One of the more pleasurable parts of what I do is traveling around the country and meeting people who have not let what is a steady stream of bad news deter them in preparing young people for the future. The most rewarding experiences I have are meeting with young people who are part of the growing Christian private, church, and home school movement. These youngsters are doing amazing things in the classroom with only a fraction of the financial resources showered on public schools. Courses in logic, Latin, and Greek are common. They can run rings around most adults in what they know about history and the Bible. They are eager to take part in discussions with adults, even challenging them at times. They are the future, and the future looks bright.
Not long ago, I was asked to speak at Tall Oaks Classical School in New Castle, Delaware. While I was waiting for my ride to my next speaking engagement, a teacher asked if I could come to her class. It seems that her students wanted to meet a “famous author.” Looking around for a moment, I realized she was talking about me. So off I went to a fourth grade class. What a delightful group of young people.
They asked great questions. You could see the enthusiasm in their eyes and the interest in their voices. They peppered me with questions about writing. “How long does it take you to write a book? . . . How many books have you written? . . . How do you choose what to write about?” They all participated. I hope their eagerness never dies. Vision for the future, even in fourth graders, is crucial. Education has to be more than learning “stuff.” There must be vision and purpose. These children, because of their teachers and the school staff, get a full dose of both every day. They will be the future of this great nation.
I pointed out in my messages that the other side understands the importance of education. Nebuchadnezzar certainly understood it. The king gathered up the best and brightest of what Israel had to offer, gave them a free education, paid for their meals, and indoctrinated them in the Babylonian worldview with the express purpose of entering “the king’s personal service” (Dan. 1:1–5). Modern tyrannies have similar designs on education. Adolf Hitler knew that the way to capture a nation and establish a new way of governing the world was to educate the children. The following is taken from William L. Shirer’s book The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich:
“When an opponent declares, ‘I will not come over to your side,’ he said in a speech on November 6, 1933, “I calmly say, ‘Your child belongs to us already . . . What are you? You will pass on. Your descendants, however, now stand in the new camp. In a short time they will know nothing else but this new community.’” And on May 1, 1937, he declared, “This new Reich will give its youth to no one, but will itself take youth and give to youth its own education and its own upbringing.”1
Too many conservatives, even those who have chosen Christian education for their children, have not always understood the long-term implications of education. The other side does. Consider the words of John Dunphy in the infamous and often quoted comments that appeared in his article “A Religion for a New Age” The Humanist magazine:
I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers who correctly perceive their role as the proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being. There teachers must embody the same selfless dedication of the most rabid fundamentalist preacher, for they will be ministers of another sort, utilizing a classroom instead of a pulpit to convey humanist values in whatever subject they teach, regardless of the educational level—preschool, daycare, or large state university. The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and the new—the rotting corpse of Christianity, together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent in its promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of “love thy neighbor” will finally be achieved.2
Dunphy gets it. Has he backed off of these comments? Not a bit. He’s made it clear that the battle is on, and “humanism is going to win.” Let’s take up the challenge. Humanism won’t win as long as the students in Mrs. Brearly’s Fourth grade class continue to do their work. The future can be bright again.
- William Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich New York: Simon and Schuster, 1960), 249. [↩]
- John J. Dunphy, “A Religion for a New Age,” The Humanist (January/February 1983), 26. [↩]