The Dumbing Down of the Church
(c) 2011-2016 by Arlo E. Moehlenpah
Dumbing Down of the American Educational System
There is tremendous concern regarding the dumbing down of the educational system in the United States. For more than three-decades there has been a decline of the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) scores which document the dumbing down of American education. Even more alarming is our performance against the students of other industrialized countries particularly in math and science. Most American students spend less than half their school day actually studying academic subjects. Their schedules are jammed with course work in self-esteem, personal safety, AIDS education, family life, consumer training, driver's ed, holistic health, and gym. Also students in some countries are given 3 to 7 times the amount of homework as American children.(1) It is not surprising that many foreign countries are surpassing the United States in many areas. Many US high school graduates have poor skills in spelling, grammar, and simple mathematics such as fractions and percentages. The educational establishment often blames "poor physical facilities and excessive numbers of students" for low test scores and mediocre academic performance. But students in other countries do better than American students with worse buildings and larger numbers of students in classrooms (2)
In response to the problems mentioned above the U.S. congress passed the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 with great bipartisan support. No Child Left Behind requires all government-run schools receiving federal funding to administer a state-wide standardized test annually to all students. The students' scores are used to determine whether the school has taught the students well. Schools, which receive Title I funding, must make Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) in test scores. One problem with standardized tests is that it encourages teachers to teach a narrow subset of skills that the teacher believes will increase test performance. This is called “Teaching to the test." Also one state admitted that they lowered the standards to improve test scores. (3) Another problem is that money given to districts, principals and teachers was tied to these test scores. For example the Washington D.C public schools won an extra $75 million in the U. S. government’s competition where test scores were a factor.(4) In one school there the teachers each won an $8,000 bonus, and the principal won $10,000 on two different years. Cheating on these standardized test were detected by the same scanners that score the tests. Test-takers pencil in a circle or a bubble on the answer sheet. When an answer is erased, a smudge is left behind, and machines tally the erasures as well as the new answers for each student and the total number of changed answers for an entire classroom. (5). In Atlanta, Georgia a state investigation accused 178 teachers and principals of erasing students’ incorrect answers and supplying the correct ones on standardized tests. The cheating went on for years. Meanwhile, the superintendent of the district was gathering accolades for raising minority test scores. She was even named the U.S. 2009 Superintendent of the Year. (6) She implemented programs that paid teachers bonuses in exchange for achieving results above and beyond the rates required to make AYP. The teachers changed student scores on standardized tests, to make their schools look better than they were. It was gross, flagrant, eraser-on-the-page cheating. At weekend pizza parties teachers went through stacks of standardized tests, erasing wrong answers, filling in right ones. (7)
Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt, a former official at the Department of Education in the Reagan Administration wrote a book called The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America. She claims American social engineers have systematically gone about destroying the intellect of millions of American children for the purpose of leading the American people into a socialist world government controlled by behavioral and social scientists. They have worked together to advance an agenda that will change America from a free republic to a socialist state. All of this is being financed by the American people themselves through their own taxes! Social engineers use a deliberately created education "crisis" to move their agenda forward by offering radical reforms that are sold to the public as fixing the crisis - which they never do.(8) The National Education Association is NOT a professional organization of teachers dedicated to improving quality of teaching. It is a Labor Union. The problem with education isn’t low paid teachers and crowded classrooms – but rather, is the result of a cynical, deliberate attempt to dumb-down America to promote a radical political agenda. (9) For more information on this subject do a google search on “dumbing down in education.”
Dumbing Down of the Church
How about the church? Am I referring to the spellings and incorrect grammar on the songs that are projected onto screens? (I recently saw four spelling and grammatical errors in one short song). No, that might be the result of our educational system or perhaps the projectionist did not receive the words until just before service begins. Am I referring to the educational level of the members of our congregational? No, we have more people with advanced agrees in our churches than ever before. I am referring to the lack of basic Bible knowledge of the people in our churches. I have been involved in Bible college work for most of the past 40 years and I am appalled by how little Bible knowledge incoming students have even though in many cases they are the “cream of the crop” as far as a desire to serve the Lord.
My suggestions to reverse the dumbing down of the church
1. Redirect our spotlights. Someone once said that what we spotlight is what we get. We have spotlighted singers, musicians and preachers but not teachers. As a result we have some of the finest singers, musicians, and preachers but not many teachers.
2. Readjust our priorities. The teaching of the word of God must be a high priority for the church. Jesus did much teaching and was recognized as “a teacher come from God.” (John 3:2) The apostles made it clear that they would give themselves “continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.” One of the qualifications of a bishop (1 Tim 4:2) and a servant of the Lord (2 Tim 2:24) was that they must be “apt to teach.” Shouldn’t we find out if candidates for the ministry are able to teach? I have noticed that many pastors have the mistaken idea that teacher training sessions are only for those who teach children.
3. Readjust our church services. Our church services have much music but little teaching. Singing is mentioned twice (same incident) in the Gospels and once in the Acts of the Apostles but taught, teach or teaching is mentioned 61 times in the gospels and 19 in the Acts. Also, most of the songs we now sing have little content in the lyrics compared to what the songs had 50 years ago. I am not referring to a generational gap. I'm stressing content not style. The style of music in other countries and cultures can be quite different than ours but have good content. One can have good lyrics in different styles of music, but we need content to avoid dumbing down the music. Many scriptures were intended to be sung though we don't often hear anyone singing scriptures now.
4. Improve the training of teachers. At least once a year there should be training in teaching methods. If the students have not learned the teachers have not taught.
5. Do more testing in our churches. In good teaching one needs to determine ahead of time what the audience needs to know, feel, and do. Then we must find out if the students have learned what we wanted them to learn. We can find out to some degree what they know by questions and games. However, by these methods we usually only find out what a few know. The best way to find out what your people know is by written examinations. In a written examination each person is required to attempt to answer each question. In churches the t he examinations would not be given to determine grades ,but instead used as a means to help the pastor know what his congregation knows or doesn’t know. Pastors and parents would be shocked if they knew how little their congregation and children know. Why not try some exams and quizzes in your church? Also, determining what they feel and do with what is taught takes time to observe but is worth the effort.
6. Encourage more Bible reading in the homes. What percentage of time is spent at home reading the Bible compared to all the other activities? The BREAD (Bible Reading Enriches Any Day) program or others such as at www.doinggoood.org are good resources for families and individuals to use.
7. Encourage more to participate in Bible Quizzing and the M-90 program. Hiding the word in our hearts is one of the greatest defenses against sin. Small churches can team up with other churches. Not only will they learn more scripture but also meet new Christian friends.
8. Encourage more to go to Bible College. Jesus asked us to pray that the Lord of the harvest would send forth laborers into his harvest. (Mt 9:38) Have we gotten so materialistic that having a secular career and making money is more important than the will of God? Paul exhorted Timothy to study to show himself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15). We need to reverse the “dumbing down’ trend in our churches.
(1) Losing The (Education) Race by Charles J. Sykes http://www.sntp.net/education/education_stats.htm
(3) No Child Left Behind Act of 2001From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/No_Child_Left_Behind_Act
(4) Report: D.C. School May Have Tampered With Standardized Test Results http://dcist.com/2011/03/report_dc_school_may_have_fabricate.php
(5) When standardized test scores soared in D.C., were the gains real? By Jack Gillum and Marisol Bello, USA TODAY Updated 3/30/2011 12:17:10 AM
(6) Tampering with tests rob student learning By Mary Sanchez, The Kansas City Star Posted on Mon, Jul. 11, 2011 10:15 PM
(7) Caught! Teachers Cheating On Students’ Standardized Tests Monday, July 11, 2011 at 11:00 AM EDT http://onpoint.wbur.org/2011/07/11/teachers-cheating-in-schools
(8) Charlotte Thomson Iserbyt's new book, The Deliberate Dumbing Down of America
(9) Dumbing Down American Education? Posted on 03.7.09 Tom DeWeese, President of the American Policy Center and Editor of The DeWeese Report