Education Choices are Not Neutral

Posted By on September 9, 2011

A thought-provoking post from Doug Phillips’s blog:

Educational methodology, or pedagogy, is not neutral. For thousands of years, men have debated over educational methodology. All of these debates have centered around issues like “What is the true nature of the child?”; “What are the true goals of education?”; “What is the role of the state vs. the parent in training the child, ” and “How are values, ideas and information best taught to a child?”; just to name a few. The answers to these questions are at the heart of the greatest religious battles of all time. These questions can only be answered in terms of religiously-driven faith assumptions about God, man, the state, etc….

In the great debate over Christian education, we must begin with the source of authority. It is the Bible. There is no other source. The Bible alone is the source for determining the presuppositions which drive our view of education. When it comes to education—there is no neutrality.

Of course, to say that there is not “one way” to educate children may be a correct statement. It really depends on what you mean by that. Within a biblical paradigm, there may be a diversity of Christ-honoring applications which are consistent with the biblical precepts, patterns, and principles. After all, the essence of wisdom is the ability to thoughtfully apply transcendent biblical truth to changing facts and circumstances. But to say that there is not “one way” to educate a child is not to say that all approaches are biblically lawful or wise.

Read the full piece HERE.

About The Author

Jennie is the wife of Matthew and mother of ten children, all of whom keep the household bubbling with life, learning, and levity. Jennie co-founded LAF in 2002 with Lydia Sherman and has been delighted to hear from women all over the world who enjoy their femininity and love to cultivate womanly virtues.


3 Responses to “Education Choices are Not Neutral”

  1. Mrs. Eva H. says:

    While the article makes many valuable points, especially the one about methodology not being neutral, I believe that the conclusion that government education can not be biblical is dependent upon the government and the view of the government that people hold. I believe in the USA this might be more the case than in other countries because of the very rigorous division between Church and state. In theory this would/ should mean that the Church would be neutral towards religion, which would mean that the validity of religion is not cast into doubt. Even then, one could wonder if indeed an education that is without a religious foundation is in it’s very nature anti religious or not? I think it would depend on whether a true neutrality would be possible and whether the school emphasizes that the values that would guide a child need to come from the parental home. In reality though we see that this complete neutrality is often not present, and the question is whether or not it is truly possible in the multi cultural society and multi moral society as we face today. And is it problematic that our children are confronted with view of life that considers Christianity at best as just one of many options. I doubt it is problematic that they are confronted with it, but it becomes problematic if they are bathed in it. With especially high schools now so much more than just a center for learning, but also a social island, that becomes a big problem. Every possible hobby seems to be bound to high school, isolating young people that need guidance the most from the center of their moral gravity, their compas, their family.

    I do not think that the problem is that there is a place provided where a child can learn mathematics. I do think that the idea of handing over the formation of our children to a complete system can be a problem. What is the vision of this system on history? On society?

    And what are the alternatives. While I believe that homeschooling has many merits, I have a problem with the theory that it is the only valid and biblical model. We see Jesus himself having stayed in the temple, talking with the teachers. We see Jesus himself being a teacher. I believe there is room for a christian education, for christian schools. And I wish that the government could support those christian schools since the tax dollars of christian people are used for public education. If christian people pay into the educational system, should they not be allowed to be part of the moral of it?

    Maybe the problem is that I grew up in a different country. I went to public school in elementary school. Yet there was no problem to prepare for, or celebrate religious ceremonies in public school. I went to Catholic Highschool. This was free, since the government decided that it represented Catholics as well as non catholic, protestants as well as non protestants, so these people should also be represented in the school system. Then I taught, at a public highschool. And I taught religion there, because students had a choice to study several different religions or a general moral class. I know this is not possible here in the US, but it does mean that, with another vision of government, there does not need to be a contradiction between both models of schooling.
    Throughout Christian history, the Church has been the first to set up schooling, the government came in only in the last few centuries. I believe in Christian schooling, in the iron sharpens iron.

    I am not certain yet myself which road of schooling we will take for our own children. While I know that government schooling is not neutral, I wonder if there are ways to take advantage of the benefits, while guarding against the detriments. I am not certain. It is not a decision I need to make today, and not one I will make lightly.

  2. LVH says:

    Mr. Phillips takes his interpretation of the Bible and twists it in a way to convince the (Christian) reader that the only way to educate one’s children is to home school them.

    Mr. Phillips lacks any sense or tone of compassion for the circumstances that lead Christian parents to place their child in a public school. Instead, his article seems to be filled with condemnation for those who choose differently than him. He describes public school as filled with “foolish teachers” and “desks of scorners.”

    “Why would I want to require my children to daily sit in the classroom desks of the scorners when God tells me that such people will not be blessed (Psalm 1:1-3)?”

    So, Mr. Phillips is interpreting this passage in that any Christian who sends their child to public school will not be blessed? Really? Currently, 50 million children are enrolled in public school. None of those families that send their kids to school will be blessed? I cannot wrap my mind around Mr. Phillips faulty logic and theology.

    Let’s please kindly send this article to the thousands of single Christian parents who cannot home school their children due to working and trying to obtain food for their family. Let’s send this article to the thousands of Christian immigrants or the smaller percentage of Christian refugees who can barely speak, read or write English. Let’s send this article to the Christian parents who send their kids who have autism, down syndrome, and other physical & mental disabilities to public schools; to receive much needed services and therapy. Let’s give this article to the homeless Christian parents whose kids may receive their only meal at school.

    Articles like these aren’t thought-provoking, they are dividing and lack any empathy or acknowledgement to the thousands of Christian parents who believe that sending their child to public school is the best decision for their family. Using and twisting bible verses into making Christian parents believe that God will not bless them, if they send their kids to public school ,is rather disgusting and demeaning.

  3. LVH, I recommend you read more of Mr. Phillips’s writings on this subject, as well as other writers like R.C. Sproul, Jr., Bruce Shortt, Bradley Heath, Dr. James Dobson, and Voddie Baucham, who make similar arguments against government education based not just upon theological beliefs but upon years of research and observation. Don’t assume they are saying all parents in all places in all times must homeschool or be condemned. That is not the case. There are godly alternatives to godless secular statist education out there. Christ’s model is discipleship, which is the same model given in Deuteronomy 6 — walking with people, talking with them, and living the model of what you want them to embrace. Jesus Himself said a student would become like his teacher (Luke 6:40), which means we cannot just put children under any teacher in any school and expect to see godliness result. Because God holds us responsible for how our children (really, His children — see Ezekiel 16:20-22) turn out, we should enter this arena with fear and trembling and not assume all education models are equal or biblically equivalent.

    To point to hard cases in an attempt refute these points is to move from arguing based upon concrete principles to arguing based upon appeals to emotion. We cannot make law based upon the “exceptions,” even when there are gut-wrenching situations to be faced and dealt with. Instead, we must adhere to core principles and deal compassionately with the hard cases. Where there are single parents who need support and help to educate their children in a Christian manner, it is the job of family members and the church to step in and give that help. See articles by two single mothers who homeschool and write for LAF (Diane Schiffer and Mrs. L. Rose). These ladies have managed to make it work and have seen God provide for them in very difficult circumstances. They now turn around to mentor other single moms so they can also care for and educate their own children (even in situations where the church fails to help them).

    The bottom line is that government education is not a neutral choice but is openly hostile to the Christian faith and designed to disciple children away from their parents and their beliefs, so Christians and churches should be making every effort to make sure no parent feels forced to use it as a last resort. Again, please take more time to read the positions of writers like Mr. Phillips before assuming you know where they are coming from and where they are going. I also recommend reading articles by John Taylor Gatto, who has exposed the history of “public” education so thoroughly and advocates a return to homeschooling and small, community-based schools that operate more like the one-room schoolhouse model (no peer-divided classrooms but a cooperative learning model with a very small teacher-student ratio). Check Colin Gunn’s new documentary on this topic, “Indoctrination,” which releases shortly. Read up on projects like The Exodus Mandate and the Southern Baptist Convention’s campaign to help parents get their children out of statist education.

    This position is not one held by a few fringe Christians who want to make life hard for other Christian parents. Instead, it is a wake-up call coming from Christians across many denominations, organizations, and from different educational backgrounds. Yes, parents with special needs kids are going to need real help. Yes, single parents are going to need more than just platitudes. Yes, parents living in poverty will need assistance. The answer isn’t to abandon them to the public school system as their only hope but to step up to the plate and help them. That’s why there are organizations like NAATHAN (for parents of special needs kids) and HSLDA’s Home School Foundation program (providing funds and personal support to single parents so they can afford to home educate their children without wondering how they will make ends meet). It is being done, one family at a time. Our prayer is that more and more individual Christians and churches alike will wake up to this need and put their shoulders to the wheel. This is our calling as fellow members of Christ’s Body. It’s part of how the world sees the Gospel at work, so we cannot afford to neglect it.

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