Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Being Sheltered

I had a weird realization a few days ago.  I was at a graduation for one of my teens at church.  This was a large program from a local public school--one that is considered academically strong and reputable.  

I've gone to private schools my entire life, and have never been to a major event that didn't commence with a prayer.  But of course, there was no beginning prayer.  As different speakers got up, both teachers and students, I continued to notice the absolute non-mentioning of anything pertaining to God.  Then, the salutatorian gave her speech.  She thanked Allah for all he had done for her.  That was the only mention of anything beyond the temporal, and only a Muslim's faith was spoken of aloud in the ceremony.  The complete absence of prayer or the mention of the God of Christianity gave me an uneasy feeling; particularly as I was confident that probably 70%+ of the room would profess to being Christians, even if they weren't very devout.

I've always listened to lots of belly-aching from my fellow students about us being "sheltered" and "protected" from ideas at Christian schools.  I was sometimes made to feel like I was getting a diet coke version of an education because I was not experiencing all the free-flowing thought that supposedly exists at public schools.

But it occurred to me that in fact, these students were the ones that were being sheltered.  It's not that they don't have some teachers who are good role models.  Many of them quoted a certain couple of teachers for always encouraging students to, "Do the right thing.  Not because someone's watching, but because it's the right thing to do."  Which is a great principle.  But as I observed, I wondered to myself, "How are the young to know what's right unless they've been taught what it is?"  For what reason should we do right?  To whom will we answer if we don't?  

Going to a private school, I might have experienced certain degree of sheltering.  Even with the "sheltering", I knew students heavily involved in drinking, smoking, sex, drugs, gambling, and about any other vice you can think of.  What I did get was the opportunity to honestly learn about and critically examine my faith, even if many of my peers chose paths other than the one true path.

To not teach about or mention God is not the same as being neutral and fair.  Ultimately, it is to undermine all the motivation for students to succeed, apart from self-seeking motives and goals.  I was sad to see a group of people so unsheltered from the moral decadence present in this world, but so thoroughly sheltered from learning about things of eternal significance.    

I'm sure it's more complicated than that, and that many are able to flourish in their faith through such situations, but it didn't feel right to me.  I'm very thankful for the sacrifices my family made to send me to Christian schools.  I wouldn't trade my education for anything.

1 comment:

  1. I second that thought Mark. Until my grad education at NCSU I had only been a student at Christian schools. I wouldn't trade it for the world. Your comments are spot on.

    I will admit that state school wasn't or isn't as "scary" as some Christians, who truly are sheltered, make it out to be. But my graduation was a bit awkward without prayer or God. I am glad I have had a chance to experience the other side and realize my blessings.

    I can only hope that we will be able to do for our kids what our parents did for us.

    Heather Holl.