Upon the Subject of Education

Last fall, we walked downtown to drop off my daughter’s paperwork to officially begin homeschooling. It felt strange walking into the Department of Education to say, “No, thanks,” but I suppose that was all in my head. The lady at the desk was quite nice.

On the way back to the car, I noticed an interesting quote at the bus stop:

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. –Abraham Lincoln, 1832

I couldn’t agree more. It is the most important subject for the American people to be engaged in. And the state has no business dictating any plan or system. If you continue in that same speech…even in the same paragraph…the thoughts are even more relevant.

Upon the subject of education, not presuming to dictate any plan or system respecting it, I can only say that I view it as the most important subject which we as a people can be engaged in. That every man may receive at least, a moderate education, and thereby be enabled to read the histories of his own and other countries, by which he may duly appreciate the value of our free institutions, appears to be an object of vital importance, even on this account alone, to say nothing of the advantages and satisfaction to be derived from all being able to read the scriptures and other works, both of a religious and moral nature, for themselves. For my part, I desire to see the time when education, and by its means, morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry, shall become much more general than at present, and should be gratified to have it in my power to contribute something to the advancement of any measure which might have a tendency to accelerate the happy period.

Now we have the system in place with wide scale “education” of the population, but it has hardly lead to morality, sobriety, enterprise and industry. In fact, it has lead to quite the opposite. Morality does not come from “sex-ed,” and the pervasive undercurrent of moral relativism throughout the curriculum. Sobriety? All partying aside, I don’t think the current trend of “edutainment” lends itself well to “sobriety.” I don’t see how we can encourage enterprise through multiple choice questions. Finally, with all the emphasis on standards and accountability, we also have a growing concern for the “esteem” of the child. That in and of itself is not bad, but disallowing games that have a loser? Replacing grades with number or shape notation that no one can decipher? Praising mediocrity while stifling excellence?

Of course, perhaps that comes from the dissolution of the purposes Mr. Lincoln outlined just before that. Our children no longer have the resources to enjoy the histories of our country and of other nations, they are not taught the value of our free institutions, and certainly are not encouraged to read the scriptures nor other books of moral value.

But we do still have part of a quote from a good speech engraved at a bus stop. It is nice to occasionally discover remains from a former age. Is there yet enough life left in them, not to restore this nation to what it was, but to recapture the vision in order to become all that it can?

It is to the conversation regarding this “most important subject” of education to which I submit this blog.

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0 thoughts on “Upon the Subject of Education

  1. Hi Dana,
    I came to your blog from the link you posted on the Integrity of the Bible group at yahoo. Though I am not an American citizen the education system not only in America but around the world alarms me especially in the so called Christian West. I have noticed that for many years now education of our young ones is being dummed down, though I am 43 years old I can see a great deal of change from when I recieved my education. At school in those day’s religious education meant a study of the Bible and Christian morals. I know that in American schools for example that teachers can be prosecuted if they mention Jesus (correct me if I am wrong) yet it is ok to teach TM, Buddhism et al. That is also beginning to happen in the UK as well, RE now means multi-faith teachings, as I am sure you are aware the ruling monarch of England has always been known as “The defender of the faith” (anglican) yet Prince Charles has already said that he wishes to be the defender of the faiths (plural). It is the removal of Jesus from the classroom that has resulted in the boom in teenage pregnancies and immoral attitudes to life, I only have praise for Christian parents who take thier children out of public education and teach them the values that they need. I have read somewhere the other day that the Bush administration is considering making home education illegal, any way I will get off now and just say that I have enjoyed looking over your blog and will visit again.
    Yours in Jesus,

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Steve, and feel free to contribute any time. I would need more information on what you are referring to in regards to President Bush on homeschooling. He favors a number of reforms to our public education system which would likely affect homeschoolers greatly, but I don’t think he has ever directly spoken against homeschoolers. Yes, public school teachers are not allowed to proselytize…there are ways to mention Christ in the classroom, but not as sovereign creator and judge. He may be presented as an historical figure and the bible may be read as literature. Technically, the same goes for any other religion, but there does not seem to be the fuss about them when teachers teach these religions. I suppose because the ACLU isn’t behind the defense of students so there isn’t the same kind of money.

    I agree with you on the removal of Christ from education, but I think that was symptomatic of American’s removal of Christ from their homes and their hearts.

  3. I enjoyed what you had to say! There is so very much truth and relevance to it. On a side: those numbers and shapes that replaced letter grades–the kids figure out the new marks and know who is at what level and it’s the same old thing. The school is fooling nobody.

    A little about me: I am a former school teacher, I am a fairly conservative liberal 🙂 and I am raising 7 children–the youngest I am planing to begin homeschooling here shortly …if we haven’t already started 🙂

    I look forward to browsing and reading your blogs! They seem for thought provoking and interesting just from this initial viewing.

  4. Thanks, Shawna. I’m a fairly libertarian conservative. Meaning basically I believe in most of the typical conservative viewpoints, but do not believe it is government’s role to enforce that on other people.

    I’m a former school teacher, too, but “only” have four in my current class.

  5. Very well said!! I think the burden falls to the parents to not only teach their children about GOD but to live WITH GOD!! Not enought of that these days. I live in Japan, home schooling here is not as simple as filling papers. We are bound by American laws but no one seems to know what state we fall under. I have enjoyed your blog and hope to continiue to..
    Be Blessed…

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