Christian education and particularly Protestant Reformed Christian education is a work of grace. Protestant Reformed Christian education is naturally impossible and is only possible in the way of faith which is a gift of almighty God. Education in the Protestant Reformed Christian Schools of America is a gift of our covenant-keeping God.
Christian education is a tremendous and unbelievably great responsibility. It is not something which can be taken lightly but a covenant responsibility and a parental calling. It is something laid upon us, who are heirs of the promise, and cannot be shrugged off. What we do as stewards in the vineyard of God cannot be considered passé and a peripheral matter. It is not one of those “indifferent” things. How we fulfill our covenant vows is part of the good works before prepared for us to walk in.
Because parents do not have the time nor are they prepared academically to train their own children, they have delegated the responsibility for such training to the schools which they have established for this purpose. These schools which are an extension of the home need to be grounded upon firm principles and a sound philosophy of education.
We need not hedge in this matter but say unequivocally that the ultimate purpose of all P.R.C. education is the Glory of God. This is not an outmoded, old-fashioned, over-worked cliché. It is not to be smiled at because of its simple style or because of the commonness of its use by those who love dearly the truth of this concept. P.R.C. education is fundamentally theocentric. God is first and basic in all of education that is given in the school. He commands it to be that way. In the Decalogue he says: “Thou shalt have no other God’s before me.” P.R.C. education is in no sense of the word man-centered, if it is to be denominated by the term Christian education. P.R.C. education is fundamentally antithetical and is altogether different from what the world can, will, or does believe. P.R.C. education must be distinctively Reformed. P.R.C. education concerns itself with the thorough furnishment of the man of God who has been redeemed from sin unto every good work.
Since the inception of the P.R.C. schools some work has been done to further the cause of distinctive P.R.C. education. The Federation of P.R.C.S. Societies sponsored a teachers’ seminar which met once monthly for several years. During this time more than twenty different papers were presented by teachers and ministers covering a variety of topics. Papers dealing with the history of education, the psychology of education, and principles for several areas of the curriculum were read and discussed. The P.R. Teachers Institute meets each month. Teachers from the Hope P.R.C.S., Adams P.R.C.S., and South Holland, Illinois, P.R.C.S. are members of this organization. Various topics have been discussed during the years which this organization has existed. Many topics have been of a very practical nature and have been close to the actual day-to-day teaching situation. For a period of time the principles of education prepared by Professor H. Hanko, of the P.R. Theological Seminary, were discussed. These principles of education which cover almost all areas of the curriculum of the school were later adopted by the Hope P.R.C.S.
I mention all of this because I do not want my readers to think that I am not cognizant of much of the work that has been done by teachers and ministers. I am even cognizant of much of the writings which have filled past pages of the Standard Bearer by Rev. J. Heys and Professor H. C. Hoeksema.
A topic such as this may seem a bit presumptuous to the reader. It may even be argued that because of all that has been written and said that we have basically a Protestant Reformed philosophy of education and with this I only partially agree. In principle I believe we do have a P.R. philosophy of education but I can hardly agree that it has been carefully articulated and that the subject has been thoroughly exhausted. Such a philosophy is certainly not in a form that can easily be consulted and used by those who are busy each day in the training of P.R. covenant youth in our grade schools and who will, we hope, some day train them in a high school in the Grand Rapids area and possibly other areas of our country. It might be argued that every P.R. teacher who is Protestant Reformed has a world view which is in conformity with the confessional basis of the P.R. Churches of America. A teacher must be a confessed member of the P.R. Churches of America they might argue and, therefore, must be willing to say that the Word of God and the Reformed Confessions are true and inerrant. This in a very real sense must be a philosophy of life and also a philosophy of education, because education is the training of citizens of the kingdom of heaven for their place and calling in this life.
These arguments are not false but the fact remains that teachers, who have been active in the work of instructing covenant youth have a calling, it seems to me, to articulate what they believe is a P.R. philosophy of education, so that, if God will, young people who enter the ranks of the teaching profession may know what we stand for and what we believe P.R. education should be.
Secular educators refer to their basic commitments as their philosophy of lie. Relative and emerging as this may be for them they, nevertheless, believe that they must have some objectives which govern their method of instruction and the content of their instruction. The professional educator expects that the classroom teacher have a philosophy of life and that the philosophy of life be consistent with the goals, objectives and philosophy of the culture or civilization in which the school exists. If this be true it is urgent, it seems to me, that the P.R.C. school teacher subscribe to a basic philosophy of education which is not divisive or compromising but is based four-squarely upon the truth of the Word of God. Sole Deo Gloria.
Because I feel the need is urgent, I set myself to discuss in a series various aspects of a Protestant Reformed Philosophy of Education. I propose to discuss the question under the general title Protestant Reformed Christian Education. Under this general heading I hope to discuss:
!. What it is.
II. The educator
III. The Protestant Reformed Christian School—how distinctive.
IV. The schools’ accomplishment of its task.
V. The pupil.
VI. The curriculum.