I would like to comment briefly on the aspect of blame and responsibility. When there is a problem or difficulty there is a very easy tendency for people to place all of the blame on others. Let us give an example, so that we have some kind of specifics to draw from. Assume that there exists an institution that is supposed to provide instruction, be it a church or a school, and instead of educating its members or students to think for themselves or to take the “raw material” of facts and evidence in the world around them and make sense of the puzzle pieces, it focuses on a particular political agenda to blind those in its jurisdiction to the truth to keep them under control.
This situation, which is not an uncommon one, is a typical sort of “Gramscian” education model, present in institutions that desire not to develop the capacities of others but rather to control others by keeping them ignorant and dependent. It is the model of the Hitler Youth, of public schools, and of churches whose focus is on maintaining the control by the clergy rather than the moral and intellectual development of the brethren at large. There are plenty of names and faces who could be put to the model, but it is not my point to engage in name calling but rather to identify the common threads between a large variety of similar situations, as well as a common response to it.
Let us first ask and seek to provisionally answer a set of questions concerning this situation. First, why would someone act this way? Let us remember that motives may not always be clear when it comes to education. Those who desire to control or manipulate others are aware that the earliest educational experiences are of vital importance. Likewise, those who desire to unlock the keys of wisdom are aware of the same reality–and so both people who wish to train up a child in the way of God and those who wish to steer others on the road to perdition both seek to use institutions of education to accomplish their goals, some for good and others for ill.
How can we realize what motives are present among those who educate us? If one is a self-motivated and autonomous sort of student, like myself, it is easy to determine if someone is seeking to develop one’s capacities or seeking to control and limit one’s growth. The test is to show some independent but reasonable thought and to see what the response is. If the response of the teacher is joy for the fruit of one’s intellectual labors–you have a teacher who seeks to unlock the realm of wisdom. If the response is anger or frustration for being “out of one’s place” by studying or thinking for yourself, you have a teacher who wants to control. That is how you know.
What does one do about the problem? Given that many “teachers” desire to preserve their own status and privileged position rather than to train up future competition, what does one do about the problem when one recognizes it? We must take personal responsibility for our own education. Ideally, parents should take responsibility for the education of their children (Deuteronomy 6:8, among other places), but ultimately speaking we must all take responsibility for ourselves. If our official teachers are unwilling or unable to instruct us in a godly fashion to develop our God-given gifts, we must find other avenues of development ourselves as God makes available. We cannot simply blame others for not doing what we are not willing to do ourselves.
What is the purpose of education? The purpose of education is to develop the right foundation to life in one’s thinking and attitudes so that one can build upon it in a godly manner in whatever endeavor one engages in as an adult. Godly education seeks to build godly habits of thought and behavior (as habits are hard to unlearn and re-learn) so that the image and likeness of God can be created in each generation anew. A teacher has the solemn responsibility to help in the process of refining and developing godly character in the people being educated.
In the end, there is no room for the blame game. Those who pervert institutions for their own selfish ambitions will be judged and condemned by God and ought to be exposed by us, even though it is not our place to condemn. Nonetheless, after that exposing and “marking” is done, our job is to either find or become teachers willing and able to do the job of learning the right ways to believe and behave for ourselves with divine guidance. We cannot escape our own personal responsibility. We too are culpable if we fail to take responsibility for ourselves.