I have debated with myself for years whether or not to write an article like this. I recognize my observations reflect only my own viewpoint and doubtless some of the questions I raise will probably ruffle some feathers. Nevertheless, I feel that this subject needs to be considered and discussed.
Are we cheating our kids in material things? In observing the clothes they have, the cars the teenagers drive, and spending money they seem to have available for eating out after church, I would have to conclude that our kids are not being cheated materially.
Are we cheating our kids spiritually and morally? This is much more difficult for a human to evaluate because man can only look at the outward while God looks at the heart. One can, however, observe things like pregnancies occurring outside of marriage, attendance at church and Sunday School, and test scores on Bible Content examinations. For most of the past twenty-three years I have taught in three of our Bible colleges. In each of these schools I have administered the 150 question standardized Bible Content Tests of the Accrediting Association of Bible Colleges to incoming freshmen. Each year I am dismayed by how little they seem to know about the Bible. This is really alarming when I consider that we are getting choice students at our Bible Colleges. Most of them want to do something for the Lord. Also astonishing is the little some know who have been raised all their lives in the homes of pastors and district and national officials. Another interesting fact that we have discovered is that young people who have graduated from Christian schools do not score significantly better on these Bible content tests than those who went to public schools. This fall the median score for both groups was 67 out of 150. This leads me to wonder if, after spending a substantial amount of money on Christian Schools we might be failing to accomplish one of the main purposes of having a Christian School - that is, solidly establishing our children in the Word of God.
Are we cheating our kids educationally? In a society that is becoming increasingly more global and technical will our children be able to cope? Will they have the necessary skills in math, science, communications, and foreign languages? Can they learn these skills from teachers who don't have this knowledge? The first law of teaching given by John Milton Gregory in his classic book The Seven Laws of Teaching is that "The Teacher must know that which he would teach." No other qualification is so fundamental and essential. While our Christian schools are doing a good work, why shouldn't we lift our standards of academic excellence in order to truly equip our children academically as well as in the scriptures? I heard this saying years ago: "One can no more teach what they don't know than they can come back from where they've never been." How can students learn correct grammar from teachers who don't use correct grammar? How can they learn to write from teachers who are not skilled in writing or have to work a second job and thus don't have time to correct writing assignments? If in the final analysis, we can't financially afford to provide an adequate educational program, perhaps we could concentrate on doing what we should be able to do, that is, in training spiritual and moral values. Even if a church is unable to sponsor a Christian school, wouldn't it be helpful if a good after-school or Saturday morning and Sunday School program were instituted? I refer to a program which the parents supported financially while requiring attendance by their children. It would have to include some fun time since the kids would be in public school earlier in the day. If it was held after school it would help solve the problem for working parents who struggle to know what to do with children between school dismissal and the time parents get home from work. Statistics show that many of the moral problems of youth occur during this time often at the homes of parents who are at work.
Do we really care about our kids or are we willing to let them be cheated? I have observed that only a small percentage of parents attend parent-teachers meetings whether they be at public or Christian schools. One of the key ingredients in the success of a child's education is parental involvement. I assume I am writing to parents and I would like to challenge you to find out how your children are doing. Why not have your child take the tests that most selective colleges require such as the SAT or ACT exams? Why not give them a Bible Content test such as the one found in the Pentecostal Publishing House Youth Teacher's Manual, Winter 1991-92? Another way to determine their Bible knowledge is to play the game Bible Trivia. To improve their Bible knowledge I would encourage you to read the Bible through with them. The General Sunday School Department has an excellent program called BREAD (Bible Reading Enriches Any Day.) The teacher has not taught unless the students learn. The ultimate goal is not what they know but what they do. But how can they do right unless they know right? Let's not cheat our kids! They are so valuable both now and in the future.
This article was first printed in First Love in Spring 1992.