Saturday, February 07, 2004

Book Review - God's Choice: The Total World of a Fundamentalist Christain School by Alan Peshkin

Book Review - God's Choice: The Total World of a Fundamentalist Christain School by Alan Peshkin. I found this book review. It is an interesting look at a book which examines Christian fundamentalist education.

From the site:

Alan Peshkin wrote God's Choice: The Total World of a Fundamentalist Christian School in the 80s. Nonetheless, the forces that shaped the forming and operation of the anonymous "Bethany Baptist Academy" are still very much an issue today. While new possibilities such as charter schools give parents more control over the education of their children, only private endeavors can possibly offer a parent from a Christian Fundamentalist background the type of schooling that Peshkin described today. And the appeal for some goes beyond the escape from the secular world. The school that Peshkin described has all the elements of a successful school: institutional unity of purpose, a dedicated faculty, strong discipline, rigorous homework, and committed parents. As Bethany Baptist Academy is probably not alone in its success, it is useful to ponder the implications of the success of the fundamentalist private school.

Bethany Baptist Academy has no confusion as to the mission that drives it. The goal is to prepare students to be successful in a world that they intend to be apart from. "Separate from the world-in it but not of it" is the driving principle. Students should come to be "saved", lead wholesome lives, witness their faith to non-believers, and at the same time maintain their distance from the secular world. And, the student has to be taught to do this while they also learn to interact and live in a secular world that will daily challenge their lifestyles. Both the faculty and parents of Bethany strongly believe in this purpose and the message in constantly reinforced in all aspects of the curriculum and at home.

This type of schooling is bound to bother some educators. Students are not taught to value viewpoints that differ from the biblical interpretations of their teachers. Critical thinking skills are only sharpened to question in biblically and politically correct tones. Cultural diversity is not valued when most religious perspectives (and all but one sexual one) are taught to be incorrect. Further, state regulations for schools are ignored. This is problematic to those who believe in teacher certification and state assessment of scholastic achievement of students. The success and proliferation of schools such as Bethany is a direct challenge to many educators.

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