Voices

Salt recipe, part II

When Christians are better educated than the non-Christians, Christians will become the major culture-shapers

Issue: "Out from the shadows," Dec. 22, 2007

After building strong families, the surest tactic for winning the culture war is plain: Give your kids a better education than their secularist peers.

When Christians are better educated than the non-Christians, Christians will become the major culture-shapers.

The state of contemporary Western culture today resembles a patient dying of AIDS. In that dreadful disease, the body's immune system stops protecting the body and instead turns against it. Similarly, our current artistic and intellectual establishments-which have always before defined, built up, and transmitted our cultural heritage-have turned against it. Artists are attacking the very concept of beauty. Intellectuals are dismissing the intellect. Ethicists are denying morality. Those who used to pursue truth are now saying there is no such thing.

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Today's relativistic worldview poses a quandary for education. If there is no truth, what is there to teach? If truth is a personal construction, then children can be taught to construct their own realities.

Now that history has been reduced to helping a child learn about his own origins, the big stories of the human race are lost. A recent study by the National Endowment for the Humanities found that over half of high-school seniors did not know who America fought during World War II. And 18 percent thought Germany was on our side.

A study from the National Endowment for the Arts found a big decline in reading comprehension, with only 31 percent of adults rating as "proficient." But even those who can read don't read. That same study found that in the course of a year only 52 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds read a book voluntarily.

Young people today are even worse at math and science. The cutting-edge math curriculum adopted as the standard in many states minimizes addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division and instead poses math problems like this: "If math were a color [or a food, or weather], it would be ____, because ____." The decline of science education is evident in how few native-born Americans are pursuing degrees in technical fields, which are considered "too hard."

The best-educated are invariably the leaders, the creators, and the shapers of culture. Those who write the books, make the art, populate academia, and run the businesses are the cultural leaders. Today, our best-educated folk are mired in a nihilistic worldview, and they are dragging the rest of the culture down with them. But what if Christians took on this role?

Christian parents used to homeschool their children or send them to Christian schools to protect them from non-Christian influences. But, increasingly, they are doing so for academic reasons. The curriculum used in many homeschools and Christian schools is far superior to that of the educational establishment, and Christian young people equipped with this superior education are often outperforming their peers.

Unfortunately, not all homeschools and Christian schools strive for the highest academic quality or pursue the wide-ranging, sophisticated knowledge that their worldview makes possible. Christian colleges may lag behind or be oblivious to the educational revolution that is taking place on the lower levels.

Nevertheless, on the education front, Christians are already winning victories in the culture war.

Gene Edward Veith
Gene Edward Veith

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