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Mailbag

"Mailbag" Continued...

Issue: "Barrier riffs," Feb. 10, 2007

Knowledge of IB

I teach the International Baccalaureate Theory of Knowledge course at a public high school. In some ways you do a good job summarizing the good and bad points of the IB program ("One-world education," Jan. 13), but your discussion of the Theory of Knowledge class is misleading. The purpose of the course is to develop the critical thinking skills of students by forcing them to consider how to justify knowledge claims in different areas of knowledge. Some teachers may try to persuade students that there is no objective truth, but it can also be used to teach students that there is truth out there, and give them the tools to find it.
-Josh Tabor; Hacienda Heights, Calif.

Your article might be an accurate picture of the IB organization, but my high-school experience was much more balanced. My Theory of Knowledge teacher (a Christian) pointed out that we can still know things despite the problems we discussed. In English we read some Christian classics from Dostoevsky and Flannery O'Connor. In history we even talked about some of the good the United States did in Vietnam. I was well-prepared for the academic rigor and philosophical challenges of a secular university.
-Kyle Thayer; Fort Collins, Colo.

Although IB does openly teach a postmodernist paradigm, through participation in the program I'm learning to defend my faith in a global society. Sometimes going to class feels like taking a beating, and sometimes I feel alone and unheard. One of my teachers, for example, very vocally supports universalism. The IB program is a mission field, a little slice of the world in which I can interact with my diverse peers. But most of all, through this, I'm learning to be in but not of the world.
-Anna J. Wiersma; Allen, Texas

What we pay for

Marvin Olasky's column about William Easterly's new book, The White Man's Burden ("Don't be a Bepper," Jan. 13), reminded me of the mission plan developed in China by John L. Nevius. He taught that the national church should be self-supporting, and that goes against the grain of Americans who feel good sending cash to build and support national churches. Even in mission work there is truth in the statement: What we do not pay for we do not value; what we do pay for we value highly.
-Art Thompson; Westfield, N.J.

Friend in the valley

Your year-end issue ("News of the year," Dec. 30/Jan. 6) reminded me again why I believe so strongly in your mission. It reminded me that God is a tremendous force for good in a world full of self-centered brokenness. Special thanks for "Hello hardship, my old friend." God rarely comes to us in the mountaintop experiences, but He is always present in the valleys if we have but eyes and ears to recognize Him.
-Allen M. Burt; Ridgway, Colo.

Correction

Gerald Ford was sworn in as president in the East Room of the White House ("Ford and faith," Jan. 13, p. 23).

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