I have been challenged once again about the purpose of Christian Education. There is a line of thought that states that Christian Schools are so good because State Schools are so bad. In some ways I agree with that statement but by no means should that be the justification for Christian Schools......
In fact, I would argue that if that is the only reason that we have Christian Schools, it is deficit thinking and that the real value of Christian Education is being missed.
Christian Education has its value in what Christian Education offers, not because of what is offered in the state sector.
I have seen too many Christian Schools who exist because of this deficit thinking and have consequently pursued how not to be the state. Trying not to be something has no direction and the end goal is non-existent. It is not clear where you are headed, you only know what you do not want to be.
This lack of direction results in such Christian Schools doing all they can to not do what secular schools are doing and consequently doing a poor job in their delivery of both ‘Christian’ and ‘Education’. One default that I have seen Christian Educators defaulting to is that of what works in Sunday School.
A strong focus on Bible lessons rather than a focus on what each student needs to equip them to reach their full potential academically, emotionally and spiritually.
To draw a picture of this, I share one example of a lesson I walked into (not at HCS). The students, who were five years old were learning to identify the word ‘The’. The classroom of five- year-olds were dead silent colouring in a picture of Jesus with a crook in one of His hands and a sheep over His shoulders. The colouring in was immaculate, an obvious sign that they had had a lot of opportunity to practise colouring in. Curious to see how the colouring in helped the students identify the word ‘The’ I looked closer. Sure enough at the bottom of the page was the statement, ‘The Good Shepherd’, and the students had spent 2 seconds of the 30 minute lesson circling the word.
Christian Education has its real value in what Christian Education is, not in what it is not. It concerns me the amount of people who enrol in Christian Schools because of how bad the ‘other’ schools are. While Christian Education should always have ‘Church’ type activities such as prayer, scripture memorisation and Biblical literacy the most valuable part of Christian Education is development of the whole student. A Christian school such as Hamilton Christian School will always take its responsibility to educating your children very seriously. It is of course our desire that your child will be equipped in such a way that we bring glory to God in our efforts. However, our greatest desire is that, over your child’s time at Hamilton Christian School, he/she will develop an enduring understanding that God has designed them for a purpose, that while they are unique they are made in the image of God. That their Designer and Sustainer desires a meaningful relationship with them and that while things will not always go as expected in their life that Jesus is still in control. We also desire that they will establish a sound understanding that their life as a Christian should never be defined by obedience to a plethora of Old Testament rules, rather that they are to love the Lord their God with all their heart, soul and mind and to love their neighbour as they love themselves.
Yes, a lot of people still seek enrolment at Hamilton Christian School because of their concerns of what is happening in secular education. While I am grateful that they seek to partner with us for the education and equipping of their children, it does sadden me that the motivation is based in what we are not, rather than what we are. However, I guess we need to be held accountable for not painting a clear picture of the real value of Christian Education and therefore empower all Christian parents to make a truly informed decision about Christian Education.