Another Reason Homeschooling Is Best for Most Students

Over the years, I have compiled a lot of information regarding why homeschooling is the best mode of education for most students. Homeschooled students learn more than their publicly- and privately-schooled peers. Homeschool graduates make the best university students. Homeschooled students are better socialized than their peers. Homeschool graduates are more accepting of people who are different from them. Homeschooled students eat better and sleep better than their peers. However, there is another (very obvious) reason home education is the best option for most students, but I have failed to write about it. I will correct that oversight now.

Let me begin by telling you a little story about something that happened in one of my online high-school physics courses this year. Most of the students in the class are juniors or seniors in high school, since they must have basic trigonometry before they can take the course. Well, before class time officially started one day, a student was talking about his recent experience in a debate tournament. While he was talking, something like this happened in the chat box, where students can type their thoughts so they don’t interrupt the speaker:

Student A: I love debate. I have been doing it since junior high.

Student B: I love it, too.

Student C: I wanted to do it, but you have to be 12.

Student A: Wait….what?

Student B: huh?

Student D: ?????????!!!!?????

Student E: You aren’t 12 yet?

Of course, I knew that student C was several years younger than the vast majority of students who take physics, but she had mastered the necessary math, so I accepted her in my chemistry course the year before and in my physics course this year. She has earned A’s each semester and has been an active participant in class.

I have another student who took chemistry with me last year and is currently taking physics. She recently sent me her graduation announcement. In it, she shared that she will be graduating from high school and getting her associates degree this month. She uses her artistic talents and the knowledge she gained while getting her associates degree to produce original Mugs, Craft Supplies, Ornaments, and Hoodies.

Finally, many years ago I met a high school student while I was speaking at a series of homeschool events. She had a broad range of knowledge from biology to history to the arts, and I really enjoyed my conversations with her. Later on, I received a handwritten letter from her in the mail, but the letter looked like it had been written by someone who was just learning to write. Some of the letters were backwards, and many of the words were horribly misspelled.

I thought it was a joke, so I began writing a snarky letter back to her. Then something (probably the Lord) told me to ask her mother about it, so I emailed her mother. Her mother said that the letter was normal for her. It turns out that this young lady has many learning challenges. In fact, in homeschool, she took three years to get through first grade. Nevertheless, if I had not seen her handwriting, I would have never known, because she was clearly articulate and well-educated. She is now the Creative Director and Designer for a software firm that develops apps.

What do these three students have in common? Because they were homeschooled, their education was tailored to them so it would meet their needs. The young physics student would have been terribly bored in a typical school setting, because she is clearly advanced when it comes to math and science. Her homeschool experience allowed her to learn much more than she could have in most schools. The student earning her associates degree while in high school was able to take many post-high-school classes before graduating, because she could tailor her schedule and be flexible with the high school classes she took. As a result, she could use her talents to start a business in what will probably end up being her chosen field. The student with learning challenges had her education tailored so that her challenges did not keep her from developing her strengths.

Of all the benefits homeschooling brings, a tailored education might be the most important one. There is no such thing as an effective “one size fits all” education, even though that’s what the vast majority of schools offer. Homeschooling allows students to learn at their own pace in a way that meets their specific needs. That way, they can make the most of their education.

Physics Helps You Understand the Mysteries of Christianity

Dr. John Charlton Polkinghorne was a theoretical physicist whose work was important enough to earn him election as a fellow in the longest-lived scientific organization in the world, the Royal Society. However, after 25 years of contributing to our knowledge of God’s creation, he decided that his best work in physics was behind him, so he began training to become an Anglican priest. After being ordained, he served in the Anglican Church for 14 years before retiring.

Obviously, Dr. Polkinghorne’s education and life experiences make him an authoritative voice when it comes to the relationship between Christianity and Science. He wrote a lot about the subject, and while I often disagree with him, I have read and appreciated much of what he has written. In 2009, he and one of his students (Nicholas Beale) wrote a book entitled, Questions of Truth: Fifty-one Responses to Questions about God, Science, and Belief. I read it quite a while ago, and I reacted as I usually did – agreeing with some parts of the book and disagreeing with others. However, I was thumbing through it to find a quote I wanted to use, and the Foreword caught my eye. I don’t think I read it when I read the book, so I decided to take a look at it.

It was written by Nobel Laureate Dr. Antony Hewish, who was an astronomer and a devout Christian. In less than two pages, he makes one of the most interesting arguments I have ever heard regarding the relationship between science and Christianity. He first makes the point, which I make over and over again when I teach science, that science does not follow common-sense thinking. Aristotle used common-sense thinking to come to the conclusion that all objects have a natural state of being at rest, and you have to force them out of that state to get them to move. Galileo and Newton followed experiments rather than common sense, and they demonstrated that an object has no preferred state of motion. It remains in its current state until it is acted on by an outside force. That non-common-sense notion is now called Newton’s First Law of Motion.

Of course, since Dr. Hewish is well-versed in physics, he gives a better example of how physics doesn’t follow common-sense thinking and then makes a conclusion from this fact:

For example, the simplest piece of matter, a hydrogen atom, cannot be accurately described without including the effects caused by the cloud of virtual particles with which it is surrounded. There is no such thing as truly empty space. Quantum theory predicts that even a perfect vacuum is filled with a multitude of particles that flash into and out of existence much too rapidly to be caught by any detector. Yet their existence modifies the motion of electrons orbiting protons in a calculable way that has been verified by direct observation. The ghostly presence of virtual particles defies rational common sense and is nonintuitive for those unacquainted with physics. Religious belief in God, and Christian belief that God became man around two thousand years ago, may seem strange to common-sense thinking. But when the most elementary physical things behave in this way, we should be prepared to accept that the deepest aspects of our existence go beyond our common-sense intuitions.

(John Polkinghorne and Nicholas Bealexii, Questions of Truth: Fifty-one Responses to Questions about God, Science, and Belief, (Presbyterian Publishing 2009), p. xii)

In the end, Dr. Hewish is making the case that understanding modern physics should make you more inclined to be a Christian (or at least more inclined to be religious), since it conditions you to believe that the universe is based on mysterious processes that cannot be directly observed.

I have to say that this has happened in my own life, even though I was not aware of it. I went from being an atheist to believing in some kind of Creator because science showed me that the universe was obviously the result of design. I eventually became a Christian because after reading extensively on world religions, by grace I saw that Christianity is supported by the most evidence. I was initially very uncomfortable with the mysteries that are inherently a part of Christianity, but as I grew older, I became more and more comfortable with them. I thought that this was because I had grown accustomed to them. However, after reading Dr. Hewish’s foreword, I noticed that my level of comfort with the mysteries of Christianity coincided with my increasing knowledge of quantum mechanics.

Dr. Hewish seems to have hit the nail on the head, at least when it comes to how modern physics has helped me grow in my faith.

The Heavens Tell of the Glory of God

Astronomer Johannes Kepler (left) and Astronaut James Irwin on the moon (right)

As I wrote previously, one of the reasons I took a break from blogging was so that I could concentrate on teaching a Master’s Class at Memoria College this year. In that class, we read the great natural philosophers of the past, from Archimedes to Darwin. Many of the students remarked on how often God was mentioned in these works, especially the works of astronomy. For example, Johannes Kepler (1571-1630), the brilliant astronomer who figured out that planets orbit the sun in ellipses, not circles, described the sphere of the universe this way:

For in the sphere, which is the image of God the Creator and the Archetype of the world-as was proved in Book 1-there are three regions, symbols of the three persons of the Holy Trinity – the center, a symbol of the Father; the surface, of the Son; and the intermediate space, of the Holy Ghost.
(Johannes Kepler, Epitome of Copernican Astronomy – Book IV, First Book on the Doctrine of the Schemata [436])


In other words, he saw the Trinity in his model of the universe. The sun represented God the Father, the outer edge of the universe (where he thought all the stars resided) represented God the Son, and the area in between represented God the Holy Spirit.

I find it refreshing that scientists like Kepler were comfortable relating their science to their faith. Nowadays, that kind of language is censored from the scientific literature, but for most of history, it wasn’t. That’s one of the many benefits of reading scientific works from the past. It allows you to see the incredibly strong, positive impact Christianity had on science.

I asked the class why Kepler viewed the universe the way he did. One student (a pastor) gave a Bible verse as his answer:

The heavens tell of the glory of God; And their expanse declares the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge.
(Psalm 19:1-2, NASB)


In this student’s opinion (with which I agree), a person must strongly compartmentalize his or her thinking in order to study the universe and deny that God’s power and majesty are reflected in it.

In support of that idea, another student mentioned Astronaut James Irwin. After coming home from walking on the moon, he wrote a book entitled More than Earthlings. In it, he explained how his trip to the moon inspired him to take his Christian faith more seriously:

Being on the moon had a profound spiritual impact upon my life. Before I entered space with the Apollo 15 mission in July of 1971, I was a lukewarm Christian, to say the least! I was even a silent Christian, but I feel the Lord sent me to the moon so I could return to the earth and share his Son, Jesus Christ. The entire space achievement is put in proper perspective when one realizes that God walking on the earth is more important than man walking on the moon. I believe that God walked on the earth 2,000 years ago in the person of Jesus Christ.

As a result, he started the High Flight Foundation, which works “…hand in hand with leaders serving the Nations and the people as they discover God’s destiny for their lives and Nation.”

Johannes Kepler and James Irwin are just two of the many scientists who recognize that the heavens do, indeed, tell of the glory of God. In fact, that is the most important reason students should study science. The more you learn about science, the more you should be in awe of the power and majesty of God!