Summer marks a time of vacation and relaxation or at the very least, abatement. As a result, many are likely to offer respite to their mind as well, engaging less with the disciplines of analysis and critical thinking. During that period of rest, much has happened. More stories in the realm of abortion and the LGBTQ community continue to assert the need for Christians to maintain firm in their faith. However, high profile acts of violence, prominent leaders leaving the Christian faith, and questions about Christian liberty add themselves to the summer stories that you may have missed (and should go back and review). So many issues makes it difficult to look at the past month and consider where to collectively spend time considering Christian principles in action in the current culture wars. There is one event that is so obscure that few people are intellectually interacting with it and yet, so concerning it needs more intelligent analysis that Christians should make themselves fluent in discussing the topic: California’s recent redefinition of curriculum for their school system.
Our educational systems shapes the future of our society by forming our impressionable youth. Without a doubt, parents should lend special attention to what their children are being taught, but because of the future impact all people need to be rightly engaged with the topic as well. It is the State of California who is ringing alarm bells with the introduction of a new ethnic studies curriculum geared towards its high school students. While California can only implement this program within its own state, California acts as both an influence and catalyst for the rest of the country.
California’s proposal for a new model curriculum was significant enough to capture headlines from coast to coast (landing in papers in Los Angeles and New York) the last week of July and first week of August. Even the most liberal of those papers found the proposed program a bit on the absurd side, as evidenced by their headlines. The discipline of ethnic studies isn’t concerning, but instead the fact that under that title California administrators want to institute an agenda of social transformation.
There is simply not enough time here to offer a complete critique of that agenda and readers would do well to look into California’s proposal themselves instead of merely taking my word for it. Here is a review seven areas that warrant concern about the curriculum.
- Redefines Ethnic Studies & Oppression: Ethnic studies and oppression represent deep moral issues, but instead of engaging with them in a meaningful way, educators simply use it as a tool to dispose of ideologies they disagree with. Capitalism is portrayed as wrong because it is both racist and privately controlled. Part of the exercise include a ‘privilege walk’ which defines one’s privilege based on factors like one’s parents telling their child he/she is smart or capable. Truthfully, this seems to be nothing more than a shaming exercise for having a loving parent (or parents).
- Redefines History: Rather than teaching history, the program seeks to initiate hxrstory (pronounced herstory) which is supposed to be a more gender-neutral version of history denying the designation male or female (especially when referring to historical figures).
- Redefines Gender: Already this is seen in the change from history to hxrstory, but this does not stop there. By referring to those who accept the gender assigned to them at birth as cisgender, the curriculum places labels that convey people such as this differently while normalizing anybody else who does not. Furthermore, women are now referred to as womxn in which the letter ‘x’ “is used to disrupt the often-rigid gender binarist approach to telling history.”
- Redefines Language: Perhaps redefines language is not as accurate as creates a whole new language. With words like hybridites and nepantala, the California curriculum is accompanied with a glossary that spans 22 pages in order to explain its new language which does nothing more than demonstrate how extreme the agenda is.
- Redefines Education: Unfortunately, there is nothing in the program that stimulates, teaches, or attempts to create a level of critical thinking and intellectual interaction. In fact, it is taken away in this program through nothing more than a form of indoctrination.
- Redefines Biblical Roles: Based on what we have already noted, this is no surprise. But teaching instead about cisheteropatriarchy (a system of power based on the dominance of cisheterosexual men) the program rejects a biblical view of complementarianism.
- Redefines Parents: Finally, the curriculum discounts the role of parents with their children. In fact, in a 26-page document parents are not mentioned until page 15 and done so in negative way by noting that some parents will likely be hostile to the field and therefore the educators have a greater role in the student’s life.
Unfortunately, these concerns are only a small representation of what is found in the document. Moreover, you are receiving them through my lens and interpretation.
California is a state that makes headlines for the absurd, but the absurdity does not take away a Christian’s responsibility especially in something as vital as the education of our children. Therefore, there are several mentalities that Christians must ensure to adopt:
- A Compassionate & Empathetic Mentality: There is no doubt that oppression has and still does take place. Christians should not condone such behavior. In standing against those who engage in it, they must be compassionate and empathetic towards those who experience such oppression.
- An Anthropological Mentality: Christians must adopt a right anthropology that sees God as creator and all humans made in his image. This teaching sets the basis for the love of others and equality for all.
- An Informed Mentality: In a system that hides behind a bunch of liberal jargon and amplified words, we learn of the importance it is to be informed about what is taking place. It requires time, diligence, and responsibility but without it one is willingly allowing a child to submit to another authority who will undermine a biblical worldview.
- A Responsible Mentality: Everyone, but parents in particular, need to recognize the seriousness of God’s task to care for His people. In this case we have been given the responsibility of stewarding children for His glory. The depths of depravity on display here highlight the need for us to take that responsibility seriously in a fallen world.
- A Critical Mentality: There is much to wrestle with in this agenda and what is being talked about are deep moral issues. Christians must have a mentality that willfully engages in critical thinking in order to consider the consequences of programs like this one.
None of these mentalities are ones that simply occur because a person says, “I’m going to do this.” Instead, they become a part of the Christian lifestyle when one is transformed into the image of Christ by reading God’s Word and walking in the Holy Spirit. Therefore, they begin with a relationship with God.
I am surprised at how few people are aware of what is going on in California. The propagation of this new ethnic studies programs raises valid concerns, not just for Christians but for all people. Such extremist views are a call for Christians to rise to the level of their responsibility by engaging the culture with logical, factual criticism that forces them to face the irrationality of their zeal.
To read more on the topic, click the following titles:
- Albert Mohler, The Briefing, Tuesday, August 6, 2019
- The Los Angeles Times: “Editorial: California’s proposed new ethnic studies curriculum is jargon-filled and all-too-PC”
- The Wall Street Journal: “California Wants to Teach Your Kids That Capitalism Is Racist”