Friday, 20 November 2020

All of education is religious - the only question is, "which religion?"

Firstly, read this:

This illustrates a simple fact: there is no neutral territory. Everywhere where there is education, even a wood, even spiders, a world-view is being communicated. The question is not "shall we teach how to understand our observations?" but "in what context shall we teach how to understand our observations?". And the most important context - everyone realises - is how humans understand themselves, and the world they live in, and how to interpret their inner lives. When people swallow the untruth that some sort of secularism in which we just observe without adding any context, they simply end up as teaching that life should be lived according to atheist nihilism, by default. "There are only facts" is functionally the same as "there is nothing but self".

As we see illustrated in the above article, the world outside the church understands these truths about education well. They know that the world is not a simple, naked, meaningless brute fact. Rather, there is a narrative, a background, a context, in which it should be interpreted. And so, as the world's educators seek to educate others, and especially children, they seek to teach what they hold as the correct, righteous context. They teach their worldview, because that's what educators do. That's what education involves. In the modern world, that increasingly means they teach a self-centred, God-less world-view in which man and his personal desires are the ultimate realities, and ultimate good things.

Lots of Christians haven't accepted these facts about how education works. In my observation, that's usually for one of two reasons.

The first reason is that they've never thought about it. Despite living in a society that has undergone such radical change as Western societies have in the last few generations, they have not applied their mind to thinking about what this means for the task of educating our children. They haven't even begun to reflect seriously upon what it means to obey the Bible's instruction to be "bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2 Corinthians 10:5). This is a terrible failure to love God with all our minds, in one of the major areas of our duty.

The second is worse: Christians know that education is not neutral, and that the secularist education they have chosen for their children is anti-Christian - but they aren't willing to endure any of the costs in doing otherwise. They knowingly send their children to be educated in a context of darkness instead of light, because doing otherwise would involve discomfort. It would involve change, effort, and the possibility of others in their social groups pulling funny faces at them, which might make them feel awkward. I hope and pray that a lot of these Christians come, or will come, into a third category: those whose eyes have been opened, realised that pleasing God necessitates a radical change of direction, and who are going by his grace and strength to get up and make those changes.

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