One of the prime considerations of education must be the content taught to children. There are a number of areas of concern for Christian parents interested in ensuring quality content in their children’s education. The first is the goal of the educators, and the second is the content of the educators. We will deal with the goal of the educators first.
Clearly, the goals of educators may not be the same as the goals we have seen that scripture has for education. The goal of the educator determines what the priorities of education are as well as the content they will teach. Therefore, we need to consider the goals of the educators and the authors of the curriculum carefully. Because curriculum goals are often based on someone else’s ideal, the ideal must be understood and examined.
By way of example, let us consider the educational goals of the California state curriculum briefly (I encourage you to look through the curriculum of your local education department. In one of the introductory paragraphs of the California History-Social Science Curriculum Framework we read:
“As educators in the field of history–social science, we want our students to perceive the complexity of social, economic, and political problems. We want them to have the ability to differentiate between what is important and what is unimportant.[i]”
What does the state regard as important? Is that the right question? More importantly, what does the word of God regard as important and unimportant? As we will see, the state regards it most important that our children are good citizens. But, what does this mean? Government regards all as equals, that a democratic government is a great privilege, and that individuals can work for change in our society. These things may be good and well, but our children need to know not what the government or society, or even their parents think is important, but what God says is important. There are priorities that supersede and even determine whether we are a good citizen, such as love for God and neighbor. However, we must understand and teach our children that different types of government are just one means by which God accomplishes His purpose here on earth at a given point in redemptive history.
If we consider God’s priorities and the public education agenda, we see there is a large area where there is no overlap. If this is the case, perhaps there are many things in the public school system, and perhaps even certain Christian schools that are not as important as they are made out to be and there are numerous things left out of formal schooling that the Lord says is important and should be taught to children. As parents, we need to be mindful of the priorities of formal education and how these priorities overlap with the Lord’s view of the world and history.
[i] California Department of Education Curriculum Framework, Introduction to the framework, Retrieved October 18, 2011, http://www.cde.ca.gov/ci/hs/cf/documents/