The “Preacher” in the book of Ecclesiastes is adamant about there being “nothing new under the sun” (Eccl 1:9). Yet, the whole of humanity, or so it seems, only sits up and pays attention at the promise of something new. Don’t get me wrong, we certainly are introduced to new i-phones with some regularity, and every fall without fail new car models are unveiled in Detroit. Fashions are renewed every season, and some of us can hardly wait to see each season’s new look on the runways or in stores. No, I think it is unlikely the wise Preacher doubted the progressive nature of invention; rather, he speaks of something deeper.
Being in the Christian education business, one of the things I hear often from Christian parents is, We send our children to non-Christian schools so they can be salt and light to the lost children and teachers. Yikes! I want to suggest to those parents that they’re asking something nearly impossible of their young ones. In fact, if your Christian children are in a secular school, here are three reasons to get them out of there before they lose their faith.
Last week in this space I urged Christian parents to consider Deuteronomy 6:4-9 as a guiding principle for how they educate their children. Before the ink was dry on that piece, I could imagine at least one objection to the position I had staked out because I have frequently heard it before: We send our children to non-Christian schools so they can be salt and light to the lost children and teachers. If that’s what you think, I suggest what you’re doing is more like sending your lambs to slaughter.
A parent recently sent me this link to an article by columnist Walter Williams written in response to the 2017 National Assessment of Educational Progress, sometimes referred to as the National Report Card. In it, Williams reveals and then comments on some startling statistics concerning the state of public education in our nation. The parent who sent the article said this is “good motivation to keep doing what we are doing.” I agree wholeheartedly.
The classical school approach offers a fundamentally different vision of education that families fed up with a factory approach to learning find compelling.
Sarah Eeckhoff Zylstra recently wrote of the exponential growth of the classical Christian school movement. Similarly, John J. Miller, writing for National Review, calls the classical and classical Christian school movements “a small revolution in K-12 education.” What accounts for the growing popularity of these classical and classical Christian schools? Why are so many families opting for a return to an older way of educating their children? Strange as it may seem, I believe a popular Chipotle video helps explain the reasons for the rapid spread of these schools.
For about a decade now in the education world, stem has been the most frequently uttered word by politicians, bureaucrats, curriculum marketers, administrators, and teachers. Not “stem” as in the stem of a flower, but “STEM” as in the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math. Students are being pushed to pursue those fields for several reasons, not the least of which is that the job market is good in those broad categories. Even though the job outlook is good in those fields, US students are lagging dismally behind students from some other nations in math and science proficiency, a fact that translates directly into economic terms on a global scale, which is another reason educators are emphasizing STEM in recent years and targeting it as an area of focus in K-12 education. The bottom line, though, is that our national deficiency in math and science is more than that: it is a deficiency in education. Math and science are merely symptoms of that much larger problem, and they are front and center these days for the aforementioned reasons.
We are living during an age in the West, perhaps in the whole world, wherein the prevailing view of all things could best be described as utilitarian. Modern Americans, in particular, have a way of reducing most everything down to its usefulness, its efficiency, and of course, its cost. Jobs go to the lowest bidder. We buy where we get the best deal. Our books are paperback no matter the genre, dime store romance or classic. Our buildings are metal, whether serving as an auto body shop or a church. After a few years of this kind of thinking, everything begins to look the same.