Monday, February 27, 2012
My entire philosophy of education revolves and depends upon the goal of people hearing the Gospel, believing and following Christ, and motivating them to fulfill their potential as servants for Jesus Christ. At first glance and to those unaccustomed to the ideas I present in this paper, this may seem like a philosophy that would be limited to a Bible School or seminary, even to some Christians, I am sure. But in fact, if a person has a thorough understanding of the all-encompassing impact that hearing the Gospel,believing and following Christ, and making the determined decision to fulfill his or her potential as a servant of Christ, then it can be seen that there is no more important goal to have in the pursuit of education. If these goals are pursued, students will achieve the highest and most excellent level of education in every area from history, to science, to art, all the way through to every subject.
Every person has a belief system that they operate on. For many people this belief system or parts of it are unconscious. There are certain belief systems that have been more clearly laid out and developed than others, for example, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Catholicism and others which have been refined over time. On the other hand, many people consciously or unconsciously mix and match belief systems, pulling ideas from different sources that appeal to them often with no regard as to the contradictory systems they originate from. Often people adhere to belief systems without thinking them through and deciding whether or not they actually have a basis in reality. Regardless, each person operates their life based on the ethics of a defined belief system to a lesser or greater degree.
When a student embraces the Biblical Christian belief system after hearing the Gospel and making Christ their Lord and savior, they will begin to take on certain characteristics, habits, and ideals. The more they embrace the ethics of Christianity, the greater student they will become in every subject they undertake. Martin Luther King Jr. said “The most dangerous criminal may be the man gifted with reason, but with no morals.”1 He also said “Intelligence plus character–that is the goal of true education.”2 Currently public school teachers and administrators try to operate from a morally neutral position. This is because of the politically correct idea of the so-called “separation of church and state.” A teacher or administrator who operates from a morally neutral position will have a very difficult time developing character in a student. Any effort to establish values like honesty, respect towards parents and others, fidelity towards a spouse or friendships, could cross the imaginary line of separation of church and state. As the student begins to question the origin of these rules and principles, the teacher can easily be faulted for proselytizing. An example of this is when a court ruled on a legal challenge against teaching pre-marital sexual abstinence to students in public schools. Here are excerpts from the court’s decision:
The harm of premarital sexual relations…are fundamental elements of religious doctrine. It is a fundamental tenet of many religions that premarital sex…[is] wrong….
In short, the [program teaching pre-marital sexual abstinence} has the primary effect of advancing religion. This alone would force the court to declare the law constitutionally infirm….
[T]he inescapable conclusion is that federal funds have been used…to teach matters inherently tied to religion.
If the teacher does not provide any other origin for these rules other than “These rules will help your life go better” or “it’s the right thing to do” students will only adhere to them for as long as those rules seem to benefit themselves. With no further explanation as to the authority of the rules or principles provided, students will easily dismiss them at their convenience. As public schools have moved towards a morally neutral stance where teachers are not allowed to address ethics except in a strictly academic sense like social studies class, student behavior has gotten progressively worse, the learning environment has gotten worse, and students are less and less prepared to graduate and live a fulfilling life in society. Martin Luther King Jr. said that intelligence plus character is the goal. But character cannot be taught without ethics and ethics requires a source and the source must have the right ethics for shaping a star student and the ability to garner a powerful commitment from its pupils.
CS Lewis said “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.”4 And I would continue that line of thought, education without Christian values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil. The values that educators instill in students can’t be just any values. They must be Christian values in order for them to truly receive the best possible education. Someone might challenge this idea with the thought that the values of most belief systems will suffice, but let’s take the belief system of atheism to see if it would work as a source for ethics and enforcing morality in a public school. Atheism, which has as a fundamental tenet the theory of evolution, results in the following morals: might makes right, survival of the fittest, if you have to step on someone to survive then do it, the ends justify the means, each person is only as valuable as they are useful, morals are subjective and determined by each individual and are dependent upon each individuals need to survive and thrive, no individual has authority over you unless they are stronger than you positionally, physically, financially, or intellectually. Each person is essentially a cause and effect being made up of molecules bumping into each other, which means there is no free will, and no person can really be held accountable for anything they do because their molecules made them do it. It wasn’t their fault; they had no choice. These morals lead to much of what we see in the public schools today. In fact, there is no better belief system to associate with public schools today than that of atheism. The state’s effort to literally enforce “no morality” in the public schools has resulted in promoting atheistic or anarchistic moral values instead.
James McHenry, one of the Founding Fathers who signed the US Constitution, stated that “Bibles are strong entrenchments. Where they abound, men cannot pursue wicked courses, and at the same time enjoy quiet conscience.”5 In contrast, where Bibles are absent, men can pursue wicked courses with no rebuke from an empty conscience. The supporting evidence for this claim can be clearly seen in the changes that took place when, for the very first time in US history, Bible reading and prayer were forbade in public schools. This was done by the Supreme Court in 1962 and 1963 through the cases Engel v. Vitale, Murray v. Curlett, and Abington v. Schempp.6 Prior to this event many schools regularly started their day with prayer, and the Bible was used as a primary text book. The changes that took place after 1963 are nothing short of shocking. Teen pregnancies per year went from approximately 100,000 per year in 1963 to 700,000 per year by 1979.7 The number of divorces tripled each year between 1962 and 1981.8 Prior to 1963 the top public school offenses were listed as:9
4.Running in the halls
5.Getting out of turn in line
6.Wearing improper clothing
7.Not putting paper in wastebaskets
Polls in 1985 list the top public school offenses as:10
The removal of Bible reading and prayer in schools paved the way for what is commonly called postmodernism. Postmodernism, in a nut shell, is the idea that there is no absolute truth and that all moral values are nothing but opinions; they are completely subjective. As this thought process began to take over the public schools, the results are shocking but not unexpected. We can continue to reinforce this point by examining the difference in the amount of problems that public schools face versus those that private schools face. Although not all private schools are Christian, the vast majority of them are. Approximately 79% of all private schools have a Christian affiliation.11 We can therefore conclude that the difference in the rates of the social problems experienced between public and private schools is due in large part to the private schools’ Christian ethic versus the public schools’ lack of a Christian ethic, and the ability of the private schools to enforce that ethic. Before 1963, teachers and public school administration were able to enforce moral absolutes as taught in the Bible; but no longer, and the consequences are blatantly clear.
In a study done by the National Center for Education Statistics in 1991, teachers were asked about the social problems they were facing among students.12 The results were as follows: In public high schools 31.7% of teachers said student apathy was a problem versus 6.5% in private schools. In public high schools 22.9% of teachers said student absenteeism was a problem versus 4.5% in private schools. In public high schools 16.1% of teachers said alcohol use was a problem versus 4.5% in private schools. In public high schools 8.2% of teachers said drug abuse was a problem versus .9% of teachers in private high schools. In public high schools, 2.2% of teachers said that weapons possession was a problem versus .1% of private high school teachers. According to this government study, every one of these problems is at least four times worse in public schools than in private schools. And obviously these problems are going to impact the entire student population and its ability and desire to learn. This is why, according to a study reported on by Public School Review:
Private school students generally perform higher than their public school counterparts on standardized achievement tests. As with earlier results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), private school students performed higher than public school students on the NAEP: 2000 tests.
Private high schools typically have more demanding graduation requirements than do public high schools. Compared with public schools, private schools required more coursework (in 4-year high school programs) in 1999–2000 in social studies, mathematics, science, foreign language, and computer science… In addition, about 40 percent of private schools required some form of community service for high school graduation, four times the rate for public schools (10 percent).
Private school students are more likely than public school students to complete a bachelor’s or advanced degree by their mid-20s. Data from the National Education Longitudinal Study of 1988, “Fourth Follow-up” (NELS: 1988/2000) show that students who had attended private school in 8th grade were twice as likely as those who had attended public school to have completed a bachelor’s or higher degree by their mid-20s (52 versus 26 percent) and far less likely to not complete a post-secondary education.13
The devil’s advocate may state that private high school students do better because private schools are wealthier, or because the parents who send their students to private schools care more about the education of their children. These points, which in some cases may or may not be true, do not invalidate the clear link between behavior and belief system which impacts teachers and students. I understand that correlation is not causation, but the evidence from ongoing studies that contrast public versus Christian education are building a case against the morally neutral stance of public schools that is incontrovertible.
In February 2010 a longitudinal study was published by John Robert Warren, Ph.D. on the graduation rates of students in the Milwaukee, WI (26th most populous city in the US) School Choice program versus those in the public school system. The state was spending just over $14,000 per student in the public school system and providing only $6,442 per student to the school choice program which allowed parents to spend the money on the private school of their choice. But in order to receive these funds, the students had to come from a low income family. According to research, students coming from low income families have lower graduation rates than do those coming from higher income families but despite this fact the graduation rates of those in the school choice program attending the private schools had an 18% higher graduation rate than those in the public school system over the 6 year period of the study. According to Dr. Warren,
Had Milwaukee Public Schools attained the same graduation rate achieved in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, an additional 3,352 students would have received diplomas between 2003 and 2008. According to the research cited in the Journal Sentinel, the annual impact from an additional 3,352 MPS graduates would include an additional $21.2 million in personal income and about $3.6 million in extra tax revenue.1
The reason Christian ethics are so successful in promoting a powerful learning environment and the reason there should be so much focus on helping students establish a solid relationship with Jesus Christ is because of the life changing teachings that come from the Bible. Below I’ve listed just a few that when embraced by teachers and even just a portion of the student body, create a much more dynamic, healthy learning environment.
“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:3-4, NIV here and below)
“Do not gaze at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup, when it goes down smoothly! In the end it bites like a snake and poisons like a viper.” (Proverbs 23:31-32)
“Marriage should be honored by all, and the marriage bed kept pure, for God will judge the adulterer and all the sexually immoral.” (Hebrews 13:4)
“A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1)
“A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest — and poverty will come on you like a bandit and scarcity like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:10-11)
“Whatever you do , work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (Colossians 3:23-24)
“Do not take revenge , my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay,’ says the Lord. On the contrary: ‘If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:19-21)
“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” (1 John 4:18-21)
Of course, these scriptures are only a light touch of an understanding of who Christ is. And it’s the relationship with Christ that brings about the greatest change of all, not the rules He’s provided for us. Ultimately, the relationship with Christ becomes the most heart-changing, behavior-altering and motivating force available for both teacher and student as they pursue an education. In summary, the commitment to the Biblical Christian belief system brings about the behavior necessary for a student to obtain the best education possible. This then is why my philosophy of education depends completely upon administrators, teachers, and students hearing the gospel, committing to Christ as their Lord and Savior, and making the determination to fulfill their potential as a servant of Jesus.
1 King, Martin Luther. Morehouse College Student Paper, The Maroon Tiger, 1947.
3 Barton, David. America: To Pray or Not to Pray. Page 27. 1991. – Kendrick v. Bowen, 657 F. Supp. 1547, 1562, 1563, 1564, 1565, (D.D.C. 1987)
4 Lewis, CS. The Abolition of Man. 1943
5 Barton, David. American Heritage Series. DVD
6 Barton, David. America: To Pray or Not to Pray. P 14. 1991.
7 Department of Health and Human Services. Statistical Abstracts of the United States, the Center for Disease Control and the Department of Commerce, Census Bureau.
8 Time, July 13, 1987. P. 21.
9 USA Today. September 1985. See also Christian School Comment, Vol. 19, No. 3.
11 Chen, Grace. www.publicschoolreview.com. December 04, 2007
12 WHAT ARE THE MOST SERIOUS PROBLEMS IN SCHOOLS? January 1993 National Center for Education Statistics 93-149. http://nces.ed.gov/pubs93/web/93149.asp
13 Chen, Grace. www.publicschoolreview.com. December 04, 2007
14 Warren, John Robert. Graduation Rates for Choice and Public School Students in Milwaukee, 2003-2008. University of Minnesota. February, 2010. http://www.schoolchoicewi.org/data/currdev_links/2010-Grad-Study-1-31-2010.pdf