I’m not trying to be shocking with the title, it is just the more I read and think about education, the more I am certain there is no way to separate the intellectual and moral aspects of it. All education transmits a certain set of morals, truths, and ethics. It just does.
Our children aren’t machines to be programmed with facts an figures. They internalize what they are given and it shapes the way they view the world. Text books are written by people and people have biases. You can tell how they feel about a subject by how they write about it. There are no completely objective texts. Every author passes judgement on the ideas they handle, whether implicitly or explicitly, and those judgements are taken in by the student. Teachers can seek out texts that transmit the judgements they are with, they can be cognizant of the biases in the material they are using and point out to their students where the text differs from their own beliefs, or they can not give it a thought and let their students buy into whatever is put in front of them. But, even if they purposefully seek to transmit no moral truths, they are doing exactly that in absentia.
Traditional or Classical educators specifically sought to transmit truth and instill ethics. Their goal was to produce virtue in their students. The methods varied but the goal was the same. Christian educators are at an advantage because we know the source of virtue; we know where to point our students.
Modern education, however, actively seeks to ingrain socialism, relativism, postmodernism, and secular humanism. But, even if it weren’t an explicit goal, the outcome would be the same. Once they removed virtue as a goal, once they removed God as the center, relativism was the outcome. Everyone has a throne in their heart and it doesn’t stay vacant. They are looking for something to put on it, something to serve. If we deny absolute truth, if we deny universal right and wrong, then we don’t need to name the alternative for it to be assumed. And if our worldview is based on there being no universal truth, then self-interest is the only thing that makes sense.
Though I believe modern education seeks to put the state and collectivism on the throne of every child’s heart, I believe that there doesn’t need to be an intentional effort to make it happen. The divorce of truth from education implicitly transmits the worldview they favor. The fact that they are explicitly seeking to transmit those “truths” just makes the inculcation that much deeper.
We have to be aware that we are transmitting values when we teach, and we need to be intentional about transmitting God’s truth. Our goal should be to see God on the thrones of our children’s hearts; intellectual prowess needs to be a secondary concern. Men and women who love God and seek wisdom and virtue should be our goal. If we don’t seek to intentionally transmit truth in education then we run the risk of unintentionally transmitting the opposite: that God is not real, or not worth knowing; that truth, virtue, beauty, and goodness are not worthy of our endeavors; that there is nothing outside of self.