Many conclude that the modern worldwide education system is broken beyond repair. Yet all hope is not lost!
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Every school system faces the same twofold challenge: how to guarantee access and excellence.
First consider access. According to the United Nations, approximately 57 million children worldwide are uneducated. In 2000, 189 nations pledged to address the issue through the second of the United Nation’s eight Millennium Development Goals to be attained by 2015: “Achieve Universal Primary Education.”
Two years ago, during a World Economic Forum meeting held in Davos, Switzerland, leaders discussed the issue. Following the conference, Britain’s former Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who supports a global education fund, wrote in the article “Our Silent Education Crisis” that “global progress towards universal primary education has slowed since 2005.
“On current trends, the out-of-school population could increase to 72 million by 2015…Another 71 million adolescents are out of school, many of them lacking a basic education…Millions of children enter school only to drop out in the first one or two grades, long before they have acquired basic literacy and numeracy skills. Around 10 million children drop out of school in sub-Saharan Africa alone each year.”
In modern times, the United States and other Western nations have provided education to most of their citizenries. Wide access, however, has often come at the expense of the second challenge: excellence.
While millions of children do attend school, many are “receiving an education of such abysmal quality that they are unlikely to gain even the most basic…skills,” Mr. Brown stated.
“This twin crisis,” he continued, “in access to school and learning in school, does not make media headlines. Cameras will never capture children going hungry for want of education, or lives devastated for want of learning. Yet there is overwhelming evidence that disadvantage in education costs lives, undermines economic growth, fuels youth unemployment…”
The solution to effectively address both sides of the problem has remained a mystery to educators. What have these well-meaning reformers missed?
As arguably the most successful country of all time, the U.S. has offered educators a national school system to test different teaching methods. This approach provides a clear example of the continual struggle to implement long-term policies that work.
In effect, the American education system has resembled a troubled student who has had ups and downs, but has never seemed to steadily perform well. Early education efforts included the establishment of Latin grammar schools in the 1600s, academies started by Benjamin Franklin in the mid-1700s, a university started by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 (to separate schools from religion), Lyceums in the 1820s (where figures such as Abraham Lincoln, Susan B. Anthony, and Isaac Newton spoke), and high schools in the 1870s. These initiatives opened up paths toward educational access for all.
For instance, the movement of pragmatism, which intended to stimulate a more active style of learning through hands-on experimentation, started in the mid-19th century.
The National Education Association made a broader attempt to foster educational excellence with its Seven Cardinal Principles of Secondary Education in 1918. These were (1) health, (2) command of fundamental processes (reading and writing—oral and written expression—and arithmetic), (3) worthy home membership (fostering strong familial bonds), (4) vocation, (5) citizenship, (6) worthy use of leisure time (to teach that it should enrich one’s life, not hinder it), and (7) ethical character.
Then America was put to the test through the Great Depression. Many school programs saw severe cuts. The educational agenda was shifted to promote a better economy through governmental programs. This movement saw education as a vehicle to further political and societal change.
Over the next few decades, the U.S. school system experienced many shifts in focus. Education was retooled when the Soviet launch of Sputnik in 1957 triggered an increase in federal education funding, emphasizing math, science, technology and foreign languages. In the 1960s and 70s, many schools embraced a progressive reform known as Open Education, which endorsed the idea that students should learn “their own way.”
By the early 1980s, many in the U.S. felt that the constantly changing approach to educational theory was inadequate. This brought about a 1983 report by leading educators titled “A Nation at Risk: The Imperative for Educational Reform.”
The Encyclopedia of Education described how the report “found a ‘rising tide of mediocrity’ that threatened the nation’s future.” It felt that the nation “had engaged in unthinking, unilateral educational disarmament.”
In an attempt to correct the course of American education, in 1989, then-president George H.W. Bush set a number of ambitious goals to be accomplished by 2000. These included increasing the high school graduation rate to at least 90 percent, that U.S. pupils would lead the world in science and mathematics, and that all schools would be drug and violence free.
By the early 21st century, desperation birthed the largest attempt yet by the federal government to overhaul education: the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
The initiative put forth by former President George W. Bush was intended to raise accountability with more emphasis on reading and closely monitored standardized testing. If a public school did not perform well on designed tests, it risked losing some of its federal funding. The act also intended to give greater choice to parents as to which school their children attended. If their local school system was underperforming, they could potentially receive a waiver for their child to attend a different nearby district.
Over a decade later, the desired results have not materialized.
“The same year that No Child Left Behind came out, the iPod came out,” former Education Department official Mike Petrilli stated in the Charleston Daily Mail. “We’re still on No Child Left Behind, version 1.0, and we’ve had new versions of the iPod, iPhone, iPad.”
Even with numerous educational approaches and the money to implement these varied ideas, America has never been able to achieve widespread, lasting success.
In addition to the twin challenges of access and excellence, educators the world over face the problem of keeping up with the times—which is made worse in an ever-morphing, hustle-bustle 21st century.
Rapidly changing technology introduces a towering question educators must ask: “Will the knowledge we are teaching now be obsolete in five years?”
Such uncertainty has brought on calls for a modern education revolution. Champions of the cause lament that while the globe is well into the digital age, most education is still based upon the needs of the Industrial Revolution. The thought is that overemphasis is placed on classes where there is only one right answer such as reading, math and science. Critics contend that, while these are important skills, they often crowd out classes that foster critical thinking—such as music, art and dance—in which students can be pushed to discuss ideas and form their own opinions.
The European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, commented on this problem: “Today’s young people are the most educated in the whole of European history and yet they find it hard to get steady work after graduation in spite of the two million unfilled vacancies across Europe.
“Education can provide some answers. The crisis has revealed serious weaknesses in Europe’s educational systems. Indeed, it has sharpened what we expect from our education systems.
“Our goal is to make graduates more employable, foster entrepreneurship and stimulate innovation. By combining entrepreneurship education and interaction with business, students can develop the practical skills, knowledge and attitudes that allow them to innovate…There is a lot at stake. Today, more than ever, it is education that can deliver social progress. When we invest in education, we commit ourselves to the development of our citizens and the future welfare of our society.
“The health of a society depends on the quality of the education it imparts to its citizens.”
Consider: Europe has essentially achieved the UN goal of “Universal Primary Education.” Despite this success, it still grapples with failures in its school systems.
Something more is obviously missing.
In 1947, a small college opened in Pasadena, California, which exemplified what real education will look like in the future after it undergoes a much-needed transformation. The institution was called Ambassador College and it was well ahead of its time.
Its founder, Herbert W. Armstrong, understood what had been missed by higher education for centuries: that there are invisible laws that affect all of mankind. If these are followed, they can ensure success in every aspect of life, including education. This set of laws constitutes the proper foundation of all knowledge.
Almost 40 years after the institution’s founding, Mr. Armstrong wrote in the college’s 1986 yearbook: “Ambassador College knows and teaches the purpose and true meaning of life—the true values that pay off—and the way to peace, happiness and abundant well-being.”
“The Bible is the world’s biggest seller, but also the book almost nobody knows. It is the foundation of all knowledge, and the approach to acquirable knowledge…Ambassador students are taught the missing dimension in education—the underlying purpose and the real meaning of life; the worthwhile values; the basic laws of success, not only in economic fields, but in life as a whole. They are given individual attention in the development of character, poise, culture and personality. Ambassador is a unique character-building institution.”
The coming education revolution actually began with this man who was used by God to restore lost knowledge. Part of what had been lost to humanity was captured in the college’s motto: “The Word of the Lord is the foundation of knowledge.”
(To learn more about Herbert W. Armstrong’s life, request the biography Herbert W. Armstrong – His Life in Proper Perspective.)
Today’s continuation of that college is Ambassador Center, which is the educational arm of the publisher of this magazine, The Restored Church of God. This institution imparts the same biblical principles—invisible laws—that made the original “AC” a one-of-a-kind success story. These include an emphasis on give rather than get, the understanding of cause and effect, and developing a well-rounded personality. Also emphasized are proper teamwork, the benefits of hard work, true quality, healthful living, and strong character, among other elements.
These fundamental laws shine a blinding light into the dark recesses of the modern education system.
Plato’s Academy circa 400 BC is regarded by many as the first university. As ancient as this system is, the concept of instruction actually started much earlier. The true origin of this world’s education—both good and bad—is found early in the Bible book of Genesis. The familiar account mentions two trees—the Tree of Life and the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:9). These two trees, and the decision to eat of them, symbolized two completely opposite ways of life.
In his most important book, Mystery of the Ages, Mr. Armstrong wrote about Adam’s role in that first choice and how it ties into the modern education system: “Adam, not deceived, nevertheless went along with his wife. With her, he took to himself the determination of what is right and what is wrong—thus disbelieving what his Maker had said, rejecting God as Savior and Ruler—rejecting God as the source of revealed basic knowledge. He believed and followed Satan’s way!”
He continued: “When God ‘drove out the man’ from the Garden of Eden, and barred reentrance—lest he go back and receive eternal life in sin (Gen. 3:22-24)—God pronounced sentence!
“God said, in effect: ‘You have made the decision for yourself and the world that shall spring from you. You have rejected me as the basic source of knowledge…’ Go, therefore, Adam, and all your progeny that shall form the world, produce your own fund of knowledge. Decide for yourself what is good and what is evil. Produce your own educational systems and means of disseminating knowledge, as your god Satan shall mislead you. Form your own concepts of what is god, your own religions, your own governments, your own life-styles and forms of society and civilization. In all this Satan will deceive your world with his attitude off self-centeredness—with vanity, lust and greed, jealousy and envy, competition and strife and violence and wars, rebellion against me and my law of love.”
The first humans had plenty of access to the most excellent, spiritual knowledge of God. They, however, settled for physical mediocrity.
In the same book, Mr. Armstrong showed the same mindset that prevails today: “The primary divisions of this world’s civilization—government, religion, education and science, technology, industry—all shy away from God.
“They want God to keep his nose out of their affairs! The mention of God embarrasses them. This ignorance cannot be explained except by the invisible and unaware influence of the supernatural evil power of Satan the devil and the unseen demoniacal spirit beings. When we read in Revelation 12:9 that all the world has been deceived by Satan, it does not exclude those of advanced intellect. Jesus Christ thanked God that the real truths are hidden from the wise and prudent and revealed to those who are babes in materialistic knowledge.”
The real problem behind the two-fold education model is a wrong foundation: false knowledge has been spread for millennia. Its author, Satan the devil, has effectively deceived the entire world about it—including you!
How can any educational institution expect to achieve excellence if the knowledge it teaches is wrong?
The good news is that a worldwide educational revolution based on true knowledge is foretold in the Bible. But first, mankind must learn once and for all the lessons of its failed experiment. This revolution will start with a dramatic change of administration.
The Bible teaches that Satan—who can be likened to the current superintendent of this world’s educational systems—will soon be bound. This amazing prophecy found in Revelation 20 reveals why: “…that he should deceive the nations no more…” (vs. 3).
Jesus told His disciples, “I will come again” (John 14:2-3). Few understand that during His earthly ministry, Christ qualified to soon replace the devil as ruler of this world. (See II Corinthians 4:4.) The devil’s veil of deceit will be removed.
When Christ returns, He will reinstate true knowledge from God. This will revolutionize education!
What should be most inspiring to anyone concerned with the future of education is that Jesus Himself was—and is—a teacher. Consider that most of His ministry while in the flesh was teaching. He preached about the coming solution to the world’s problems! There are many people who may actually read the Bible for instruction, but remarkably they often miss what Jesus Christ constantly taught: the kingdom of God.
A kingdom is a government. Christ’s message was simple: the governments and systems of man, education included, will be replaced. Jesus said: “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent [change] you, and believe the gospel [good news]” (Mark 1:15).
A well-known Old Testament verse often sung in concert halls and cathedrals should now suddenly make more sense to you: “For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given: and the government shall be upon His shoulder: and His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon His kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even forever…” (Isa. 9:6-7).
Understand—believe—what God says He will do. Do not miss that one of the titles Jesus Christ will carry at the fulfilment of this prophecy is Counselor. Excellent counsel and instruction will be available to all when God’s kingdom is in place.
As the Master Educator who taught Adam and Eve, God has all the qualifications great teachers require. Notice He has no issue with…
Large classrooms: Christ taught thousands at a time (Luke 9:14).
Pupils with little to no background knowledge: He trained fishermen, such as Peter, to become apostles and great teachers themselves.
“Challenging” students: “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God has chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things of the world, and things which are despised, has God chosen, yes, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” (I Cor. 1:27-28).
Only in God’s kingdom will men come to realize, “The Word of the Lord is the foundation of knowledge.”
Having learned the hard way that its systems do not work, mankind will finally accept God’s excellent instruction. Only then, education will not only succeed—it will thrive. This is just another reason Christians are commanded to pray, “Thy kingdom come” (Matt. 6:10; Luke 11:2).
The goal of universal education, which nations are so desperately trying to reach, will eventually be achieved—and soon! In the coming education revolution, knowledge will no longer be a mixture of good and evil compiled in libraries and worldly institutions with limited access. Notice what it will be like when Christ returns: “For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea” (Hab. 2:14).
During this coming time, God’s Way will be taught the world over. Truly high expectations will characterize classrooms in the world to come. At that time, proven, effective teaching will include:
The benefits of obeying the Ten Commandments: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom: a good understanding have all they that do His commandments…” (Psa. 111:10).
Clear course objectives: “To know wisdom and instruction…perceive the words of understanding…receive the instruction of wisdom, justice, and judgment, and equity…give subtlety to the simple, to the young man knowledge and discretion…increase learning…attain unto wise counsels…understand a proverb, and the interpretation; the words of the wise, and their dark sayings” (Prov. 1:2-6).
Rigor: “Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).
Discipline motivated by love: “For whom the Lord loves He chastens…” (Heb. 12:6).
Individualized programs: “…your eyes shall see your teachers: and your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, This is the way, walk you in it, when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left” (Isa. 30:20-21).
Parental support: “Only take heed to yourself, and keep your soul diligently, lest you forget the things which your eyes have seen, and lest they depart from your heart all the days of your life: but teach them your sons, and your sons’ sons…” (Deut. 4:9).
Reading comprehension: “So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Neh. 8:8).
Man will learn how to live, as well as how to earn a living. He will understand his awesome purpose and potential role in God’s kingdom. (This answer can be found in the free book The Awesome Potential of Man.)
This is the incredible solution that has remained a mystery ever since Adam and Eve rejected God’s Way. It is what educators have missed: “…the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began, but now is made manifest, and by the scriptures of the prophets, according to the commandment of the everlasting God, made known to all nations for the obedience of faith…” (Rom. 16:25-26).
Through The Real Truth magazine, God’s Church is making plain the coming education revolution now! Yet schooling is just one aspect of life that Christ’s supergovernment will revolutionize. The Real Truth magazine Editor-in-Chief David C. Pack elaborates on this coming wide-spread change in his book Tomorrow’s Wonderful World – An Inside View!:
“[A] better, perfect government—one not left to the devices, machinations, and confusion of men—is coming. It will usher in peace, happiness, unity, abundance, and prosperity for every human being and every country on Earth. While such a vision may seem impossible, it will happen—and in your lifetime!
“It was always the Creator’s Plan that a whole new and infinitely better world would come—one built from the beginning on the right foundation…The coming utopian age that God planned long ago will be absolutely marvelous—breathtaking to behold!—and it appears scripturally in vivid colors, with sharp outlines, and in exquisite detail, as a stunning, beautiful, panoramic, and previously unimagined future worldscape.”
A wonderful new world is on the way, and this book offers an advance preview—an inside view! For much more information order or download your free copy today. Using many verses from the Bible, it provides a window into the awe-inspiring world to come!