Education as Religion


November 13, 2011 by k. liz

Bear with me. These are thoughts in process.

Recently I’ve been reading a broad array of articles by a broad array of authors on the topic of education. Fitting, of course, seeing as I’m an educator studying the art of education as it fits under the umbrella of Applied Linguistics. But, something struck me as I was reading this week. I’ve commented frequently here about Paulo Freire and how I’ve been inspired and intrigued by his writings. Well, both Freire and a couple of the other authors that I have been reading actually suffered persecution for their beliefs on education. Freire was exiled from his country because his educational ideas were seen as too radical and too threatening to the political regime in control.

I found myself encountering terms that I usually reserved for religious spheres in my reading on education. I have started to feel the passion and drive that many educators exhibit in their writings and lectures on education, and it feels very much akin to messages and books I’ve read on Christianity or Islam, Hinduism or Judaism.

Why is there this correlation? Why the same verbiage being used? That’s when I started thinking through even my own stance on education. Other than Jesus Christ, education is probably what I am the most passionate about. I have visions and dreams for the future and educational endeavors that I want to pursue. I can see the ways that it could change the world, the things that it could do to better people’s lives. I want to be a part of improving the system, of seeing people change because of their education.

But, here is the fundamental difference: education isn’t a religion. There is no god, there is no life after, there is no worship. So, why is there such a religious sensation around this topic?

I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself.

To me, education can change people’s lives. It can make a difference. It can prove to them that they can chase after their dreams and achieve them. It can show them that I care about them. It can change our country, it can change generations down the road. But to me, education is such a big deal because as it accomplishes all of those things above, it also accomplishes something religious. Education is relational. Education provides hope. These attributes reflect the key attributes of my relationship with Jesus Christ, and I can live out my Christianity in education regardless of whether or not that is a verbal act. I cannot teach without seeing a small picture of what Jesus Christ did for me when he died for me. He gave up everything for me so that I could have something better. In a small sense, that is what I want to do for my students.

I feel very strongly about my relationship with Jesus Christ. And I feel very strongly about education. I am not a Christian-school educator, but I am a Christian educator. That must be evident in the way that I love, interact with, and give up myself for my students.

The very philosophy of my educational practices is intertwined with my relationship with Jesus Christ. I may never utter a word about what I believe to my students, but it should be clear by the way that I live and teach. I am educating people to be something better. I am giving them hope to go on to something more. And I am doing this because I honestly believe that there is something better and there is something more. I believe that by giving them hope for this life, I will gain maybe a split second in which to show them that there is something better after life.

Don’t let anyone fool you. Everyone’s inherent faith will be fundamental to their views on education. Faith changes the way we live, and shapes the way we think. No, education is not religion. But education does reflect religion.



2 thoughts on “Education as Religion

  1. pedagogyuk says:

    Paulo Freire is an idol, glad to see some pro-Paulo blogging and from an educator as well! Great, now let’s hope as many people as possible do the same thing and pick up his work!
    You sound like a lovely teacher to be honest and it’s nice to see someone hoping for the best for others!
    I am a youth worker and I have been reading your blog during a break from an assignment I’m writing on how youth work can support the domestication of the populace (which I should go back to)!
    If you like Freire, have you read A.S.Neill and Ivan Illich?

    • k. liz says:

      Sadly no. I just started a Master’s Course and it has been my first introduction to Freire. I’ve really enjoyed it. Now, if I could find a break from reading for class, I would look up those other two you suggested! I’ll keep them on the back burner for now. 🙂

      Thanks for the comment!

      By the way, your assignment sounds interesting! I’ll check out your blog as well.

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