Winter 2015: Come Up Higher
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Summary: In 1960, the Smithsonian Institution’s journal, Horizon, published a daring three-part recipe on “The Childhood Pattern of Genius”.

In 1960, the Smithsonian Institution’s journal, Horizon, published a daring three-part recipe on “The Childhood Pattern of Genius”. The first ingredient was much time with warm, responsive parents and other adults. The second was isolation from peers, and the third called for much freedom for children to explore their own interests. Finally, study director Harold McCurdy applied it to families and schools: “...the mass education of our public school system is, in its way, a vast experiment on reducing...all three factors to a minimum; accordingly, it should tend to suppress the occurrence of genius.”1

The above paragraphs are the introductory remarks of Raymond Moore to the World Congress of Families II in Geneva, Switzerland, in 1999. Raymond S. Moore, Ph.D. is the author of numerous books on children, education, and cultural questions. He was chairman of the 1960 White House Conference on Children and Youth, a U.S. Delegate to UNESCO, and a co-founder of the Family Research Council.

Dr. Moore went on to state in his presentation that:

Cornell’s Bronfenbrenner’s famed research on the influence of parents versus peers, found that when children spend more time with peers than parents until near junior high school they [become] peer dependent. This in turn causes losses of self-worth, optimism, respect for their parents and even trust in peers. Yet the most parents and school officials insist peers are the best socializers.

Another iteration of this statement is found in the book, Day Care Deception: What the Child Care Establishment Isn’t Telling Us, published in October 1, 2004, by Brian C. Robertson. The author warns that early education and daycare in particular, will result in children referencing the “group” or their “peers” instead of their primary caregiver, their teachers, or pastors for morality and major life decisions.

Neither at the time of Raymond Moore’s presentation, nor of the writing of the book by Brian Robertson, could anyone dream that their warnings would entail the searing of the minds of our youth. The effects of daycare and early education have been escalating through the watching of television and movies, video games, and internet use. An unintended result is that many high school students have been posting pictures and videos on social media of drug use, interracial violence and disturbing pornography. This trend of sharing immoral and illegal activities via social media knows no socioeconomic boundaries. Further, there are no gender or racial norms. Because it is an emergent phenomenon there is little research at this time. However, there is a consensus that a major contributing factor is the early introduction of children to group situations involving daycare or schooling. It seems that the students post these things because the reference group, which may even be the internet, says it’s “cool” or funny. In the past, vicarious involvement in immoral and illegal behaviors has been present, but it was different. Often the families involved were poor or broken, the prevalence was much lower and, most significantly, everyone knew it was wrong, even those involved. Now, we are facing a situation in which the participants do not think what they are doing is wrong.

If we do not meet this crisis, we stand to lose a whole generation of children. The Pied Piper has come and is taking our children hostage - some to everlasting ruin. The situation is so grim that some Christian schools have reported that at least one third or more of their students are involved in using social media in this way and many of these are leaders among their peers with excellent grades. In order to meet this crisis, we must look closely at the true science of Christian education.

The true science of Christian education is the concern for the eternal destiny of each student. Accordingly, the student is equipped to reason from cause to effect as early as possible. The Bible is replete with calls to see, know, understand, consider, seek and prove. Reasoning from cause to effect, along with deductive reasoning, are the pillars upon which Christian education places the belief that there is ultimate truth and morality. Originality and independence of mind, love of truth for its own sake, the power of reflecting and of forming correct judgments are the hallmarks of Christian education. Broadly speaking, the secular educational system, to a greater degree, has as its foundation the educational methods of critical thinking, which bases itself in never removing doubt, and classical conditioning. The result of such a system is to create doubt with respect to any given subject and is the edifice upon which the belief that there is no ultimate truth rests, encouraging absolute indifference to the idea of morality.

Ivan Pavlov’s twenty-five years of research with dogs resulted in a wave of psychologists that would change the method and delivery of education. His book, Conditioned Reflexes, is fascinating in that Pavlov applies his research to humans, stating that classical conditioning is a form of hypnosis. Pavlov exulted that humans were merely the sum of stimuli and responses. In fact, classical conditioning does not engage the frontal lobe, the throne of reason. Students subject to this methodology are taught that they are what they have experienced rather than a created being made in the image of God. Such teaching encourages the pursuit of experience rather than truth and trains the mind to operate on the basis of gratification rather than on the basis of reason or responsibility.

With this in mind, the importance of Christian education could never be more critical than at this time. However, the current climate with respect to education in Canada is becoming more and more intolerant. It is based upon a secular understanding of human rights - an understanding that can never attain to the height of the value of humanity as set out in the Scriptures.

Most notably, the case of Trinity Western University’s (TWU) application for a law school has captured the attention of educators and business people across Canada. In summary, the opponents of the evangelical law school believe that society is such that even though TWU’s code of conduct, which prohibits sexual relations except between a husband and wife, is not illegal; it is anathema. They do not want to bring the system of justice into disrepute by allowing judges and lawyers who adhere to the TWU code of conduct to practice. It is a shocking manifestation of a religious test for employment. There are some who would say it is a sexual test for employment but the religious context within which the conversation takes place makes this assertion too narrow. The stakes are very high with respect to the outcome of the TWU case. It threatens the existence of Christian schools, the right to hold a differing worldview and the pursuit of truth.

A careful read of the 2001 TWU case that dealt with their education program, will reveal a sentiment expressed by the court that the attack on a corporate Christian organization could develop into an attack on individuals based on their religious beliefs.

The developing principles in this battle are important to track. In 2001, the opposition attempted to discredit the graduates of TWU by arguing that they would discriminate against homosexual students. This argument failed. However, this time, the arguments are leveled at the institution itself, the strongest argument being that times have changed – that society will not tolerate such narrow worldviews as those espoused in the code of conduct of TWU. There is a demand that TWU be tolerant in its expressed views and subject itself to the prevailing worldview.

On the heels of such toleration come laws that enforce toleration, and after these, restrictions on speech that is intolerant. This ultimately puts the power of conscience in the hands of the majority. Toleration laws are blasphemy laws in disguise and are enacted on the dubious ground of protecting a particular worldview. In the time of Christ, blasphemy laws were operative. It was against the law to speak of a new religion not sanctioned by the state. It was against the law to try to persuade or invite or evangelize, as this was in itself an affront against currently held worldviews. It not only shut down freedom of expression and religion but also freedom of association and the freedom to seek truth.

Secular human rights will always seek to impose the worldview of the majority, as it is based upon majoritarian views and the common good. Further, it does not see any impediment to using governmental authority to bolster its position. Secular human rights are focused on balancing the rights of individuals in a manner that forces the adaptation of the individual to society within the legal landscape. There is no protection with respect to seeking truth, as secularism does not acknowledge truth. Secularism only recognizes individual truths that are changeable and convenient and as a result must be subject to the common good, whereas Biblical human rights elevate the individual to a being made in the image of God and holds sacred the search for truth. This protection is subject only to civility, as the search for truth may not include murder, assault or other impositions on our fellow human beings.

As in the time of Christ, so now there are people who would be happy to make the government a party to their disputes. They want the government, by law, to commit itself to the defense of their particular worldview, so they can add its power to their side of the controversy, and send to ignominy those that even accidentally disagree with them. But government has no business to be made a party to any worldview controversy. This has been the bane of every nation in prior history except ours. The government should find its legitimate employment in seeing that such disagreements are kept within the bounds of civility.

Come up higher, is the clarion call of the Christian. Secular human rights afford some protection, but Biblical human rights will put into practice those principles that make space for differing worldviews with a healthy respect and recognition that we are all seeking truth.

In conclusion, it is imperative that Christian education retains its right to exist, as the future of our youth depends upon it. As we can see from a brief canvassing of the issues in education, the challenges we are called to meet at this time come from within and without. They demand our prayerful attention and guidance from the Fount of All Wisdom.

Grace Mackintosh is General Counsel and Director of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty for the Seventh-day Adventist Church in Canada. While serving at the New Brunswick Human Rights Commission, she developed human rights policy and made public presentations on behalf of the Commission. She is currently involved in several religious freedom public awareness projects addressing national and international issues.


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