who had changed into slippers, she was wearing them in work again yesterday)was going around the place in her socks. It would probably have been hard to imagine professional people in an office doing that some 20-30 years ago but as you say times have changed in in that particular respect, the change has been for the better I think.

Moderate Mouse said...

There's so much I could say/ask, but I'll behave and stick to only a couple of parts.

Regarding the issue of sex education, it reminds me of a story I've heard my dad tell.

In the second church he preached at, he was not only the Associate Pastor but also the Director of Christian Education. One day, at a meeting, the issue of sex education in schools came up. My dad suggested that, instead of sex education being taught in the SCHOOLS, it should be taught in the (gasp) CHURCHES. (Hope I didn't scare anyone here too much, especially you, CF. If it's any consolation, the other people there were shocked at that idea as well.) My dad's logic behind having sex education be taught in the churches, is that after all, if we're going to teach the youth in the congregation our values, we don't look to the school system to do that, now do we?

Shifting gears, yeah, I've heard something about how the early Christians met in each others' homes. The closest I've seen to that was when I was visiting my aunt and uncle in Arkansas for a week a few years ago. Of course, church on Sunday mornings would go on in the church building as usual. However, (at least in the summer) for the evening services, in place of having that be done in the church building as well, the congregation would meet in each others' homes. (Since it was a big congregation they divided into groups.) It just so happened that the week I was visiting it was my aunt and uncle's turn to have it at THEIR house. And like a lot of evening services I've been to, the dress was more casual than what one would normally wear on Sunday morning.

By the way, does anyone know whether or not the traditional concept of "Sunday best" (which still goes on in actual churches but to a lesser extent than prior to my generation) is generally observed in house churches? Would it be the norm if YOU were to instigate the "house church" concept in your home, or would it be more casual? Just curious.

Celestial Fundy said...

In some of the churches I have attended, there has been too much teaching on the subject of sex.

I am very uncomfortable with the new openness about teaching on sex in evangelical churches.

Marital sex is a very holy thing and as a subject should be treated with modesty.

The less said about it in public, the better.

I think the norm amongst house churches is more casual dress, but there is no reason why the members of an house church might not decided to dress up for their meetings like they are going to a dinner party.

Of course, some groups meet in homes on a temporary basis because they have not got the use of a building. Some of them might be more formal in their dress.