To know God and to make Him known.

Knowing When Education Isn't the Problem


Western civilization has a bad habit of thinking that every problem can be solved with education. Reinhold Niebuhr, in his book The Irony of American History, pointed out that in the East, during the first half of the twentieth century, people believed property to be the root of evil and, therefore, they tried to get rid of evil by getting rid of property. Hence, the eastern hemisphere experienced the rampant expansion of communism. The West, on the other hand, believed ignorance to be the root of evil and tried to get rid of every evil through education.

The problem with both of these views, as Niebuhr points out, is that they forget both the good and the bad of the human condition. We are not singular entities. We are neither economic beings nor rational beings—we are human beings. Therefore, our solutions to problems must take into account the whole person. We cannot get rid of evil by removing property or ignorance.

Often, the solutions to our social ills have nothing to do with education, and everything to do with morality or habits. The solution to a bad habit is not education; the solution is the formation of good habits. The solution to immorality is not education regarding the problems of immorality or its potential consequences; the solution comes through training in and meditating on righteousness. Focusing on virtue can facilitate better and more permanent changes than merely educating people about the problems of evil.

Education is often good and necessary, but the sad thing is, our leaders think education is the cure for the whole human condition. The only cure I know of for the whole human condition is Christ. Through home education, we are able to transmit our faith reliably and faithfully to the next generation, and incorporate the whole of the person and the faith into that upbringing. Then our children will be equipped to be salt and light in our world.

CATEGORIES: Classical Christian Education

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