02 Nov, 2020 Time to take responsibility to educate our own children and youth again
> Time to educate our own again <
A call to a change in thinking regarding the education of our young
This article is formatted as a short 4 chapter book. It is a longish article – but hopefully this formatting helps it’s message be digested.
It’s target audience is Christian parents and Christian leaders.
So you know where it is going – it is not promoting home-schooling or Christian schools. It is about how we, as families and churches, understand the discipleship of our youth and children within culture. As culture changes, so must our approaches in Christian discipleship.
I pray it speaks to your heart!
Something that is true
The Jesuits said, ‘Give me the child until he is 7 and I will give you the man’ – repeating a saying hailing back at least as far as the Greek philosopher Aristotle. Hitler copied a time-tested pattern of socialism by taking state control of education, making it free for all. Through this he could indoctrinate the thinking of the children. A generation later they were his. It doesn’t matter what side you are playing for – the education of children is important!
A parents job
In our Christian understanding, the responsibility for discipling children in the Christian faith rests with the parents.
“These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
A faith-community’s responsibility
But what about children and youth from non-Christian homes? If they attend a Sunday school or youth group, logically the responsibility rests with the Christian community they are part of. My understanding is that this is where our cultural ideas of having ‘youth groups’ in our churches came from. The original idea was outreach – rather than the discipleship of youth from Christian families.
CHAPTER 1 – An increasing tide of hostility for our young to stand against
The current against the Christian view of live, care and love is increasing.
- If schools say that a boy isn’t a boy even though he is one biologically (i.e. sex doesn’t define gender), how many years before children accept this to be true, and a sex change the best thing – despite the statistics we aren’t told about that suggest otherwise (like studies showing that 18 of 20 cases of gender dysphoria in the young self-resolved by age 20, while the alternative of gender change yielded a 50% suicide rate prior two age 23)? How long before she embraces views that differ to her parents?
- What about abortion being ok – and any critique of it considered ‘judgmental’ or ‘anti-woman’ – despite the death of a person?
- What about Euthanasia – with its enormous and growing ‘grey space’ – with questionable deaths, and a culture developing that then does not investigating these potentially horrendous crimes?
- Most University students vote Labour or Greens. Why and how has our education system come to affirm a given political view?
- If schools say all types of sexuality are equal while the Bible instead esteems monogamous heterosexual marriage, what would cause a Christian youth to believe the Christian view – other than faith? This is what education is about!
- What difference would seeing all the statistics on broken families, and the affect this has on human wellbeing, make? Most young people are never shown this!
- Might the idea that monogamous marriage is ‘sacred’ make sense if they saw that it was not about there ‘mere’ rights of the couple involved – but also the rights of children that might result, to grow up on stable homes for the sake of their own mental and emotional wellbeing throughout life?
- Might an understanding that confining sex to marriage in what was a male-dominated society actually served to protect women help? Might gaining an understanding of the suffering that children would have to endure due to having a non-committed father and mother in a broken society help?
- Might the law of love (rather than the law of personal liberty to do whatever we feel like) then begin to make sense then?
For a current example, ‘Inside Out’ is a school program designed to teach children LGBTQ values. The challenge we face, however, is not just the principle of treating people who are different to us with grace. That’s a no-brainer to most of us. Tolerance is not what this programme is about. It is about moral dominance – to control and secure ascendancy in any conversation about morality in connection with all these things. This is about telling us their definitions of right and wrong with the full expectation that we must comply, or else!
This is very different to teaching tolerance!
It also denies intelligence, because moral definitions come from our religious worldview. Religion is therefore the actual topic being discussed! This is possibly a key revelation to capture here!
The pointed question is this: Will a diversity of opinions be accepted regarding the promoted diversity of sexualities if we agree to treat all people equally and with love?
I personally don’t think those pushing their agendas currently are at all interested in tolerance or care or respect for all. They have a view – and want dominance. If you don’t agree with them, they want to punish you. They have denied God – and then appointed themselves the ‘moral arbiters’ of all truth. Their ambition is about winning and it’s about power – not the love, tolerance, acceptance or grace they claim!
It is not intolerant to disagree with someone.
Tolerance is about how we treat people irrespective of how much we disagree.
How long will our children and youth stand when picked on by students and teachers for being ‘intolerant’ because they believe something different to the woke young (or old) teacher, who’s own views have been established by nothing more than the peer pressure of an education system and public media – who will kick them out of the ‘in group’ if they don’t comply?
The force of many current cultural bias’ is too great for most youth to face!
We must not underestimate the power of education
Any leader with intelligence can work out how to lead a wider population – by taking leadership of their education (and media).
Prior to the French Revolution, Yale President Timothy Dwight warned that Voltaire’s atheistic agenda included the controlling of the education of the youth. “Education of youth…books replete with infidelity, irreligion, immorality, and obscenity.” It was all part of an intentional plan to break down their morality – and with it any adherence to the Christian faith and ethics. (It was those ‘traditional’ ethics that would stop the desired revolution, so the ideas had to be defeated first!) In fact, books were written in the names of people who were dead – to give credibility to new ideas.
Karl Marx wrote, “The education of all children, from the moment that they can get along without a mother’s care, shall be in state institutions at state expense.”
Vladimir Lenin stated, “Give me four years to teach the children and the seed I have sown will never be uprooted.”
Stalin – the next leader of Russia, said, “Education is a weapon, whose effect depends on who holds it in his hands and at whom it is aimed.”
By November 6th, 1933, Hitler could state, “When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already …What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’ “
For context, we are not facing that kind of socialism yet! However, those in education have these very same understandings, with a desire to catalyse change they believe are for our good. To note it, we might do the same – were we in charge. We might include lessons from history in the syllabus, even including stories from the Bible – to impart values that are known to have shaped culture for good. (The ‘opposition’ thinking might then redefine ‘good’, deconstructing knowledge, creating a new ‘truth’, to present a different pathway. This is the world we live in).
How education works
In education, a value is not taught in a single lesson. It is instead imparted through continual repetition, in multiple lessons, in connection with multiple areas of the curriculum. It is more subtle than overt. And this approach works!
A quick read of different parts of our school curriculums reveals clear intent in shaping the thinking of children – and the problem is that this is with (a) an increasingly ideological (idea based intent or agenda, and (b) concurrently an increasing attitude of disregard for the beliefs of the parents, because ‘the state knows best’. Those running the system have embraced a secular ‘socialistic’ way of thinking – and consider themselves ‘ right’. The end therefore justifies the means. They are therefore intentionally educating the thinking of the teachers who teach the children – while any parents who disagree can be ignored. They perceive themselves to be on a ‘holy crusade’. They believe they know best for us, and for our children.
Should we really continue to surrender our children to them? Or should we be involved?
The resulting problem understood
A person of faith (whether a child, youth or adult) is often stereotyped as being lacking in intelligence, and also of being in some way intolerant. They are a sub-human both intellectually, and socially. What do you think this kind of stereotyping in media and education will achieve?
Despite the success of some churches in youth ministry, the overall pattern is still one of decline. Our estimates, based on the feedback of pastors’ groups in 2015 and 2016, were that youth ministry is attending 1/3 to ¼ of what it was 25 years ago. Godtalk.nz was one part of a solution that we felt we were able to help with – to address just one area of deficit, which was in relation to outreach, and the conversational equipping needed to stand in this environment. But both the problem and the need is bigger than this.
The overall situation is likely to get worse too. A subtle ‘persecution’ of youth and children who do not confirm to dictated ‘norms’ by way of various moral opinions and the like. This is fast-becoming our reality. So, what is the path forwards?
The change I suggest is this: It’s time to take responsibility to educate our children in more areas than we have, and with greater diligence than we have.
This is not to say we take them out of public schools, or start new schools – though both of those are options. The point is that we take responsibility to be involved in key areas – because we understand the danger of not doing so. This is about how we think about discipleship, and the kind of effort and competence we bring to it as Christian parents and as local church leaders.
We have delegated the responsibility of education to our schools. We trust schools with it. This is fine for math and reading – but are they really competent now when it comes to discussing religious worldview (how people see the world) and all the global, moral and other ethical matters that arise from these foundations? Things that relate to ideas of truth affect philosophy, history, morality, sociology and more. These topics are always taught with a bias – no matter who is teaching. This is unavoidable. In our schools that bias is going to be that of the teacher, coming from the ‘religious lenses’ they have chosen, or been given!
George Barna, an American cultural researcher, tell us a child’s worldview (meaning, their view of the world) is established by age 14. In most churches and families, we aren’t even discussing issues like the above until youth are aged 14 or older.
We need to engage with young people as educators on a range of topics – and to do this by the time they are 13 or 14 years of age. To do any different is to surrender them to the whimsical fads of our public education and media, which are then enforced by natural means through social pressure.
Might it be time to take more seriously again the idea of actually educating our own children ourselves in some core things?
In case it hasn’t been noted – Iwi are doing this. They run waananga / houses of learning, to teach young Maori things they know public education will not teach.
I venture to say that the Church has done it throughout history too – as also do Muslims, to preserve their own cultural and religious values and practices.
In all cases, the wise do not simply surrender their children to the influence of others!
CHAPTER 2 – What discipleship involves
Discipleship is not only about the study of Scripture alone. Discipleship is about the study of Scripture for application in the context of our world today! In this sense all pulpit peaching should be ‘prophetic’ – bringing application from timeless truths to our current context. This is a very important point.
- We need the Bible in one hand, and a newspaper in the other.
- Or – put differently, we need a Bible app on one page and a few news apps on the another.
- We have to help our children and youth understand the society they live in through the lenses of their faith – before the changing viewpoints of that world become their lens!
- They therefore also need to understand that other points of view do exist – and also why those who believe them believe them. This is about learning to discern what might be true – or false, and why.
- This implies that we discuss the ‘philosophical’ concepts of God – with a view to developing an understanding of how this relates to ideas about existence, truth, morality, ethics, tolerance, equality, freedom, interpretation of history – and more.
- …and this needs to be done while they are still young!
(Remember – worldview is largely set in stone by age 14!)
The keyword for a disciple is ‘choice’. We make choices to honour God.
The key word for a disciple-maker is ‘intentional’. We intentionally seek to educate through a variety of means, to produce measurable change.
CHAPTER 3 – Examples of how we could approach education on world-view matters
This short chapter is not a list. It is reflections – to inspire thoughts of a list – or ‘curriculum’ of ideas, the you could create and apply.
The importance of marriage to a society:
Those with LGBTQ values want not only to define some of our moral values – but also to control the entire conversation. In the face of this we might firstly be wise to promote heterosexual marriage as a viable option for starters! The benefits aren’t hard to find or demonstrate! In doing this we would be educating our young on various reasons that exist for this choice – just as our schools and media are also doing – but with a different agenda.
I remind the reader – none of this discussion is about tolerance. We are tolerant already! We respect the rights of individuals to choose their ‘lifestyles’. The issue here isn’t tolerance! It is the right to hold a moral view, and also the genuine benefits that come with some moral views.
We need to demonstrate the benefits of certain choices, inclusive of sound data where it exists in relation to the social, emotional and mental consequences of our choices for ourselves – as well as for our societies as a whole!
Regarding training our young re how to deal with the growing intolerance of our society
If tolerance is said to be about accepting certain viewpoints ‘because no sexual morals actually exist’, then our children and youth also need to be taught not only why we might believe sexual morals do exist (as one example), but also
- what intolerance is,
- and then the conversational skills Jesus modelled in which he (i) engaged with interested people, but (ii) merely sought to intrigue the disinterested with stories, while (iii) fully deflecting the hostile through questions (or silence).
Without this training or perspective many will be incapacitated in conversation. This training isn’t yet part of our ‘corporate culture’ as churches – so they won’t yet learn this by ‘osmosis’. We need to lead a change – which is to say, we need to make a decision together (nationally as Christians) to prioritise this area of learning and training!
Regarding empowering them with ‘big-picture knowledge’ as a tool
Youth and older children could also benefit from a small bit of understanding about some big-picture ideas. For example, regarding the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights. This was penned by Eleanor Roosvelt (American Presidents wife) with a group she chaired. As a Christian she was delighted to bring Judeo-Christian values to the world, and under the name of ‘secularism’ Christian values have indeed spread widely.
Secular historians like Tom Holland affirm the reality of dynamic – though not specifically in these words. The challenge is this: Without an objective view of morality, some rights will invariably end up contradicting others.
- Because the word ‘God’ is not included in this declaration, moral values are left as subjective – meaning they can be changed however it suits us.
- Muslims understood this quickly, which is why the OIC met in Cairo in 2002 to create their own Declaration of Human Rights (Called the Cairo Declaration), while rejecting that of the UN – with notable differences in some areas.
- Because of this, changing sexual morals are on a collision course with religious freedoms in the West. This is the point that needs to be understood.
- The only solution is tolerance – which is why taking RESPONSIBILITY for education is so important, because public media and education aren’t going to educate people about things that don’t benefit their own goals and values. And the real challenge is that those promoting these new values are intolerant!
- They only want to ‘win’ – which to them means convincing or forcing everyone to admit that morality is disconnected from sexuality.
- Only through understanding this do we have a framework for understanding the current debate, so as to engage with it wisely.
- (We need to defend the freedom of religion – because it is now in direct conflict with new moral values related to sex. Our ‘no God’ leaders have no truly rational or fixed basis for defining fixed morals or ethics – so they have no motivation to tolerate any view that is different to their own. Tolerance is therefore the solution we need to argue for – which at it’s core is about the freedom of speech (‘hate speech’ laws are a point of true loss for personal freedoms – as also I suggest is anything that undermines the private ownership of land. It’s a time-tested principle. If you can’t own or control the land you live on, you are a slave to those in power – because they can control everything about you).
Regarding morals – children and youth also need to understand why all morals come from religion. Our youth and children need to be taught this.
Two more illustrations.
It is not just science and philosophy that need teaching. It is also history, and the skills needed to discern truth from error.
Regarding history our society says Christianity is an imposition of colonisation, and quite irrelevant to who we are. Children need to hear about the work of the missionaries in New Zealand who were invited by Māori precisely because Māori did understand a few things. Without their foresight there would have been no Treaty. No other group of non-Māori stood for the Treaty like them. No other non-Māori suffered for their stand to defend Māori like they did also! They also need to hear about Christian Māori, who transformed the violent aspects of their culture – while obviously remaining fully Māori. Also, regarding the Christian foundation to many of our values – children and youth also need to hear about people like secular historian Tom Holland who considers secularism a ‘footnote to the Bible’ (taking Christianity’s values, but making it religiously neutral for wider application). As a non-believer Tom Holland defends the idea that the West is actually ‘Christian’ – even though he didn’t start his career as an academic historian with this viewpoint. Our cultural concepts of charity and care are Christian. The cultural ideas we have related to education and healthcare even for the poor are too. Christianity ended slavery, founded the women’s rights movement, taught equality, brought honesty and prosperity to our society through its values and worldview, enabled and promoted democratic forms of government, and a lot more! To criticise it is to cut off our own feet. It’s absurd – yet it is happening! Our children and youth need to know this. Otherwise they will fall silent – ashamed ‘of the terrible things that their irrelevant faith has supposedly done in history.’ Unaware that the bet of our cultural values are Christian values.
Finally, our education needs to include teaching the young how to read the news – discerning truth from error. This is because, if a person were to view public media as a balanced source of information, very-tragically we’d have missed my entire point. Despite our success as the Christian community in establishing the freedom of information, and the freedom of the press, for Western societies… times have changed, and public media are now again significantly owned by people with power, and with an agenda. People with intelligence have (literally) bought media companies, and they are influencing who is employed, what news will be told, and also how it will be told.
Editors of publications have always had power. They can influence culture and belief through controlling the flow of information. We are entering an age again where integrity in this privileged role (as ‘editor’ or a journalist) is being lost. Public news media are being used as a means of public control. We are losing the freedom of the press – and with it the freedom of information. We must therefore study matters that are in the media – and then show our young examples of the contradictions that exist, so they can learn how to read not only what is said – but the motives and intent of those who wrote it. This needs doing intentionally!
Everyone has a worldview. What is the worldview of the person who wrote this? What are they saying – and what are they not saying? What is the real issue here?
This is true of our universities too. I know academics from our own nation who have, in confidence, told me that their own freedoms of speech are already gone. Others in academia make sport of undermining the faith of their students – and with the superior knowledge and life experience they have (quite apart from the position of power they have) it’s hard for a student to stand against…
…unless they’ve been educated by someone else first!
I suggest teaching our young people how to think is now a responsibility and role we need to take on in our families, and in our relational communities.
CHAPTER 4 – How much can children understand – really?
Children can understand profound things – but only if their teachers understand those things enough to explain them simply. Making disciples involves becoming an educator!
Recently I watched a video of a child explaining the Easter story. This young boy could hardly speak – yet understood Jesus’ death and its purpose, that it was Jesus’ own choice to die – not anyone elses. Also that he rose to life ‘all by himself’. The identity of Jesus as God’s Son was comprehended. Much more was within the threads of the short video – and this was the understanding of a 3 year old.
We underestimate the ability children have to comprehend things – maybe because we measure their intelligence by their literacy (their reading and writing level) – rather than their philosophy (the ideas and questions they have).
I suggest that the reading and writing levels of children are not the same thing as their intellectual level, or ability to understand things that are theological, scientific or philosophical.
We are grossly underestimating what our children could understand – were we were to teach them!
Educating children on these things, however, needs an approach that is concise, and based in story and discussion, is noted.
In view of some application: What do you think?
While schools can do math and literacy, has the time come for us to be more involved in education regarding values, origins, purpose, charity, truth, morality, philosophy, history and reason?
What would happen if we decided to educate our own children with intelligence again – through our conversations, videos we show them, questions we ask, topics we raise for discussion and then show them different view points on – and more?
I take great encouragement from a ‘reasons for faith’ course I saw being run recently with children aged maybe 8 to 12 on topics like God’s existence, why we believe God’s Word, and more. This is the kind of thing that is needed taking responsibility for education!
A final short story
John Calvin decided illiterate people needed to be taught to read irrespective of their social class or level of wealth or poverty. It was a radical decision – and funny too. The idea of educating even the poor was, at that time, ridiculous in this world!
Calvin realised that, without this ability people could not read the Bible. And why was that important? If they could not to read the Bible for themselves, they could not make a free and informed decision on matters related to faith and religion! This would leave them at the mercy of those who control the public narrative (the government, various religion’s leaders, and the media).
He therefore realised that, only through education, could people be free!
He therefore proposed education for all – with a view to establishing the freedom of religion for all! His idea of educating even the poor took off in the hands of Christians. They travelled abroad to serve people groups who were very different to themselves – and that is why you and I can read, along with a few billion others. (That is also how the majority of the worlds languages ended up in a written form!)
That story gives you the heart of why public education exists. It’s worth remembering – because the moment an education system is run by a Government it is departing from its history, and in danger of becoming a tool for power. The person who controls the narrative, or story (history), writes the future. Education within our culture has been corrupted. I do not know what it will take for it to be restored to reading, writing and arithmetic – without current far-left agendas infused throughout.
I pray for new innovation in education – not in schools, but in homes and churches!
- Let’s love and esteem knowledge!
- Let’s love and esteem thinking!
We do, or do not, do this to our own peril.
2023 update: As an interesting point, I recently became aware of some books by Mark Holman. His research showed regarding faith that – for church family children and youth – what happens at home is 2 to 3 times more significant than any church programme. Details here.
(Obviously for Christians who are not from church-family homes, the same doesn’t apply – to note the importance of all we do in our churches! The point is for Christian families. You are the primary ‘disciple-makers’ of your children!)