Whether it’s atheism in the classroom or high-pressure academic environments, parents struggle to find a space that best serves their children.
In his early teens, Huang Jian began to withdraw into himself. (Huang and others throughout this piece have been given pseudonyms for their own safety.) A once-happy child, the Chinese middle-schooler gradually became silent. Jian’s father, Huang Yuzhou, blamed the behavioral shift on school “trauma,” a high-pressure environment that sapped his will to learn and engage. Uncertain how to help, the family made a drastic decision: They would homeschool their son, an educational choice currently illegal in China.
“Many Christians, by faith, have decided to give their children a Christian education,” said Huang, a house church pastor in northern China. “They do this in order to prevent their children from losing their faith, and to give them a better education that is in line with spiritual growth.”
Chinese Christian parents raising their children to follow Christ in a society that opposes their beliefs must confront the question of how to educate and spiritually nurture the next generation without a blueprint. Chinese state school curriculum teaches that God does not exist and compares religious belief to foolish superstition. Many first-generation Chinese Christians struggle in discerning how to pass their faith to their children, especially as they face increasing religious restrictions.
Huang’s son has now graduated. His wife continues to homeschool their youngest child, who is in early elementary school. Huang himself is currently jailed on charges related to his own religious activities. He and his family were inspired to try homeschooling after they learned more about Christian education and hoped it could help their son through his mental health crisis.
“We were watching …