Stepson of C.S. Lewis: Schools are for fish, not kids
Douglas Gresham, who is a stepson of the famed Christian author and apologist C.S. Lewis, spoke out in a recent interview about how homeschooling is a superior alternative to immersing children in the dismal state of traditional education today.
The stepson of the author of famous works — including The Chronicles of Narnia series and Mere Christianity — extolled the success of his own homeschooled grandchildren, while lamenting the detrimental and excessive peer influences in conventional schools, which he says severely limit children’s educational experience.
“I don’t think schools are the best way to teach children,” Gresham told the Times of Malta. “Schools should be for fish, not human beings.”
As an actor, broadcaster, writer, record producer and film co-producer, Gresham is eager to warn parents about the poor learning environment in today’s schools and share the benefits of homeschooling, even though he lives in Malta, where it is illegal to homeschool.
“[I want to] support something important,” he shared. “I’m deeply distressed about the standards of education worldwide.”
C.S. Lewis would agree …
Widely recognized for his movie and audio adaptions of his stepfather’s The Chronicles of Narnia book series, Gresham is quite familiar with Lewis’ philosophy on education, which he says falls in line with his own.
“As my stepfather would say: education and learning is for human beings — training is for slaves,” he pointed out.
Gresham went on to note that he is familiar with a teacher and other people in Malta who moved away because they were prohibited from homeschooling.
He says this and other personal experiences of meeting homeschoolers during his traveling have influenced his own views on education.
“[Homeschoolers are] astonishingly bright, socialized and well-conversed with adults and their peers,” Gresham stressed.
On the other hand, he also mentioned a drawback that many parents have with placing their children in an educational environment that is institutional by nature.
“Most often, children in schools are not educated, but rather trained to become a brain surgeon or an assembly-line factory worker,” Gresham explained. “They would know how to complete a brain surgery or assemble the products perfectly, but they would find it hard to change a bulb or fix the kitchen tap.”
The severe effects of peer pressure experienced by children in schools was also noted, as he emphasized how placing a young child in a classroom setting with 20 to 30 other children often results in developing a confrontational relationship with the teacher in charge. He also added that an enormous obstacle to learning is copying fellow peers.
“One child puts his hat sideways; the other child puts it sideways — and that becomes the right thing,” Gresham reasoned. “Whoever doesn’t put his hat sideways is misbehaving.”
Fighting for education
In an attempt to make homeschooling legal in Malta, the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) is working to help its policymakers hurdle roadblocks to ensure that the fundamental right to educate legally recognized there.
Legalized home instruction on Malta has not become a reality, even though local authorities vowed that a new 2014 education law would include homeschooling, according to the Times. It was also recently reported that a ministry spokesman said an impending public consultation would include home education, but while all the broken promises continue, parents still face criminal truancy prosecutions — and even social service investigations that can lead to their children being taken into state custody — just for educating their own.
The battle to homeschool is not only bring fought on Malta, but around the world, explains HSLDA Director of Global Outreach Michael Donnelly.
“Parents are pushing back against decades of increasing government control over the education of children,” Donnelly asserts. “Those who object to home education usually favor state control because it’s an easy way to indoctrinate mass numbers of children.”
He then noted how global authorities acknowledge the detrimental effects of government domination when it comes to raising and developing children.
“But the founders of the international human rights framework recognized the dangers of state control over education, and included Article 26.3 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to clarify that parents are the primary decision makers as it relates to deciding how a child is educated,” Donnelly added.
The homeschooling advocate also argued that the global community must learn from the past and not repeat the atrocities that resulted from fierce state control — such as that witnessed under Adolf Hitler, who took over his nation’s schools and textbooks to indoctrinate the masses.
“The drafters of these early human rights documents and treaties wanted to avoid what happened in Germany under the Third Reich,” Donnelly impressed. “That’s why Article 26.3 says that parents have the ‘prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.’”
He urges officials in Malta and around the globe to let democracy reign in education.
“Malta policymakers should follow the path of the United Kingdom and the United States, which have both recognized this right by protecting home education rather than restricting it,” Donnelly concluded.