WORST. SCHOOL TOUR. EVER. And What It Reveals About the True Nature of Education.
Many in our culture are confused about what a Christian education really is. I mean, isn’t a Christian school just like a regular, public school except with an additional Bible class? And maybe a weekly chapel service, some better-behaved students, and prayer at the start of the day? Aren’t most subjects like math or history or reading essentially the same no matter where you learn them? Is art class or jazz band or chemistry or health really all that different in a Christian school vs. a public school?
Some can sense a difference in a Christian education and figure that what Christian schools do is this: they take an otherwise neutral subject, like science or history or reading, and just “inject” some Bible into it, to make it more “Christian.”
But the truth is actually the exact opposite.
It is a secularized education, like one would find in a public school, that takes an existing subject that is already, inherently brimming with God’s Truth, and artificially removes all evidence of God, leaving behind a hollowed-out and now very distorted view of the subject.
Think of it this way . . .
Imagine your employer relocates you to a different area of the country. And, while you are searching for a place to live in your new town, everyone keeps mentioning this great school in the area. Let’s call it The New-Town School. The real estate agent raves about how wonderful it is and how everyone wishes they could live in this particular school district so that they could attend The New-Town School.
So, you decide to visit. It’s the summer, so the school should be empty, and you might be able to walk around.
As you drive onto the property, you are amazed at the beautiful campus, the manicured landscaping, the modern buildings, the impressive sports fields. As you enter the lobby, you are equally impressed with everything you see.
In the office, you are just about to greet the receptionist when the school’s principal enters and introduces himself. He offers to take you on a tour, and you are excited to do so. He shows you the auditorium, the cafeteria, the gymnasium, some classrooms, and they are all exceptional.
Upon entering a science classroom, as the principal is pointing out the state-of-the-art lab equipment, you happen to notice something peculiar. On the wall is hanging a large poster of the periodic table of elements. Pretty standard for a science room, however, something is very odd about it. In the top right corner, right between nitrogen and fluorine, there is a blacked-out square. You wrack your brain, thinking back to high school chemistry and try to remember what should be there. What is missing? Aha! You remember, and joke to the principal . . .
“I guess someone’s not a fan of breathing!”
“What’s that?” he replies.
“Someone’s blacked out the element oxygen,” you say, pointing to the poster.
“Oh yes, that,” he says, “well, we try to remain neutral, you know.”
“I’m sorry?” you wonder, “I don’t understand.”
“Well, we are a public school.”
The principal notices the very confused look on your face, and continues,
“Now, don’t get me wrong. I love oxygen myself. Always believed in it. Big fan personally. But we draw from a lot of different families here in the district, and they all have differing views on oxygen, so we need to remain neutral on the subject.”
“So, you don’t teach about it at all?”
“Oxygen? You teach science without teaching about oxygen? At all?!”
“Yes, that’s right. There are certainly a lot of other things to learn in science besides oxygen, right?”
“Yes, of course, but totally ignoring oxygen in a science class doesn’t sound very ‘neutral’ to me.”
“Well, it works for us. And most of our families don’t seem to mind.”
At this point, you are stunned, but you decide to press a little further.
“So, when teaching about the respiratory system, what do the teachers tell the students it is that humans breathe?”
“And what is air comprised of?”
“What specific elements make up those molecules?”
“It varies. And unfortunately, with so much pollution in the air, we . . .”
“And what about water?”
“What about it? Oh, are you thirsty? We can get some bottled . . .”
“Without oxygen, what is water made of?
“Two atoms of hydrogen.”
“And what else?”
“We encourage students to discuss these matters with their parents at home or maybe their local chemist if they have specific questions about such matters.”
Totally exasperated, you decide to leave the lab and continue to another classroom. It is the art room, and it is very colorful indeed! The principal is showing off some remarkable student art projects when your eyes happen to settle on a series of projects with a rainbow theme.
Once again, something seems off.
Each of the rainbows is missing something. Red . . . orange . . . yellow . . . green . . . indigo . . . violet. What is missing?
“Blue!” you exclaim.
“What’s that?” the principal asks.
“Why are all of these rainbows missing blue?”
And, even as you say it, you begin to notice that with all of the varied colors and shades and textures and pigments in this very colorful room, not a single item has anything blue in it.
“You have got to be kidding!”
“You’re wondering about the blue, aren’t you?”
“Again, I hate to belabor the point, but while I personally love the color blue, we are a non-sectarian school. So, we must remain completely neutral on the subject. We are not ‘anti-blue,’ but we also cannot rightfully promote blue either.”
“An art education that ignores blue is not an art education!” you explain, trying to remain calm.
“Well, that’s a valid opinion.”
“That’s not an ‘opinion’ any more than it’s an ‘opinion’ that 2 + 2 = 4.”
The principal pauses nervously, then continues,
“Uhh. I hate to have to bring it up, but you’re probably not going to like our school’s stance on the number 4.”
“Let me guess . . . you personally like the number 4, but in order to remain ‘neutral,’ your teachers just skip over anything in math with the number 4 in it.”
“That’s right. Can I show you the music room?”
“That depends, which musical notes do you ignore?”
“Just quarter notes. And anything in the key of G.”
“Thank you. We’ll show ourselves out.”
Do you get the idea?
Christian education does not “insert” biblical principles into any subject. Rather, a distinctly Christian education simply shines a light on the biblical principles that are already within every academic subject. All the world is God’s, and evidence of His handiwork exists in every subject (Read more about that here).
It is a secularized education that artificially removes God’s Truth. Such an education is not in any way “neutral.” It is distorted, full of gaps, without consistent logic, and false. It is hostile to the truth.
I recently saw an interview with an angry parent who was emerging from a contentious, public school board meeting. He scowled at the camera,
“I’m sick of these schools indoctrinating our children with their leftist ideas. Why can’t they just teach the facts and keep their personal opinions out of the classroom?!”
I understand this gentleman’s frustration, but what he—and many others—do not understand is a basic fact about the true nature of teaching and learning.
There is no such thing as a neutral education.
Every teacher, every administrator, every curriculum, every textbook, and every lesson must pick and choose which facts and whose opinions to include and which to exclude. Which points to highlight and which ones to minimize. Every educator discriminates. And he or she does so based on their personal worldview, or the worldview of the textbook, the curriculum, the school administration, the school district, the state, etc.
What makes a Christian education distinctive and what makes a Christian education the only complete and effective education is that Christian educators are able to shine a light on the true nature of the world as it actually is, and they are able to train their students to not only see God’s Truth in every subject, but also to seek Him personally as the ultimate and the only source of all Truth.
Share your thoughts and comments with the author at firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a moment for Integrated Reflection:
Follower of Christ:
How well do you perceive God’s truth in everyday life?
Are you living in such a way that God has control over every part of your life? Or have you “secularized” some parts of your life?
Are you faithfully shining a light on the truth of God that exists in each subject you teach?
Is there really such a thing as a “neutral” education?
If not, who should decide the standard for what is included or excluded?