Secularization and Schooling

(Guest post by Greg Forster)

OCPA carries my article on secularization and schooling:

Our schools produce secularization because they are forced to educate students in a pluralistic society without allowing those students to integrate their education with the reality that human beings are religious creatures. We have a government school monopoly, which means one size has to fit all. But one size can’t fit all when it comes to the things that matter most.

Educating children without reference to religion produces secularization in multiple ways. Children learn from an early age that their own religion, whatever it is, is a private hobby, because it’s not part of what we teach them about in school. Children also learn that the parts of life that don’t actually happen in a religious setting should be organized without reference to religion, because the knowledge base upon which our social and cultural systems are based was taught to them in exactly that way.

Worst of all, while schools make major efforts to teach moral character to students, they can’t ground virtues like honesty, generosity and self-control in any adequate source. This leaves them either indoctrinating children in an essentially selfish morality (teaching students that “you’ll be happier in the long run if you don’t lie” also teaches them that “what makes you personally happy is the standard for judging what is morally good”), or just wagging their fingers and telling students to be good without telling them how or why. Neither approach actually forms students with the character and virtues that a free society needs.

Exercise your right to bring your whole self into the public square by letting me know what you think!

6 Responses to Secularization and Schooling

  1. Eastern New Mexico University says:

    Interesting and insightful post by Greg- this is really something that needs to be researched more- how children currently develop their spirituality and or religion ( and if there is a difference) and how they go about learning about religion ( some kids watch those televangelists on t.v. thinking that is somehow religion) and of course we have the “holiday church” experience ( kids go to church on Christmas and or Easter- or maybe both-but the rest of the year is spent sans any type of instruction or exposure. Yes, a free society needs character and virtue- but are the schools able to deliver in a comprehensive manner or even should they…

  2. pdexiii says:

    Where I teach may be a public charter (middle) school, the morality we nurture in our students is religiously grounded, Christianity specifically. My faith is weaved into my behavior expectations; to those who are Christian/study Christianity it may be obvious. It’s not a coincidence we have a fraction of the behavior issues other schools do, and most importantly the deep affection for our school our graduates carry with them well into adulthood.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Yes, I think this phenomenon is probably common (though far from universal) not only in charter schools but in district schools. We were very comfortable sending our daughter to district elementary and middle schools, because we live in heavily-churched areas and the character education in our district schools was implicitly Christian – both because the teachers and administrators were mostly believers and because any serious deviation from the prevailing norms would have provoked parental fury (among the middle and upper class parents who have the power to get their way).

  3. pdexiii says:

    Another thing:
    The young Black student drawing an SR-71; that would have been me. #nerdalert

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