Recently a couple of media articles have focused upon the success of religious schools in New Zealand. The Christian cynic would say that the day the (overwhelmingly secular) media start to credit Christian schools with success is the day one can safely conclude they must indeed be stellar institutions. This surely is an occasion when faint praise is not to damn, but to exult.
Notwithstanding the Christian cynic’s view, it is good to see church schools (predominantly Roman Catholic and Anglican) doing so well. The levels of demand for this kind of education in New Zealand are rising. Moreover, the demand is coming from non-Christian sections of the community. Why? Well, the answers are not hard to find. New Zealand’s education system is government controlled; the government and its institutions promote the secular, atheistic world-view by the blunt force of law. Tolerance of the Christian faith is strictly that–concessional tolerance. The secular establishment tolerates Christianity in the same way one would tolerate animism or clairvoyance–with the mien of polite condescension towards the ignorant.
But conscientious parents are less philosophically jaundiced.
Non-Christian parents, when asked why they value Christian schools, point not just to the high academic standards being achieved, but broader issues like the pastoral care in the school, the quality of teacher-pupil relationships, the acknowledgement that the wider school community has a vital part to play in a successful education programme, and an educational programme that upholds Christian social values. Parents really appreciate that their children are not going to be inculcated into the “merits” of teenage sexual exploration and experimentation, along with helpful hints to ensure that all parties thoroughly consented at all times.
Are we witnessing the first signs of the turning of the tide against secularism? Maybe. It’s too early to tell. Atheistic secularism cannot build a civilisation: it can only tear it down. It has no foundation upon which to build and no centre to hold a civilisation together. Voltaire and Nietzsche could only tear down. The resulting wasteland inevitably becomes not just tedious, but eventually abhorrent. The depredations of the abortion clinics–once publicised–ensure it.
Education–to be joyous, thrilling, exciting, and liberating–has to be undergirded by a belief in a bright future. Why else would teachers spend their working lives investing in the future by inculcating truth into the hearts and minds of children? Secular materialistic atheism just does not cut it. It cannot. Over time one finds that it is predominantly the Christians who are left with sufficient hope and joy to devote their lives and and pour out their life-force into the next generation.
Christians, after all, believe in the Creator whose wonderful world, created out of nothing, has been infected with human pride and malice. They believe that the Creator’s love for His creation (and thus mankind) has moved Him to also be a Redeemer of the world–to bring it back from the brink, from the abyss. The future for the human race is, therefore, bright–not because Man is to be falsely revered, but because God is infinite in glory and He cannot deny Himself. That makes Christians dance on the mountain tops. It also motivates them to sweat in the classrooms.
A plenitude of studies has shown that teachers make the greatest difference when it comes to education. Metro summarises the matter:
Teacher quality, especially where staff are motivated and organised to achieve by a good principal, is the greatest predictor of success for kids in school. Sadly, teaching is undervalued as a career option in New Zealand, so it doesn’t attract enough of our best and brightest young adults. And it’s too easy for mediocre teachers, who really should be doing something else, to clog up the staffroom. . . . What’s vital is that someone lights up a love of learning and an inner belief that they can and should set themselves high goals. Striking that match is what a great teacher does. [Simon Wilson, “24 Things to Know Before You Choose a School”, Metro, July 2015, p.43.]
Our argument is not that only Christians can be great teachers. Rather, we contend that on balance a preponderance of great teachers will be found in Christian schools. Why? Because they believe in God the Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ–the Saviour of the world. Therefore, kids are worth it–right down to a thousand generations of them.
Now, even professional Unbelievers are taking some note–for which we are thankful. But an increasing number of parents had the inside running and voted with their feet long ago. For which we are even more thankful.
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