Of Dead Ends and U-Turns

In their recently released book U-Turn: Restoring America to the Strength of its Roots, George Barna and David Barton combine years of research and study to “examine the moral and spiritual underpinnings that made the United States great, explain the causes of decline over the past forty years, and offer a detailed road map for the future.”

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As an educator, several things have caught my attention during my initial reading of the book.  Consider the following:

  • There has been a significant shift in the core values from early American to present culture.  The core values of modern culture are much more self-centered; the authors concluded that contemporary Americans are more limited in what they value, “making them less conscious of their external responsibilities “(p.18).
  • Examples of comparative values

Early American Values                                               Modern Values

Contentment                                                                         Comfort

Hard Work                                                                            Entertainment

Simplicity                                                                               Speed

Moderation                                                                           Flexibility

Truth & Honesty                                                                 Expressiveness

Civic Duty                                                                             Experiences

  • Think of the application of these values to the educational process—entertainment rather than hard work, expressiveness over truth and honesty, and experience over civic duty.  Much has changed from the mindset of the learner from the one-room school house to the modern techno-school room.

In Chapter 6 titled America’s Family Makeover, the authors trace the alarming changes that have come to families in recent decades.  Of course, as Christian educators that espouse that we are an “extension of the family” to educate children, changes to the family will greatly impact our efforts in loco parentis.  It is not startling to note with the authors that the cultural shifts in the modern family unit have had negative impacts not on just the culture but also on the education of our nation’s youth.

Perhaps more astoundingly, in a nation where eighty percent of citizens claim to be Christians, less than ten percent agree with what Barna has called the 6 most elementary non-negotiables (pp. 100-101) of the Christian faith:

  1. Absolute truth exists
  2. The Bible is totally accurate in all of the principles it teaches
  3. Satan is a real being or force, not merely symbolic
  4. A person cannot earn his or her way into heaven but rather it comes by God’s gift of grace
  5. Jesus lived a sinless life on earth
  6. God is the all-knowing, all-powerful Creator of the world who still rules the universe today

It is no wonder that as Christian educators we find our challenges ever increasing.  Let me encourage you to get a copy of Barna and Barton’s book, not to be overwhelmed, but so that you might better understand the challenge of our task.

What are you doing to provide excellence in education in a day of eroding values?  

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Barna, G. & Barton, D.  (2014).  U-Turn: Restoring America to the Strength of its Roots.  Lake Mary, FL:  Charisma House Book Group.

Edward is the founder and managing editor of Focus on Christian Education. He also serves as the Executive Director of the South Carolina Association of Christian Schools.