Volume 12, Issue 3: Eschaton
The Academic Transition
Jack Van Deventer
Considering our theme "Pop goes the Culture" it should come as no surprise that the collapse of government education will provide one of the loudest "bangs."
Government education's effectiveness in keeping people in line, dutifully thinking the same, has been quite successful. Graduates of these programs have readily accepted their indoctrinations while placing "Question Authority" bumper stickers on their cars. However, the government educational system, the catalyst for much of our cultural decline, is beginning to break apart. The cracks are widening and collapse is inevitable. Therefore Christians need to be prepared for the demise of government education. Pop education will prove to be just as fleeting as the pop culture it props up.
The erosion in the dominance of government education is caused by several factors: skyrocketing costs, declining test scores, and competition from private schools, home schooling, and online education. Violence in schools is an added corrosive factor. Columbine was just the beginning. People from all walks of life are pulling their kids out. The exodus has already begun. Government educators know there's nothing they can do to stop it. Parents will soon have many more educational alternatives at their disposal. Big business is well aware that the educational market is an immense pot of gold.
We live in a knowledge-based society and knowledge workers form the biggest part of the work force, hence the demand for genuine education is skyrocketing. The education market in the U.S. is sizable, about $1 trillion or 10% of the GNP. The market is expected to expand very quickly. Online delivery is one factor fueling the rapid growth. "Webeducation" is expected to be the next big thing. Christians have been slow to offer educational services over the web, but look for that to change in the next few years. When Jones International University, a private university, became the first completely online school to receive accreditation, the government schools objected strongly. They detest competition.
Many online education providers are appearing on the web, backed by some of the largest companies and some of the nation's wealthiest investors. Some college textbook publishing companies are actively involved in disintermediation, cutting out the middle-man (government universities). The publishing companies, understanding that "content is king" in terms of profitability, are setting up their own online classes with their own teachers and books. They'll follow-up with full-blown college degree programs, then they'll move to provide educational services in the K-12 sector. The bottom line is that the government education monopoly is on the way out.
The rise of Christian education and the deterioration of government education mean that Christians may soon be surprised to find themselves in the academic driver seat. Faithful Christians who educate their children have tremendous advantages over their unbelieving counterparts. But ideas have consequences and, depending on one's worldview, the advantages could easily be squandered. A Christian's mistaken view of God's plan for the future can destroy an otherwise golden opportunity.
Consider the impact of one's eschatological views in the area of education. Too many premillennialists want to throw their children out into the government school cesspool of ideas to be "salt and light." A child's attempt to withstand the secular onslaught is like trying to stop a flash flood with a trash can lid. The poor kid won't even know what hit him. When these children are overwhelmed by the surrounding rebellion their parents will wash their hands of the responsibility and say to themselves, "We did everything we could..."
Many amillennialists are smart enough to avoid such obvious pitfalls and opt for a Christian education. But what does an amillennialist prepare his child for? Increased apostasy? The coming Antichrist? The amillennialist sees a grim and dismal future for Earth's history, so there's no concept of cultural advancement. Things on Earth are "worldly" and "carnal." Education with a gnostic worldview can only prepare one for retreat. It is, as J. Gresham Machen noted, "withdrawing from the world into a sort of modernized intellectual monasticism."
Postmillennialists should prepare their children for success by recognizing that the earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof. Christ's victory on the cross has cultural and academic implications. Christians are, by definition, the most power-filled people in the world. That means that they should, in humility, work diligently, study harder, prepare more, learn more, and know more than their pagan counterparts. When one does this over several generations amazing things happen. God blesses those who trust Him and obey His commandments.
From an academic standpoint, faithful and obedient Christians will be far out in front of the rest of society when the culture wakes up to realize that government education was an abysmal failure. Like the fall of communism in Russia, the academic collapse will be both rapid and unexpected. Will Christians be prepared when the public at large turns to them for advice on how to educate children? Will society see the fruit of obedience demonstrated in Christian children who are polite, respectful, and rigorously educated? Let us pray so. This is a golden opportunity for Christians to show the world what faithfulness to God and His Word will do.