Talking to Kids About Alternative Worldviews

March 09, 2023

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How do we talk with our gets about alternate worldviews? How do we prepare them for ideas that compete with our biblical worldview? Elizabeth Urbanowicz shares practical advice on how to engage with your child when they are exposed to worldviews that are contrary to a biblical worldview.

Transcript

Note: The following is an auto-transcript of the podcast recording.

Hello friends, and welcome to another episode of the Foundation Worldview Podcast where we seek to answer your questions so that you can equip the children in your care to carefully evaluate every idea they encounter and understand the truth of the biblical worldview. I'm your host, Elizabeth Urbanowicz, and I'm thrilled you've joined me for another episode today. Now, today's question is one that is really at the heart of this ministry, so I was so excited when I saw it come in. The question says, "when talking to kids on worldview, which other views would you include? And how do you advise we handle when elements of these things emerge in the media? For example, the Yingying sign on kids toys, follow your heart slogan, et cetera." Now, this question is such a good one because it's so important that we prepare our children for all of the competing ideas that are coming their way.

And this is something that I even found in my own classroom when I was teaching third grade, that I wanted to equip the children that God had placed in my care to carefully evaluate the ideas that came their way. And so what I first started out doing is I asked our head of school if for permission, just to take this really random 10 chunk of time that I had one afternoon, I think it was between PE and packing up for the day, and expose the kids in my classroom to some just very short, somewhat innocent TV clip, whether it was from the Disney Channel or Nickelodeon or something from a book or a movie or a song. Just expose them to something in culture and then have them evaluate it. And our head of school gave me permission to do this, and the kids in my class loved it.

I called it media savvy, and they loved it mainly because they were getting to watch TV or a movie or listen to a song during the school day. But the problem that I found is once I would show them the clip, I would then ask them to evaluate it. And they had no skills for which to evaluate this clip. Like I would say, "okay, what did we just hear this character say? I want you to talk in your groups. Does this align with what we find in the world around us? Is this true? Does this align with the Bible?" And all the kids were able to say every time was "um, this is bad." And then I would ask them why. And they'd be like, because you're showing it to us and you probably wouldn't show it to us if there wasn't something wrong with it.

Now, that was good reasoning, sound reasoning there, but I soon realized that these kids that God has placed in my care, they need some sort of tools to actually evaluate these ideas that right now, even if I ask them to think critically through these things, they don't have any lens through which to filter this. And that's really what got me on this journey of starting Foundation. Worldview, is that I set out to look for materials that would just systematically instruct my students, not only in the teachings of the biblical worldview, but in teachings of other worldviews that we find present in our society, and then would help them evaluate these ideas that come up in different forms of media. And I couldn't find anything that did that at the eight, nine year old age range, and that did it systematically in a way that was going to transform kids thinking.

So that's when I was like, well, I guess I better start taking classes and doing some reading because I need to create some materials for these children that God has placed in my care. So when thinking through this question like what other worldviews do we include when we're equipping our kids to evaluate ideas, my answer to that is, what are the worldviews that our children are already exposed to that we need to make sure that we are exposing them to worldviews that are already present in culture? Now, this is where comparative worldview instruction can be a little bit different than comparative religious instruction in that it can be very valuable to teach our children the tenants of Buddhism or what Sikhs believe or just different things from different religions all over the world that can be valuable. But the thing is, in the United States, our children aren't necessarily going to be exposed to Buddhism in its purest form.

What they're going to more be exposed to is this new spirituality, new age mysticism that teaches that the heart is the ultimate guide or that feelings are the ultimate instructor. And so I think it's really important to look at, what are these worldviews that our children are already exposed to that yes, exposing them to comparative religions can be beneficial, but what we need is real boots on the ground. What are they already faced with in this culture? So in Foundation Comparative Worldview curriculum, we identified four worldviews that we think are really important to take kids through. And now the labels that we've given to these worldviews are not necessarily identical, identical with the labels that these worldviews would be given in academia, but just as an easy way of remembering these, we expose children to naturalism or basically any worldview that believes that only the physical realm is real.

And so that would include naturalism, physicalism, atheism. Any worldview that's teaching, just the physical realm is real. Also, humanism. We also teach them what we call new spirituality, which is kind of what I explained before, just this new age belief takes a little bit from Buddhism, takes a little bit from Hinduism, takes a little bit from eastern mysticism and just places all of the emphasis on the spiritual and then our personal subjective feelings about that. In this, that curriculum. We also cover post-modernism. And again, we don't dive into it as deeply as it would be. It's covered in academia, but we look at post-modernism just as this view of every society has their own version of the truth, and that's truth with a little T. That truth with a capital T objective truth, absolute truths really cannot be known because we are limited in our perspective, we're limited by the language that we use.

We're limited by our cultural view of things. And then finally, we look at Islam as another theistic religion that has some similarities to Christianity, but also really vast differences to it because Islam is very prevalent in the United States. And so these are the four world views that we've identified that we think are really important for children in this cultural context to understand. But in where you are, you may be in a society where you have, if you live in Utah, you may really need to expose your children to the teachings of Mormonism because most of your neighbors are probably latter day saints. And so you need to make sure that your children understand what are the teachings of Mormonism, where do they align with historic Christianity, and where do they deviate from historic Christianity? If you do live in a neighborhood where you do have several Buddhist neighbors who practice a very pure form of Buddhism, then you probably do need to dive into Buddhism and learning what do Buddhist believe? And a great way to do that is by actually inviting neighbors over and asking them questions and so that they can share their worldview with them and so that your kids can learn from your neighbors.

So identify what are those worldviews present in your community that are coming to your children through school, through your neighborhood, and then what are the worldviews that are present in the media that are coming in that your children are exposed to? Now, the methodology that we use in Foundation Worldview, we use just a very simple formula just to keep it straightforward and simple for everybody. The first thing that we do is we expose kids to big worldview questions. We expose 'em to the questions, what is truth? What should I worship? How did life begin? Who am I? And how can I tell right from wrong?

Now, those aren't the five and all be all worldview questions. There's many more that you could go through. Those are just five important ones that we've identified that we want to help children go through. But there may be other questions that you want to help your children look through. So first, expose them to the question. Then have them investigate the clues in the world around them that when we look at the answer to this question in the world around us, what clues do we find? And the reason we take this methodology in the Foundation Comparative Worldview curriculum is we want to help children see that Christianity actually lines up with reality. So we have them investigate these clues around them. Then after that, we have them dive down deep into what has the Bible revealed as a whole about this topic. So we're looking at scripture from the Old Testament, from the New Testament, from different genres, looking at what has God revealed as a whole about this topic?

And then so that they see, oh my goodness, what we're learning about in scripture is what we just observed in life and the world around us. Then after that, that's when we would directly introduce them to, what do other worldviews teach on this? And this is an opportunity if you have a neighbor who's Muslim or who's Buddhist or who's atheist, you can actually have 'em over for dinner and ask them some of these questions so that your kids can get firsthand experience of understanding, what does somebody from this worldview believe? And then if you don't have someone from that worldview in your neighborhood, I mean, that's where we at Foundation Worldview just provide you with quick summaries of what other worldviews believe. You can also check out YouTube videos for that. And then once your children have a foundational understanding of how a different worldview answers that question, then compare and contrast the answer to that question with the biblical answer.

Look for similarities. What are some ways in which the biblical worldview and this other worldview teach similar things about the answer to this question? And where are the differences? And then have them evaluate what worldview or worldviews line up with what we found in the world around us? So this way our children are seeing that Christianity is not just some blind irrational leap into the dark, it's putting our trust in the God of the Bible who we cannot see because everything we can see points to him. Then getting to the second part of this question, once our children have this foundation, they understand a worldview question. They understand what clues are in the world around them. They understand the biblical answer, they understand other worldview's answers, and they understand the differences between Christianity and these other worldviews. Then we can start to look for examples of these alternate worldview messages in the media.

And so that's one thing we do in Foundation Comparative Worldview Curriculum. We actually give recommendations for clips that you can find, whether it's on Disney+ or on YouTube, to show the kids that God has placed in your care to say, "let's look at this clip. What worldview does this stem from, and how do you know that?" Then be on the lookout, because you can be guaranteed that when you're watching a movie, when you're watching a show, when you're driving down the road and you see a billboard when you're having a conversation with someone from a different worldview, that these things are going to come up. And it's one of these things that if you've never studied worldviews before, maybe you've never even noticed these alternate worldview messages all around you. But once you start studying worldviews, all of a sudden it becomes so clear, oh my goodness, this message is from that worldview.

I found this in my own classroom that once I started teaching the students in my classroom just to be on the lookout for other worldview ideas, that every afternoon we'd have silent reading for 20 to 30 minutes after recess, and every silent reading there would be a line of students at my desk to show me the alternate worldview claims that they had found in books that they were reading, and they were able to pick them up so quickly. And mom started calling me and saying, you're not going to believe the discussion that we had during family movie night on Friday. The thing my son wanted to pause the movie and evaluate the character's worldview, other teachers were coming down to me and were saying, oh my goodness. You would not believe these conversations that we're having in literature and mathematics and history because of these alternate worldview perspectives that your students already know how to recognize.

And so when our kids are trained to recognize these things and understand why they don't line up with reality, then they're prepared as they go out into the world, as they're having conversations, as they're seeing things in stores, as they're watching shows, all of these things that they're going to be prepared to recognize the alternate worldviews in those messages.

Another approach that you can take when you find messages that are coming at you and your kids that don't necessarily fall neatly into one little worldview package. And that's the tricky thing now about just our society, that we have so many worldviews coming at us, and a lot of times we live in almost like this worldview smörgåsbord board where people take a little bit of this, a little bit of that, a little bit of this, and mix it all together. So we can't always identify what exactly is that worldview.

Another just simple way to help our kids evaluate things is to filter it through the lens of what gospel is this? And what I mean by gospel, I mean what is portrayed as the problem, and then what is portrayed as the ultimate solution. Now, if we look even just at what's been going on in culture over the past several years and how the critical theories, which used to be really reserved to academia are now starting to, not so much trickle down, but really roll in very forcefully into just general culture. When we look specifically at critical race theory and we look at the problems, some of the problems that we see in our society that when we look at our society, we do see that racism exists and that racism is real, and that's a problem. And so if we're looking at this problem of racism in society, and we look at it through the biblical gospel, we look at, well, what is the problem here?

The problem here is that humans have rebelled against God and have turned their own way and are sinful, and therefore, we do not treat others as image bearers of the holy God. And that is what's going on in racism, is that we are treating others unjustly and not treating them as image bearers. And so the root problem there is sin. And so what is the ultimate solution? Well, the ultimate solution is that we are reconciled in our relationship with God, that we're forgiven of our sins, and then we're in dwelt with the Holy Spirit, and then we follow Jesus in living in a way that is just and treating others fairly and standing up for the poor and the down trodden, treating others as image bearers of the holy God. So that would be the biblical problem of sin and the solution of salvation.

Where when we look at critical race theory, what is the ultimate problem? Well, the ultimate problem is whiteness. And whiteness is the ultimate problem. And so if whiteness is the ultimate problem, what is the ultimate solution? Well, whiteness needs to be stamped down upon. People need to repent of their whiteness, repent of their racism, and do the work of social justice. And so if we look at that, then we can ask our kids, what are what's similar between these two gospels? Well, both of them see a problem. And there is an actual problem, and both of them see a problem. The gospel of Jesus Christ labels that problem as sin. The gospel of critical race theory labels that problem as the oppression of whiteness. And then what are the solutions? The gospel of Jesus Christ labels the solution as reconciliation to God, forgiveness for our sins, and then living in a way that honors Jesus in treating others justly.

The gospel of critical race theory talks about stamping down on the oppressor, renouncing whiteness, and doing the work that is required. And so we can talk about the similarities and differences. So that's an easy just filter to filter every idea through. If we're like, I'm not exactly sure what worldview this stems from, look at what is the gospel portrayed here? What is portrayed as the ultimate problem and what is portrayed as the ultimate solution? And now as we begin to train our children to look at these big worldview questions, to look at them through the lens of what do we find in reality? What do we find in scripture? What do other worldviews teach in comparing and contrasting? I think we're really going to be shocked to see how easily our kids can identify the truth and pick up on falsehood.

Well, that's a wrap for this episode. As always, if you found this content to be beneficial, we'd ask that you consider liking subscribing, writing a review, and sharing this content with those in your sphere of influence. Our goal here at Foundation Worldview is to equip as many adults as possible to get the kids in their care carefully evaluating every idea they encounter so they can understand the truth of the biblical worldview.

My prayer for you today, as always as we leave this time together, is that God would richly bless you as you continue to faithfully disciple the children he's placed in your care. I'll see you next time.

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