Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Discerning Learning

By Brenda Black

Third row, aisle seat. Notebook open, pencil sharp. Hand in the air, eyes looking forward, ears ready to hear. I love to learn! Over the course of my life in classrooms large and small, for academic, spiritual, professional or personal instruction, I have come prepared to concentrate, participate and postulate. By and large, I believe I received sound instruction from most teachers. When I did question the integrity or morality of a subject, I enlisted common sense and godly discernment to sift the input.

Now, more than ever, with the onslaught of instant information from both reliable and down right corrupt sources, and not-so-subtle social agendas, it is vital that every student be keenly observant and brutally critical as they head back to school. The human mind and heart are under intellectual and moral attack.

Christina Hoff Sommers, professor of philosophy at Clark University, warned her audience in a speech delivered nearly 14 years ago at the Shavano Institute for National Leadership that the mind is indeed a terrible thing to waste.

“Too many young people are morally confused, ill-informed, and adrift. This confusion gets worse rather than better once they go to college. If they are attending an elite school, they can actually lose their common sense and become clever and adroit intellectuals in the worst sense. George Orwell reputedly said, 'Some ideas are so absurd that only an intellectual could believe them.' Well, the students of such intellectuals are in the same boat. Orwell did not know about the tenured radicals of the 1990s, but he was presciently aware that they were on the way. The problem is not that young people are ignorant, distrustful, cruel, or treacherous. And it is not that they are moral skeptics. They just talk that way. To put it bluntly, they are conceptually clueless. The problem I am speaking about is cognitive. Our students are suffering from 'cognitive moral confusion.'” (Read more of Sommers' observations)

This moral confusion poses the greatest risk to all that has made America strong. While many among today's generation mindlessly compromise and conform, the burden to rebuild a strong moral base has to come from those willing to impart truth and expose the subtle and divisive attacks on the moral conscience of all. We must remind ourselves of the radical agendas of people like Joseph Stalin who once said, “America is like a healthy body and its resistance is threefold: It's patriotism, its morality, and its spiritual life. If we can undermine these three areas, America will collapse from within.”

Where's the patriotism today? How's the morality? What about a spiritual hunger? Are we passing the test to stay a free thinking and morally motivated nation or are we failing miserably?

As students head back to school, those going and those sending better drop to their knees in prayer. For ideas will be many and agendas aggressive, but each of us has the moral responsibility to do what's right and employ divine discernment. Yes, there is a right and a wrong. We each must answer to God. Educating the heart as well as the mind to live according to biblical standards is the only way we can get back on track and not “collapse from within.”

Isaiah states its simply: “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right!” (Isaiah 1:16b-17a) In subsequent verses, the wise prophet relays the Lord's instructions for how to get it “right.” “'Come now, let us reason together,' says the Lord. 'Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword.' For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Ish. 1:18-20)

Learn with discernment.

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