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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Should Christians Abandon Public Education?

Group Urges Christians Not to Abandon Gov't-Run Education System

There are now two strategies being propagated in the Christian community addressing the moral and educational crisis in America. The first suggests that Christians should engage public education in an effort to change it; the second suggests withdraw and retreat to homeschooling or Christian school.

Nothing is more significant than the responsibility that parents have been given to raise their children. A primary manifestation of this responsibility is education. Anything threatening this foundational, biblical mandate must be dealt with actively and aggressively.

For all of these reasons, it makes sense to consider non-governmental education. To the contrary, there are those in the public school system who could benefit from a Christian witness not to mention the spiritual maturity that can develop as a maturing Christian is exposed to contrary thought and lifestyles.

My wife and I were public school kids; we survived and thrived educationally. But, the environment has changed. I personally have spent a year observing elementary education--and 80% of it was bad, 10% was horrible, 10% was good or great (educationally speaking). This of course does not take into account the teachings on Islam and the like.

To suggest that public educators are somehow endowed with supreme knowledge of pedagogy is simply mistaken. It is also wrong to suggest that all public teachers are bad or have evil intentions. There are some very good people and good teachers. But, taken as a whole, there seem to be more reasons for concern; but, how should the Christian respond to this need?

Thoughtful Readers Speak:
I, myself, am a product of private, Christian schooling. I attended a Christian grade school, high school, and college. I can say that at the time I was in school, my public school friend's were getting much better educations than I was. Obviously, this could have been the specific schools that I was attending, rather than Christian schools as a whole.

I find it rather difficult to talk about these things in an end-all rule. When one attempts to standardize something that has so many variables (different schools, different policies), it becomes almost nonsensical to speak about it in the abstract. I would strive for a case-to-case decision. Yes, you can set up a standard for decision making, but even then you will not cover all of your bases.

As far as changing public schools, I think the only change that needs to be made is in the quality of education, not necessarily what is being taught (although those are probably not mutually exclusive). I realize, JR, that you are against public schools teaching many things with which I would be fine. But at some point, don't you have to remove your personal agenda away from the issue and decide what would be better for the public as a whole?
This is a blog...of course I'm going to have a personal agenda. :)

Deciding on a case by case basis makes sense. Good point.

Don't be so quick to judge what I'd be ok with teaching and not teaching. I'm for teaching most things but prefer a fair balanced approach--not indoctrination or dogmatic approach.

For the public as a whole, I'm a firm believer in school vouchers.
No, I obviously realize that you have a personal agenda. These posts are your thoughts on certain subjects. I just think that when it comes to "global" solutions, one must, of course, attempt to move away from one's agenda. The only reason I come to this thing and make comments is to see how your opinions differ and then offer my thoughts on them.

I'm not so much assuming what you'd want taught and not taught in schools as I am aware of what I would allow and how this would probably fall out of the general norm. I, myself, am not much of a political person, have quite negative opinions about ethics in and of itself, and feel no need for a worldview whatsoever...so, you see, I just assumed that you'd disagree with some of my thoughts.
As for a fair and balanced approach:

I think it's impossible. I understand the concept of wanting ID taught if evolution is going to be, although I tend to think they are in different camps entirely. However, once ID gets taught, there will be many other theories, postulates, faiths that will also wish to be taught, and it'll end up in chaos. We could, however, take out evolution, and I really wouldn't care. We could decide not to teach children our theories on how the universe/world/we were created until we had a scientifically founded law. That'd be fine with me, and I think it would cause less issues. Or we could say, "We have no idea, but here are some theories," and then expound on some theory-canon.
They didn't teach evolution in my high school and as a result biology made very little sense to me at the time.
Also, I don't think the problem is poor public schools as much as it is parents failing to do their job.
I think it's the responsibility of the schools to educate children academically, whatever society consider that to be. Everything outside of that definitely falls within the realm of parenting. But, mostly, I think it's the responsibility of the child (no matter the age) to make up his or her own mind.
There's no such thing as a "scientific law." That was a term coined popularly to refer to theories with highly mathematical properties to model, but the hieght of scientific surety is, and always has been, the theory.

Evolution is a necessary part of any biological education; it's the crentral unifying theory of biology. The vast array of different organisms and habitats is incoherent and nonsensical except in the light of the explanitory framework provided by evolutionary models.

There's absolutely no reason for us to be shy about teaching the state of the art scientific knowledge to our children. Evolution is the best-supported theory in science, and if you can't handle theory, then you should leave the science classroom altogether.
"state of the art scientific knowledge" sounds like you're trying to sell me a vacuum cleaner. If your view of 'science' needs qualifiers like state of the art, I highly suggest adding knowledge to your dogmatism.

erica, parents definitely have a role. thanks for pointing that out. some, (could I say many or most?) fail in their support of the child's education
So, what you're saying is that you refuse to believe in evolution because you don't believe it's a well-supported theory, and you come to that conclusion because I'm telling you it's a well-supported theory?

I guess that doesn't make sense to me. If you're wondering if evolution is supported by the evidence, why don't you take a look at the evidence?

You assume I'm somehow motivated by dogma, but that's far from the truth. The truth is, I used to be a creationist, convinced (like you) that evolution was a conspiracy to promote atheism. When I examined the evidence with an open mind, I found that evolution was a scientific theory absolutely supported by the evidence.
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