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C.S. Lewis’s Stepson: Schools Should Be For Fish, Not Kids
Protect your family.
In a recent interview, a stepson of Christian apologist and author C.S. Lewis lamented the state of conventional education and recommended homeschooling as an alternative.
Speaking with the Times of Malta, Douglas Gresham praised the success of his own homeschooled grandchildren and criticized the status quo as restrictive and overly peer-influenced.
HSLDA Director of Global Outreach
“I don’t think schools are the best way to teach children,” Gresham told the Times. “Schools should be for fish, not human beings.”
Despite living in Malta, where homeschooling is illegal, Gresham said that he favors home education because he wants to “support something important. I’m deeply distressed about the standards of education worldwide.”
Gresham is a writer, broadcaster, actor, record producer and film co-producer. He is perhaps best known for his work on audio and movie adaptations of Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia books.
Gresham also shares Lewis’s philosophy of education. “As my stepfather would say: education and learning is for human beings, training is for slaves,” he said, adding that he knows of people, including a teacher, who emigrated from Malta as they were not allowed to homeschool their children there.
When it comes to home education, Gresham noted that his views were influenced by personal experience. He said that in his travels he has met many homeschoolers who were “astonishingly bright, socialized and well-conversed with adults and their peers.”
Gresham also noted a familiar objection that many parents have regarding sending their children to an institutional setting. “Most often, children in schools are not educated but rather trained to become a brain surgeon or an assembly-line factory worker. 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.”
Finally, Gresham said that peer pressure in schools is a major problem. Putting a young child in a classroom with 20–30 children can contribute to a confrontational relationship with the teacher. Copying peers, Gresham said, has become a major obstacle to learning. “One child puts his hat sideways; the other child puts it sideways. And that becomes the right thing. Whoever doesn’t put his hat sideways is misbehaving.”
Fighting for Freedom in Malta
As for the status of homeschooling in Malta, HSLDA has supported efforts to make it legal. Attempts to influence policymakers in Malta have faced roadblocks, but local homeschoolers continue to press for legal recognition of this fundamental right.
The Times reported that local authorities promised homeschooling would be included in a new 2014 education law, but that promise was never fulfilled. More recent reports cite a ministry spokesman saying that homeschooling would be included in an upcoming public consultation.
In the meantime, parents who homeschool in Malta risk criminal truancy prosecutions, or worse, social service investigations that can ultimately result in the removal of their children.
HSLDA Director of Global Outreach, Michael Donnelly, said that the battle in Malta reflects the global argument over who decides how a child is educated.
“Parents are pushing back against decades of increasing government control over the education of children,” he said. “Those who object to home education usually favor state control because it’s an easy way to indoctrinate mass numbers of 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 drafters of these early human rights documents and treaties wanted to avoid what happened in Germany under the Third Reich. 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.’ 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.”
HSLDA is constantly serving on the front line of defending your family’s freedom to homeschool. Join us today to support our common goal of protecting homeschooling everywhere!