Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The situation in education

According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress and a report funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, To Read or Not to Read, in 2005, only 15% of U.S. adults were proficient readers.

30% of our 17 year olds were proficient readers. The loss with age is due to the fact that most adults never purchase a book, and few actually read a book after formal education is concluded. Therefore, they lose what proficiency they gained in school.

Many parents have responded to the current malaise in public education by successfully home schooling their children. In the early 1980s, state legislatures began to create educational policies to allow these families to comply with compulsory education laws and college entrance requirements.

The families who pioneered home-centered learning were very committed to academic excellence and had much early success winning scholarships to selective universities. Now, less-committed families have joined the movement with the potential of watering down the excellent results.

The rise of home-centered education has shown that there are many parents who are eager to train their children in a Christian worldview through academics, but they need training and accessible tools.Instead of repeating the mantra, “Parents are children’s best and first teachers,” and then telling them to send their children to someone else to educate, Christian leaders should be providing educational options that support the Biblical truth that parents are indeed their children’s most effective teachers.

For most of American history, teenagers taught children of all ages in one-room school houses, after parents had taught their children to read. They raised the most literate culture ever seen on the face of the earth. They used very inexpensive and highly effective techniques. The twenty-first century has its own issues, but good learning techniques never change. We should be able to recover our historic literacy rate using just a piece of chalk and a slate.

All of our modern conveniences have cost an enormous amount of money and have resulted in a less than 40% proficient literacy rate among today’s Americans in any demographic group. We are no longer a literate culture, and we need to provide Christian leaders with the tools needed to teach a culture based on concrete images to think about an abstract God.

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