Several times, I’ve heard a news commentator make a statement about the dismal state of the American Educational system. It’s hard not to wince when I hear someone give a bad report. But in reality, they are reporting the truth of what they see. When Nehemiah saw the destruction in Jerusalem he reported the truth when he said, “You see the trouble we are in: Jerusalem lies in ruins, and its gates have been burned with fire,” but then he adds, “Come, let us rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, and we will no longer be in disgrace.”

God has called those of us who will believe Him, to be restorers, repairers and rebuilders. When we see our schools in a state of failure, we rebuild, we repair and we restore. Maybe we even build it better than it was before the destruction. Is. 58:12 gives us encouragement. “Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will arise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.”

The idea to restore America’s education has been brought to my mind a lot lately. So I did some research and found information about a man by the name of Herbert Spencer. Spencer’s name is rarely mentioned in educational writings today, but in the mid 1800s his book was read and reread by almost everyone involved in the newly established public schools.

Mr. Spencer’s contained four essays on educational practices. Spencer was full on new ideas for education, so much so that he and like minded educators were called Progressives. The definition of a Progressive is someone who believes that to educate a child effectively is to attend to the child’s nature, and in particular to his mode of learning and stage of development, and to implement educational practices that will take into account the nature of the child and his stage of development. While the definition sounds wonderful, for Mr. Spencer it had one basic flaw.  You see, Mr. Spencer was a student of Charles Darwin and believed that as humans, we had evolved from animals, therefore teaching techniques were to be implemented that trained children much like animals would be trained.

The belief in evolution brought to American education a colossal thrust toward humanism. After all, if we evolved from animals, we are not really accountable to God – we were our own creator.  The major flaw that Spencer’s philosophy overlooked was the training of the moral facet of our nature. Man is not only a mind but he is a spirit, our spirits must be trained as well as our minds. Training the mind to the exclusion of the spirit is to train a person who stands a good chance of being amoral.

Spencer’s belief in evolution filtered through everything he wrote and was a major influence on other Progressive educators like John Dewey, Stanley Hall and William James.

Rather than despair, we can pray in faith to the one who has the answer and is waiting to deliver it. Join with me in a prayer:

 

Father, in the Name of Jesus, I repent for our educational forefather’s belief in evolution. You are our Creator. I ask for restoration of the knowledge of the God of Creation to be established in our children. Amen