Why Christian Education
We need to remember that Education was originally not a state or secular idea but rather one that those who are followers of Jesus thought of. The invention of the so called Sunday school (1736 to 1811) was by Robert Rakes whose statute stands in such places as Victoria Embankment in London, Gloucester Town Centre and Queens Park Toronto On. Canada.
I say so called Sunday school because this was not as we often think of it today. What Robert Rakes was really doing was seeking to educate young people to read and write and do maths, and because Sunday was the only day that children in those days did not work it was, of course, called Sunday school.
By 1831, Sunday schools in Great Britain were teaching weekly 1,250,000 children, approximately 25 per cent of the population. One need to remember that there was at this time no such thing as ‘state education’ the gradual take over by the state probably began In August 1833, when Parliament voted to provide sums of money each year for the construction of schools for poor children, the first time the state had become involved with education in England and Wales. A meeting in Manchester in 1837, chaired by Mark Philips, led to the creation of the Lancashire Public Schools' Association. The association proposed that non-denominational schools should be funded from local taxes.
What I am saying is that education was the prerogative and the initiative of people of faith long before the state thought of universal education. Gradually the state takes over these things but does it always do a better job?
I am glad that there is education for all but I am not convinced that it carries the value system and character development that I would want for children and hope you do too. Interestingly Martin Luther of Reformation fame in (1483 to 1546) yes way back then said of public schools "I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labour in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth". Not much has change has it?
So why have I implemented a Christian School in North London, some 30 plus years ago, not by myself of course but with the help of so many other ‘believers’ . Really because of the opinions of people like Martin Luther, and of course other more modern proponents, and because I know that we have, as parents, real concern that we protect our children from all sorts of thing as they grow up. Things like not letting them cross the road without holding our hand, not letting them go out on their own at too young an age, in other words we protect them, and why not? Why not also protect what is put into their heads? Why not protect the knowledge element? Is this not sensibly for the children we care about and love? Sometimes parents say things to me like, “well our children need to know the real world; the good, the bad and the ugly, they need to know what is evil as well as what is good, they will get that in school”. For sure they will, but I cannot help thinking about what the Bible says about such things. it says things like ‘but I want you to be wise in what is good, and simple concerning evil’. Romans 6:19, or what the devil said to those in the Garden which sound much the same to me as we need to understand good and evil; ‘For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.’ Funny ending to the story though isn’t there? Genesis 3:4 - 6.
At the beginning of opening a Christian School in North London, as there were very few such things in those days, at least the kind we were operating, I got invited to all sorts of places in the UK to talk about education. Many, who came to such talks, usually put on by local church groups were people involved in education or interested enough and broad minded enough to look at another way of ‘doing’ education. After many such events, and I did do many, I got used to the standard questions, questions like: “Are you just running a hot house?” My answer would be “well you usually keep your flowers that you want to grow well in a hot house until you know they are hardy enough to survive outside”! Or “Are you not brain washing the children”, I am careful not to say that some brains need washing, however I do think it amazing that we think that any education system does not have an agenda and is putting what ‘they think’ into children’s heads for good or evil, anyone who thinks that is not happening is so naive that its frightening.
However, on my travels the greatest disappointment came as I talked with those who would say that they were followers of Jesus and that knowing God was the most importing thing in all of life. In that, my conclusion was that for all the words about the importance of knowing God, if push came to shove and it was a choice of knowing God or going to university then the university won every time. I do not think that is the choice as I will demonstrate just now, however to think it may be the choice is somewhat frightening when you hear what people confess about the importance of knowing God.
I supposed that disappointment is sort of tinged with the story that Jesus told as recorded in Luke 14: 16 it’s the story of the great party, probably the best party, but those who were at the top of the invitation list found good reason not to come. One had got married, another had bought land, and still another had bought a new car, sorry yoke of oxen. So they could not come, university was a better option, sorry again, my slip they had good reasons not to take up the offer to come to the great party and so the master said…”Then the master of the house said in wrath to his servant, Go quickly into the [f]great streets and the small streets of the city and bring in here the poor and the disabled and the blind and the lame”. Maybe those who are not at the top of the list can be persuaded to see the advantages, and I have to say my experience so far is that they do. Those who do not claim to be followers of Jesus, my Muslim friends for example, seem too often be more aware of what is on offer than those who should know.
But is the university impossible to such as go to a Christian School
Well actually in the UK and lots of Europe too, know. In fact in 2010, 9 students left our school, when I say left what I mean is that they had reached full school leaving age, I of course am not counting leavers who left mid education because they move area or changed to another school or things like that these are the student that one would count because they are completers.
But let me show you what the full age students left with.
First those 2010 9 students:
A = foundation ICCE certification, went on to work as an Estate agent after college
B = Foundation ICCE certification, onto college to take Btec in IT
C= Intermediate ICCE certification, Canterbury university, degree in Business and accounts
D= left with Foundation ICCE certification went on to an access course on to university
E= intermediate ICCE went to Kingston university to study Accounts degree
F= General ICCE certificate, went on to take level 3 NVQ CCLD and work with children
G = General ICCE certificate, went on to be a home maker
H= OCR basic certificate went on to a college course
I= General ICCE certificate then did access course studying English Now at London university doing a degree in English
Then in 2011 we had 6 student complete:
J= General ICCE certificate, went on to Music college now taking a degree course there
K = Foundation ICCE certificate, went on to do Btec in IT
L= General ICCE certificate, went on to do a degree in Photography
M= Advanced ICCE certificate, went on to Brunel university to study medicine
N= Foundation ICCE certificate, went on to do Btec in IT
O= General ICCE certificate, went on to complete a Diploma in Music
So there are our leavers for the last two years what do you think? You cannot go to university from here, well yes of course you can but that is not my point!
Here are some comments from some of the students who have left us:
I asked one student how his first year at Canterbury University had gone.
He responded, “I missed my London friends but the studies were fine.”
I asked him for his opinion of our school system; here are some of his comments.
“One of my uni modules is accounting, I had already done that subject for my Intermediate exam with International Certificate of Christian Education (ICCE), so of course I had that down as one of my options from the advanced level course. However, when I saw the stuff at University I had to laugh and I said I wish my school studies had been this easy!”
I asked him if there was anything else he had noticed about his uni studies.
He said, “The Algebra, as with accounts, I wish that the school stuff had been as easy as the university material.”
His final comment was, “When you have been to a school using the ACE system a fundamental element that you learn is how to manage your study time and how to complete work within a given period. I am finding that my stuff gets done whereas lots of other students seem to have problems completing work and bringing it in on time. We all have the same amount of time, and I think some of them are possibly brighter than me, but what they lack is the discipline that has been put into me over the years to complete the work on time.”
I also had the chance to talk with one of the lads who had completed his General Certificate at ICCE level, and asked him how his college studies were progressing. “Great!” he said, “but what is funny is how the other students don’t seem to be able to complete work on time, I have just handed in one of my first essays, the lecturer said 1,000 words, I was about 400 over so I went to him and asked how critical the word count was?”
“Oh” he replied, “I only ask for 1,000 as most of the students cannot get anywhere near that number, I am happy with anything up to 2000 words, but I would be surprised if many can even achieve 800.”
I asked him if he had made any other observations since he had left school.
He said, “A friend asked me if I could help her with her GCSE material as she had to take an exam in Maths, so I said I would come around and try. I was very surprised at the level, and helped her to complete the work and showed her how to work out the material. I then asked if I could take a copy of the paper with me. She agreed and explained that it was an old exam paper used for practice. I took it home to my younger sister, she is just 13 years old, and said can you do this maths? She said, ‘Oh crumbs, yes of course, I am doing that stuff now.’”
For those who know anything about the system this girl is on PACE 1083 which according to ICCE is two units below where we would say a student is who has begun General certificate work.
There was another young lady at the New Year’s Eve party who had been to a school using the ACE system, but not at one of the schools that I run; she is currently reading English at Liverpool Hope University. I asked how she had found it, and if anything she had learnt from the system was useful in on going university studies. Her reply was amusing, “Well,” she said, “I am the only student in my group who knows how to break down an English language sentence into its component parts, the whole class were saying, ‘we don’t even understand what we are being asked to do.’ So I ran my own tutorial group for my friends. They asked how I knew how to do this, and I told them that I did it all when I was quite young in my Christian school, that it was standard practice. I am just surprised that such basic things are part of this English course at university.”
Flack or no flack, the results speak for themselves. You might say to me, are you trying to sell your system to us? The answer to that is; you bet I am! Even if you are one of those in the high ways and by ways of life, we have great possibility for students, both educationally and in terms of life values!
For whoever will Read