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The writing on the whiteboard

WORLD Radio - The writing on the whiteboard

Marvin Olasky talks to Christian educator Gene Edward Veith about public school alternatives


Gene Edward Veith Illustration by Bruce Morser

NICK EICHER, HOST: Today is Tuesday, August 31st. Thank you for turning to WORLD Radio to help start your day.

Good morning. I’m Nick Eicher.

MARY REICHARD, HOST: And I’m Mary Reichard. Coming next on The World and Everything in It: The Olasky Interview.

Today, a conversation with author and educator Gene Edward Veith. Christian families looking for public education alternatives have a growing list of options. But how should parents evaluate those choices? Veith offers some helpful advice. Here’s editor in chief Marvin Olasky.

MARVIN OLASKY, EDITOR IN CHIEF: Let’s start with basics. What should parents look for in a Christian school?

GENE EDWARD VEITH: Well, two things, Christianity, of course. And that's not always something you can take for granted. But also, that would be a real school, that it's actually teaching substance—teaching content. It's a place to learn knowledge.

OLASKY: So let's say a parent is, is aware of the decline of public schools, and has decided, I'm going to send my child to a Christian school. What are the things that parents should particularly be looking for?

VEITH: When the reformers started the project of universal education to try to get every Christian to be able to read the Bible for themselves, the kinds of schools they opened were classical Christian Schools. And the result was that not only could they read the Bible well, and the education was given to peasants and to women, and it was an education flourishing, but because it was a classical education, not only could they read the Bible, they could do a lot of other things in that tied into the social mobility that came with the Reformation, with the economic explosion that came of following the Reformation. And it's just a very powerful approach to learning. So a lot of schools are self consciously cultivating that.

OLASKY: So when a parent is checking out of school, what are say three questions that the parents should be sure to ask?

VEITH: Well, I'd like to ask about the reading lists. What did the students read at the different levels? Now, it might be classics of the past, classic works, that's a good sign. It doesn't have to be necessarily, but are they reading exclusively contemporary works, works out with an obvious ideology behind them. That's a good test, look at reading list.

OLASKY: So check the reading list. Teach history rather than social studies.

VEITH: Wow, that's a good a good sign. Yeah. Just what they call subjects that can be can be telling

OLASKY: One question parents often have, you'd expect to see some emphasis on creation rather than evolution. What kinds of questions should parents ask about that?

VEITH: Well, right, ask about the science curriculum. See what they do with science. See how they handle evolution and creation. There are Christian Schools that say, “we teach creation in our theology classes, but we teach evolution in our science classes.”

Ok. Here's part of the genius of a classical approach to education, it ties knowledge together. Progressive education is highly specialized. And even when it teaches multiple subjects, they're taught in isolation, and you study one different area, and then you take another class, and it teaches another area, and they have nothing to do with each other. What that does is to sort of fragment the mind and a lot of times people come out with knowing a lot about very little. And they haven't been exposed to anything else.

A part of the classical approach is to tie things together. So you have to see that the science course has to accord and relate to the theology course. And what you learned about creation in the Bible class has to shape how you approach the natural world and its wonders in the science classes.

I think it's helpful for schools, again, to give a good education to make students aware of the contrary, worldviews out there. And that's a way for them not to be influenced by them, because a lot of times otherwise they'll think that's the answer. That's the only truth. My Christian school was sheltering me from this, they must not have wanted me to know about that, because it must be true. So again, that bigger connected approach to education, I think that's very important.


EICHER: That’s Gene Edward Veith talking with Marvin Olasky. To read more of their interview, we’ve posted a link in today’s transcript at worldandeverything.org.


WORLD Radio transcripts are created on a rush deadline. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of WORLD Radio programming is the audio record.

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