Fin-de-siècle at Wheaton College...

(Tim) Last week, Wheaton College's Teacher Education Program Conceptual Framework was big news. A radio commentator named Sandy Rios did a short commentary on the document and it was hurting the college's reputation enough that their provost, Stan Jones, was assigned the task of responding.

Jones made a valiant effort, but was doomed to failure. These ordering principles written and adopted by Wheaton's Education Department are indefensible, particularly for a school claiming to be under the authority of the Word of God. There's barely a hint of that commitment in this piece of educational propaganda.

Yet this is not just propaganda. Here we have the document used to vet Wheaton faculty hires as well as Education majors seeking teacher certification. The Conceptual Framework has teeth. The last third of the document is titled "Performance Expectations and Assessment of Candidates" and includes statements like this:

(We have) instituted a referral process for identifying and assisting candidates who do not exhibit appropriate dispositions to teach. This process is described in detail in the Unit Assessment Plan. In essence, any professor may complete a referral on any candidate who, in the professor’s judgment, does not exhibit the appropriate dispositions to teach. The ramifications of such a referral include both remedial and punitive aspects.

Of course, no one wants Wheaton's Ed. Department to pass on for certification men and women lacking the knowledge or gifts to teach. But read the earlier two-thirds of the document and it's apparent Wheaton defines "appropriate dispositions" by a student's ability to silence his biblical conscience in the context of the toxic, anti-biblical multiculturalism pervasive throughout our public schools. The entire document is an exercise in teaching Christians how to go along to get along...

It's aimed at preventing Wheaton grads from giving the school a bad name by zealous, and therefore destructive, teaching that's informed by the Word of God, prayer, and the Coming Judgment.

The Conceptual Framework makes it apparent that Wheaton has departed from producing graduates committed to working and leading and teaching "for Christ and His Kingdom." Wheaton's profs indicate no desire for their students to apply Scripture to their students' lives or the schools they work in. Rather, students must prove their ability and commitment to enter the public school system "work(ing) effectively for positive change in their schools and communities."

Does Wheaton want their students to be teachers? No. They are to be "agents of change." This phrase is hammered home, appearing in the Conceptual Framework eighteen times. And what changes are the profs' seeking through their students?

Three:

  1. teaching for social justice
  2. making informed decisions
  3. acting responsibly

The profs declare it is their:

"mission to prepare teachers as agents of change in the schools: (1) teaching for social justice, (2) making informed decisions, and (3) acting responsibly. These three central themes are the unit’s primary purposes and their supporting research forms the philosophical basis for (our) conceptual framework."

What "social justice" is Wheaton's Ed. Department seeking?

The Conceptual Framework begins with a recitation of Wheaton's history:

Jonathan Blanchard, Wheaton College’s first president and a strident abolitionist, believed strongly in preparing Christian young men and women to fight injustice and improve life for those in need. Under Blanchard’s leadership, Wheaton College was the first four-year college in Illinois to graduate an African American and to enroll women on an equal basis with men.

Note that statement that the school's first president was a "strident abolitionist."

Not to get off the track, but I'm wondering whether Wheaton's profs have ever used the word 'strident' to commend anyone?

And moving on, I also wonder whether Blanchard's stridency in opposing slavery is a model for the sort of change agency these profs are seeking to inculcate in their students as they send them out into our nation's public school districts to oppose, for instance, the slaughter of our nation's unborn children? The starvation of our nation's feeble and elderly? The murder of our nation's defective newborns?

What stridency concerning what social justice issues are Wheaton's profs turning out, and how do Jonathan Blanchard's commitments translate to the work of Wheaton's Education Department today?

Teaching for social justice is addressed in all of the unit’s classes to ensure that the candidates both understand and are able to demonstrate a respect for all [emphasis in original] individuals regardless of any particular characteristics, belief systems, or disabling conditions.

Then, Wheaton's grand vision is clarified:

The issue of teaching for social justice has generated significant discussion in recent Teacher Education Advisory Committee meetings [TEAC is Wheaton's Ed. Dept.'s advisory committee] as the partners discussed changes in their schools. Based on these discussions, the unit has delineated three broad goals related to social justice. These broad goals are further interpreted in highly specified outcomes incorporated into each class/experience; and measurements in the form of key assessments related to standards promulgated by ...national specialty organizations (that) ensure that all of the candidates are learning to teach for social justice...

The first broad goal is to ensure that candidates learn to work effectively with all children and their families regardless of race, creed, religion, national origin, sexual preference, disabling condition, or capabilities. This broad goal is measured by numerous indicators on the field experience evaluation forms, examinations in several classes, several papers prepared in classes common to all certification candidates, and the candidates’ portfolios.

The second broad goal is to ensure that diversity is respected and that candidates have the opportunity to work in diverse environments and with diverse colleagues and teachers. This goal is measured primarily by evaluations of candidates in their practicum experiences and by the unit’s capacity to meet Standards 3 and 4 of the NCATE Unit Standards. Outcomes include cooperating teachers’ and college supervisors’ evaluations of candidate performance, cooperating districts’ diversity indicators, and College data regarding diversity among students and faculty.

The third broad goal is to ensure that candidates understand current social justice issues in education and understand their obligation to work for positive change. This goal is measured primarily by an action research paper completed by each candidate during the student teaching experience. This paper is also included in each candidate’s final portfolio. [paragraphs added for ease of reading]

Wheaton has a much-vaunted exegetical faculty pouring their lives into the closest examination of historical documents' lexicographical nuances and cultural contexts. It might be good for them to turn their attention away from Scripture for a day or so, to work on a document giving a precise explanation to Wheaton's administration, trustees, and alumni of the real meaning of the Education Department's Conceptual Framework.

Sadly, Wheaton graduates approved to teach in our nation's public school districts will not bring the multicultural diversity of a Christian conscience bound gracefully by the Word of God out of hiding, into our public schools.

Rather, as every evil deed called an "abomination" by God is promoted across the public school districts of our nation today, Wheaton will send out teachers carefully honed to demonstrate "respect" for those abominations. They may be strident, but only for "social justice," "making informed decisions," and "acting responsibly."

Speaking seriously, Pastor Curell just added the comment that he believes honest and faithful Christians committed to Scripture have a better chance of making it out of our Indiana University School of Education, intact, than Wheaton's Department of Education and its Conceptual Framework.

I agree.

Wasn't it Chesterton who said the anti-Christian is always a half-Christian gone mad? May God lead Wheaton back to producing grads with the Biblical fire and Holy Spirit zeal of Jim Elliot, Ed McCully, and Nate Saint.

Comments

"The first broad goal is to ensure that candidates learn to work effectively with all children and their families regardless of race, creed, religion, national origin, sexual preference, disabling condition, or capabilities. This broad goal is measured by numerous indicators on the field experience evaluation forms..."

Of course, nobody can object to learning to work effectively. The question is what "work effectively" means, a question carefully avoided in the document. I would like teachers to learn to teach the subject matter, Christian doctrine, and Christian morality to all these kinds of students, but my guess is that Wheaton has something else in mind.

I'd be very interested in seeing a copy of the "field experience evaluation forms". I bet that would give us big clue. If anybody has one, please email me at erasmuse@indiana.edu.

Wheaton's Dept. of Education bears shame and blame.

Wheaton administration bears shame and blame for what's going on in the Dept. of Education.

"The Christian's business is to honour God, and in his own time God will honour his truth and those who are faithful to it" - Iain H Murray in Jonathan Edwards: A New Biography (p. 471).

This legislation from Wheaton's Dept. of Education shows the compromise which is prominent in so many Christian colleges today which strips Christ's Word of its saltiness and division. Remember that Jesus Christ came to divide (Luke 12:41-53). Wheaton and other Christian colleges do not need people who are boringly predictable by conceding to modern culture along with the rest of world. These colleges need prophets who are faithful to God's Word and who are not ashamed of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Honestly, I think I'm going to be sick. Had to stop reading.

Tim, I'd have thought that your comments at the NY Times blog on Park Street would make you very sympathetic to social justice. I mean, at some point you need to connect the dots between William Lloyd Garrison, Jonathan Blanchard, and Jim Wallis.

I myself am no fan of social justice, don't like it's use now any more than when Garrison spoke of it before Lyman Beecher. I do believe in justice, but just not social justice.

But to the main point, do you think that teachers graduating from Wheaton should not get along with those of other faiths and backgrounds in public schools? What's wrong with getting along and recognizing that other folks also live, work, and have their homes here? Would you want Roman Catholic public school teachers proseletyzing your children?

>>But to the main point, do you think that teachers graduating from Wheaton should not get along with those of other faiths and backgrounds in public schools? What's wrong with getting along and recognizing that other folks also live, work, and have their homes here?

Nope, I'm pretty sure TIm wants teachers to kill all the heathen kids who don't convert.

Seriously though, Romans 12:18 is the answer "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men." the key phrase being, "if possible". This is in no conflict with Jesus' dictum, "let you light shine before men". The point is that Christian shines his light on more than just Sunday morning because he's not ashamed of the Gospel which is the power of God to save all who believe.

> at some point you need to connect the dots...

Your point is well taken; but do you seriously equate the social-gospellers with those who believe that God's law provides the standard for civic justice?

My position is simply that God's word is authoritative in everything that it addresses and in principle it addresses everything.

I just thought of a good way to think about any document that, like the Wheaton education one, equivocates. How much would it have to be changed to be acceptable to a radical hater of Christ, to, say, a Marxist intent on eradicating the opiate of the masses, or a modern liberal who loathes evangelicals?

Not a lot, I think.

So which is the true meaning of their words, the Christian one that we could apply if we were being generous to them, or the anti-Christian, "mainstream denomination" one?

A clue is in the references-- the readings suggested by the document to explain what it means in detail. People like Bill Ayers are Marxists, not evangelicals.

The new president has a tough job. This document shows that it's not just a few professors, but entire departments as organizations that are rotten at Wheaton, and the rot is proud and public.

Michael B., and what about Roman Catholics shining their light as public school teachers? Or Mormons? Both of those faiths also believe in Rom. 12:18.

Which leads to Don A.'s question: yes, the Social Gospelers all appealed to the Bible for their "progressive reforms," much in the way that egalitarians appeal to Gal. 3:28. The history of Christian social reform is littered with irresponsible exegesis.

Dark Heart: "The history of Christian social reform is littered with irresponsible exegesis."

That's the R2K argument?

Simply because there have been LibProts who have committed irresponsible exegesis throughout their history, therefore, the pro-life conservative Christians now need to withdraw their voices from the Public Square?

That's lame, Dark Heart.

Out of curiousity,

What would the "Social Justice" teaching faculty of Wheaton think of this story:

http://www.miamiherald.com/2010/03/11/1523982/miss-school-prom-off-after-lesbians.html

"An 18-year-old student says a Mississippi school board that canceled a high school prom did so in retaliation for her request to bring a same-sex date."

Would the Wheaton Education Professors say that "Social Justice" was miscarried in the situation above?

This is from the Wheaton College Community Covenant. It is on the Wheaton College website.

By contrast, Scripture condemns the following:

sexual immorality, such as the use of pornography (Matt. 5:27-28), pre-marital sex, adultery, homosexual behavior and all other sexual relations outside the bounds of marriage between a man and woman (Rom. 1:21-27; 1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gen. 2:24; Eph. 5:31).

How does that contrast with the document that says:

The first broad goal is to ensure that candidates learn to work effectively with all children and their families regardless of race, creed, religion, national origin, sexual preference, disabling condition, or capabilities.

When working effectively with people of different sexual preferences, will they teach them that God condemns homosexuality and that Wheaton College's own Community Covenant also condemns homosexuality?

I wonder if the Community Covenant will be modified to agree with the Education Dept. document or vice-versa. Hopefully the glaring contrast will bring about refining conflict that will hold all to the Community Covenant and God's Word.

Dear Brothers,

I've done a post in response to several issues raised, above.

Love,

>Michael B., and what about Roman Catholics shining their light as public school teachers? Or Mormons? Both of those faiths also believe in Rom. 12:18.

Which is why Dabney very wisely argued that we shouldn't have public schools.

>Michael B., and what about Roman Catholics shining their light as public school teachers? Or Mormons? Both of those faiths also believe in Rom. 12:18.

Which is why Dabney very wisely argued that we shouldn't have public schools.

David Gray, then isn't the fundamental problem with Wheaton that they are even training teachers for public schools? If so, then Wheaton's been off the rails since its inception.

>David Gray, then isn't the fundamental problem with Wheaton that they are even training teachers for public schools? If so, then Wheaton's been off the rails since its inception.

Depends how you look at it. It would be better if our society doesn't have public schools but yet we do. Given that such schools exist it is arguably better to have Christians teaching in them than not.

You can collect your Social Security check while recognizing the system needs to be fixed.

God bless those Christians who teach in public school! After getting my teaching degree and getting a good glance at what public school was all about (and continued to be so, since I grew up in one), it was very difficult imagining having to pass along to the students the indoctrination that was expected of the administration and the government!

>and what about Roman Catholics shining their light as public school teachers?

If being Romanized is the worst thing that happens to your child in a public school consider yourself fortunate.

David Gray, but to hear some Christians talk, the public schools are synagogues of satan, you know, no neutrality so the schools are teaching some religion and it must be anti-Christian if it is not pro-christian. So isn't working within a synagogue of satan a bad thing? I mean, we wouldn't encourage prostitution as a way to evangelize, right?

Don Alexander, your remark about being Romanized is exactly what I fear happens when Christians get socially active. Over time, they see Rome as a better option than other things and that leads to Evangelicals and Catholics Together.

Darryl

My comment was an indictment of public education; not an endorsement of Roman Catholicism; nevertheless, if I put any of my six(soon to be seven)children in a public school and that was the worst that came of it I would be grateful.

All that aside, I am dumbstruck by your response. When "Christians get socially active” they run the risk of being Romanized? A few days ago I accused you of being antinomian and you responded by assuring me that R2Kers embrace the "regulative principle". Instead of mocking the utter incoherence of your response I meekly clarified my position. It is now time for us to lay our cards on the table.

You believe that the word of God has no authority beyond the narrow confines of the institutional church. So be it. In this regard you are not unique. This type of cultural retreat has characterized American Evangelicalism from the time Machen was driven out of Old Princeton until the ill fated emergence of the ill equipped Moral Majority. The enemies of Christ were not so complacent during this forty odd years. Consequently we are forced to fight a rear-guard action with much ground to recover. If my interpretation of "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ" is "irresponsible exegesis" then I will live and die in terms of this irresponsibility and do so with a clear conscience. If you and your ilk do not have the stomach for this fight then you may take your effete, effeminate, impotent gospel back to the comfortable confines of academia and your culturally irrelevant churches. The rest of us have a war to wage.

>>If my interpretation of "The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and his Christ" is "irresponsible exegesis" then I will live and die in terms of this irresponsibility and do so with a clear conscience.

This is excellent Don, thank you.

Don, I just did a Google search on news regarding your name. I didn't find anything. So what is your virile, manly, forceful gospel doing to change our world? Seriously, what are you doing to make the Bible the norm outside the church?

BTW, can you explain to me if the Bible has all the rules for life why our churches use Roberts Rules to conduct session, presbytery, and General Assembly meetings?

>Seriously, what are you doing....

Publicly refuting a man who has made a career and reputation by attempting to undermine the authority of God's word.

In a broad sense, the Bible does govern session and presbytery meetings. For example, the 6th commandment would govern men's natural impulse to throttle a fellow delegate who advanced a nonsensical argument that would pit Roberts Rules vs. the Bible governing session and presbytery meetings.

Don, thanks for the love. Funny how you seem to think that your "irresponsible" exegesis of the kingdom of God also seems to apply to your interpretation of the ninth commandment.

Mark, so great to hear from you. I've been wondering where you've been.

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