Christian Education: History  

Friday, January 11, 2008


Last night I was having a discussion about the type of textbooks I used in the Christian school I attended. I remembered very distinctly the textbook publisher because everyone always raved about how good the books were and how the material was so much more advanced than public school textbooks. By that I don't mean the latest technology, but that people in my school believed that we were learning a few grade levels above the average public school student.

Now there are some subjects that I don't remember being particularly egregious, like math and grammar, but science was mostly memorization (perhaps that's common in middle school) and history was most likely skewed to a particular viewpoint. But let's just take a look at what the textbooks claim to teach children today.

The publisher is A Becka Book and on their Distinctives page they break everything down into different subjects. Let's just take those subjects one at a time starting with History.

Students need a realistic view of history, government, geography, and economics based upon the foundational truths of the Scriptures.

Ever since H. G. Wells published his Outline of History in 1920, the theme of world history texts has been man's supposed progress from savagery toward socialism, from tribal religions toward one-world government. American history is usually presented as a series of conflicts-rich vs. poor, black vs. white, North vs. South, labor vs. management, male vs. female, etc.
I wasn't familiar with H. G. Wells' The Outline of History, so I had to do a little research. H.G. Wells wrote the book because he was unhappy with quality of history textbooks at the time. He published it in the early 1920's to great success. But many religious people criticized it for its secular bias and assumptions about society based on evolution.1
Our A Beka Book texts reject the Marxist/Hegelian conflict theory of history in favor of a truthful portrayal of peoples, lands, religions, ideals, heroes, triumphs, and setbacks. The result has been positive, uplifting history texts that give students an historical perspective and instill within them an intelligent pride for their own country and a desire to help it back to its traditional values.
And what traditional values would those be? I checked around and found the Traditional Values Coalition, "the largest non-denominational, grassroots church lobby in America."
With an emphasis on the restoration of the values needed to maintain strong, unified families, Traditional Values Coalition, focuses on such issues as religious liberties, marriage, the right to life, the homosexual agenda, pornography, family tax relief and education.
Now it's not a given that they're both talking about the same traditional values, but I think it's pretty safe to assume that they are. Let's go on to the next paragraph of Distinctives.
We present government as ordained by God for the maintenance of law and order, not as a cure-all for the problems of humanity. We present free-enterprise economics without apology and point out the dangers of Communism, socialism, and liberalism to the well-being of people across the globe. In short, A Beka Book offers you a Christian and conservative approach to the study of what man has done with the time God has given.
I think that last sentence sums it up pretty nicely. From an early age children are taught that socialism, Communism, and liberalism is wrong. They're also taught "traditional values", which are, in other words, follow the general conservative Christian quest to keep religion as a cornerstone of our society, keep marriage between a man and a woman, outlaw abortion, marginalize homosexuals, vilify pornography, lower taxes, and control education by not allowing anything that conflicts with Christianity to be taught to children.

There's more I could comment on in the above, like how racial issues are marginalized and ignored, but how about you tell me what you think? I'd like to hear if anyone thinks this approach is a good approach and why and also if you think it's flawed, why you think its flawed.

Related Posts
Christian Education: Mathematics
Christian Education: Science
Christian Education: English
Christian Education: My Conclusions

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12 comments: to “ Christian Education: History

  • Mamacita Chilena
    Friday, January 11, 2008 at 2:58:00 PM CST  

    I think it's safe to say that most people reading your blog probably don't think that's a good approach.

    I went to public school in a VERY Christian town, and we were basically taught similar beliefs, although not necessarily because they were in our textbooks. Our teachers just biased everything they said, towards, Christianity is right and anything anyone else believes in wrong.

    I believe in presenting the facts to children and then letting them make up their own minds.

    For instance, this is what abortion is. this is why some people think it's wrong, this is why some people think it's right.

    Although, I'm sure that's much easier said than done. Not having kids I don't think I have much room to talk about how they should be educated.

  • The Exterminator
    Friday, January 11, 2008 at 3:11:00 PM CST  

    Mamacita:

    Your approach is a great idea whether you have kids or not.

    However, who of us can present a purely balanced approach to creationism vs. evolution, or pro-choice vs. pro-forced-maternity?

  • Lifeguard
    Friday, January 11, 2008 at 7:22:00 PM CST  

    I don't have kids either, but I think we would probably agree that there is a difference between equal time and presenting kids with baloney.

    On moral issues, it's easy to present both sides, but it's a very different story when you're talking about credible science, as Ex suggested in his comment.

    The problem is people want to fight you on the morality/science distinction too-- especially on evolution, where most theists draw a very blurry line.

    Personally, I'm worried that this issue is going to destroy public education. School curricula have become the battleground for the latest Christian crusades.

  • PhillyChief
    Friday, January 11, 2008 at 7:58:00 PM CST  

    The moment your lecture turns to declaring an idea "wrong", I think you just shifted into preaching. That's not what I call education.

    You can offer pros and cons, show how communism failed in Russia, or why creationism doesn't satisfy the criteria for being a scientific theory without declaring "wrong".

  • The Exterminator
    Friday, January 11, 2008 at 11:07:00 PM CST  

    Philly wrote: You can offer pros and cons, show ... why creationism doesn't satisfy the criteria for being a scientific theory, without declaring it "wrong".

    I couldn't. Could you? You're sometimes a little more patient with fools than I am, but not THAT much. Maybe we wouldn't have to actually use the word "wrong," but I can't imagine any context in which I could stand up in front of a classroom filled with students and show any respect for a "scientific" theory that posited the Earth as only 6,000 years old; that claimed dinosaurs romped with humans before that awful Eve brought sin to mankind; that hypothesized some loving, omnipotent being who once used a flood to wipe out most living things on our whole planet as if he were merely shaking an Etch-a-Sketch to get his creation back to its virgin state. That theory is WRONG.

  • PhillyChief
    Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 1:13:00 AM CST  

    Drop off the last sentence and you've done it. ;)

  • Venjanz
    Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 3:31:00 AM CST  

    This post reminded me of my 9th grade basic science teacher (he also taught physics and chemistry 1 and 2).

    He was also a fundamentalist Christian, and more than once stated that he believed in creationism, the end times, etc. I think it's important to mention at this point that this was a public school I attended.

    When students would challenge his lessons with something like "Well, how does THAT fit in to your religion?" He would usually smile and say something like "It doesn't. I'm here to teach you about *insert lesson*, not debate religion."

    He never once in my presence injected his religious beliefs in to the curriculum. He would gleefully lecture about the 11 billion+ year (at this time, that was the accepted) age of the Universe, electrocute 1/2 the class , blow things up for fun, this could go on for paragraphs. He constantly urged us to major in a scientific field when we got to college so we could "truly understand the physical world." And he would add a disclaimer such as "Metaphysics is for you to discover in your spare time, if at all" or something similar.

    "Hutch," as we called him, was so popular that his classes were booked within a day after the guidance cons' opened up the registration for the following year.

    On the other hand, the science teacher that taught the other basic science course, as well as biology 1 and 2, was a hard-core feminist that constantly injected her politics in to her lessons. She hated "Hutch," and mocked him whenever anybody brought him up.

    I know this sounds like BS, especially from me, but it really happened.

    -T

  • ordinary girl
    Monday, January 14, 2008 at 1:47:00 PM CST  

    Venjanz, the important thing is that your teacher taught you science, regardless of belief. I don't care for politics being pushed on kids either.

  • Michelle
    Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 2:37:00 PM CST  

    I'm one of the unusual ones in my area who pulled my kids out of public schools to give them a better education. And in our case, a secular one. There are many people who homeschool in my area where the schools are supposedly so "good", but you wouldn't believe the religious indoctrination my children suffered through so frequently. Or maybe you would.

    The trouble was finding other parents like me. There are no associations that are non-religious, or at least non-sectarian, and they are almost all affiliated with a church and praise Jesus at every meeting. And I mean "dinosaurs in the bible" kind of churches.

    And sure, the kids do read quickly and learn multiplication quite rapidly due to drills and all of the one-on-one attention, but they are like little robots. They don't have minds of their own at all. I gained so much of this info when I taughted piano lessons and had several students from different families who didn't know each other.

    But as with anything you teach your kids, you provide them information and tell them the historical basis for things. You also say, "Some people feel this way, and some people feel that way." And then you could ask, "What do you think about this." And of course, provided that your kids trust you and know that they can be honest, they will tell you. And it may be totally off the wall, and they may change their minds in a month.

    This does not apply to evolution/creationism. One is actual science, and the other is a religious belief. You can teach Creationism when you teach comparative religion. When your children can think for themselves--even if they disagree with you--they will be able to understand true knowledge and see dogma and superstition for exactly what it is--without you having to tell them.

  • Michelle
    Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 2:39:00 PM CST  

    *taught* piano lessons. Geez, now I sound like some hillbilly corndog hick.

  • ordinary girl
    Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 3:29:00 PM CST  

    Michelle, sounds like your kids have a good teacher. :)

  • Michelle
    Tuesday, January 22, 2008 at 6:00:00 PM CST  

    Thanks so much. I just found your blog today, so I'm trying to go through and read your postings. I have a messy house and kids who are too smart for their own good who constantly demand that I teach them something. I thought they would have outgrown the "mom knows everything" phase by now (ages 9, 11, and 13), but it hasn't happened yet.

    It's amazing the number of people I find on the internet who are in a similar boat as mine. I have children who qualify as gifted, and the schools just dismiss them because they think "smart children learn in any environment". Their gifted services are also a joke.

    Other than my kids' needs not getting met by the teachers and administration (if my children were mentally disabled, they'd throw services at me left and right), I just couldn't stand seeing my children's brains turn to mush. It's as if they want everyone to fit into this little ideal. Don't color outside the lines, so to speak. You're only allowed to "deviate" from the norm if you're "retarded", but if you have a mind of your own, they can't stand it. And they don't always identify the kids with learning challenges/disabilities who also may be "gifted" at the same time.

    There are atheist homeschoolers and secular homeschoolers with support networks, but none of them are anywhere close to where I live. I thought about starting my own, but after asking around, I discovered that I am the only one so far who is not religious and doing this. The big group in our town does all kinds of stuff together, but I can't just go along and put on blinders and earplugs. Not when all of their emails (I was on their mailing list once) are so full of "the Lord" and "In His Name", and such. And they of course think unintelligent design/Creation "Science" should be taught in schools. They pulled their kids out because there wasn't "enough" religion. Geez. How many ways can you misread the Constitution?

    My children have had quite the exposure to the Southern Baptist thing thanks to my toxic parents. And of course, we talk about all forms of Christianity and other Theism. We haven't quite made it to the other ones yet because I'm having to find the best materials about the earliests religions (It's hard as hell to find materials for kids on Evolution!). We started at prehistoric man and worked our way up. Of course they had already heard of Christianity and its protected status in society. That I didn't have to tell them.

    But I also have explained that the masses of people have that "need" for a supernatural, totalitarian thought-patrol to make them feel warm and cozy. And they don't like to think that they're but just a small part of the whole world, and that it (nature) doesn't give a lick whether they live or die.

    Sorry my posts are so long. I could talk all day about this.

 

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