Good ideas lead to good leadership, good decisions, good policies, and good government and bad ideas lead to bad leadership, bad decisions, bad policies and bad government.
And it all starts with education. Education does matter. But it isn’t happening on most college campuses today. Instead we’re coddling our kids.
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We may mean well, but the result is a culture filled with perpetual adolescents who are crippled morally and intellectually, incapable of wrestling with the inevitable adversity and challenges of real life.
We think safe spaces on college campuses are good because they give students a place where nothing will offend them. We think racial segregation on college campuses keeps minority students “safe” from discrimination.
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We think trigger warnings are good because they provide “safety” to anyone who might be sensitive to a certain subject matter. We no longer strive to improve a student’s actual well-being, but to ensure the student’s perceived safety.
The true purpose of education is the pursuit of truth, not safety. Like the great lion Aslan in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, education should not be safe, but it should be good.
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The quest for truth is not always safe. Safety should not be any society’s foremost goal. If it were, then children would forever believe babies come from storks, money grows on trees, Santa Claus is real, and the Tooth Fairy sneaks gifts under pillows.
Instead, we tell children the heartbreaking truths about such matters because, in the end, it is for their good to learn the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may make them feel.
As an educator, I’m in the business of teaching what is good, not keeping students safe from truths that trouble them. There are first things we should teach and cling to before concern about feelings of safety—goodness, justice, righteousness, and freedom. And any discussion of goodness requires us to recognize the reality of evil.
That’s why Christian schools, like my own Oklahoma Wesleyan University, are some of the best places for children to learn and proclaim truth in a world that so easily embraces evil.
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All of us are created in the image of God, but secular college campuses seek to destroy this idea. Knowing that we are the Imago Dei gives us the initiative to discover our purpose in this life. Where the world says there is only primordial ooze, tactile stimulation, and sinful pleasure, Christian colleges talk of truth, goodness, and higher ideals.
On many secular campuses all across America, students are taught that pleasure is to be chosen over pain, that one’s proclivities always take precedent over principles, and that comfort always trumps self-control and courage. That cannot bode well for the fate of our nation, because freedom isn’t free.
Great colleges confront students in order to prepare them for the real world, help them realize their full potential, and become the heroes we need them to be.
Great schools push students to step toward, not away from, the cultural pain that only Christianity and conservative principles can solve. In many cases this requires going through the pain of the “fire” in order to proclaim and sustain the good, the true, and the beautiful once again. Truly great schools and teachers should want to give a shocking dose of truth to every student. Good teachers should not want to make students feel safe or comfortable or even make them feel good. They should call our young men and women to go higher up and higher in. They should call them to growth and maturity, to reach for the truth instead of lies.
We’ve allowed the creation of a false reality that masquerades as “safe spaces.” Ironically, Christian and other private schools are often accused of placing children in a bubble, but it is really the secularists today who insist we all join them in their own fantasyland; an Orwellian bubble, where men can be women, sex has no consequences, and words like truth, goodness, and justice can mean whatever they want them to mean. Christian schools allow people to live in the real world, enabling them to enrich and strengthen the culture instead of destroying it.
What are the consequences of rearing a generation of moral amputees? A nation of characterless children who dodge every difficulty and run from every conflict and challenge.
Rather than facing adversity with courage, our nation’s next generation of congressmen, senators, CEOs, and presidents now cower in campus counseling centers with Play-Doh, bubbles, puzzles, and coloring books.
Where would America and the rest of the world be if it had always been this way; if we had not had brave young men and women who ran toward danger instead of cowering and demanding safe spaces?
We can never forget: what is taught in the classroom today will be practiced in culture tomorrow.
God help us.
Dr. Everett Piper is the fifth president of Oklahoma Wesleyan University, established in 1909. Dr. Piper is the author of Why I Am A Liberal, and Other Conservative Ideasand the viral op-ed, “This is not a Daycare, It’s a University”. He also regularly speaks on the radio and writes for a number of publications. A native of Hillsdale, Michigan, Dr. Piper actively participates in the Bartlesville community and the Wesleyan church, and serves on a variety of councils relating to Christian leadership and thought, and public policy. Dr. Piper received a B.A. from Spring Arbor University, a M.A. from Bowling Green State University, and a Ph.D. from Michigan State University. His work has been featured in Chuck Colson’s Breakpoint Magazine, the Blaze, FoxNews, Tulsa World, Oklahoman and more. Dr. Piper is also a regular guest on the Pat Campbell Show, shares weekly on the Sam Sorbo Show and has appeared multiple times on the Mark Halvorsen Show and Wallbuilders. Most recently, he was interviewed on Fox News’s O’Reilly Factor and Fox & Friends.
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Publication date: August 17, 2017