Avoid the “Solution”- For Educational Pioneers

Avoid the “Solution”- For Educational Pioneers January 14, 2019

“Nothing, nothing, could be worse than this” is a prelude to something worse being put in place by the insightful people who saw the problem.

Louis XVI is replaced by Napoleon. Nicholas II is replaced by Stalin.

Tyranny can get worse. Christians should beware. We rightly critiqued the ugliness of 1980’s secular relationships, but too often the solution was as bad or worse than the “problem.”

Beware the solution.

Look at any organization, system, or “thing” and almost anyone can see problems—sometimes major problems. When I was a youngling (having already messed up horribly myself), I worked in my dad’s school. I saw problems, since seeing problems turns out to be the easy insight of eager young minds, and told Dad.

That was fine. Dad agreed. I then outlined Solutions, all of which Dad rightly ignored.

He saw that as ostensibly conservative as I claimed to be, I was really a revolutionary or a reactionary. I rejected what common culture had produced (often a good idea), but with radical solutions that came out of my head (never a good idea).

Dad is a conservative: he kept what was good from all eras while carefully weeding out what was bad. I apologized and we found solutions that avoided radicalism and reaction.

We cannot go backwards and it is not safe to go forwards without caution: this is wisdom in a broken world full of broken people including me. 

So it is with education.

We see the problems: debt-soaked students in higher education, too many administrators, too few full-time jobs for teachers.

So what to do? That is much harder and prudence (a classical virtue!) demands we avoid solutions that ignore outside input. Any idea that comes from one mind is too risky, too imprudent, for nobody should trust the foolish guru’s ideas of what can work.

Instead, the homeschool parent or the Christian school and college administrator must work with what is, admitting the strengths of what is. The present exists from solving problems of the past. If those solutions brought problems, then we must not make things worse by ignoring what good was done.

Change must come. God made seasons.

Change must come with prudence because the moment people become involved in change, things become complicated. We come, we see the problem, we propose a solution: the good is lost with the bad and some new bad comes.

Instead, as we look at education, Christians who must be humble because of our knowledge of our most grievous faults must pause when we propose changes. Change often leads to worse decay: “purity culture” uglier than what it replaced, decadence as ugly as the “closet.”

The old is bad, the new is worse.

Here is something simple: avoid solutions cut off from the global community. When an American church group proposes a change, but only mostly white, Western Christians agree, there will be evil. That is true when the proposal is the “white man’s burden” and when the solution (to a real problem!) is the destruction of gender and sexual categories.

The Episcopal Church USA is the Rudyard Kipling of the modern world without the poetry.

Homeschool parents and Christians in education must not be smug. We must also go global, historical, and move slowly. We see “their” problem, but we may miss our own. The “solution” is always as potentially dangerous as “the problem.” 


Think about it.

Be prudent.

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