Unschoolers and a "Christian World View"

Do Christian "natural learners" ("unschoolers") have a world view the same as other Christians? Some of them will, but not all!

A recent advertisement on the NZ Unschooler's list announced the NEW ZEALAND WORLDVIEW CONFERENCE to be held April 7-12, 2002. The aim of the conference is "to help our young people understand the dominant world views that shape our culture today, and to help equip them with a solidly Christian worldview which, by God's grace, will make them salt and light in their generation".

Two guest speakers from the United States are speaking at the conference, Dr David Noebel, President of Summit Ministries and Chuck Edwards, co-author with Dr Noebel of the "Worldviews in Focus".

Now, I make no secret of the fact that I am both a Christian and an Unschooler. By that I mean that I believe in and serve the Lord Jesus Christ, and I believe that learning is best achieved through a combination of a rich and supportive environment (spiritually, morally and culturally) and by tapping the intrinsic motivations of the learner. However, I am doubtful that I would hold the same "world view" as those who are presenting at this conference.

Firstly, from the declared aim, it is clear that this idea of a "world view" is really important and the conference is aimed at homeschooling Christians. The topic is neither about following Christ, nor about homeschooling. Basically it is about a "Christian" perspective on different philosophies. If it were about following Christ, then the focus would be on Him. If it were on education, then it would be about improving our understandings of the learning process.

Secondly, the term "world view" is a term that conveniently labels and groups people into four boxes. Actually, no two people have identical views on everything ... in that sense they have unique "world views". Also there is not necessarily coherency in a "world view" at levels beyond the individual. Marxim for example resulted in quite different political understandings in France, Russia and China. There are significant differences in views amongst those that are broadly "socialist" in their views. By the standards of Marx himself, the New Zealand economy would be regarded as "socialist" since the government is significantly involved in wealth redistribution and planning of services (e.g. in education and health).

What the term "world view" is doing is grouping together people into "marxist thinkers", "post-modern thinkers", "Biblical Christian thinkers", etc. But they assume too much here. The spectrum of thinkers in any one of these groupings is very diverse and they overlap. There are marxist Christians and post-modern Christians.

I figure that David Noebel, Chuck Edwards and I would probably have much that we would believe in common ... after all we claim to follow Christ. However, it would not take long to uncover some major differences.... one's that would immediately put me in one of their "boxes" and them in another.

Regrettably I might happen to fall into one of their "non-Christian boxes" on these areas of difference. For example, while I profess faith in Christ, and I love to "assemble together with other Christians" I do not attend a "church". Our family are "unchurching", in the same way as we are "unschooling" and "unjobbing". This wouldn't fit in the "Christian worldview" box well I suspect.

Thirdly, the notion of a unique "Christian Worldview" is essentially non-Biblical. The Bible itself, written by different people from different cultures, over a period of thousands of years has many different "worldviews" contained within it. Hebraic writers in the Old Testament have a very different style and perception of the world around them, than Greek writers in the New Testament. Christianity is not about a consistent worldview at all - it is about following a person - a person that you have an intimate spiritual relationship with.

And what about you? You may not think like me, but you probably will have different "worldviews" on a whole range of issues such as the role of government in our lives (Christians seem to reflect the general population on their range of political views) or on issues like birth control that politicians regard as apolitical. You may be a Maori and a Christian, and have quite different understandings of the material world.

I guess what I am saying is, if you go to the conference (and it should prove to be an interesting opportunity to discuss philosophy) don't think that it will tell you anything about how to educate your child or how to follow Christ. Go with an open mind and a critical perspective and it may help you to clarify your own unique "worldview".

Posted by Mike Woods on February 11, 2002
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