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Isn't education neutral?

Every education curriculum is based on a belief system

What we believe about education is important. A common belief is that education is neutral. How to read, write or calculate doesn't immediately appear to require any beliefs, a sense of right or wrong or impact upon how we relate to others.

Over time the emphasis of education changes. Certain subjects are considered more valuable than others. Deciding whether music is more important than art, drama, science or languages will determine how much time and resources are allocated to it.

Every education curriculum is based on a belief system. We seek to educate others about what we believe is most important for life. In the same way by not teaching some things we are implying these are not important. As society's beliefs change so do the subjects being offered.

Education is the product of the beliefs of those who have written the current curriculum as well as those delivering it. The beliefs expressed in a secular school may initially appear tolerant and accepting of all ideas. In practice however they actively diminish or deny God's role and plan in history, the present and the future.

The teaching of values and ethics isn't limited to Christian schools. Values are learnt predominantly in families. All schools teach and demonstrate values and ethics. These values are our beliefs, our codes of conduct, our standards of right and wrong.

Secular schools claim to teach the values that are considered the basis of our laws and customs and how we treat others in our society. As parents the important question to ask is what are these values now based on. Are values decided by the majority? Are there any absolutes? Are values subjective and changing over time? Who determines what is important and what is not?

If a biblical worldview is not deliberately integrated into education then a humanistic foundation is usually laid. In humanism man, rather than God, is considered to be of primary importance. Where a school's basis for values and ethics is inconsistent with those being taught at home conflict can arise. In contrast where teachers and parents share the same values, rather than undermining each another, they can provide a greater consistency for a child.

What a teacher believes is often considered irrelevant to what they do in the classroom. This stems from a belief that the teacher and the subject are separate and the knowledge they impart is neutral. However much of education is relational. A teacher's beliefs will influence and shape how and what they choose to teach in a classroom - even within a set curriculum. The Bible urges us… whatever you do in word or deed do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ giving glory to God the Father Colossians 3:17

Whatever you do is a very broad statement. It includes education. What a Christian teacher does - in whatever subject - can give glory to God. Likewise whatever subjects a child may study, or careers they choose they can also give glory to God in it. This attaches a significant value, or meaning, to all of life's activities. It is no longer neutral. If God is interested in all of life then a Christian education requires a biblical point of view through the whole curriculum. Merely adding a few courses in religion, or a Bible study or chapel services, does not make a school Christian.

What beliefs and values are my children learning at school?