Weaknesses of Secular Education

When the state determines what children should know, the perspectives they should hold, the values they should embrace, and the character that undergirds their commitments, it is limiting if not dangerous to society!

I’m just finishing a new book by Charles Glenn called Contrasting Models of State and School: A Comparative Historical Study of Parental Choice and State Control. Here, Glenn insightfully compares the development of state dominated schooling in Germany and Austria with the parent/community controlled schooling of the Netherlands and Belgium. The book is wonderful food for thought regarding school choice.

I find that the book illuminates how state controlled education stifles the philosophic and spiritual growth of the people, which in turn, limits society. When the state determines what children should know, the perspectives they should hold, the values they should embrace, and the character that undergirds their commitments, it is limiting if not
dangerous to society!

State controlled education is born out of a sense that the educational concerns of political leaders (or education “specialists”) are superior to those of the population - even within a democracy. State control expresses a distrust of citizens to discern what is true, worthwhile, effective, and meaningful. It presumes that the duty of citizens is to merely support the ideas of the state rather than to shape and expand them through critique.

Though American public schools may not be “heavy handed” with a “public agenda,” the negative effects of state educational control remain real. America’s secular education system separates or disconnects an individual’s deepest values and beliefs from their learning about art, science, literature… everything! Secular schooling limits a child’s motivation and framework for thought to “common” patterns of thinking.

America has reaped many of the benefits faith can bring to society, but our nation has been deprived of the creative thinking, action, and expression that an educational system that allowed families to choose between diverse religious schools could bring. The Netherlands has educational freedom, but little religious vitality… America has religious vitality, but little educational freedom. What could the future look like if these two strengths were brought together?
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