My first introduction to Christian schools was in 1993 when I went to work as a teacher at Beacon Christian High School in San Carlos. Until then I had never been in a Christian school, and I was unfamiliar with the concept of this kind of Christian education. The freedom to pray with my students before every class and to bring Christ into every lesson was a life-transforming change from my brief experience teaching in the public school setting.
For the next eight years I was a bi-vocational pastor. I taught classes in the morning and then come to the church in the afternoon. During that time I taught math, science, P.E., and history. Since my degree was in history and I was credentialed to teach history, my passion was teaching this subject. Although my students were probably bored stiff, I loved the energy of the classroom as we discussed and debated facts, ideas, and philosophies when studying human events. As a Christian I believe that God in control of all history, and the study of history is the study of God’s creation, man’s fall into sin, and God’s plan for mankind redemption. All social, economic, geographic, and political structures and events fall into God’s timeline and purpose in history.
What I enjoyed in the classroom was having students try to understand events from multiple views and experiences. Whether discussing the American Revolution, the creation of our nation, the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution, of the Great Depression, I tried to have the students understand the issues and mindsets from both (or multiple) sides of the conflict. At times this led to lively debates and discussions; at other times students struggled to stay awake during my boring lectures. Through it all, we searched God’s word to discover God’s truth in these matters. I thoroughly enjoyed the education process.
But education is more than simply dispensing information. As a Christian educator I believe education is the process of training students to discover truth through studying God’s creation. This involves training our students to use discernment (critical thinking) when studying all of the academic disciplines, weighing both facts and personal views against God’s word to form our world view. This is a difficult process, and it takes time, effort, and patience to teach this way. It is much easier to simply dispense whatever information you want your students to learn, give a test, and move on.
The opposite of education is indoctrination – the process of teaching students to accept a system of beliefs uncritically. This means that only one side of an argument is presented, or at least presented accurately, and students are not encouraged to question or challenge what is presented. Indoctrination involves teaching theories and opinions as fact, and it censors and slants information in order to reach a desired effect in student’s thinking and behavior. We see this technique used in many of today’s so-called documentary films. Truth is not the goal of indoctrination.
Jesus said, “if you hold my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32). When addressing Pilate Jesus said, “… In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me” (John 19:37).
As Christians we need to be pursuers of truth and education, not propaganda and indoctrination. We are strengthened and empowered by the Holy Spirit to discern between truth and deception. The Spirit has give us hearts and minds that “hunger and thirst for righteousness” and can stand against the indoctrination that is being presented as education in our schools, and as journalism in our media today.
If you do not believe indoctrination is taking place in our government schools then take a look at the curriculum that is presented, especially in the areas of sex education, abortion, and political correctness. According to Lance Izumi, Senior Director of the Center for Education at the Pacific Research Institute, “Far from being mere anecdotal incidents-and there are a log of these-political bias in becoming systemic public school systems and has turned many public schools into indoctrination centers for progressive ideologies and causes.” (http://www.intellectualtakeout.org/article/scholar-many-schools-today-are-indoctrination-centers)
I know that Christian schools are not perfect. In fact, Christian schools can be just as guilty of indoctrinating their students as other schools. I have witnessed Christian schools and churches censoring information and using propaganda to promote or stress certain viewpoint. We do not need to stood to this level. Instead, we must stick to the truth of God’s word and let Jesus be the subject of our conversations.
I wish to encourage all of us to be pursuers of truth. Most people are willing to be indoctrinated by reading or listening to only those whom we already agree with. Because of this there is very little room for open discussion and debate in today’s politically-charged climate. As followers of Jesus we must be willing to be informed of all perspectives of an issue, and we must be willing to listen and understand the perspectives of people who view things differently than we do. Let us not be lazy when studying a topic or situation. Instead, let us do the difficult and necessary work of discerning the truth, understanding the issues multiple perspectives, and standing on the truth of God’s word.
Your servant in Christ,