All education is inherently religious because it begins with a presupposed view of the nature of what is real, of human life and of the world or cosmos. Whether held consciously or unconsciously all humans have a fundamental outlook called a worldview that influences thought and action and therefore teaching, learning and ethics or character. This worldview determines the nature of teaching and therefore the nature of learning. The successful teacher must consciously teach from the worldview that best explains the nature of things; if not his students will learn but a thin veil of truth no matter how many advanced placement tests he eventually passes. Therefore, all education must be truly religious or it will not answer the most important questions about life for the student and fail in its most important duty to develop them as meaningful humans.
When a teacher teaches anything, he must help the student uncover the worldview of an author, a thought, character or policy to gain understanding and perform meaningful analysis. It is just too dangerous to study without thinking. The importance of this process for the teacher cannot be understated, as the outlook of the student shaped over time in the classroom through this kind of study will one day determine how he will think about life and there for how he will live. How that student lives will help shape the world of tomorrow for good or for evil. It makes good sense for the teacher to adopt the best worldview paradigm available.
The Christian worldview presupposes that God is and that he has spoken through the Old and New Testament scriptures wherein the foundational answers to our questions about life lie. The non-Christian or at least the non-theist must unreliably search elsewhere whether in rational-humanism-materialism, a mythical spirituality or some kind of a synthesis. Therefore, teachers must teach from a consciously held Christian world and life view to successfully educate the students to think and live well. To do less is to rob the next generation and the world of tomorrow of that which is true, beautiful and good.
A worldview helps a person understand the fundamental questions that we all ask, such as “What is really real or who is God?” “Who am I and where did I come from?” “What is wrong with me and the world I am in and what is the remedy?” In just its first phrase, the 4th Century Nicene Creed summarizes the Christian answer to these questions for the benefit of the student’s outlook. “We believe in one God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible.” So, already we know that God is personal, “the Father,” yet absolutely in control leaving nothing to chance in that He is, “Almighty,” and therefore we need not live in fear. We realize that the nature of the created order is both material and spiritual in that it is both “visible and invisible.” We understand that we were made by God, and therefore important and valuable as is every other human. However, there is something wrong with us and for which we need a remedy. Our first parents left to their own free will sinned and fell from their original created estate leading humankind and all of the cosmos into a state of sin and misery. Thankfully, the Creed offers insight into the remedy for our terrible plight in that God out of his mercy provided “…one Lord Jesus Christ…who for us men and our salvation came down from heaven” and provided “remission of sins,” with restorative implications for individual humans and for the whole creation. Therefore, the student thus educated realizes he can confidently move into his world bringing redemption into every aspect of life while joyfully anticipating the return of Christ to consummate His Kingdom. The student educated with this religious viewpoint can understand the most important issues in life and apply them for a lifetime.
All true education must be built upon this worldview to provide an education in truth, and if an education is not truthful, it is not really education at all.
Rodney Marshall is Founder of Coram Deo Academy, a classical and Christian preK-G12 day school serving hundreds of families at three Dallas/Fort Worth locations, and owner of the Marshall Education Group, which provides innovative solutions to classical and Christian school nationwide.