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School Usurp Parental Roles

School Usurp Parental Roles

Retiring principal of Renwick School in Marlborough, Ian Mackey, said in Wednesday's Marlborough Express that parents are increasingly viewing schools as mere baby sitting services, with any education that takes place as a bonus.

Nothing new here. It has been the case for generations. Dr John Clark, senior lecturer in Philosophy of Education at Massey University, had four reasons for the existence of schools in New Zealand listed in his class notes ten years ago. The first was as a baby sitting service. (The second was to socialise students into the dominant culture; the third was to provide a "meal ticket" in the form of a school leaving certificate such as School Certificate; and the fourth reason was the promise of upward social mobility coupled with the reality of being confirmed in one's social class.)

Ian Mackey's lament is the logical consequence of the state usurping the parents' tasks of child rearing, which includes education as well as socialisation. Neither of these things should ever be the responsibility of the state. It is startling to realise that whereas the legal requirement of compulsory attendance at school may have sounded like a good idea back in 1877 when the Education Act was first passed, little by little it has encouraged parents to accept it as normal to have the state compel children to leave their parents and their homes for six hours a day, five days a week, nine months a year for ten years. With their parenting duties off their hands for most of the day and their children out of sight, it is no wonder that parents have immersed themselves in other interests and activities. They have been spurred on especially by this present government doing all it can to get children out of families and into institutions at ever earlier ages and to get both parents out of the home and into the workforce.

To their credit, the majority of parents have resisted this pressure. The culture remained family-focussed through the 1960s, with the expectation that dad would bring home the bacon and mum would keep the home fires burning. But after 130 years of compulsory school attendance, the idea of children being separate from their parents from an early age and parents being primarily focussed on something other than the family has been thoroughly ingrained into the majority. In addition, successive governments increasingly have used the school curriculum to indoctrinate students into their particular spin of a politically correct worldview.

That is, the state has not only usurped the educational and socialisation roles from parents, it has now also usurped the lion's share of the internal moral instruction of children. It does this not only through the politically determined propaganda of the school curriculum's content, but also with the rewrite of Section 59 of the Crimes Act making it a crime for parents to use any level of force at all to correct or discipline their own children. As New Zealand author Michael Reid wrote in From Innocents to Agents (2006), "The state has shifted from supporting the authority and place of families to supporting the emancipation of children from their parents...If the state has an interest in the child, but parents fail to co-operate, the state is justified in superseding parental authority."

Parents need to understand that they can still preserve their family's integrity and keep the hearts and minds of their children focussed on the values and morals of their family's culture rather than the official, politically correct version of culture pushed by the state in its schools. Parents can do this by schooling their own children at home, just as unnumbered generations have done before and as over 3,000 New Zealand families still do today. The Ministry of Education will assist parents in gaining an exemption so that their children do not need to attend school, and the dozens of home schooling support groups throughout the country will help parents with the daily and weekly routines, not of "schooling", but of the far more effective tutoring and mentoring methods of educating their children at home.

Kicking the public school habit is incredibly liberating and brings many benefits such as more cohesive and peaceful family dynamics and greater social and emotional maturity in the children. The Home Education Foundation operates as a charitable trust for the benefit of anyone interested in exploring the home schooling option. It has been serving the home education families of New Zealand by providing free advice and printed information since 1986.


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