I’ve been in the Messianic movement since 2009 and I’ve been a public-school engineering teacher since 2016. During my time in the movement, I’ve seen over and over again that the majority of Messianics – not all, but a stout majority – believe that the public education system is corrupt and only aids in the moral degradation of the next generations by filling their minds with sinful ideas and behavior. Memes and ranting posts are becoming popular on Facebook for all others to see, and many people who had a great time in public school (before or during their time in the Messianic movement) are believing the ideas contained therein. This issue affects me personally, so I am writing this article in an attempt to give those in the movement a look at the public education realm from the eyes of someone who walks through it every day of the year.
I would like to begin with a great example of the memes and rhetoric spewing from Facebook users concerning this issue. This internet meme was posted by someone on my Facebook friends list about a week ago and as you probably guessed, the comment section went wild with people rallying behind the idea that the public-school system is only out to take our tax dollars in order to brainwash our youth into being morally and ethically degenerate. I am rather confident that most, if not all, of the people commenting on the post had no experience in the public-school system outside of their own time as a student and were not open to even hearing my own perspective of the ideas present even though I serve in the system every day. I want to take this time to explain away the misconceptions contained in this post, as well as explain what it actually looks like on my side of the desk.
Let’s begin with the overarching idea in the meme that students are not allowed to think for themselves. This is represented by the young boy’s head being open and the “filth” being poured into it from the mouth of the teacher. Though one of the educational system’s main goals is to teach our children facts in our content areas, we absolutely do not discourage or prevent students to not think on their own. In fact, I schedule and plan each month to contain a lesson and follow up days where we discuss a topic and then spends a few days respectfully arguing our perspectives so that everyone hears every thought on the matter. A few of the discussions we have engaged in just this year include the following (remember, I teach engineering where all major events affect the US technology and engineering sector, so these are relevant for sure):
- Have recent advancements in technology caused humans to become lazier?
- Does NASA receive too much, too little, or just the perfect amount of funding from the US government?
- How will policies such as President Trump’s recent travel ban affect the engineering field and market?
- Should companies such as McDonald’s be allowed to replace human employees with artificial intelligence machines?
The end of the discussion days ends with the students writing a formal report of all perspectives heard and how they agree or disagree with them and why. Students do not receive bad grades if their perspective is not the same as mine; rather, they receive great grades for thinking critically about subjects and topics that directly affect our lives. Though other content fields are not the exact same as mine, the teachers in my school system engage in similar strategies to help students understand the issues at hand and how we can resolve them through combined efforts.
Contained also within the meme above is the idea that public schools are teaching our students that religion is stupid and that all they need to know and do is sex. I honestly laughed at the meme when I saw it the first time, not because it is accurate, but because I literally do not know a single teacher who says these things. Every morning in 2nd period, our front office receptionist comes over our intercom and begins the morning announcements. When concluded, the announcements give way to the pledge of allegiance and a 60 second moment of silence where students are encouraged to pray, reflect, or whatever they need for the moment. Yes, public schools in America no longer require students to pray in the classical Judeo-Christian way because that is an infringement on the students’ right to freedom of religion, but we absolutely do not ban prayer for any child in our school. Rather, many of our teachers are professing Christians who will council students and even pray with them if the student requests it. At my school alone, I am but one of many pastors who dawn both the mantle of church leader and classroom leader, and we most certainly do not and would not discourage a child from praying or seeking to deepen their faith. Further, we absolutely do not encourage promiscuity as evident by our official dress code. If you believe that dress codes being enforced does not contradict with promoting promiscuity, you have abandoned all logic and reason.
Even the motto at my school, which is spoken at the end of every announcement period and posted in every classroom and on every hall, proves that we promote the very opposite of what is shown in this meme. Here is an actual photograph of our school moto as it hangs under the American flag in my computer lab. So as you can see, though not officially affiliated with the Judeo-Christian religions, our Indian Pride displays the same principals taught by Jesus himself. To think that we teach otherwise is to suggest that we print these posters and handbooks just to deceive the masses into thinking we aren’t brainwashing your children when you voluntarily send them to us 180 days every year.
From here, I would like to explain the very goal of what it means to be a teacher. As the title shows, being a teacher means by most important objective is to teach my children, not fill them full of facts about my content field. Rather, teaching a student looks much different. Teaching a student means explaining to her why being on time to school is important and how it affects her future career. Teaching a student means explaining why understanding mathematics and numbers will help when he is planning his family’s budget in a few years. Teaching a student means explaining why the powers that be in our world make the decisions they do and give her the opportunity to see what she can do to further the cause or help bring reform through her ideas. Teaching a student means explaining not only my content field but also explaining the real world and life itself to young people who are making the transition to adulthood while loving them through every moment, and this can be accomplished both in and outside of the classroom. Take this photo for example; these two students are some of my best and they stayed after school with me to talk about investments and how they should be handling their money now that they have jobs. We even had this discussion over a game of cards because we all enjoy conversing and learning with each other.
I love my students and I love my job, and I can honestly say that I have the best job in the world. I wake up every morning knowing that about 150 young men and women will be walking into my classroom and that I have been granted the opportunity to help make a positive impact in their lives. This is why the misrepresentation affects me. This is why the continual bashing of the education system by Messianics is so disheartening. This is why educators like me need to stand up and show the church that not everything you see on Facebook about this field is true.
At the end of the day, I am a 28 year old man who spends all day with teenagers, teaching them about life and how to become great employees and even greater people and no amount of misinformation on the internet can change that reality.