For the past two weeks I have tried to convince parents that Christian people are required by God to educate our children in a Christian way, to point them Godward. I have suggested that Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is instructive to that end. I continued by appealing to common sense, the wisdom of the Proverbs, and even statistics to persuade Christian parents of the dangers of secular education for their children (remember, there is no such thing as a neutral education). Now, I’m going a step further and claiming that sending your child to a Christian school is not the whole education solution because all Christian education is not the same.
The Nehemiah Institute, which I referenced last week, has shown through the results of its PEERS test over the past thirty years that Christian students attending public schools leave those schools more often than not with a position that can be described as something other than Christian. It gets worse. The results also show that in 2015 students from Christian homes attending what the institute calls “traditional” Christian schools scored an average of 12 on the PEERS test—remember, it takes a score of at least 30 to show that your position is moderately Christian and a score of at least 70 to show that you hold a position of biblical theism. The only students who were even close to holding the position of biblical theism were students attending what the institute calls “worldview schools.”
The meaning of the word “worldview” seems to have been somewhat muddled in recent years because of the way some educators go about imparting worldview to their students. Here is what I mean: a student who is taught what to think may well leave his school with a solid Christian worldview, but when that worldview is challenged by the real world it may break down when it encounters scenarios it hasn’t been trained to think about. On the other hand, a student who is trained how to think Christianly about everything, how to examine his entire range of experience in light of the Scriptures, is not only a student who probably holds a Christian worldview, but is a student who will not easily be persuaded when the world throws him a moral curve ball.
A strength of classical Christian schools is that they teach students how to think and learn for themselves. These schools usually do not fall into the error of instructing students to stick their heads in the sand and pretend the world is not there. Neither do they fall into the error of teaching students to embrace everything the world has to offer by Christianizing it with a fish symbol. What they do is marinate their students in the Scriptures. They hire teachers who don’t treat their faith like a social club they choose to belong to but as a gift from God and a heritage handed down over the past two-thousand years. They work to cultivate virtue in their students because trying to be human apart from the way Scripture instructs us to be human isn’t really being human at all. Through the reading of old books and the singing of ancient psalms they connect students to their Christian heritage so that students understand they are not alone in their Christian beliefs but are surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses (Heb 12:1) that have walked the path before them through hardship and sacrifice and even martyrdom.
Christian parents should give their children a Christian education, but all Christian education isn’t the same. There is something afoot in classical Christian schools across the nation. A brand of Christian education is being offered in such a way that students’ faith isn’t just surviving their education, but is actually being informed, strengthened, and even built by it. What Christian parent would want less?
Some of the founders of the classical Christian education resurgence have put together this short film to provide more information on the rise of classical Christian education over the past thirty-five-plus years. The film will cost you about twenty minutes of your life, but the return on investment makes it a bargain.
Mr. Ron Gilley