Thursday, June 4, 2009

Leigh's Thesis: Chapter 1 (3)


As our secular culture has become increasingly entertainment-driven, to the point that literacy is no longer required, our school systems have become confused in their purpose and are no longer developing literate students. According to Peter Drucker in Post-Capitalist Society, institutional schools fail because they are being asked to socialize rather than to teach.(1)

Family, church, and communities are designed for socializing. Schools should not be expected to replace the family or the church.

Columnist Charles Davenport, Jr. summarized the core values in the 2007 Guilford County, N.C. school budget report as “diversity, empathy, equality, innovativeness, and integrity” instead of reading, writing, and arithmetic.(2)

As Linda Cannell, professor at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, said in a discussion with a Doctorate of Ministry class on global church-based theological education, “Schools are our most educationally impoverished institutions.”(3)

Parents of elite private school students may conclude that my thesis does not apply to their children. My response is that their standards of literacy are too low. For example, read the following paragraph from Thomas Paine’s Common Sense:
Thus necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessings of which would supersede, and render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but Heaven is impregnable to vice, it will unavoidably happen that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax in their duty and attachment to each other: and this remissness will point out the necessity of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral virtue.(4)
This pamphlet was written to be readable for the average twelve-year-old in Colonial America, since they were comparable in responsibility to today’s college student. An interesting aside is that over half the people who purchased Thomas Paine’s Common Sense were either indentured servants or African slaves.(5) Few modern adults, let alone a sixth grader, can read this document well enough to explain its arguments and conclusions.

Parents need to recognize that our current literacy standards are just too low.

Before the 1900s, American teenagers taught children of all ages in one-room school houses (after their parents had taught them to read) and 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 America’s historic proficient literacy rate of over 90 percent by using just a piece of chalk and a slate.

To recover a literate culture, Christian leaders need to give families the tools to teach an image-based culture to think about an abstract God.

(1) Peter F. Drucker, Post-Capitalist Society (New York: Harper Business, 1994).
(2) Charles Davenport, Jr., The Greensboro News-Record, 2007.
(3) Linda Cannell, Ed.D., “Global Church-based Theological Education,” (Boston: Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, 10 March 2006).
(4) Thomas Paine, Common Sense, 1776, (accessed 4 June 2008).
(5) John Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Public Schooling (Gabriola Island, B.C., Canada: New Society Publishers, 1992), 13.

Copyright © 2009 by Leigh A. Bortins. All Rights Reserved

1 comment:

Jennifer Nevarr said...

We're reading Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm at night together, I'm just amazed at the language, the vocabulary, the sentenece structure. (Rather like reading Anne of Green Gables"!)I have to keep a dictionary handy because I usually run into at least one word that I don't understand in each chapter of this children's book. (Well, I Think it was written for children....) I love the part where 11 year old Rebecca is reciting her grammar lesson for her teacher who asks her to conjugate the verb "to be", potential mood, past perfect tense." And she does. Amazing. I couldn't do that. Although, thanks to Essentials, my 10 year old can give me the past perfect tense =)