Wednesday, January 24, 2007

The Problem with Christian Schools

Though my collegiate and graduate education (with exception of 2 quarters of grad study at the U. of Oregon) was in a Christian environment, I'm a believer in public education. Though my wife teaches at a Catholic school, our son has spent his entire educational career in public school and is not the worse for wear because of it. At a time when our public schools in Santa Barbara are dealing with declining enrollment (it costs too much to live here) there comes word of a new Christian high school (supported in part I hear by supermodel Kathy Ireland). In the article from the local paper it was said that one of the benefits was that boys and girls wouldn't be showing any public display of affection and "both sides" of evolution would be taught.

Now if you believe that Christian high schoolers don't show a bit of pda then you've never been a youth minister or been a counselor at a Christian camp. There's a reason why counselors have to beat the bushes at night. Christian boys and girls like to kiss and hug and ... (have you read the Song of Songs lately?). While I laughed at this, I'm more concerned about the way science is taught. Teaching creationism or even Intelligent Design isn't teaching the other side of evolution. Now, as a Christian preacher, I believe in God the Creator, but that isn't science, that's theology. Teaching what evolutionists say and then what the Bible says isn't good science. What they'll hear, I guess, is that this evolutionists say we've evolved from lower animals but the Bible says. Now as good Christians, we know what the truth is! Balderdash!!!!

I'm reading at this moment, and I'll comment later in more depth, Randy Balmer's Thy Kingdom Come (Basic Books, 1976). Balmer takes up both of these issues -- "Christian education" and creationism. He makes the point of the necessity of public education, which broadens our children's experiences and insights. Balmer points out the possible deleterious effects of this movement out of public education on American society:

For nearly two hundred years, public education has provided a laboratory for democracy. Common schools, beginning in the nineteenth century, took as their task the education of the public and the creation of an informed and responsible citizenry. Although public education has never fulfilled every ideal, schools have been a powerful engine for social change. They have provided a venue of common ground for students of different religious,ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds, a place where they might learn from their differences, celebrate their similarities, and find a way to live with one another in at least a measure of comity. In short, they learn the rudiments of democracy.

Public school may not be perfect, but my own son has experienced life as it really is and has forged friendships with people from across the ethnic and socio-economic spectrum. That is good, in my mind. And, as Christians, we are called to be salt and light, aren't we? Besides, let's let our kids learn real science!

1 comment:

DaNutz said...

I agree. I feel that creation and evolution are NOT 2 sides of the same coin. Teaching creation in schools as an opposition to evolution paints the picture that the bible is in opposition to science.

If schools are going to be in the business of teaching how to interpret the bible by discussing a literal interpretaion of the bible as an option for reading it, then they should also teach a non-literal approach to interpreting scripture. This is outside the discussion of evolution as a creative mechanism. Otherwise people get the impression that there is only one option when it comes to interpretation of scripture and you must accept it as literal divine inspiration or reject as meaningless. Thank God there is another option!

The other problem with adding a creationism view to school is the question of which creation story will they tell? There are as many different creation stories as there are cultures through the history of mankind.