Worldview and Media

Your students are going to movies, watching TV, reading magazines, listening to music and “facebooking” on the internet. Are they putting any thought and reflection into any of these activities, or are they just letting popular media wash over them without attempting to discern or examine the cultural influences all around them? Worldview training and cultural discernment are vital for a classically trained student in American society. This seminar shows you how to get your students to think about what they are seeing and listening to from a Christian perspective.

Peter VandeBrake

Peter Vande Brake attended Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI, where he was an All-American decathlete and Philosophy major. He a ended seminary at Union Theological Seminary in Richmond, VA, and then did his doctoral work at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids. He taught, coached, and was Headmaster at North Hills Classical Academy from 1996–2010. He is a leadership consultant for the CiRCE Institute and the high school principal and track coach at The Potter’s House School in Grand Rapids, an urban Christ-centered school. He is married and has two daughters.

Worldview and Media

Your students are going to movies, watching TV, reading magazines, listening to music, and “facebooking” on the internet. Are they putting any thought and reflection into any of these activites, or are they just letting popular media wash over them without attempting to discern or examine the cultural influences all around them? Worldview training and cultural discernment are vital for a classically trained student in American society. This seminar shows you how to get your students to think about what they are seeing and listening to from a Christian perspective. 

Peter Vande Brake

Headmaster, North Hills Christian Academy, Grand Rapids, MI

Dr. Vande Brake holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Calvin College, an M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary, and a Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from Calvin Theological Seminary. Dr. Vande Brake has served as a teacher, coach, and administrator at North Hills Christian Academy, becoming headmaster in 1998. He is the secretary for SCL board and serves on the CiRCE Institute board of directors.

Electronically Disconnected

In response to being often accused by my adoring school community of hating technology, I recently catalogued the technological contents of our home. Gregg and I own 11 phones, 7 TVs, 5 VCRs, 2 DVDs, 2 TiVos, 2 component stereos, 2 compact stereos, and several computers with flat screen monitors.

I do not hate technology, but I am disturbed by the impact technology has upon relationships. While we are to be about the business of loving God and others, technology often interferes, infringing on necessary time and attention.

Text messaging and instant messaging are hindrances to authentic conversation. In a World Magazine article, Janie B. Cheaney wondered, “Why do people say things to each other online that they would never say face to face? Perhaps because faces communicate hurt, anger and sorrow – all difficult emotions we try to avoid.” Voiceless, faceless communication enables duplicity and o en leads to speaking without thinking.

Electronic communication also exposes our students to dangerous predators. This is a risk that should not be taken lightly. Young people have a tendency to trust and can be easily manipulated. Email is a wonderful tool to communicate with family members or close friends who know our hearts, but artificial, distant relationships can eclipse the healthy authentic relations with the people around us.

The constant availability of entertainment also undermines relationships. A friend recently observed two couples sizing down for dinner accompanied by a young girl. The group ordered their food then the child opened a laptop and began watching a movie while the adults talked. How sad! One of the best ways for children to learn is to listen to adults talk.

IPods are a problem for several reasons. One must wonder why we need to listen to music every- where we go and, worse, listen to it on our own private equipment. iPods also enable students to download any music or videos they choose, and they make the monitoring of downloaded media nearly impossible. There is no CD cover to view, no lyrics to read.

In light of these things we all know, these recommendations may help teachers and families resist the anti-relational effects of technology:

1. Forget iPods.

2. Find a regular social or physical activity that your family can do together.
3. Eat supper together—at a table with the TV off.

4. Resist the pressure to place a TV in your child’s room.
5. Block inappropriate channels on the TV. (MTV comes to mind.)
6. Purchase a DVR and give up commercials for- ever.
7. Give your child a cell phone when he or she receives a driver’s license, but not before. Monitor the bill carefully, and don’t purchase text messaging.
8. Allow the use of the internet ONLY in a room where supervision is always available.
9. Password protect and filter the internet, periodically checking every web site your child visits.
10. Turn off the phone in the car with your children. Talk, listen to a book, or listen to music you all enjoy.