Rotten to the Common Core

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, September 6, 2017 3 comments

by David Odegard

I am writing this post predominantly for Christians to understand the world in which we find ourselves in, in the West at the beginning of the 21st century. It is not really a brave new world for us, but it looks rather more Orwellian than we dare admit. Edward Snowden blew the lid off a massive and unconstitutional surveillance program, confirming some of our worst fears. Big brother is watching. It makes us suspicious of all else that big brother might be up to.

There seems to have been an effort in the American system to produce a certain kind of person that is just as unbelievable as a giant surveillance initiative as described by George Orwell and actually practiced by the American government on its own people. Big brother knows best, right? For evidence of this, one only has to read. Read the books by John Dewey, Horace Mann, etc. and you will find that the mainstream of the philosophy of education is concerned with social engineering.

Here is a passage from William Torrey Harris’s book, The Philosophy of Education. Torrey was the U.S Commissioner of Education from 1889-1906. He writes, “Ninety-nine [students] out of a hundred are automata, careful to walk in prescribed paths, careful to follow the prescribed custom. This is not an accident but the result of substantial education, which, scientifically defined, is the subsumption of the individual.”

The current model of education isn’t just about teaching people the rudiments of learning, but socializing them to be a certain way. This vision is deeply imbedded in progressive education. “The public schools exist primarily for the benefit of the State rather than for the benefit of the individual” (US Bureau of Education, 1914). This is so that they can sculpt the mind of the future voter into their opinion of a responsible adult, but this sculpting always favors the values of those currently in power. In our day, the current power structure is deeply non-Christian, morally bankrupt, and insists on humanism.

John Dewey is one of the most influential persons in modern American philosophy of education. He was a humanist, a socialist, and an atheist. He said, “The child does not go to school to develop individual talents but rather are prepared as ‘units in an organic society… The changes in the moral school atmosphere… are not mere accidents, they are the necessities of the larger social evolution.”

These comments are not made from the periphery of public education, but rather from the center. No one is hiding this information; read it for yourself. It is everywhere and it is godless.

Recently I read an essay about age-grading in an education forum. The author writes, “John Taylor Gatto is America's most eloquent defender of homeschooling. He was Teacher of the Year three times in New York City. He was Teacher of the Year in New York State. Then he quit. He gave up public school teaching.” Based on Gatto’s experience in the public sector he writes his signal work The Underground History of American Education, which is available for free here. Here is a quote from the book:

“The socialization of children in age-graded groups monitored by State agents is essential to learn to get along with others in a pluralistic society. The actual truth is that the rigid compartmentalizations of schooling teach a crippling form of social relation: wait passively until you are told what to do, never judge your own work or confer with associates, have contempt for those younger than yourself and fear of those older. Behave according to the meaning assigned to your class label. These are the rules of a nuthouse.”

So far, I have concentrated my educational comments to theological considerations: who has the responsibility to educate, the effects of secularization on the children, etc. But I would like to point out the very ground and intention of public education is nefarious at the systemic level. It is a social tool before it is an education.

“See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ” (Colossians 2:8). We Christians are being pressed by public education.

A word: my children are all in public school, though the oldest two are in a hybrid public school and home school curriculum that we designed. It is a good school with a high degree of religious freedom. But my wife and I recognize that it has intrinsic weaknesses. We are hoping for better solutions to correct these deficiencies. I want you to be aware of those weaknesses and think about how you can address them. There are many great homeschool options available. Where there is a will, there is a way.

As a pastor, I am asking myself how we can support the families in our church in the area of education. Frankly, I don’t want to see young people abandoning the faith anymore. I don’t want to see them adopt the world’s conclusions about everything. I want them to see life through the Bible and the lens of Christianity because it is true and superior to all the alternative views. I would love to hear from you on how churches can better aid families in educating their children.

Finally, Christian parent, it is up to you to guard your child from the hollow and deceptive philosophies of this fallen world. If you do send your child to the government school, I hope that you can no longer do so with an uncritical, unthinking confidence that they are being trained to be good. You can’t outsource that, especially to those who control the national education boards.

Finally, Christian teacher, it is up to you to love the Lord your God with all your mind, strength, and heart. Your primary responsibility is to God. Your secondary responsibility is to the parent, and somewhere after these two will fall your responsibilities to your employer—just like the rest of us. (Those who teach my kids, if you are reading this, thank you. I pray for you constantly. I know you are Christian and view public school as a ministry. God bless you for it.)

Romans 12:1-2, Philips Translation: “With eyes wide open to the mercies of God, I beg you, my brothers, as an act of intelligent worship, to give him your bodies, as a living sacrifice, consecrated to him and acceptable by him. Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within, so that you may prove in practice that the plan of God for you is good, meets all his demands and moves towards the goal of true maturity.”

May the grace of God be with you.

[Note: I borrowed my title this week from a book recently written by two PhD’s in education, Joseph P. Farrell and Gary Lawrence, which is available here.]

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Bill said...

Find yourself a good Lutheran parochial school in your area so a solid Christian education!

Katie said...

Unfortunately, it's hard to "find" something that doesn't exist. :/ Lutheran schools are very few and far between in northwest Ohio.

David Odegard said...

My son, Luke, went to a Lutheran pre-school and it was pretty good. I am in a doctoral program with a Missouri Synod guy. But I will say this about the ELCA, it ain't what it used to be. They have tilted so far left that I believe they have already capsized on the gospel.
Thanks for the reply