Why Schools Cannot Avoid Teaching Morality

Modern schools claim they separate education and morality. Moral instruction has nothing to do with math and science. And besides, that is the job of parents at home.

We hear this kind of thing often, yet it is a boldfaced lie. Education and moral instruction cannot be separated. This point can be clearly seen by walking into any American public school today and looking at the posters on the walls. “Eat healthy!” “Be responsible.” “Do not bully.”

Schools are filled with moral instruction, and I will be the first to applaud this. It is good to teach students work ethic, responsibility, and respect. In fact, it would be quite difficult to run a school without having at least some moral and behavioral demands. But let us admit the obvious—schools are providing their students with moral instruction.

However, this raises a major question—if moral instruction is part of education, what is the basis for such moral instruction?

The challenge this question poses shows us why so many public school educators claim they do not teach morality. For if they admit the schools provide moral instruction, they then have to identify which set of moral codes they are teaching. Most of them have no idea. The public schools teach a convoluted moral hodgepodge. 

The Root of the Problem

This is the root problem of America’s secularized school system. The courts kicked God and the Bible out of the schools, arguing that this was a violation of the First Amendment. Without getting into the constitutional accuracy of such an argument, this left the schools in an odd situation. Now they are supposed to teach kids how to behave, but they cannot invoke the Bible or religious teaching.

On what then are schools supposed to base their moral imperatives? You can tell a kid to be respectful toward his classmates, but it helps if you give him a reason why. Moral commands do not work too well without a moral foundation.

This gets to the main problem with secular education—it is foundationless. Schools today tell kids to not bully other students. But why? The other kids are just grown-up germs like everyone else. Why not just forget about them and “do me”? Sadly, this is exactly what is taking place. Everyone is focused on getting what they can at the expense of others. This has led to high rates of divorce, illegitimate children, abortion, theft, and violence. Not to mention, a man’s word is no good anymore. Our foundationless morals have produced a people consumed with self, which has made things worse for all of us.

The Superiority of Christian Education

This shows the superiority of Christian education. The foundation for Christian morality is God and His Word. Christianity teaches that we are all created in God’s image, and we are all therefore worthy of respect. God is a righteous Judge, which means we must live our lives to please Him. Christian morality gives people a reason to work hard, be responsible, be respectful toward others, and do what is right. Cosmic justice is good motivation for right living.

Christian morality is also so much easier than its alternatives. You cannot outdo Christianity. Why try to come up with clever ethical sayings when you can just quote the Golden Rule—“Whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them” (Matt 7:12)? Or the Ten Commandments? Who is going to do better than that?

You cannot outdo God. So it is no wonder that our public school system (and our country) has a moral crisis. Children are misbehaving because they have been taught a foundationless and empty worldview. They then grow up, have children, and pass them through the same empty system.

It is quite obvious that America’s school system has wreaked moral havoc upon our nation, and it doesn’t appear to be turning a corner anytime soon. This is good reason to avoid such schools. Public schools may be “free,” but the children who attend them pay a hefty price.