As a result of discussion on this
post, I have decided to post on neutrality. There was some discussion on what neutrality was. So I want to consider whether an education void of ‘gods’ would be neutral.
So what do we mean when we say that secular education is not neutral? We are speaking of neutrality in the spiritual realm. For the Christian, this should be immediately clear. There is no neutrality for the Christian. If something is for God, it is not neutral. If something is for another 'god', it is anti our God.
But one of you will say "But they don't teach from any religious perspective in state schools.” But this statement reveals a certain naivety about the nature of the state education. Of course they teach from a religious perspective in a state school! It's just that out government has for years denied the religious nature of this particular set of ideas about the way the world is. Secular humanism is the worldview which our secular schools have underlying the assumptions of the curriculum, and most of the lives of the teachers in their schools.
What is secular humanism, but a set of religious ideas about the way the world is, and how man should function in this world? Sure secular humanism does not have a conventional super 'God' like the Muslims, or Christians, but it has replaced this religious idea of God, with the idea that man himself is god. Man is the constructor of truth. Man creates his own destiny. So, even secular education, which some regard as a neutral education which doesn’t come from any particular religious perspective, is highly religious. If you don’t grasp this point, you have failed to see where the battle is at, and the devil has already a mighty foothold in the battle for minds.
This is where many Christians have failed to fight the battle. They have swallowed the lie that if we take Allah, Jehovah, Christ, and every other mainstream religious figure and their teachings out of the curriculum we will have neutrality. This is the lie the government would have us believe, the lie we must refuse to believe. To take God out of education is to take up a religious position. It is to say that he does not need to have anything to do with education, and that education is outside the realm of practical Christianity.
Why is this a problem? Well, we know that God is the author of truth, and it is through Christ that we too can know the truth. So if we take him away from our education, we will not understand the world correctly. God is in maths, God is in history, God is in science, God is in language. Take God out of education, and you take away the God who created these things, and you will understand them incorrectly, and out of their true context.
In practical terms how is secular education not neutral. Let me give you a few examples.
A secular school will teach that men and women do not have distinct roles. It will teach that women just like men should pursue a career, and that motherhood is not an important role, and can and should be passed onto ‘experts’ in day-care. Women cannot feel totally fulfilled when they ‘don’t get a proper job’. However as bible believing Christians, we understand that woman was created as a helper to man. Furthermore we believe in the importance of the mother being a caregiver to children. Indeed I should perhaps not imply all Christians believe this, because again secular thinking has crept into the church on this matter of roles; which is again another proof of the dangers of secular education for those who are not ready for it.
Furthermore, a secular school teaches that there is nothing wrong with sex outside of marriage, ‘as long as it’s safe sex’. Homosexuality is promoted along side more traditional idea as a valid option. The most important thing in the equation is that the child must decide what is right for them. And all this is promoted in a context which actively promotes the idea that sex is not a big thing. Christian truth however tells us that sex is a very special thing, and is God’s gift to those who are married.
Learning to read provides an excellent example of how secular education will clash with Christian truth. In secular schools the widespread, and as I understand it now universal practise of a whole language approach, or ‘look-say’ method is used. In this method the child is encouraged to guess words they don’t know. The pictures on the page provide hints on what the correct word might be.
This particular example hit close to home for me. When I first began school, my parents sent me to the local primary school. It was as they say a ‘good’ school. I failed to learn to read. I was seven when my mum had finally had enough, and she decided to teach me to read herself. So my mother tried teaching me by a method known as phonics. The child is taught different sounds that the various letter combinations make, and uses this knowledge when they come across a word they are unsure of. Not long afterwards I could read.
Why do I bring this point up? Merely to show that what people believe will effect how they teach. When there is no God, why should we assume there is any right way of structuring learning? Should not the child make truth for himself? But for the Christian we believe there is order. These competing ideas are evident in the two different approaches to reading.
Spelling is another example of where secular schools are not neutral. What were we taught at school about spelling? It doesn’t matter how you spell words even in your English essays as long as the person marking it can understand what you are saying. In a Christian school however, a child learns phonetically to read, and thus can usually spell reasonably well. But spelling is considered and important part of writing, and is marked. In the secular school, the child makes his own truth, in the Christian school, there is an absolute standard.
And finally there is the area of post modernism. In a state school, much of the curriculum will show a kind of relativism. What is true for one person or social group may not be true for another. People must construct truth for themselves, and they must be tolerant of other’s truths. The Christian school however will teach that there is absolute truth. We may not know for sure what that actually is, but it exists nevertheless. But this postmodernism has crept into the church also. We are urged not to worry too much about doctrinal issues which divide. We shouldn’t debate doctrine or issues, because this is assuming that certain beliefs can be true apart from our own individual experience.
These are just a few ideas of where the battle for minds is at in a secular school. They are not exhaustive. What we need to realise is the secular humanist (religious) worldview pervades the whole curriculum of a state school, and it takes a well equipped and trained adolescent to deal with this.