A while back, we reported on some of the startling findings of the Cardus Edcuation Survey. Christian university professor Karen Swallow Prior, drawing on her many years of teaching, offers an insightful analysis of those findings here. A sample:
. . . While I understand slow, steady progress toward solidified beliefs and views that naturally change over time, swings from one extreme to another give me pause. I’m reminded of the truism, “The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
At first glance, it might seem ironic that one-time cheerleaders for conservative Christian views land so far afield. Yet, if the unexpected happens often enough, perhaps it’s not so unexpected after all.
My own conversations with Christian students who have undergone such revolutions in thinking suggest that their earlier stands — despite appearances — were built not on foundations strong enough to withstand the inevitable rattling from opposing views. Their beliefs rested on weak scaffolds gradually dismantled by each successive encounter with a previously unconsidered idea, fact, or phenomenon.
Human history is a series of pendulum swings from one extreme to another. This can be as true of individual growth as it is of culture, and some swings should not be prevented. But in the faith journey, perhaps such severe swings point to a systemic problem more than a personal one. Perhaps the deepest systemic weakness in conservative Christian education is the failure to distinguish between education and indoctrination.