One of the tensest moments I faced as a teacher involved comparative worldview education. I had just begun my third-year teaching Foundation Comparative Worldview Curriculum. Things were going great. The students were engaged and were growing in their ability to think critically. Parents were thrilled! At least most parents were.
On this particular day, one set of parents stormed into the school. They were irate that I had exposed their daughter to the beliefs of other worldviews. They claimed “This type of instruction is not developmentally appropriate! It should be held off until high school!”
You might be thinking the same thing. Isn’t it better to wait until our children are more mature before we instruct them regarding other worldviews? That is a great question! Here are three reasons why comparative worldview education is essential in the elementary years.
1. Critical Thinking Skills Are Formed in the Mid-Elementary Years
Critical thinking skills begin to develop when children are eight-to-ten years old. During this phase, children begin to consider perspectives outside of their own, compare and contrast different ideas, and formulate logical arguments. This is the prime age for starting comparative worldview instruction, as it allows us to guide the formation of our children’s thinking patterns. If we hold off on such instruction until they are in high school, their habits of thinking will be so deeply ingrained that much of our teaching will need to be reformative. The mid-elementary years are the prime developmental age for comparative worldview education.
2. Like It or Not, The World Is Calling
We live in a secular culture that is actively pursuing our children. Advertisers spend an average of $12 billion per year marketing products and ideas to our children. On average, children are exposed to 40,000 media messages per year. And the typical age of exposure to pornography is eight! Even if our children only view half of the media messages that the average child receives, by the time they are in ninth grade, they will have received 280,000 messages! We do not want to wait until our children have been exposed to this volume of truth-claims before we train them to evaluate every message they encounter. We need to equip them in the elementary years to successfully navigate our secular culture.
3. Preparation in a Safe Environment is Key
When we want to protect our children from a disease, we do not lock them in the house and continuously sanitize everything they touch. Instead, we take them to the doctor and expose their bodies to a tiny strand of such diseases. This exposure prepares their immune systems to attack those diseases once they encounter them full-force in the world. The same approach is best in worldview instruction. If we want to keep our children healthy spiritually, we need to expose them to tiny pieces of counterfeit worldviews while they are still at a developmental stage where we regulate most of what they encounter. If we wait until high school to expose them to such ideas, they will have already faced most of these ideas in the culture. Comparative worldview instruction in the elementary years prepares our children to critically evaluate false ideas before they encounter them in the world.
Our elementary-aged children are developmentally ready to learn about the ways in which others view the world. Our secular culture is actively pursuing their hearts and their minds, and God has given us the tools we need to combat this influence! Comparative worldview education is not something we should reserve solely for our high school students.