Is world view neutral education possible and desirable? : a Christian response to liberal arguments
The main object of this thesis is to find out why it so often is assumed that education can and should be neutral between world views, and to argue against this. It is also discussed what the world view basis of the common school should be when neutrality is impossible. The idea of a common school that inculcates common values without taking a stand between different religions and secular world views, is central in today's idea of liberal education. It is argued here that however thin the common basis for the school is, certain world view presuppositions will always be conveyed, at least implicitly. It is easier to see the world view presuppositions in one account of education if it is contrasted with another. An account is given of Christian education, emphasizing its view of reality and human nature, the meaning of life and the corresponding purpose of education. Contrasted with this, an analysis of J. White's and K. Strike's accounts of education based on common values only, shows that they both convey world view presuppositions that are incompatible with a Christian view and therefore not neutral. The argument of incompatibility is strengthened by a discussion of T. H. McLaughlin's three different accounts of common, world view neutral education, Catholic education, and liberal religious education. Several kinds of argument for the possibility and desirability of world view neutral education are analysed, and it is claimed that none of them is valid. Some imply a shallow understanding of religion, others a biased view of education. It is argued that liberal education in many ways is more likely to indoctrinate than Christian education IS. Finally, it is argued that it is desirable to have Christian education in state schools, and the degree to which this is possible is discussed.