Brave New Schools by Berit Kjos

Brave New Schools is a book filled with facts, accusations, quotes, footnotes and commentary aimed at the concerned parents of school age children. The underlying thesis is that of a great conspiracy designed to corrupt not only our children but all America as well. Aldous Huxley’s famous novel, Brave New World is viewed not only as a prophecy but as a reality being fulfilled before our very eyes. Is Kjos correct or is she blowing smoke? Let’s take a look.

Since the day Satan slithered into the garden the souls and lives of mankind have been under attack. Satan has masterminded a plethora of conspiracies and plots to destroy our lives, and that he is at work in our educational system should neither surprise nor catch us off guard. As in every age, discernment is needed. Presently, our educational community has recognized that many of our current methods have proven futile, so attempts are being made to improve the system. Some, if not most, of those efforts are rooted in the humanistic, New Age, behavioristic philosophies of our times. Our author properly warns us of these things, although I wish she had documented the fact (one that she is aware of) that our society has never had a truly biblical educational system; we are always dealing with the tensions between systems and philosophies. That we are aware of these tensions, and even perversions, is right and necessary, how we deal with these concerns will surely vary according to our convictions.

There is much to commend in this work, especially a good chapter on “Saving the Earth.” Documentation is extensive, and the author’s positions are clear, if at times debatable. Mrs. Kjos and I had a very long telephone discussion about her book, which clarified many things for me. I found no quarrel with her facts, nor with her view of Scripture (as far as I could discern), but we did not always agree on the conclusions based on the data. For example, the author’s discussion of the “Eight Principles” developed by the Iowa Roundtable (pp.162-166) is instructive, but I am not certain that I would draw some of the same deductions that she does. Nevertheless, Kjos presents good arguments that should allow the reader enough information to have a better understanding of the issues.

Kjos’ accusations toward the liberal left are often on the mark, but she does not mention that the same accusations can be tossed at the right. For example, she laments the re-writing of history by liberals, often leaving out the influence of Christianity and the horrors of pagan worship. She is right, but what about the Christian right’s equally distorted view of history? How often the right boasts of the Christian America of the past, without a proper presentation of the facts. In our telephone conversation Kjos agreed with this assessment but said she did not have space to deal with the subject in Brave New Schools.

Kjos’ audience is Christians, so I was disappointed that there was no mention of the infiltration of pagan thought in the Christian community. Virtually every issue that Brave New Schools pinpoints can be found running rampant in churches, Christian schools and home schools. Once again (on the telephone), she agreed with this appraisal but said she lacked room to develop the subject. I can understand her dilemma and urged her to write another book warning parents that Christian schools, and home school curriculums, often are laced with the same deadly errors. I don’t think I convinced her, but I hope she will reconsider.