Every parent agrees that a good education is one of the most vital and significant aspects of their child’s development and preparation for adulthood. Some parents go to great lengths to access the right school: moving house to be in the right catchment area or paying steep fees for their child to attend one of the prestigious private schools. Why? Because there is an undisputed and clear correlation between the education of a child and their later success as an adult.
Where to educate? The stakes are high because the consequences are huge. It is parents that must make these decisions. Some parents try to avoid any risk by opting for the conventional and safe option. But is it safe to put God in a box? Is it possible to put God in a box and still regard Him as Almighty God? Although you might not think about it in these terms, a child in a non-Christian school is taught that God, if He is even acknowledged, belongs in a box, isolated and separate from life.
The choice for a Christian parent is between full-time or part-time Christian Education. Ultimately every Christian parent provides a level of Christian Education for his or her child. Reading and explaining the Bible, praying as a family, going to Church, in providing love, nurture and discipline, together with the general example and testimony of the parent’s everyday life. If you are a parent you will know how difficult this can be, particularly to do so consistently. Children are very quick to notice inconsistency.
The mind of a child is like a sponge, absorbing information and learning easily. But, particularly when they are young, children will accept information without thinking about it critically. The ‘innocence’ of a child to accept at face value what they are told is something that makes a child both charming and vulnerable. The ability to think critically marks maturity. “But my teacher said…” is a powerful and persuasive argument in the mind of a child.
Every one knows that a child’s security and stability would be compromised were the parents to argue and undermine one another all the time. It is not good for any child to be constantly confronted with mixed messages. Yet to some extent this is what happens when Christian parents send their children to be educated in a non-Christian school. The school speaks ‘in loco parentis’ that is, in the place of the parents. Yet, for Christian parents, the non-Christian school (acting on their behalf) immerses their child into a worldview that conflicts and contrasts at almost every level and undermines the parent’s God-given responsibility to train their children.
Attending mainstream school, children from a Christian home become familiar and comfortable with both environments, and develop an ability to move seamlessly between the two. Home life within a Christian context and outside the home in a non-Christian context. Most parents anticipate, though admittedly with some misgivings and apprehension, the time when their child will begin to live with increasing independence outside the family home. But one reason why so many young adults at this stage turn their back upon the faith of their parents is that they have become practiced and comfortable in a world outside the parental home which has no place for God. Yes God is sovereign, and works graciously, and there are examples of young adults who later repent and return to the Saviour. But there are many more examples of young adults who continue regardless, and show no sign of returning. Almost every Scottish church congregation over the past 50 years proves this point again and again.
The primary concern is not simply that immoral behaviour is presented as normal, but that a world without God is presented as normal. Issues to do with authority, morality, relationships, and ethics all stem from this, and the current deterioration of ‘Christian’ standards within non-Christian schools is an inevitable consequence of a world-view that excludes the living God. It is acknowledged that there is not a complete absence of religious education in non-Christian schools. However where religion is taught it is in isolation from other subjects – effectively religion is portrayed as a consequence-free personal choice, and one that has no particular relevance upon the everyday ‘real world’.
School, where more than half of each weekday is spent, contributes significantly to teaching a child how to think. Not only is information provided for the minds of children, but the system and process of education helps develop and form the mind. A child schooled in non-Christian context will think in a non-Christian context, and will be less able to think critically about contemporary society.
Although some element of traditional values may be found in different schools, particularly where there is a good class teacher – ultimately secular humanism, where God is either excluded or merely tolerated, governs the overall system that actively denies the Lordship of Christ. The priority of a Christian School is not to present traditional values, but the contemporary claims of the unchanging God.
No school system, not even the best Christian one, can make a child into a Christian. God alone is able to convert a sinner and bring that person to faith. But God does not work in a vacuum; He uses various means and influences. The intention of providing a full-time Christian Education is that it will compliment (not substitute) what the child learns at home and in Church. No educational system can ultimately shelter a child from ‘the world’ but the correct system can prepare the child to increasingly make a constructive contribution. Christian Education is not about isolation; it is about the best possible preparation for a child who must live in a complex and demanding world.
Full-time Christian Education is consistent with the command upon parents to bring up their children in the ‘nurture and admonition of the Lord’ (Ephesians 6:4). God instructs His people to teach their children diligently at all times (Deuteronomy 6 particularly v7-9) at home… outside the home… in the evening… in the morning. This does not mean that the parents must do all the teaching directly, but it does mean that when they delegate, it must be to someone who will instruct, nurture, and direct the child according to these same principles.
It is necessary for an educational system to work to robust academic standards, and a Christian School is no different, aiming to provide an environment where each child is encouraged to fulfil his or her own academic potential across a wide range of subjects. The unique gifts given to each child are developed so as to complement academic growth – resulting in an overall emphasis upon personal character and integrity.
The Bible, being God’s Word, provides the only consistent context within which any aspect of God’s world can be studied, whether arts or science. Acknowledging the creator, recognising the beginning of the world, anticipating its conclusion and remembering man’s great purpose.
Many Christian parents are uncomfortable with the thought of full-time Christian Education, in part because they know that if they allow themselves to become convinced then they must either act or compromise. But failure to think through the issues is also to compromise. Choosing to pursue full-time Christian Education is not normally the easy option. There is a cost. But there is also a cost to refusing full-time Christian Education. The choice for parents is which cost are they willing to bear?
One option is to consider Mannafields Christian School, where with over 25 years of experience, children are taught within a context that recognises the ultimate authority of God’s Word. Mannafields acknowledges that control of the child’s education is the responsibility of parents, and anticipates parental involvement in all the different aspects of school life. The educational aim of Mannafields is that each child will be taught, nurtured and encouraged toward fulfilling their potential – by glorifying God and enjoying Him forever.