jasonbwatson

February 27, 2012

The Impact of Worldview on Education

The word “worldview” is one that gets used a lot these days. It has become a buzz word of sorts over the past five to ten years, and to be honest I am not sure that everyone who uses the word has exactly the same definition in mind. When I talk about worldview I am talking about the lens through which a person sees the world and interprets events. A biblical worldview, then, means seeing the world through the lens of Scripture–interpreting events, past and present, with an understanding of what God has revealed in His Word.

The truth is, everyone has a worldview. I have blogged about what worldview means in an earlier entry, so I will not go into a lot of detail on it now other than to restate that there is no such thing as a completely neutral worldview. It simply is not possible to be completely neutral. The world will suggest that it is possible, and will even try to enforce neutrality on society, particularly public schools. The reality, though, is that in its effort to be neutral the world takes a position. Think about it, particularly in terms of public education. To say that prayer cannot occur in schools, that teachers cannot teach creation, etc., is not a neutral position but an anti-Christian, anti-God position. To be completely neutral on the topic of evolution versus creation a school would have to teach Darwin’s position, the Bible’s position, and several other positions in between, and do it in such a way that simply presented each position without trying to persuade students which idea was correct. That doesn’t happen, though. And in public schools where teachers have tried to teach both sides of the argument it has provoked a fierce and quick response.

I should insert here that I attended public schools for my entire life. I also attended a non-Christian college. Even after I began my teaching career in a Christian school I was not of the conviction that Christian parents should send their children to Christian schools. After all, I reasoned, I went to public schools, and I ended up okay. In the years since, however, I have become more and more convinced that public schools are a dangerous place for students to go. And I don’t mean physically dangerous, although sometimes that too is true. Rather, I mean psychologically, spiritually and intellectually dangerous.

I have good friends who disagree with me on this subject. They will suggest that the realities of the world are going to confront their children eventually, and they would prefer that their children be exposed to it while they are still at home and they can help to train their children to identify the errors of worldly ideas and defend biblical truth. Others will suggest that their children need to be ambassadors for the Lord, to be lights in the public school environment. I think that sincere people can disagree on these issues, and I am not going to say that it is a sin for Christian parents to send their children to public schools. I believe that each family has the God-given responsibility to provide for their children’s instruction, and that they are accountable to God for the decision that they make, not to me. If a family truly believes that God is leading them to send their children to public school, I need to respect that decision. Of course, in some instances, a family may not be able to afford a Christian school, or may not be geographically close enough to one to enroll their children there, and homeschooling may not be an option, either. Whatever the reasons, I think that Christian parents can send their children to public school and not necessarily be outside the will of God.

At the same time, however, I believe that if it is at all possible for a family to homeschool their children or to send them to Christian school that that is by far the better choice. Children are impressionable, and what they learn during their school-age years will necessarily shape their ideas about many subjects. I cannot think of any other endeavor in which a family would knowingly send their children to a place of instruction that they know is contrary to what they want their child to learn and believe. For example, if a family wants their child to learn to play the piano, they would not send the child to a teacher that they knew did not teach piano effectively and then re-teach the child at home. A parent who is experienced and knowledgeable about basketball or ballet will not send their child to a teacher with whom they disagree about technique and skill and then teach their child what they believe is the right way when they get back home. No; such a parent would either teach the child at home from the get-go or would ensure that their child went to a teacher who they were confident would teach their child correctly.

And Christian parents seem to recognize this in the area of spiritual development; I don’t know any Christian family who sends their children to a Muslim mosque or to a Kingdom Hall or to a Mormon temple for religious instruction and then teaches them what they believe after they get home. In fact, I am confident that if this idea was suggested to them most Christian parents would say that it is a ridiculous idea. Yet, many of those same parents see no harm in allowing their children to spend seven or eight hours a day, five days a week, thirty-six weeks a year in a school that undermines and distorts the very biblical truth that they want their children to learn and believe and embrace as their own.

Christians absolutely have a responsibility to be light and salt in a sinful world. But it is important that Christians are properly trained and equipped to handle that responsibility before being sent to do it. I once heard Cal Thomas say that no country has eight year old ambassadors, so why should we think that an eight year old Christian is adequately prepared to represent Christ in a hostile world? Matthew 5:13 says, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.” Until a believer is strong enough to know how to identify and defend against the world’s influences it is likely that their salt will lose its taste. Perhaps intentionally–the individual may knowingly reject the truth–perhaps unintentionally–the individual may simply be persuaded that false teaching is true because they are not knowledgeable enough about the truth to know otherwise.

Bottom line, God has given parents the responsibility to teach and train their children–not the state. The school and the church should be a part of that training, but can never replace the parent. Ideally, the parent, school and church are all in one accord and can support and reinforce each other–three legs of the same stool, or three strands of the same cord. And the reality is, this simply cannot occur in a public school. Public schools do not support and reinforce biblical truth. I know many of us long for the days when many public schools did do this, but we aren’t going to return to those days. So parents must prayerfully consider how to fulfill their God-given responsibility to train up their children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.

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