What is the Purpose of Education?
Church and school, faith and education, should remain completely separate according to secularists today, including those self-describing as "conservative". Schools are for the training of the mind, not promoting any sort of religion, since we have a separation of Church and State. Is it true that education and faith are separate issues? What is the Christian view of the purpose of school/education?
At the outset we must say this is not the ideal of any orthodox Christian denomination. The church can, and has, contributed great deal in the matter of religious teaching outside the public school; but what if their influence is counteracted by that of the school curriculum, which is decidedly Leftist and anti-Christian in the West today? In the Christian perspective, a school is a necessary adjunct of the church. The sovereign importance of religion and the difficulties attending religious training in our age make it imperative that religion should permeate the whole life of the child, and that this be the case while his/her intellectual powers are unfolding. In this way they can be constantly kept under the directive influence of spiritual morals and ethics, without which a school mostly produces people incapable of successfully navigating our world, criminals, narcissists, and future Leftist revolutionaries. It is a very myopic conception of school that confines its scope to the training of the intellect. And let's be honest: though those in control of the school systems of the various Western nations claim that is the sole purpose, the products they churn out, evidenced in the radicalization of youth, proves the contention an outright lie. The fact is formation of character is much more involved than the Left would have us believe, and this is so because it is part of the scope of education. Yet character supposes a grasp of right motives and a holding to right standards of action. Now there is no morally correct behavior which is not ultimately rooted in religion, for religion alone—be it natural or supernatural—can teach the truths which are the basis of all right conduct. Eliminate religion, with its eternal truths relating to the Divine Lawgiver and His unchangeable laws, and morality becomes a matter of convention or of expediency. It stands upon a false and shifting basis, and will be powerless against the inroads of the evils that now menace Western culture. A formation of character based on religious training must, therefore, go hand in hand with the training of the intellect. If school life were simply neutral in its effect on character, the case in favor of religion as a component of education might lose something of its strength; but the moral influence of school life is anything but neutral. Contact with so many minds and with so many ideas must exert a positive influence on a student's character. The books read, the example of teachers, professors, and fellow students, the practical maxims embodied in the conduct of so many, the teaching methods with their incentives and sanctions, the conversations held in hours of relaxation, the friendships formed; none of these things can be without their influence on a student's character; and as all these phases of school life have important moral bearings, it is necessary that religion be present as a faithful guide during this time of discovery. Religious training must, then, be combined with secular instruction. How are they combined?
The ideal way of combining them is seen in many private Christian schools and home-school programs today. In these schools religion is not merely taught in the abstract or in theory, but is, at the same time, in many practical ways inculcated. In the first place, there is frequent instruction in the principles of the faith, in which the student is made familiar with an order of ideas far transcending all others, both in interest and in importance, and in which the specific duties of life are impressed indelibly on the conscience. At the same time the actual practice of religion is in many ways fostered. Successive periods of school work during the day are begun and ended by prayer. Being shown by example the importance of prayer, the student isn't likely to regard prayer as an interruption later in life. Reminders of the unseen realm, and of grace and holiness are all around them in their teachers' style of dress, conduct, and speech. Good moral conduct, or the observance of God's law, is the fruit of faith, not secularist ideals; and this the private Christian school affords many an opportunity of promoting. In schools of this type an appeal can be made to religious motives, whereas in public schools of today, such appeals would be considered out of place and indeed offensive. Teachers in public schools dare not invoke the name of God, nor of our Savior, for fear of reprimand or worse.
On the other hand, to appeal to a student as a Christian and to remind them of their duties as a Christian is not outside a Christian teacher's province. For a teacher to cooperate with a student's parents in removing evil from his path and stimulating his good habits, to proffer a timely word of advice, to encourage acts of self-denial, to warn students of the pitfalls which pride or sensuality may be preparing for them on the road of life; these and similar services to students the Christian teacher regards as within the compass of their essential duties. A zealous teacher in almost any school will find opportunities of enforcing a moral precept in the course of the daily recitations and readings, but in the Christian school they can do so without any restriction; and illustrations may be drawn not only from secular history but also from Sacred Scripture. We call this the ideal system because it brings the whole school life of the student into relation with faith. It is thus the natural complement of the home life in a typical Christian household, where religion is paramount and all-pervading and where human conduct is continually viewed in the light of God's presence and God's law. The basis of the system is the principle that with the growth of the body and mind, faith should grow in the heart, and that from the dawn of reason the sense of moral obligation should begin to establish itself in the student's life. Thus religion and a sense of duty become a second nature in the student.
Christian Education Attacked
This approach has, of course, been attacked by Leftists who control much of the agenda in the West today. It has been asserted that such a system of training doesn't do justice to the secular education of the pupil, that the non-religious studies continually suffer from the intrusion of religion. The objection is not based on a knowledge of facts, but on some arbitrary notion of the actual working of the system. Additionally, it is also being asserted that, because Christianity discriminates against the LGBTQ community, that there is a legal case to be made for removing the accreditation of Christian schools. We can't argue with the fact that the Christian approach to education certainly militates against the principles of Leftist social justice. Christians have clear conceptions of duty and morality, which stand out in bold contrast with the shifting notions of non-Christians. Among Christians the supernatural is more habitually and more intensely realized. Their consciences are more frequently and more effectually brought to the touchstone of divine law, and the necessity of repentance for sin is more intimately brought home to them. The distinctive Christian doctrine of the soul's dependence on grace is one of the great vitalizing beliefs of the Church. By contrast, an immensely large part of the population of Western Europe and the U.S. is composed of Relativists, Atheists, Agnostics, and Syncretists. The vast majority have no connection with any religious denomination. Add to this that we are a commercial and technological people; and a people of that description in which religion is fast waning will inevitably lose its hold on the principles of common honesty and decency. The actual fact is evidenced by every news broadcast today. A population that is rapidly drifting away from religion and is seized by Socialism and Relativism fills our public schools with children who learn nothing more than the political propaganda of the Left. It is not surprising, then, that the minds of so many college students are imbued with a worldly, selfish, anti-Christian, and materialistic spirit. What is still worse, owing to the absence of religious influence in the life of the average child, sexual experimentation meets with little or no check, and vice is sown in the soul even before the dawn of reason. Outside the Gospel of Jesus Christ there is no influence that can penetrate to the inner recesses of the soul and heal the disorder at its source. The atmosphere of Christianity is rife with influences tending to foster a love of purity. The examples of truly Christian fathers and mothers whose lives bear the imprint of the grace received in the sacrament of Matrimony, the modesty and reserve which is one of the fairest fruits of Christian training, the examples of the lives of the Apostles and other saintly men and women; these and many other features of Christian life tend to preserve the ideal of Christian purity in young hearts. And even when the young don't for a time respond to the inspiration of their surroundings, the influence of that ideal isn't wholly destroyed. Contrast all this to the average results of non-Christian training, and what a difference between the products of a Christian school and that of the schools operated by the State. No one who has any grasp of the principles we have been setting forth or who realizes the state of things we have been describing can be surprised at the uncompromising attitude of discerning Christians toward schools and school-systems from which religion is excluded. We don't deny the right of the State to open its own schools, but State schools of the type prevailing in the United States, whatever may be their merits in other respects, are not suitable places for the education of Christian children.
Exercise Parental Conscience
Christians should not only look with disfavor upon such schools but positively refuse to send their children to them. There may be reasons in particular cases for allowing Christian children to attend them, but the value of those reasons is to be estimated not by parents alone but also by their pastors. The choice of schools for children is one in which the consciences of parents are intimately concerned. In an age when the rearing of children is beset with so many difficulties, the courting of new difficulties is hardly less than sinful, especially when the most vital interests of the child are endangered. Parents can't afford to take any chances with the faith and morals of their children in an age when temptation is so rife, when the world is so truly insane, and when the broad road leading to perdition is well tread. They should do for their children now what they will wish they had done when the results of their children's training under Leftist ideologues is made manifest. This is even more the case in the colleges. The peril to faith and morals is even greater in non-Christian colleges than in the elementary public schools, especially when the students are entirely removed during nine or ten months of the year from the influences of church and home. If the history of Christian students in non-Christian colleges in the U.S. were fully and truthfully written it would demonstrate the disastrous results to faith; and even where it didn't record such sad disasters it would reveal many a poisoned mind, infected with the dogmas of Socialism, Relativism, and Social Justice. These students will one day constitute the majority of the adult population. Do you think the things you hold dear now-freedom, faith, and family- will be safe from such adults who have been brainwashed by Leftist propagandists? My wager is no.