How Kids Think, a project of God’s World Publications, asked:
I’ve become increasingly aware that my parenting/educational perspective can come more from moralism than a biblical worldview. In an effort to correct this, I sometimes “over-God” everything by making practically everything I say have a reference to the truth that God allowed for it, God created it, God is aware of it.
How do you approach teaching kids that, “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31)? What does math look like when taught from a biblical worldview? How about science? art? music? How do you avoid the “squirrel scenario”?
You can read the whole post here. You’ll need to read the opening joke in order to understand the squirrel scenario.
My lengthy comment was as follows:
Warning: soapbox sermon ahead. Proceed at your own risk.
How math is taught depends upon the teacher’s religious presuppositions. I think we are largely unaware of this because our culture is built upon Christian thinking and presuppositions. Even those who do not call themselves Christians are still affected by generations of Christian thinking.
In a world that is truly ruled by chance, you never know if 2+2 will be 4. We simply assume that it will be the same answer we have generally seen. (“How do I know that 2+2 is four? In my experience, 2+2 has always been 4.”) This is the logical conclusion of those who hold to evolution.
If I believe that truth is relative, 2+2 will be whatever I believe it to be. This thinking has begun to infiltrate schools, in that teachers will ask for a “a better” answer rather than the *correct* answer. The concept of right and wrong is slowly being erased – perhaps because we have forgotten the importance, the basis, and the definition of the concept.
Many eastern religions hold that all is one. This underlying belief has obvious impact upon mathematics – and believe it or not, it does have practical mathematical application.
Evolution is the most obvious example of why science can and must be taught from a Christian perspective. Evolution is based not upon the simple observation of the world around us, but the *interpretation* of what we see. Non-Christians have interpreted what they see based upon non-Christian assumptions, and put forth their opinions as fact. By teaching these “facts” to very young children, they are teaching children to build their thinking upon non-Christian thought patterns. They are teaching children the “squirrel scenario” in reverse. The answer *can’t* be God, so it must be evolution.
In music and art, our presuppositions very quickly come into play again: how do we know what is good or what is beautiful? Is it because it pleases *me*? Doesn’t this sound a bit humanistic?
What if I hate what you love? Is quality in art or music simply relative? We are certainly seeing the effects of pursuing art and music from an anti-Christian perspective: violent rap music and poo-smeared canvas art come immediately to mind. Without an absolute standard, who are we to say that these works of art are inferior to those of Michelangelo or Bach?
Actual methods might vary but teachers must teach every subject from a Christian perspective, or else they are teaching from an anti-Christian perspective. There is no neutrality, even in math, science and the arts, and it is good for our children to understand this from the very beginning.
I’m barreling my way through an amazing little book called, More Than Dates and Dead People: Recovering a Christian View of History. It is by Stephen Mansfield with a foreword by George Grant. I had the privilege of meeting Mr. Grant this week, and couldn’t help but hear his voice in my head as I read the foreword. It was a little eery but very effective.
This little book is about why history is – or should be – so vitally important to Christians and how humanists manage to make it seem so boring and meaningless. It’s quick, humorous and has the sort of logic that makes you want to smack your own forehead and say, “Of course. I knew that!” Yes, I get that feeling a lot when I read good books and listen to good sermons or lectures. Does everyone, or is it just me?
Here is an excerpt I couldn’t resist passing along. It’s a little long, but hey, I took the time to type it just for you so have a heart and read it. If you have followed the debate on education lately it will be well worth your time. Don’t worry: it has nothing to do with homeschooling, Christian schools, public schools, etc. It is about the definition and nature of religion and education, and I would love to hear what you all think. I think he is right on.
What is religion?
When we think of religion, we normally think of churches, synagogues, mosques, symbols, priests, rituals, or denominations. These are all aspects of what we might call “formal religion,” and this kind of religion does have a powerful impact upon human life.
But there is another, less formal kind of religion that really explains what men deem important – what they are willing to give their lives for or what occupies their thoughts, their checkbooks, or their calendars. Someone has suggested that this kind of religion is best described as “ultimate concern.” A man’s ultimate concern is what dominates his thoughts and passions, what he regards with unconditional seriousness, and what he is willing to suffer or die for. This is his religion, his god, his faith – regardless of what he says he believes…
What is education?
…When one generation teaches another, the older generation transmits to the next generation what it thinks is of ultimate importance for life. The older generation must have first answered the question, “What are the things our children need to know to live successfully?” Clearly, the answer to this question is a matter of faith, and that is why we can say that education is the transmission of religion to the next generation.
Consider this. A Christian will almost certainly say that for a school to really help its students to live a “successful life,” it must teach salvation in Jesus Christ, a right fear of the Lord, and the study of all of reality as a creation of God. A humanist will say that a successful life requires self-respect and self-actualization, a complete freedom from the oppression of religion, and the full achievement of human potential. Schools, the humanist will insist, should impart these values. A Marxist, however, will say that the state should be the focus of all education, and that schools exist to shape students into useful workers and loyal supporters of world socialism.
Now, each of the above – the Christian, the humanist, and the Marxist – expect schools to transmit their values to the next generation. And they are each right, in a sense, because education is the transmission of what those doing the teaching think is of ultimate importance. Put another way, education is the transmission of religion from one generation to the next – in other words, “religion transferred.”
A couple of clarifications on my earlier posts on education here and here:
1.) I have been addressing Christians living in America, where homeschooling legal. If it is illegal where you live, you have my prayers in the difficult decision you face.
2.) I was operating under the assumption that we all realize there can be no such thing as a “neutral” education. It has finally dawned upon me that even as Christians we are not all in agreement on that point. Perhaps that would have been a better place to begin the discussion.
Those who think that the American educational system is neutral would do well to spend some time reading John Dewey’s Pedagogic Creed.
A small quote to tickle your brain:
“I believe that education is the fundamental method of social progress and reform. All reforms which rest simply upon the law, or the threatening of certain penalties, or upon changes in mechanical or outward arrangements, are transitory and futile…. But through education society can formulate its own purposes, can organize its own means and resources, and thus shape itself with definiteness and economy in the direction in which it wishes to move…. Education thus conceived marks the most perfect and intimate union of science and art conceivable in human experience.”
3.) I think that the cries of “divisiveness!” are unfair. I am not suggesting that any parent whose child attends public school should be summarily booted from the church roster. I am suggesting that such parents should reconsider their decision in light of light of scriptural requirements for parents. I would hope that Christian sisters and brothers would tell me if they thought I was wrong about something. Let me tell you, they haven’t been shy about it in these homeschooling posts.
4.) I am a plainspoken person. If my own words and presentation have offended any of my readers, I humbly ask their forgiveness. I do try to be careful about how I say things, but I know that I am weak in this area. I ask you to give me the benefit of the doubt, interpret my words with charity, and forgive me
if when I give needless offense.
Having said all that, I do not recant my position: I think it is wrong for Christians in America to have their children in government controlled schools. The alternatives may be very difficult for some (single parents come to mind), but we do not argue principles from the difficult cases. People in difficult situations need help from the church and their Christian brethren, not permission to do what is wrong because the right choice is simply too hard.
The principle is that obedient Christian parents must give Christian children a Christian education. The method is up to the parent, but the American public school system does not fit within the principle.
This is my conviction, based upon what I believe to be a clear reading of the Bible.
And I am convicted to speak to a sister or brother in error. Would you have me ignore my own convictions?
The enemies of God see clearly that education is a means to an end. It is not neutral. Throughout history, they have unabashedly used educational systems in their attempts to steal the hearts of the next generation.
When an opponent declares, “I will not come over to your side, I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already…What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community…
…This new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”
Tim Challies has posted a lengthy article graciously rebutting my own answer to why we homeschool. Although he broadly denied the applicability of Deuteronomy 6 and seems to doubt the godless foundations of the modern public school system, he said little of what he actually believed about either point.
I’ll be composing an answering post, but in the meantime don’t miss the lively discussion over there.
I have to confess that I’m at a bit of a loss as I try to understand how Mr. Challies and many other Christian parents can reconcile their opinion of the public school system with their choice to send little ones into it.
On the one hand, they openly admit that the system is indeed teaching children a different worldview, one that goes against what Christians strive to teach their children, a worldview that careful Christian parents must actively guard against and unteach their children.
They may even praise the particular school that their own children attend and the Christian teachers in the school. They assure us that this school is better than most. And some parents provide an extra layer of protection by volunteering at the school to keep an eye on what they are being taught so they will be aware of issues that need to be addressed from a better perspective.
I love comment #55 from Mr. Challies’s post:
The only Christian kids who I have seen maintain their witness are those who had parents agressively discussing with them, interacting with them, and who remained very involved in their childrens lives throughout their public schooling. In many cases, this would be much more work than placing your kid in a Christian school or homeschooling them. It’s like receiving little bits of venom, so you can build up an immunity. You are definitely protected against it but you could always just carry the antivenom with you and forgo all the painful steps of building that immunity.
Even if he and others deny the roots of the system, we do seem to agree on the nature of it today.
So tell me again, how can we say that we are doing our utmost to fulfill God’s charges to raise our children in the training and admonion of the Lord (Eph 6:4), train them up in the way they should go (Pr. 22:6), teach them His words (Deut 6:7), not cause them to stumble (Matt 18:6), and so on…how can we send them into that system and say we’re doing our best?
I ask this in all honesty: Knowing that the system as a whole works in opposition to a Christian worldview, how can a Christian parent believe, based upon Scripture, that public schools are an obedient option, let along The Best Way to train up their children?