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26 December 2009

in which i obsess over educational blunders

When our kids were very small, Winnie the Pooh videos were the ones we primarily chose for entertainment for them rather than going with Barney videos (I still think there's something evil in those things), etc.

One of the series of videos was designated "Learning," and it was a series that taught, in very broad ways, some basic concepts like sharing or helping others -- things that children could use throughout life. (Another series was called "Playtime," and I suppose it was more of a "Pooh on the torpedoes! We're going to have fun and not worry about this 'learning' stuff!" series.) Videos weren't a source of educational material for us, but if our kids picked up good stuff while watching a fun video, hooray.

It always struck me as ironic that at the beginning of each "Learning" VHS tape (yes, they used to have these things called "VHS tapes") there was a promo for other Pooh videos, and it started out with the narration saying, "Hey, kids! Now there's three new exciting videos..." In other words, the voice said, "Hey, kids! Now there is three new exciting videos..."

That probably won't make many of you flinch, and I know these weren't grammar videos, but in any childhood "learning" media, I'm of the opinion that there shouldn't be obvious educational blunders. To me, saying "there is three videos" is sort of like saying, "I should of gone to the store," or, "Can I go to the bathroom?" or something like that. In a broad context, the videos were promoting the idea of learning, and while they taught many things well, like the fact that it's always good to help others, they helped to establish an incorrect foundation in other areas.

Real-life tie-in: in our churches we often teach excellent Biblical truths, like "love God, love others, help others at your own expense for the sake of Christ," etc. However, at the same time we're doing this, we build on wrong foundations elsewhere.

I think, for instance, of the correct teaching that we are to live a life of obedience to God because we love Him, which is a holy, beautiful, and accurate principle. However, by implication and frequently in practice, we can teach people the opposite by communicating that if they attend all scheduled services, get involved in church activities, and tithe, they are automatically reaching the world for the sake of Christ.

Can you think of some ways in which we might teach the truth in one area but are simultaneously undercutting it in another? And just how obsessive do you think I'm being about the Pooh video?


Robby said...

Based on how ineffective the American evangelical church (per the standard definition of church) has become with respect to its collective influence on our culture, it might be more fruitful to list ways in which teaching one truth is building up truth in another area. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of any. Certainly not in our teaching of evangelism (a good thing) because most Christians think they are fulfilling the Great Commission by merely inviting the lost to attend church. Nor can an example be made in the area of reinforcing the covenant of marriage (also a good thing) because many will neglect family in order to fulfill church obligations, with tacit permission by church leadership. Maybe in the area of avoiding financial servitude…no, not there either. Way too many churches have massive amounts of long-term debt.
Yet, since its inception, the church has been a pivotal entity through which Almighty God fellowships with humanity. As such, we can reasonably infer that we have a lot of adjusting to do in our precepts and actions.

Leroy said...

A word came to mind as I read your post...hypocrite. No, not you.

One thing that bothers me is how we (the church) pick and choose a scripture or two out of context to make our "good and holy" point. Instead of teaching that [dancing] can lead to sin so be on guard, we just say all [dancing] is bad. (Insert whatever into the [] to get the full effect).

And then there are the great and wonderful traditions we can sometimes elevate to such a level that people must meet them in order to be as holy as we are. I don't have a problem with traditions; until they become the basis for evaluating their spiritual fruits.

Oh, and there ain't nothing wrong with saying "should of". :)

Jeff said...


(I love it)

Dean Lusk said...

I hope to get to respond to these comments rather soon. I've been enjoying too much offline time lately. :-)

Dean Lusk said...

Robby, as I re-read your comment, I found myself wishing I'd written it. I agree.

I find myself thinking that most of what I do is try to chip away at negative elements by calling attention to them. I'd love to be able to grab onto existing good things and reinforce them, but I truly believe that the foundation has to be made whole (and many things purged) before anything substantial, real and Christ-honoring can be built on it. Actually, Christ must BE the foundation. Right now I see that we give that role to other things.

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