Calling Smart Christians 2 ~ BitterSweetLife

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Calling Smart Christians 2

Yesterday I sent up a little post about Christians pursuing education, which provoked some strongly-felt commentary. Rather than add my own comment to the tail of the other comments, I’m publishing my comment as a new post, so that it will gain more exposure, and thus more weight, than the comment you left. Just kidding. Sort of.

But about the education question. I like to think, however vainly, that my situation is slightly unique:

  1. I was home-schooled. [ka-boom]
  2. My parents are brilliant, professorial types (not your typical cross-eyed backwoodsman shack-schoolers who walk with a lurching motion, tobacco and KJ Bible stuffed firmly in their jeans pockets).
  3. I got my BA via an assortment of secular colleges.
  4. Now I’m at seminary.
  5. And I substitute teach at our local high schools.

The educational view from where I stand is…interesting. Here are a few propositions for your consideration.

  1. Education, as suggested by Michael Spencer, is good, because God made this world and thought it was good, and it’s therefore good to know things about this good world. (Note my positive tone here.)
  2. However, education is not a value-neutral proposition. It takes place somewhere and via methods. Therefore we’re discussing not only the quality and breadth of knowledge available, but the context in which this knowledge is imbibed by voracious students hungry to learn. (Heh heh.)
  3. Therefore, I find it a little shortsighted to say, flat out: “secular education is better” or “home schooling is better.” Other issues need to be put on the table.
  4. I.e., some parents are awful teachers and some kids are horrible learners. Some teachers are pitifully ineffective and some learning environments facilitate anything but. Each context has innate weaknesses.
  5. Moreover, as Christians, the glory of Christ and the furtherance of the gospel can’t be divorced from the question of education. Questions of quality and locality need to be sized up within this matrix.

I’m not trying to outline a philosophy of education here, or even say what “I think” people should do. I’m merely pointing out that the question of where/how to get smart is nuanced, not a no-brainer. If someone wants to learn, he/she will. (Ultimately, learning has always been more a question of exertion than location.)

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Will Robison said...

Whoah. This is a dangerous topic. Maybe we should add education to politics and religion as things that shouldn't be discussed in mixed company. ;)

I am a product of a public school education. I've had good teachers and bad teachers. I've tried hard and I've been bored out of my mind. I've had serious education challenges and years where I didn't do anything at all. I don't blame the schools. I don't blame the teachers. Ultimately, the only person who is responsible for an education is you. If you want to learn, you will learn - no matter what the situation.

I'm no longer against Home Schooling - though it can be insular. I've seen it used succesfully as well as poorly.

I went to a liberal college with a very strong Christian presence. I found that most Christian students that were in the bubble were uninterested in the education they were receiving because they could not perceive its value. They weren't interested in thinking on their own, but in having others think for them. Alas, I'm afraid this is something that is universal and as old as time. Many, many people would rather have someone tell them what to do than figure it out for themselves.

I could go on about this topic for days. But I'll stop here. Anyone who fails to see a need for an education because all they need is a Bible forgets that even Jesus valued an education, running away from His parents to learn at the feet of temple scholars. Now you know the answer to the WWJD question.

R. Sherman said...

I just spent 20 minutes on a comment which is obviously too long. I've been hinding a draft education post on a Blogger server for a while. Maybe I need to post it. Nevertheless:

# I got my BA via an assortment of secular colleges.

Is KU considered postsecondary now? And was the seminary aware of your attendance there, when it admitted you?



Ariel said...

Is KU considered postsecondary now? And was the seminary aware of your attendance there, when it admitted you?

Back, you smackster! I can always tell when it's basketball season, because Sherman starts creatively working smack talk into various non-hoops topics. Wait a minute. The season hasn't started yet, has it? I guess he just does that all the time. Aidan, who is sitting here with me, says the latest jab was "amateurish."


Seems to be today's buzzword regarding home schooling folks. If I were to build a stereotype, ad hominem style, in defense of my home schoolin' brethren, maybe I would found it on the adjective "vapid...

Just an idea, to add more fun & excitement to this discussion thread.

Verashni said...

“I find it a little short-sighted to say, flat out: “secular education is better” or “home schooling is better.” Other issues need to be put on the table.” Of course, you're right. Sorry if my comment seemed to intimate that... I couldn't get into a more nuanced explanation of my views, hence the simplifications. I think we're all struggling with brevity on this topic... it's quite a bag of worms! But ultimately I think I agree with the general sentiment emerging here- if someone wants to learn, he/she will. Also there is no blanket rule in this area... God is able to use whatever is at our disposal to mould us into exactly who he wants us to be. The challenge is to step into that destiny. Whether you had your initial schooling in the horrors of the Apartheid government (not great as a brown person, I'll tell you) or whether you have access to education's finest. It seems personal responsibility ultimately holds sway. But even as I type that I am reluctant to acquiesce so easily. I spent my morning today volunteering at schools in the townships (very poor areas in S.A.) Those kinds of conditions put paid to any kind of hair-splitting of secular versus home-schooling. Both are extremely privileged situations that anyone could excel in, if they chose to.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you on all of this. Especially, "the glory of Christ and the furtherance of the gospel can’t be divorced from the question of education." The result of intense academic education can be seeing and savoring the savior.

I also concur with your reaction to "home-school" caricatures. I've definitely had a few thrown my way. All though home skewling may have effected mai sew shell skills and my ability two spell prop early. Eye all so probably blog bee cause I can tent enter act with reel people. Ewe bee the judge.

R. Sherman said...

AJ, I am indeed mindful of the adage, "He who lives by smack, dies by smack."

BTW, it's always basketball season.


Esther said...

I've had a lovely mix of homeschool, public school, private school, in both French and English. I think I'm turning out okay. I'm not too socially challenged.

I agree with Ariel that quality of education can't be judged on the surface, you need to look at the context.

Jamie said...

I was homeschooled through high school and am now a senior at a state university. It's true that there are homeschooling families who do a poor job, and I wouldn't recommend it for everyone. However, I think the preparation I had from homeschooling was one of the only things that has allowed me to get through college without losing my head (and my faith).

Secondly, it is true that homeschoolers and students at private Christian colleges tend to be a little insular in their thinking. But is that less true of everyone else? Most of the people I know in college who went to public school are not any more broad in their thinking; they are insulated in their own way. They might be from majority culture, but that doesn't necessarily mean there isn't a bubble.

Perhaps, then, the tendency to "group think" affects everyone, and not just those from a particular educational background.

gymbrall said...

One thing that I think is worth remembering is this. God places some fairly stringent requirements on parent's regarding the content, time, and methods whereby they teach their children and even placing them in a school taught by angels would not remove those requirements. I am by no means stating that parent's must home school, but it has become easy (at least it has for me) to ignore Scriptural demands and instead, attempt to satisfy God through something other than obedience.


Culture. Photos. Life's nagging questions. - BitterSweetLife