Schools are closed, and parents are confronted with how best to help their children continue their education at home. Parents are more clearly seeing and evaluating the ideas that are shaping their child’s thinking and worldview. Indeed, every schooling option is a form of discipleship (training to think from a particular perspective), and each day disciples are being made. What type of disciple is your child’s school aiming to produce?
Ideas that not many decades ago were well understood to be destructive are now accepted and even embraced by a huge percentage of Americans. Much of this shift ties to the curriculum forced upon the vast majority of American children through the public school system.
That curriculum is not an accident. It is the design of John Dewey and others who set up a teaching college at Columbia University, which has become a model for most teaching colleges in our nation. The core objective has been to shift America away from its free-market model to one of centralized state control. This misguided belief aims to create a world controlled by a few “gifted” people who would deliver a safer and better life in contrast with a world where people are free to interact, create, and exchange goods and ideas according to their needs, desires, and dreams. In their elitist zeal, the history of corruption and carnage from concentrating power in the hands of a few was disregarded.
Their ideal world, which is from Marxist ideology, requires a world where the citizens’ greatest allegiance is to the state. So, like all Marxist experiments, their methods are aimed at eliminating from society the more natural allegiances: bonds to family, religion, and property (physical as well as labor and creative works).
Our nation’s shift away from free-markets and toward state-controlled markets is very much connected to the worldview taught in the public school curriculum. Some surveys suggest that about half of America’s young adults are quite open to socialism. None of this is an accident. People become what they learn.
For decades vain efforts have tried to reform public education. However, it is impossible to make something good out of something fundamentally flawed. To pretend a school system can teach without impressing a worldview into the minds of its students is utter nonsense. Education is always teaching from some set of ideas.
We have had state-controlled public education for so long it is hard to imagine an alternative; however, as with any monopolizing entity, it invites corruption and has been used to redirect the American mindset. The concerns that produced the First Amendment, prohibiting the government from pushing a particular religion, apply equally to education. A government with the power to direct the thinking of the population is dangerous. Americans have spilled massive amounts of blood and resources in wars against nations where state-controlled education steered cultures toward horrific ends.
A free-market system of education, which diversifies power and naturally delivers according to the needs and desires of the population it serves, is a much safer option. Thankfully, there are numerous education models in practice today, delivering results far better for the children than the “free” public system. So while small at this point, the framework for a free-market system is well established.
The public system is actually not free at all. Massive taxes fund its per-student cost that is almost always higher than most free-market options. But a far greater cost is the long term effect on a child given a poor education based upon a fraudulent set of ideas, which is the case at all public schools. Even teachers that understand the fraudulent core of the curriculum can do little when he or she is bound by law to impress that curriculum into the minds of students. What a huge loss of a person’s life to have spent their formative years learning from a paradigm that is counter to the realities of life!
Add to that the impact from peers and parents having little to no control over who their child interacts with at public schools. Consolidating public schools makes the peer problems worse. Bigger is not better. The utter failure of the state-controlled monopoly-minded school model has spawned many free-market options.
Free-Market Thinking in Education
Every education model is built from a core set of ideas and will produce students that think consistently with that particular paradigm. Regardless of the foundational perspective, the considerations are largely the same. What does the paradigm say about education? What methodologies and curriculum will best help the student develop a thinking that is consistent with that paradigm? These are the real objectives of any education model.
People are very moldable, most especially when young. Our view of life is shaped by the ideas our minds are focused on, whether that focus is by desire or by force. From what perspective do you want your child to think?
I have chosen to consider a free-market education model from a Christian perspective, as that is the worldview I embrace. Additionally, the Christian worldview was widely embraced and thus very influential at the birth of our nation. With a free-market approach to education, curriculum naturally reflected the perspective that parents wanted to instill in their children, and so biblical teachings greatly informed the cultural thinking. Human incompatibility with great power was well understood, as was the value and uniqueness of each person.
Biblical Foundation for Education
Drawing upon biblical teachings, the framers implemented a government with several layers of checks and balances with powers resting at the smallest governing body possible starting with the individual, moving to the family, church, community, state, and finally, a federal government with powers limited to those expressly enumerated in its constitution. The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, embraced the uniquely Judeo-Christian worldview concept of created human equality and thus rejected the caste mentality that has plagued the world throughout human history. Attaining that goal, which is so contrary to our fallen human nature and was even beyond Jefferson’s natural thinking, is truly a never-ending battle. But the idea of an American citizen being free to chart life according to his or her own aspirations and abilities, with no restrictions based on social status, is very much a founding concept that connects solidly to a Christian worldview.
The Bible, being the primary written source on the Christian perspective, nowhere suggests that education is under the jurisdiction of the state, but rather, it expressly states that the training up of children (education or discipleship) is the responsibility of the child’s parents and the church.
In Matthew 28:19-20, Jesus initiated His church with the expressed purpose to make disciples by discipling in godly ways. That is not a concept built out of a single passage, but it is a theme throughout the Bible. Yet estimates are that eighty-five percent of churchgoing parents send their children to be discipled in schools with a curriculum based on secular humanism along with destructive teachings on sexuality that come from cultural Marxism.
Christians in the church are quick to point out sin in our culture and to fight for religious liberty. But could it be that the sin in our culture and the challenges to religious liberty are the outcome of sin within the church in America? Surely the church has largely turned away from its most basic calling to make disciples, most especially when it comes to the children in the church. Why would we not expect our culture to shift toward carnal behavior when the majority of churchgoing Christians send their children to be discipled in carnal thinking? This disconnect is massive!
The consequences of putting children under contrary instruction are very serious. Jesus expressed in Matthew 18:6-7 (NASB), “... whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea.” How can true followers of a set of ideas habitually have an extremely contrary set of ideas impressed into the minds of their children?
Biblical Education Options
While it is common to focus on the “how” of this task, which can certainly feel overwhelming, we must first set our mind on what we are called to do. Once our thinking is aligned with Jesus’ call to disciple the children in our home and our church, then we can consider the “how” in light of the greatness of our God, the uniqueness of each child, the resources and abilities in the home, and the available resources, talents, and gifts in our particular church. The options vary greatly in cost, education focus, parental interaction, possible outreach, etc.
Over the past few decades, many people have been working tirelessly to create better options, and their efforts have truly prepared our nation for a time such as this. Because of the COVID-19 virus, parents are forced to be more engaged in the direction of their children’s education. Just over a year ago, several of these people and their organizations, including Renewanation, joined together to create the Christian Education Initiative (CEI).
With CEI, those actively working for free-market education solutions built upon a biblical worldview can get to know and support each other and collaborate with their various strengths to create more and better opportunities for children to have a Christian education. CEI is a resource for parents, churches, Christian schools, and Christian teaching colleges who embrace the calling of the church to make disciples, including disciples of the children in the church. CEI is new and growing, so check back for many great resources that are not yet connected in with CEI.
Mark Shepard lives in Rustburg, VA with his wife, Rebecca, and their four sons. Mark holds Bachelor and Master Degrees in Electrical Engineering, beginning his studies at Letourneau College, then completing his undergraduate with high honors at University of Florida. His graduate studies split between Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Mark owns and operates a small industrial controls business. Prior to college, Mark worked in the building trades where he completed the four-year Vermont Electrical Apprenticeship and earned his Journeyman Electrician’s License. He served two terms in the Vermont Senate (2003-2006).