Christian Schooling is NOT Brainwashing!

A Christian Bias Against Good Education
I just really want to clarify that generalizing all Christian educational institutions in that manner is quite erroneous.

This was an interesting post, but it bothered me a little for a couple reasons… Some of the comments bothered me even more.

I have been at a Catholic school my whole life… I spent K-8th at a Catholic grade school, then attended a Catholic high school (a school that is academically ranked extremely well in the state of Illinois with an average ACT score of 27 and was recently named the Sports Illustrated High School of the year), and I am now at Marquette University, a Jesuit college.

I can tell you that my education was NOTHING like the descriptions listed in this blog. While God is an active part of a Catholic school (in high school, we attended all-school liturgy assemblies about once a month, a cross was displayed in every classroom, we had to take a theology class every year, and the days always began with prayer) my education was not injected with an inherently Christian outlook.

I don’t recall God being mentioned more than three or four times in any given science class. I studied evolution and the Big Bang theory in biology. While my chemistry teacher would occasionally, after finishing a lecture on something like entropy, state that the Creator is very smart in how he made the universe, that was the extent of God in that class. My physics class was taught by a man who I honestly assumed to be an agnostic, and my environmental science class touched on the fact that we need to care about the earth because we are stewards of it.
I studied American and world history with literally no mention of God’s intervention in either. One of my required theology courses in high school was titled, “Comparative Theology”, a class in which we studied the structure and inherent beauty in other religions, including Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. I wasn’t brain washed by anyone. I wasn’t forced to believe anything and neither was anyone else.

I valued and continue to value the strength of my Catholic education greatly. I feel like instructors have a little more leeway to teach the way they’d like to teach. There are no standardized tests issued by the government that regulate class content and constrict the creativity of teachers. If nothing else, our education was enhanced by the Christian ideals of community, charity, and love.

Every year the football players held a food drive before Thanksgiving, while seemingly year round drives- such as school supply donations for underprivileged children and infant clothing for financially insecure single mothers- were a regular part of the school year. Our junior year theology project required 40 hours of community service.

Just because one attends any type of Christian school does NOT mean that every class will be debilitatingly bound in chains and gagged with the Bible. In my 14 years of experience in various Christian learning environments, I have found that it merely means bringing out the best in every aspect of every student- mind, body, and spirit.

My point is, not ALL Christian institutions brainwash students into believing that adding 1+1 = God in algebra. The faith is more of background music that plays gently behind the academic scene. It shows us what we’re capable of with such a fine education, so that, once we get to wherever our careers may take us, we always remember our Christian upbringing in order to better the lives of everyone around us and keep us strong and resolute in our endeavors.


10 Responses to “Christian Schooling is NOT Brainwashing!”

  1. M. Frederick Voorhees Says:

    But you do agree that the school that was the TOPIC of the blog entry was guilty of brainwashing, right?

  2. 06jk Says:

    No. Not in any way.

    I stated that I was never forced to believe anything and neither was anyone else. Plenty of students were agnostics or atheists. While they were required to take the same theology courses as everyone else they never had to AGREE with anything.

    Sorry, but I’m unclear on why you think I believe the school was guilty of brainwashing.

  3. smilingchaos Says:

    I never had any kind of Catholic education I am raised public all the way. Thanks I have always wondered about Catholicism.

  4. Ed Darrell Says:

    Catholic schools have a strong commitment to strong academics. Especially in the U.S., they come out of a tradition that says the best defense of religious freedom, the best way to have a good life and live it, is to learn as much as possible. Academics are front and center in Catholic schools — because, most Catholics believe, such striving for excellence is a way to honor God.

    Consequently, the caculus class descriptions in Catholic schools talk seriously about calculus. They are not fluff documents designed to make a surface appearance that they are godly — they are loaded with respect for the subject, for education.

    The class descriptions for the school in San Antonio show little awareness for the class subject material. They are dilletente documents.

    Here’s the description for caculus at Pope John-Paul II High School in Tennessee:

    Calculus: (1 credit)

    Calculus AB and Calculus BC are primarily concerned with developing the students’ understanding of the concepts of calculus and providing experiences with its methods and applications. These courses emphasize a multi-representational approach to calculus, with concepts, results, and problems being expressed graphically, numerically, analytically, and verbally. The connections between these representations are vital to the successful understanding of calculus. Calculus BC is an extension of Calculus AB rather than an enhancement. Common topics require similar depth of understanding and both courses are intended to be challenging and demanding. Through the use of unifying themes of derivative, integral, limits, and approximation, and applications and modeling, both courses become a cohesive whole rather than a collection of unrelated topics.

    Go to the website and look at the math program, how it’s integrated from start to finish. Notice the AP classes — not offered at Castle Hills FB School in San Antonio. Notice that, while no rational person would assume that Pope John-Paul II High School administrators, teachers, or educational experience is without God, there is a strong focus on the actual subject matter.

    The social studies curriculum strongly hints that they ignore the facts of history to propagandize. The biology curriculum statement announces boldly that they depart from science.

    That’s not the road to good academics, nor to good citizens from the students enrolled.

  5. 06jk Says:

    Awesome response, Ed. Thanks a ton.

  6. M. Frederick Voorhees Says:

    “I’m unclear on why you think I believe the school was guilty of brainwashing.”

    Because there seems to be some disparity between your own level-headed christian education and the pseudo-scientific propaganda perpetuated by the school highlighted in the post.

  7. 06jk Says:

    Hm… haha well I’m very happy that you consider me level-headed, but I really don’t think my school utilized any “pseudo-scientific propaganda”.

    It is very possible that I am looking at it with a loving bias, but even when I very consciously distance myself from the school and try to take an indifferent approach, I am still unaware of any brainwashing (haha using that word so much reminds me of a 1950’s sci-fi movie).

    But anyway, perhaps I am not choosing my words carefully enough? Looking back on my years there (it was Fenwick High School, if you are curious) I don’t ever recall any of my atheist/agnostic friends having any gripes. I felt it to be just a more personal environment than what other friends of my experienced at public schools.

    Like I said, none of my history classes ever made mention of God or Jesus, unless discussing things such as the very religious nature of Southern plantation owners before the Civil War and things of that sort.

    Maybe you’re referring to the morality issue at the school? I guess I can see how that may be considered “brainwashing”, but I see it more as examples of leadership that showed us how to be “men and women for others”, as Marquette University calls it.

    Make sense? Or am I missing your point completely?

  8. M. Frederick Voorhees Says:

    My point was simply that Castle Hills (the school featured in Ed’s post) seems like a different type of school than Fenwick High School. Your post seemed to focus on defending Fenwick, as you should, but its odd that you feel like you have to ALSO defend Castle Hills. Any fair-minded reader of your blog can see infer that you probably were not the victim of pseudo-scientific brainwashing. Please reread the course descriptions; 90% of a Calculus course focuses on reinforcing how smart God was.

    I have spent enough time in Texas to never want to go back. The promiscuous baptism that flourishes there is VERY different from the catholicism you know from blue state suburbia. To better understand the brand of christianity you’re defending, please google or wiki the Westboro Baptist Church, who just last week picketed the funerals of people who died when the Minnesota bridge collapse. They believe 9/11, Katrina, Virginia Tech, and all other American tragedies are the result of god punishing America because we as a nation are becoming more tolerant of homosexuality. Now rational christians will say these nut-jobs are in the minority, but then again so are militant Islamic suicide bombers. I believe religion gets a bad name because the truly good believers such as yourself feel obligated to defend everyone who shares their faith. Reasonable christians and muslims are condoning dangerous behavior by not speaking out against it.

  9. 06jk Says:

    Ohhh! I gotcha now! Haha.

    Well, my point was that not ALL Christian schooling is like that!
    Trust me, I am very familiar with the neo-conservative “The War is God punishing the U.S. for gays” theories, and frankly, it disgusts me. I try in just about everything to separate myself from those branches. They make the rest of us look like idiots.

    Because Marquette is a Catholic campus, there are often, during nice spring days, wackos holding signs, yelling, ranting, etc. If I’m not rushing to a class, I like to take some time to debate with them, and it gets pretty interesting. Funny how so many of those conservative Christians find it acceptable to bomb/set afire abortion clinics, while shouting, “Respect life from beginning to end!”

    The hypocrisy and double standards they hold are ridiculous, to say the least.

    Anyway, thanks for stopping by so many times! I look forward to hearing from you again!

  10. amberfireinus Says:

    Interestingly enough, ALL British schools used to be the same way. My husband had an amazing eduction because of it.

    I wish that our public schools would teach comparative religions. Understanding is the first step to tollerance.

    The catholic church has made many mistakes in its history. It has also made many great strides for us all. Im glad you were one who benefitted from this.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: