The New Academic Year

I love this time of year. This is now my 22nd year of teaching full time at the college level. When a new academic year begins, I experience an emotional rush. I’ve experienced that for 21 of those 22 years [no need to talk about the exception—that’s history]. Students also seem fresh and ready.

Yes, that early excitement will scale back as the semester wears on, but it never goes away entirely, particularly if you believe what you are doing is the will of God, and that the classroom is another form of ministry.

I am grateful to be able to teach at Southeastern University in Lakeland, Florida, a Christian university that is not only very beautiful, but dedicated to infusing Biblical principles into all subjects. And why not? God is the author of all knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

We do face a multitude of problems, though, in modern education. Some of it has to do with ignorance:

Many students who show up for college as freshmen haven’t been taught well. They are especially ignorant of their own country’s history, the very subject I teach. Another big problem is the apathy of parents. They often just shuffle their children off to a school, happy that they can absent themselves from their children’s educational progress:

Parents used to believe they were responsible for their children’s education. That viewpoint seems to be more rare with each passing year.

Even more pernicious, however, is the blatant attempt to alter historical reality. In a recent column, analyst Thomas Sowell makes some incisive observations about what exactly is being taught in many classrooms:

The history of this country is taught in many schools and colleges as the history of grievances and victimhood, often with the mantra of “race, class, and gender.” Television and the movies often do the same.

When there are not enough current grievances for them, they mine the past for grievances and call it history. Sins and shortcomings common to the human race around the world are spoken of as failures of “our society.” But American achievements get far less attention — and sometimes none at all.

Our “educators,” who cannot educate our children to the level of math or science achieved in most other comparable countries, have time to poison their minds against America.

Why? Partly, if not mostly, it is because that is the vogue. It shows you are “with it” when you reject your own country and exalt other countries.

I don’t teach that America is perfect. I clearly point out the racial issues of the past. However, I also note that it is faulty analysis to reject everything about America just because there were some injustices. As Sowell says, where in the world do you not witness injustices? It’s the human condition; it’s called sin. America has done a pretty good job, compared to other nations, in rooting out many of those problems over time.

My perspective on American government and the policies we have followed, particularly in the past century, is often critical, but never in a way that makes students think they live in an awful place. Our Founders provided a system that can be corrected, but it depends on the character and the choices “we the people” make.

More than once, I’ve had students come up to me and say something similar to this: “Every president you praised was presented to me as bad in high school, and every president you criticized was highly praised by my former teachers. You’ve reversed everything and have made me rethink America’s history.”

If I am accomplishing that, I am satisfied. It’s time to continue that quest in this new academic year.