Subject: American Culture vs. Christianity: Why ‘Cultural Education’ is failing our Teenagers
Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
The Superintendent of Shawnee Mission schools has done it now. Dr. Joe Hinson announced that teachers should not wear ‘safety pins’ during school hours. His main point: there has always been a standing policy that prohibits disruptive displays of political speech on the school district’s time or property. Dr. Hinson made it clear that school employees are free to do whatever they want with safety pins on their own time.
But his decision was met with a packed house of protestors at the Nov. 28 School Board meeting. Why the big deal over safety pins? As one parent said, “It’s a statement that the wearer will stand up against anyone who uses the election as a validation of their white supremacist, or misogynistic, or racist, or homophobic feelings and acts upon them. The wearer is a safe person (hence safety pin) who can be relied upon to help. The district clearly lacks willingness to understand this gesture.” So the Shawnee Mission School District needs help from concerned citizens to ensure their students are safe while on campus?
The truth is that wearing a ‘safety pin’ is a post-election political statement. It has nothing to do with Dr. Hinson’s, or any other superintendent’s, ability to ensure a safe learning environment at school. Safety pins are very much like the ‘safe zones’ and ‘mandatory sensitivity training classes’ being implemented at many of our universities. For example, after the election, Stanford University administrators emailed their students and faculty that psychological counseling was available for those experiencing “uncertainty, anger, anxiety and/or fear”. And the University of Kansas administration reminded distraught students that there were plenty of “therapy dogs” available. What is going on in American education?
Frank Furedi, a leading expert on the sociology of fear and the sociology of knowledge, is emeritus Professor of Sociology at the University of Kent, United Kingdom. His new book is entitled ‘What’s Happened to the University: A Sociological Exploration of its Infantilisation’. ‘infantilisation’ is a term used in Psychology that means “the act of prolonging an infantile state in a person by treating them as an infant.”
Professor Furedi explains the prevailing culture that has spread throughout our universities and colleges (and apparently our high schools as well): “In the 1960s and 1970s, radical students boasted of their power to change the world. Student protesters today project a very different image of themselves. They often draw attention to their victim status, flaunt their sensitivity to offense and constantly talk about themselves and their feelings… Since the 1980s, there has been a growing tendency for academic institutions to resume a paternalistic role, treating students as incapable of exercising the responsibilities of adulthood… many paternalistic policies promoted in universities are justified on grounds that are akin to those used in child protection. Take arguments used by administrators to protect students from the disturbing effects of sensitive subjects. Official guidelines assume that sensitive topics – which relate to “distressing life events and situations” – may be harmful to some students and should be taught differently from “non-sensitive” ones. Is it any surprise that many academics have decided to “watch their words” and… avoid the hassle of teaching sensitive topics altogether? The academy… needs to challenge trends that encourage the micromanagement of academic life – and learn again to treat students as adults rather than children.”
Contrast this with our verse this week, where Jesus Christ says He is our ‘safe zone’. He alone wears the ‘safety pin” and stands up on our behalf. He is our refuge during the difficult times. He instills within us our sense of rightness, justice, love, compassion and peace towards one another. How does He accomplish that? As the verse next verse, Matthew 11:29, says: “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Jesus literally means we can only discover this rest and safety if we are willing to submit to Him (take His yoke upon ourselves) and LEARN FROM HIM. In other words, loving one another, and being compassionate towards those who feel threatened by others, aren’t nice ideas to be promoted by wearing ‘safety pins’. These are internal values we should be teaching and instilling within our teenagers that will result in Christ-like behaviors.
So why does our culture ignore the Bible’s call to turn to Christ as the solution to our young peoples’ despair and fear? Because as an education system we have replaced biblical training with manmade secularized classes. And what have we gotten? PlayDoh sessions and therapy dogs. Until we return to Jesus Christ as the Great Teacher, our teenagers will continue being treated like victimized children.