On Education – by Thomas W. Balderston[i]
Education in the United States today has been confronted by many and questioned as to the direction it is heading. There have been arguments presented that the culture of our education system is imbalanced with a liberal and secular bias that confounds the more conservative and religious community. One result of changes that have become popular and entrenched is the “Generation Me” group – those born in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, a term coined by associate professor of psychology at San Diego University, Jean M. Twenge.[ii] Low-self esteem accompanies the child that has traveled through our altered education maze. Those entering the workforce from this generation are more individualistic, assertive and narcissistic and care less about other people’s impressions, or group considerations. This contingent today would be in the 9-38 years of age range. They have a sense of entitlement and high expectations for continuous rewards, a need for constant praise, asking more what the company can or will do for them than what they will do for the company. Work is only a stepping stone to their next level – whatever that may be. They want the next level but are not willing to do that which is necessary to get there. This may seem a gross generalization, but it is more true than not. Somewhere in what our kids are being taught, in the public school system, in colleges and universities and in the scholastic books being approved, there is a pathway chosen that will not be beneficial to the future integrity of our Country as a unified nation.
In education there appears a need to retrogress. It may be time to get back to the basics. We need our children to learn the most elementary tools of education first, things like reading, writing, and arithmetic, not necessarily the worldly fundamentals of life (too much too soon). As they age then add the essence of science – geology, biology, and chemistry – and explore the geographic and architectural wonders of the world. Further the education with history, art, music, literature – theology and philosophy. The process may involve a return to teaching the classics – humanities – once called a liberal education. All of this should become the foundation before we introduce diversions, perversions and societal deviations. Greater preparation is needed so the worldliness of our culture can be introduced when minds are ready to make their own judgments and thus not be “indoctrinated” into an “interest” group or cultural minority, family teachings aside, before the proper moment.
Man is wired, knowing, or sensing the difference between right actions and wrong actions. I took a recent short course in ethics to maintain licensure in a field of business in which I am still active. The words “right” and “wrong” are still considered terms that most people understand. As to work ethics the course made this statement, “Work ethics involve the characteristics of honesty and accountability. The essential of work ethics breaks down to the question of what would one do in a particular situation. The question in a situation really involves what is right, acceptable, and above-board, versus what is wrong, underhanded, and under the table.” That all sounds correct, and certainly has my support, but in today’s world even the word “normal” is under attack. What is normal? In this arena where ethics, right and wrong, and normal, are now on view, a concern for God arises.
Merriam-Webster defines Dark Ages: “a time during which a civilization undergoes a decline.” Sound familiar? Sound current? Are we in a decline? Many believe this is the case. Is this what is happening in our world today? Are we reverting to a Dark Age or era of permissiveness, intolerance for what is true, and tolerance for what is not true, intolerance for what is not God’s desire, but a tolerance for what is man’s desire and an acceptance of the abnormal over the normal.
I must admit it is not my view that anything and everything is normal; it is most difficult to make anything and everything that way. We are different and we have differences and we will always have differences. “Occurring naturally” is one of the definitions for “normal” in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary. So I guess the question comes down to what is natural. For “natural” Merriam-Webster’s #1 definition is “based on an inherent sense of right and wrong.” Now we can continue to debate right vs. wrong. This is getting to be like President Bill Clinton suggesting it depends on how you define “is.” Another definition from Merriam-Webster for “normal” is “conforming to a type, standard, or regular pattern.” So what is the answer; where is the answer – this is where the good book comes in and is needed.
Liberal thought (secular thought may be a better description) has embraced the non-believers and taken their concepts to heart, whether their chosen philosophy and/or philosopher may have considered God, or have headed in a direction to make normal just about anything we do. “If it feels good, do it” is a prevailing cultural commentary for which justification can be found in more than one major Philosopher’s doctrine. Secularists, humanist’s, post-modernist’s, and atheists embrace the line of thinking that God should be removed from the equation. Their influence on world cultures has been significant. Overt efforts to remove God from classrooms and public places at times seem disingenuous, but it is real.
There is a question as to the morality of humans without an education. If left to their own devices would man simply grow to become a barbarian, having no regard for the life of another? From a source written in the late 1800’s, the author Robert Roberts, (as to the innate nature of right and wrong)
“They (the philosophers) ought to have asked if all men possessed this moral discernment, and if in any man it existed independently of education. It would have been found that multitudes of men are devoid of the moral discernments that exercise educated persons, and that no man is born into the world on any subject, but has to be carefully instructed, and that if he be not so instructed, either by direct tuition or by the example and talk of others, he will grow up a barbarian. Further investigation and reflection would have led to the discovery that right and wrong are relative ideas only, and that the only standard of their application is the revealed will of God. Those things are wrong which He forbids, and those things right which He commands. When men are ignorant of these, they are ignorant of right and wrong. Most men’s knowledge on these points is but the diluted ideas that have filtered down society from originally divine sources, but which have become corrupted by admixture.”[iii]
If the argument is men are wired to know the difference, then society can mess things up. Reinforcement is necessary which is provided by education – from parents, families, community, peer groups, schools, teachers of all varieties, and the political culture prevailing. What then may be the nature of the human condition at birth can be influenced by hierarchy, doctrine, example and peers either reinforcing the understanding of right v. wrong or altering the view – as Satan would have it.
From the child born with only his instinctive nature knowing that which is right and wrong there are only postulates. It takes an answer to the concern raised to reinforce the natural gift at birth. Through proper education that which is right and wrong become more than instinctive; they become knowledge. Developing such knowledge must be foundational in any system of education – from the home to the school to the workplace. What is the best source for support data, the best basis for teaching and in turn a critical need for our schools to enable the proper instruction as to right and wrong? Where would there be a source that could eliminate the confusion and have everyone agree as to the terminology? If I say the Bible many heads would turn and deny this resource. Is it then the Golden Rule? Is it the Ten Commandments without God? Is it the Sermon on the Mount without Jesus – only his voice? If everyone read the Bible today they would be surprised by the moral and ethical standards we all historically found acceptable pervading the entire document. If it were possible to read this book without feeling conversion or re-birth was expected, would schools then turn their back on Madelyn Murray O’Hair and the 1962 Supreme Court decision to remove the Bible from public schools? Is it possible to strip the book of its Christian foundations and use it for its moral and ethical teachings and guidelines? I would argue this is possible. Many great men have known the Bible and not believed in the resurrection of Christ. It is the resurrection that frees Christians to live and be justified by faith alone. There is much more offered to the lay, even secular, reader that encompasses dealing with life’s issues which can be learned without accepting the resurrection.
Our education system needs the good book. It is slipping and we need to have the Bible taught, the meaningful stories that provide the caring attitude towards our neighbors, our family and our loved ones. It speaks of differences, of pain and suffering, of cheating, of working, of applying oneself for the purpose of improving the world for all, and mentions the rewards and the praise that will come to all who apply themselves and live a life of truth. Many feel too such an avenue is possible without believing in Christ, even God. A little exposure cannot be harmful – no not at all. We need our children, our teens, our young adults to get answers to their questions at every stage of their learning cycle, but not be indoctrinated by miss-guided feelings of a few. Provide the foundation so that our adults can then make decisions and advancements when facing world conditions based on facts understood, knowledge gained, and a deep, reinforced, sense of right and wrong – wisdom
Within the framework of our educational system the emphasis should be on teaching. At the highest academic levels however the pressure appears more on productivity focused on new ideas and less on teaching. There appears a Generation Me aspect to the towers of knowledge, that of scholarly attainment, providing the excuse among the most professorial that research demands are the obstacles to the responsibility as teacher and educator. At the PhD level has the “wise” man, the “master,” then passed through a sonic barrier where only actualization is possible and the uneducated class must be dealt with by the “lesser”, often labeled “TA’s”. The cause may have been the college and university criteria for their staff itself that created this sonic teaching barrier, well before the age of Generation Me, but in part a cause for Generation Me as productive ideas that came forth suggested Dr. Spock and Seuss like norms for coddling children and recognizing and rewarding anything that may be positive – the rod spared. It became the time when children in sports stopped keeping score, the competitive landscape was leveled, and everyone became a winner. No matter the outcome all cupcakes were considered edible. Who then was the loser, and in the future when reality set-in would the loser then become more demoralized and never realize who he/she was, or the same for the winner, his potential never fully developed as a result of retention in the pool of sameness for all. The seriousness of life, its purpose and value, and the role of the individual in life is an essential in the classroom. The elders of the realm of education, the teachers of our children, whenever possible should be the most wise, the most taught and trained persons, left not to the laboratory to conduct research, write and publish, but to the lecture halls to encourage, enthuse and instill in young minds the gathered knowledge of the past. As the stage of learning permits additional knowledge is imparted with the goal of making serious thought a habit, providing the tools to draw conclusions, make choices, and advance to the highest potential level for the given student.
Political correctness should not be a goal of our school system. Liberals are not the same as the liberal nature of the humanities as a notation on course selection. It is a different liberal and today is often confused by the Liberal themselves. The political Liberal is not that of an educated person in the halls of a liberal arts education where the classics, the humanities, are taught without indoctrination of opinion of post-modernists on humanists. It is not today’s experiences that are to be taught but the collection of historical thinking that enables man to face the fundamental questions of the meaning of life. It is back to the basics, to include the good book.
Take not that which is right from our children by educating them in ways that are wrong, in error, or in the least way confusing. Allow the most educated minds teach. Require them to do so. Enable our youngsters to grow to be contributors to a world culture that sees the good in all men, judges not, but has strong convictions as to personal ethics acceptable to all, those that look up to others, those that work with others, those that employ others, those that are friends, those that are loved and those that are family. We are equipped to create newborns and need to insure the future of our creation lives knowing right from wrong and is not made complacent, selfish, expecting of rewards for little accomplishments, and anticipating government to be their handler, provider and guide. It is the independence of man, man’s mind kept clear, objective and fulfilled with the knowledge of the past from the best minds of the present, which will enable a future filled with a competing, productive society that will continue its proper place in the world. Let not America’s education system continue to be compromised by opinionated Liberals (or opinionated conservatives), but allow for a liberal education to fill up anew a nation of educated persons ready to face the demands of tomorrow.
[i]Thomas W. Balderston is the author of the book, Wake Up! Wake Up! The Testimony of a Layman, Tate Publishing, Mustang, OK, 2009.
[ii]Twenge is associate professor of psychology at San Diego State University and the author of “Generation Me: Why Today’s Young Americans Are More Confident, Assertive, Entitled – and More Miserable Than Ever Before.” Free Press, div. of Simon & Shuster, 2006.
[iii] The Visible Hand of God, or the Miracles, Signs and Wonders which have occurred in the past dealings of God with the Nation of Israel: The Nature and Design of Such Operations and their necessity to the accomplishment of the work of God in the Earth by Robert Roberts, Birmingham, 1884 (Digitized by Google). Pg. 8