Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's

Today I got a flurry of emails with various links to the story found here. I heard a few Christian radio talk show hosts picking up the story as well. On Facebook a link to this story rippled through my friends like the California wildfires.

Apparently President Obama will do a national address to public school students next Tuesday, as many schools open that day. Coinciding with Obama's speech is a suggested lesson plan that includes various classroom activities and projects that seem to include a certain level of indoctrination about the President himself.

Critics are accusing Obama of using schools to sway students toward his ideology. Quite a few conservative groups are calling this a clear case of political and ideological indoctrination through the public school system.

Well of course people!

Schools indoctrinate. That's what they do. Furthermore, public schools are government schools, so they indoctrinate children according to the prevailing government-approved worldview. President Obama has a particular ideology (worldview) and understandably wants more people to share this so he can push his culture-shaping agenda. There is no better place for the president to do such indoctrination (worldview-shaping) than public schools. It makes total sense and should surprise no one. Public schools have been a very effective way to promote a secularistic agenda for decades now.

The majority of American children spend 9000 daytime hours at a school between kindergarten and 8th grade. Wherever students spend these hours they are being indoctrinated. Public schools indoctrinate with various forms of secularism and humanism. Some are better at said indoctrination than others, but all indoctrinate according to some strand of these philosophies. Yes, there are some wonderful Christian teachers in public schools doing their best to reach students for Christ and disturb the "pure" flow of secularism and humanism fed to students, but honest evaluation leaves us to admit only a few students escape government worldview training with a vital faith in Christ to say nothing of leaving with a mature, culture-transforming biblical worldview.

So, before getting our undies in a twist when we read of Caesar planning to indoctrinate his young subjects, realize it's been happening for decades already. Instead of Christian radio stations decrying the lack of freedoms for Christians in public schools, aged Christians lamenting how prayer and the Ten Commandments have been taken out of schools, and well-meaning evangelicals putting up a fuss because junior couldn't use a classroom for a "bible study", let's use our collective energy to get our children out of Caesar's formative clutches and cooperatively get about the task of inculcating a biblical worldview in each covenant child of God.

I have heard it said by quite a few people, so I simply echo their statement- if we give our kids to Caesar for 9000 hours between kindergarten and 8th grade, why are we surprised when they turn out to be Romans?

Mark 12:17 Jesus said to them, “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's, and to God the things that are God's.” And they marveled at him.


Michael Lockridge said...

It has been a while since I looked much at public education. My last examination exposed me to the concept of "values free education." I had to contend with my father on this one. He was a public educator all of his working life. A very good educator.

The falacy of the values free concept is in assuming no value is assigned to a concept simply by electing to teach that concept. The simple inclusion of an idea in the body of education is the expression of a value.

The implied absence of value exists as well. That which is not taught can be construed as lacking in value. Often it is just a matter of the volume of potential content. You simply can't teach everything from every perspective. Not enough time. Not enough resources.

Can the student survive the educational experience and gain essential learning and thinking skills? This, I think, is an essential question.

Unfortunately, Christian schools and home schools frequently fail in this task. Whether or not the failure is more frequent or to a greater degree than in public education I do not know. I doubt it.

The most successful home educators I have know were professional educators before they took on the task of home education. Some others succeed, but a great many fail and don't even realize they are failing.

The combination of options my wife and I applied seemed to work. My children are good people, respected in the community and genuine in their faith. They work hard, carry their own weight, and are faithful to the needs of the extended family. I am very thankful because the results transcended the both of us.

Obama is contemporary and savy. He is not, however, the first brand name to be imprinted on our children through education and media. Many have survived his precursors, and most will survive him.

He also won't be the last.

"May you live in interesting times."


Frontier Forest said...

You are so right! Heard Laura Ingram, filling in for O’Reiley last night and she was appalled about such a “Obama indoctrination” plan. I am just guessing, but I bet those who are screaming the loudest are the same parents who would rather spend money on “things” of this world to make them more comfortable or make them “happy” than investing in the lives of their most precious gift! My question is this… Instead of just griping about what has been going on in the secular public schools for years, why aren’t more Christian families willing to make whatever sacrifice necessary to see their precious ones receive a Christ based education with a Christian World view? This would be 9000 hours of the greatest and most important eternal learning they could ever receive.

M. Jay Bennett said...

Good post Tony. I heartily agree.

Adam said...

Glad you brought this story up. It's sad how there are many people who are passive about issues up until the point it affects them directly.

I laugh to myself when I think of the logic I have heard from people (and continue to hear) when issues like this come up.

These people say, "Well we shouldn't encourage THAT particular opinion in the class room because we don't want to impose certain opinions on students."

---so I ask myself..."is that your opinion?"

We all have idols and opinions that reflect these idols in our lives...let's just make them the correct ones

Acts 17:19-24 ESV

And they took him and brought him to the Areopagus, saying, "May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? For you bring some strange things to our ears. We wish to know therefore what these things mean." Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new. So Paul, standing in the midst of the Areopagus, said: "Men of Athens, I perceive that in every way you are very religious. For as I passed along and observed the objects of your worship, I found also an altar with this inscription, 'To the unknown god.' What therefore you worship as unknown, this I proclaim to you. The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man,

Frontier Forest said...

Roger, I would rather wonder in amazingment at the humanistic statue of ole, lost as a goose Caeser than to listen to that kind of head-banging, freak screaming, loud junk. After all, I love chick flicks too.

Shelly said...

Dear Michael,

I very much agree with your take on the fallacy of 'values free' education. You commented that it was your observation that former professional educators were the most successful homeschoolers. Interestingly, a new study of ~12,000 home educated students is out and shows that standardized test scores were consistently about 30 points above the national public school average, and there was no difference between students of certified teacher parents versus non-certified.

Of the various criticisms of homeschooling, I think the academic deficiency argument is the weakest, as the data just do not support it. However, you asked, "Can the student survive the educational experience and gain essential learning and thinking skills?" If by that you're talking more about logic and research skills versus academic test score achievement, I'd be surprised if this has been quantified in a standardized fashion and compared between public, private, and home education.

For us, though, the greatest goal is not producing academic superstars but rather intensively discipling our children during their formative years in a Christian worldview. I'm not sure how we could effectively accomplish this in an hour or so at night and on weekends if our kids were at public school.

Reepicheep said...

"For us, though, the greatest goal is not producing academic superstars but rather intensively discipling our children during their formative years in a Christian worldview."

Right on Shelly.

Brother Titus said...

Using that Bible verse in the context of Obama's end-around to indoctrinate school children allowed me to think of the verse in a whole new way. "Give unto Caesar what is Caesar's...." But, our children aren't Ceasar's to do with what he wishes. Our children are God's, on loan to us to, "bring up in the training and admonition of the Lord," as stewards of what He owns and has all rights to.