In a previous Facebook post I had stated, “one if not the greatest failing in Christian education, namely the development of a more robust view of how to participate as a Christian in a public school. If we go with a choice or diverse model, then one cannot hold the antithesis model (Christian v world).”
This brought an important counter from Brian Polet.
Isn’t Christian education defacto a Christian vs the world model? So you would advocate for the dissolution of Christian education?
My views of Christian education are admittedly mixed, but no way is this an advocacy for the dissolution of Christian schools. For many they deliver solid educational achievement; in a worldly way they are good schools. They’re part of an educational mix that goes by the name of “Choice” where parents make decisions about what school is most appropriate for their child. For many, the Christian school will be a default choice, and to be clear: I see nothing wrong with that.
Now some caveats:
- First, it is pretty clear that Christian education does not per se produce better Christians (that’s a church function fwiw).
- Second, as educational venues, Christian schools often do a very good job because of the socio-economic standing of the parents (this is a commonplace in education generally where SES correlates with educational achievement). In GR, Potters House works to breakdown this SES/achievement link, and they have enjoyed some success.
- Third, the baptismal vow I make is not simply to the child in front of me, but to all baptized children. Thus, the possibility of Christian education extends past the day school door.
At the school where I coach (Grand Rapids City) there are teachers who are there as part of their Christian faith. So perhaps we should make a distinction between Christian approach to the educational practice (what do Christians do as teachers, how do they embody faith before a varied student body etc.), and an institutional approach. The former addresses what goes on inside the walls, the latter is the exterior or perhaps wineskin. For teachers, the real advantage of Christian education is to practice their profession in the company of other, similarly minded believers. But… most students will be outside the Christian school, they will be found in charters, or in general schools. So for those students, for the teachers who interact with them, we need a more robust understanding of Christian thinking and education.