For the past one hundred years, modern progressive education has been selling this line: education can be completely neutral. This means that a Christian, an atheist, a Muslim, and a Buddhist student can all come to the government school and get a “just the facts” education. The teacher will teach them that 2 2=4 and when they go home their parents can add all the religious or non-religious things they want. But at the government schools, everything is neutral. If we followed this logic out then we would assume that the education received by each one of these students should have no impact upon their worldview or adherence to their religion, right? If the government can offer a truly neutral education then a Christian student should enter as a Christian and leave as a Christian, right?
A Bill of Goods
Letting that thought experiment ruminate for only a few moments in our brain will allow all the falsehoods seep out. Of course it isn’t the case that the government school offers a truly neutral, education for all, mission statement. From the very beginning of its inception, progressive education has had a very non-neutral mission: to shape the hearts and minds of students toward a materialist, atheistic, and romantic worldview.
Let’s break that down. Materialist in that all that exists in this universe is matter and the student is nothing but chemicals which act a certain way under this temperature and pressure. Atheistic in that God does not exist and has no bearing on the cosmos or the history of humanity in any way. And romantic in the vein of Jean-Jacques Rousseau where rights, meaning, and identity come from the group and not from the individual. Many of the social “isms,” communism, fascism, socialism, and progressivism, find their root in his soil.
Of course I am using a broad brush to paint with, but the varying strength of these ingredients can be found throughout our nation’s government schools. There will be differences between the cutting edge progressive school in the city verses the sleepy conservative malaise of the small farm town. Nevertheless, the stream of all government schools still flows back to authority of the state. The state has a deep interested in the shaping of the children in its schools. It does not believe that education is neutral.
Not Hiding Anymore
There has long been an attempt to hid the fact that government schools were not neutral. Common values, even Christian values we were told, still had a part to play. But as the decades passed, the catechisms were taken away. Prayer was banished. Evolution was installed as the creation story. Materialism become the good news. Slowly but surely Christians seceded more and more territory. Within the last ten years, the progressive educational agenda having eroded the understanding of biblical education, felt bold enough to no longer hide behind the lie. Teachers today are fired for praying with their students after a football game. Teachers are fired if they refuse to call a girl a boy and a boy a girl. Teachers are fired if they don’t bend the knee to Caesar and fall inline with the progressive movement. Shocker, government schools are not neutral.
If we were paying attention we ought not to be surprised by this. This was exactly as the progressive author’s intended. Following the blueprint of the Prussian model of pragmatic education, John Dewey and Horace Mann both desired a more secular and state-run educational system. Both of these men were massive influences in the establishment of the progressive educational mission. Dewey was deeply influenced by collectivism and secularism (see Rousseau and materialism above) and saw progressive education as a new means of tearing down the edifice of traditional education, that backwards and superstitious burden. Mann, saw education as the new gospel that would save a modern world. The more educated man became the more equal the world would become. His very famous quote makes this plain, “Education, then, beyond all other devices of human origin, is the great equalizer of the conditions of men, — the balance wheel of the social machinery.” C. S. Lewis might respond, “Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil.” Suffice it to say, Dewey and Mann did not see education as neutral but as the foundation of modern progressive indoctrination for our brave new world.
By God’s Design, Education is not Neutral
Dewey and Mann, while gazing into their utopian visions of the future, forgot or put out of mind what had brought them to this place. A place of democracy and liberty. A place with rights for individuals and property. A place with a rich heritage of the true, the beautiful, and good. Western Civilization was not constructed by the pragmatists or the progressives but by tradition that was shaped by the Christian worldview.
Education from its inception by the Creator has never been a neutral thing.
Deuteronomy 6:4–9 (ESV): 4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Ephesians 6:4 (ESV): 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Not only that, but God has given the authority to educate children not to the state, but to the family. To be even more specific, this responsibility falls on the shoulders of fathers. Fathers are to shape the hearts and minds of their children to love the Lord and to love their neighbor.
For modern American Christians, because we believe the lie that education is neutral and that the state has the authority to educate, we have committed the sin of abdication. We are content to send our children to a place that desires to shape them to rebel against the God who made them. We soothe ourselves that going to church, youth group, and doing devotions at night will be enough to counteract the effects of government cultural indoctrination. We lie to ourselves that it is good for our children who are unequipped, foolish, and malleable to go into the teeth of the secular machine as “missionaries.”
We have failed to see God’s purpose in the education of children and we have rendered unto Caesar that which is God’s. Our children, unlike the Roman coin Jesus held up, have the image of God and not the image of the state.
Christians sending your children to the government schools: education isn’t neutral. If you believe that, you are the only group who does.