Friday, June 13, 2008

Time to take responsibility

In his post on June 12, education commentator Sherman Dorn weighed in on current discussions about who is responsible for the state of American education. Dorn says the fundamental questions are: What is the role of education in society? And who is responsible for the success or failure of education?

The same questions are fresh on the minds of education writers Steve Diamond, Andrew Rotherham, Alexander Russo, and others. Similarly, the voting public is beginning to press for candidate positions on education.

America seems to recognize that education reform is needed, but they’re not sure how to go about it. Dorn says on 12 June that “both families and schools are responsible for academic achievement.” Liz Willen and Richard Lee Colvin wrote on June 9, 11, and 13 about public pre-K education as a possible solution.

Moving the starting point of public education earlier and earlier places an increasingly heavy emphasis on the school system, rather than on the parents. As Christian educators, we should recognize that there is something wrong with this philosophy.

One reason why America’s government schools are no longer educating our children is because everyone is confused about the true nature of education and who bears the ultimate responsibility for entertainment-driven, modern educational techniques.

According to Peter Drucker in Post-Capitalist Society, institutional schools fail because they are being asked to do two tasks they cannot do: (1) Strengthen weaknesses rather than identify and strengthen gifts, and (2) Socialize rather than teach.

Family, church, and communities are designed for socializing. Schools should not be expected to replace the family or the church. The ideal role of families in teaching and mentoring is a command and a promise in Scripture.

Abraham’s faithful instruction to his family is reflected in the elderly Joseph’s ability to say, “God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob” (Genesis 50:24).

Joseph learned this from His family, not Potiphar’s Preschool or Pharaoh’s Academy. Daniel was influential in Babylon because of the character his parents had instilled.

Deuteronomy 6:7-9 specifies that parents must constantly, consistently, and contextually bear the responsibility for educating their children. The home was the central place of instruction.

Proverbs 22:6 instructs parents to “Train up a child in the way they should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.” The way they should go is described as growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).

We, with the help of the church, are required to do the time-consuming, diligent work of discipling our children, so they can learn to wage war through prayer and confront in strength arguments that try to destroy their ability to take every thought captive to Christ.

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