No Substitute For Intelligence

I need to take a break from our regularly-scheduled programming to vent some pent-up frustration. For those of you without the stomach for such a thing - feel free to skip this post.

Again, I warn you - this post is what's commonly called a "rant". It's neither nice, nor subtle nor poetic.

My detractors have pushed it - and I have been aggressed - and this is our therapy. If you can deal with that - read on. If not, skip it. There's plenty of other nice or subtle reading material around here. You might even find something poetic!

Rant Mode: On

OK - the issue is Christian private school. I've sent my boys to such schools since kindergarten. I wholeheartedly and passionately believe in the significantly better overall experience afforded by the Christian school environment, and have put my money where my mouth is to the tune of approximately $8000 per year.

Now if you don't hold to the Christian worldview - if you think we evolved from lightning-wrought protein molecules, or that the resurrection I talk about so often is just so much wishful thinking - then I understand completely why you'd look down on Christian education. In fact, I'd agree with you. Why on earth, from your perspective, would I spend $8000 per year when I've already paid for public school via our lovely confiscatory tax policy? Christian school is of course ludicrous to you - that's as it should be.

But if, on the other hand, you hold the Christian worldview - if you believe that we were created for a purpose, and that we must strive to complete the mission given us from our Master, and that we have a glorious resurrection in our future - then how on earth can you oppose Christian education?

I know, I know. I really should resist being condescending. Hmmm, uhhhh, awwww - phooey! My detractors are nothing but condescending - so here it comes right back at 'em...

I've been discussing this with friends, acquaintances, coworkers and family members for the last 10 years. This post is not directed at those who were young or those who didn't have children or those without any understanding of child rearing. Those folks get a pass - they're just inexperienced.

However, some of these people were parents of many years, some were "leaders", some held advanced educational degrees. Some even held multiple masters and doctoral degrees. These are the ones that should know better, or at least just keep their mouths shut.

But like an ultra-successful mentor of mine once told me - a degree is no substitute for intelligence (he's a PhD teaching at the University of Illinois, BTW). Bottom line: these people flat need to think a little harder before they open their ignorant mouths.

But since I'm such a nice guy, I'll lay it out for them - sparing them the effort of thinking strategically (which is obviously not their core competency).

The first step in my detractors' child-rearing plan is to slam their kids into public school with the rest of the hellions behaving like they're raised by wolves. Alcohol, drugs, sex, blatant disregard for parental authority, anti-Kingdom educational bias and an overall worldview that is somewhere between hedonism and nihlism. Great choice there, Sweet Pea!

Oh yes, I know - it's not that way at your public school. Keep your head in the sand there, Hoss - it's worked for you so well thus far.

And while you're at it, ask a 15 year old in public school what a "hook up" is. If they answer honestly, you'll be in for a shock.

Now the next great step in my detractors' weak, emaciated plan is to delegate the job of purging all that crap from their kids' hearts and minds to the poor youth pastor at their struggling little church. The last youth pastor I spoke to on this complained that he couldn't get the young people in the church to come to youth meeting "because they didn't want to play the games he'd planned". Yep, Whizbang, that's gonna make some real headway!

But that's what you're paying the tithe for, right? 10% of your income goes to the church "with the best youth program". I've heard that one a thousand times.

"I've gotta go to a church", you exclaim, "with a great youth program!"

OF COURSE YOU DO! You're on a mission to cleanse your kids from the toxic environment you've been shipping them off to every weekday morning.

Yep, 40 hours a week at public school being crammed full of who knows what, and then the youth pastor's gonna fix that in an hour on Wednesday night. Good luck with that, Sunshine!

Here's a tip - why don't we put our money into that which has the best chance of actually building the Kingdom?

And so I just choose to think more strategically. Why would I send my precious sons into the lions den for 12 years when I can send them to a place where the teachers share my values and worldview. Where they love my kids and pray both for and with them. Where they hold my sons to the same high standards I do.

They get the same or better academic education. They get to play all the same sports. They've got great computer and chemistry labs.

What was that you said? Did I hear the word "socialization"? You're suggesting that my boys aren't getting the socialization they need?

I wonder, did your mother have any children that lived?

My boys are getting positive, Kingdom-building socialization - thank you very much.

Now am I suggesting that there are no problems with Christian school? Nope. Of course there are problems. Of course I must still invest personal time and effort into my kids. Of course there's a bad apple here or there in Christian school. Of course just because the label says "Christian" - it doesn't guarantee Christian.

Of course I must still choose the right Christian school and then monitor both it and my kids. But at the end of the day - it's soooo much better than the alternative. Even the poor youth pastor's workload is just that much lighter.

Again, the only reason I post this is that my decisions in this regard have repeatedly been questioned by those who should know better. So like my mom used to say, "If you can't say something nice, then say nothing at all."

In fact, if my detractors would stop detracting - I wouldn't feel the need to write posts like this nor call their intelligence into question. Life would be better for everyone!

Rant Mode: Off

We now return to our regularly-scheduled programming.

7 comments:

Kim O said...

Thank you! I completely agree with you. Although I am young and am not yet married and don't have any children yet, I am a Children's Director at a church and my heart is totally for kids. And when I do have children, they will either go to a Christian school or be home-schooled. I attended public schools all my life, and I know from first-hand experience how bad they can be and are. School is where children spend a HUGE chunk of their childhood and adolescence; roughly 7 hours a day, 35 hours per week,1250ish hours a year, OVER 16,000 HOURS OVER ALL!!! That is a whole heck of a lot of time for bad influences upon very tender and influential minds!! And people expect their kids to be just fine and be MORE influenced from the 1-2 hours tops per week that they have at church/youth group than from all the time at school?? I just don't understand the logic! It just doesn't make sense. Anyway, thank you again for sharing. People need to hear the honest to God truth. Hopefully this will influence someone else to reconsider things about their kids. They are too precious to not do the best for them!

Mike said...

Thanks for your reply, Kim. It's good to hear from you - it's been awhile!

Your perspective is especially useful, being that you are so interested in working with and influencing children.

We'll talk more about this in the near future - stay tuned!

Kim O said...

Thanks! I'll be waiting and watching for it!

Dustin said...

Yeah, I was just having this talk with a friend the other day. I am completely kid free, praise God! (Just kidding, I do want kids but not for a few years.) I whole heartily agree with you Mike; if we can create a great learning environment away from the evils of a public school environment, than why would we not do just that. Of course the costs of sending kids to a public school are nothing; until you add up the expenses of teen pregnancy and kids stealling money to try and get drugs, hmmm. It might actually end up about even. And as much as I would love to have a grandchild one day; I would not want that grandchild at the expence of my son, or daughters childhood.

lowell3 said...

I don't have kids. So I can't completely sympathize with you. I do see what your pointing out. I agree about youth groups. I'm trying to think of better ways of approaching youth. Also to I'm surprised that you haven't been completely scorned for this blog. I just got scorched pretty harshly for my criticisms in a recent blog. Anyways keep rocking in the free world.

Curt said...

Michael,

I see some of your points and agree with them. Especially when you point out that you need to monitor your Christian school. You should not merely assume that a school is good.

When I was a teenager, I was very involved with my church. I taught Sunday School, volunteered with the youth group, worked in the parking lot, plus a myriad of other things. The personal assistant of the pastor asked me one day, "Why don't you go to this school? Why do you go to Pattonville?" My response did not please her. I said, "I go to Pattonville to be with my Christian friends".

I know from whence I speak. A lot of my friends went to this Christian school but to be honest with you, if they went to Pattonville, they probably wouldn't have been my friends. They were having sex in the bathrooms, huffing spray paint. If I had ever changed my mind and wanted to do drugs, I wouldn't buy any at Pattonville, I would wait for the Tuesday night youth meeting at church and speak with either R or R or T. (names left out for obvious reasons).

One day, I got a day off for teacher conferences. I knew I would get bored at home so I got permission from the principal to go to this school for a day. I was truly appalled. In the Spanish class, kids literally spun their desks around to talk to their friends. In the math class a young lady hit a young man and the teacher said, "Well, lets not use physical violence to solve disagreements". What on earth???

My girlfriend, who later became my wife, went to Christian Schools for her whole life. In college, not only did I practically have to re-write all her papers, she also didn't know the Bible. I could say, "Well, Ephesians 6:10 has this to say", and she would have a blank stare on her face.

I'm not trying to smash your points. Primarily because I agree with many of them. With that said, I received an excellent education in public school and none of my friends were doing the things that the people in that private school were doing.

Mike said...

Hey Curt - thanks for responding! I enjoyed talking with you the other night!

As you may recall, I was teaching the junior high portion of the youth group during a chunk of the period to which you're referring. Dean was very involved with the senior high students.

At any rate, I remember the issues you mention, and I understand your viewpoint. That situation, in that school, was out of control.

And I went to public school as well. I led the first Bible study group of any size at my high school (it had around 35 members, if I recall) and I was very outspoken about my worldview. Jeff was instrumental in teaching us the hows and whys of that posture, was he not?

So I agree that good can be found and done in public school. And I agree that rot can be found and done in Christian school.

But as far as a general rule of thumb - I propose that Christian education (properly chosen, continuously monitored and in conjunction with solid training and expectations at home) is a much better overall choice.

Thanks again Curt - it's a pleasure reconnecting with you!