Saturday, September 9, 2017

A New School Year, A New Perspective on Education

What is the purpose of education?

I believe the sole purpose of all education is to know God and make Him known.  Proverbs 1:7 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Proverbs 9:10 says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One brings understanding.  

In other words, for us to be wise and knowledgeable in any way, we must first fear the Lord, and He is the only one who can bring us any understanding.  Education (the cultivation of wisdom and virtue) happens only when we fear the Lord.  The Bible is clear that any "wisdom" without God leads to foolishness. 

The more we study this beautiful creation, the more we get to know our Creator.  The more we know, the more we realize we don't know, which demonstrates to us that God is infinitely greater than anything we could ever imagine.  As we study His creation we see God's goodness, power, and his character in plain view, and there is nothing more humbling than seeing ourselves in comparison to God.  The more we learn about God, the more we begin to see just how powerful, gracious, and mighty that He really is!  So as we study, our education should not be about the building up of individuals, but should be exactly the opposite; education should result in nothing but humble adoration of God. 

The modern progressive education methods are vastly different from how all education was prior to the 1900s. This includes everything from public school to homeschool. Education, in general, used to be geared more around enculturation instead of individualistic learning.  When we talk about classical education, it is really referring to education as it was before the current model took shape.

What we now call education is actually more of a training season which serves as a means to get a good job, so all learning is separated into stand alone subjects: math, language, sciences, humanities, art, etc.  Most of your time is spent prepping for tests that you'll take and then not remember for the rest of your life.  They hope that one or two subjects will "click" with you and then you'll go on to specialize in those things.  When all is said and done, you specialize in one or two subjects and hope for the best. If you can't find a job, maybe you'll go back to school to specialize in another thing, and hopefully get a good job, and all will be well in life.... right? Or could it be possible that the sole purpose of one's life is not a job? If it isn't, why on earth did they spend 13-18 years "educating" you for this work?

In reality, these topics are all interrelated, which means that they don't exist independently of each other.  Life is not divided into these different sections.  Every subject is related to every other because it's all part of one story, and if you are a Christian, you know that they are all in direct relationship to God.  So if all learning, from the first cry to the final breath, has a real purpose; if it all actually matters,  if God is at the center of ALL there is to learn, why would we give them an education that ignores God?

You're either going to learn about the world as if it exists on its own or as if it has a creator and sustainer.  If you believe in the latter, then why wouldn't you, a Christian, want to spend every second of every day getting to know our Creator better?  Why wouldn't you want the same for your children? Also, why would you want your kids to be bombarded with all sorts of conflicting ideas without the tools to sort through / discern them yet?

When you are restricted to learning about God's universe through a humanistic worldview, the end result not going to be good.  It's much like someone telling you to put together a jigsaw puzzle with no picture to guide you.  You may have no reference point because there just isn't one. The pieces came together by chance. However, it's still your job to put them together, to see whatever the picture turns out to be for you.

Then they tell you that they've included the pieces to 3 or 4 additional puzzles in the same pile of pieces and you are to find out which ones fit into your tasked puzzle and which ones do not, before you even try to put your puzzle together.

Now, many people at this point would just give up, thinking it was just not worth it. For those who actually try to stick it out, there will be a lot of confusion and stress along the way as they first try to figure out if this piece fits into your puzzle, and then figure out what in the world the puzzle is a picture of.

A solid, Christ-centered classical education provides you, the Christian, with everything that you need to put that beautiful puzzle together.  A full, clear, completed image of what it is you are aiming to put together.  As it turns out, the picture is not nearly as ambiguous as was originally let on.  The pieces were not there by chance, they were created, and when put together, they create something marvelous!  

The more you learn about this beautifully designed puzzle (creation), the easier it will be to know which pieces need to be discarded and which ones to keep.  The pieces you need will be much easier to identify among the ones you don't need.  You'll also start to see how and where each piece fits perfectly into the picture, and throughout your time of completing the puzzle, you'll be able to go directly to that completed picture as a frame of reference anytime a new puzzle piece comes your way.

We know that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, so all education should point us directly to or (at the very least) in the direction of Christ. Everything we can learn about is part of a broader story (one very large picture). Our kids are a part of that same story. It's a story they should know well, and eventually, it's a story they should be able to pass on to future generations.

We can send them to church each week, yes, but a weekly Sunday school class cannot possibly cover it all.  If they attend a human-centered school, we can do our best to counteract any misplaced puzzle pieces they were given that day (provided that you know about them).  Then we can help them seek out any additional pieces that are not being provided in their curriculum; in order to supplement their education at home, which is what many people these days need to do.  But if God hands you the opportunity to have complete control over your child's education, why not take advantage of that opportunity?

Think of all those hours spent at school. Every second matters. Kids spend so much of their childhood being educated in one direction or the other, so shouldn't that education (wisdom and knowledge) be pointing them to their Savior? Their one and only chance at eternal life? If not, what are they gleaning from their education? Is it anything other than foolishness? If they are being taught all day, every day, that their education is all about them and all that they can accomplish for themselves, they are going to have quite a difficult time trying to sort through all of those misplaced puzzle pieces once they reach adulthood and reality sets in.  Many adults will spend their entire lives trying to find the right puzzle pieces before they can even get around to putting them together. It does not need to be that way.

God wants you to know Him and love Him, because He knows you and loves you.  He created us to be in fellowship with Him.  There is not a time of day where we are not meant to be in fellowship with Him.  Our time at school, learning about this world that He created, is time that should not be set aside, apart from Him.

God should be the center of all of our education, every single day of our lives.  Education does not stop the moment you graduate college.  It continues throughout the rest of your life.  We pass on all that we know to our kids. Our kids are the future generation and what we teach them will be passed on to future generations.  Shouldn't we be preparing our kids for what is to come (in this world and Heaven)?

For these reasons, Lord willing, modern government schools or curriculum are not in our future, at any time, for any reason.

I want kids (all kids, not just mine) to know the big picture, the real story.  I want them all to know their Creator and His creation as He created it, not a tiny cheap knock-off version of it.  I want them to be well equipped to see the natural world as it is; with open minds and eyes wide as they observe the ant, the butterfly, the Grand Canyon, language patterns, the elements of the periodic table, petrified wood, geometry, or the milky way.  I want them to understand that "chance" does not exist.  Every moment God provides them with is there because He planned for it, and He is actively controlling every second of it.  It is all there for them to know Him better.  He reveals aspects of Himself through it all. God is literally gifting them with the knowledge of Him every time they study His word and the world He created.

“You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.” (Isaiah 55:12)

As parents, we are to point our children to Christ by teaching them his ways.  That can be done when it is convenient for us (on Sundays and at dinner time), or it can be done every day, through their education, and at Sunday school, and at the dinner table, and at the breakfast table, and every moment we spend together. In other words, all the time.

Whether it is done through homeschooling classically or a Classical Christian school, our goal for their education will always be to provide them with the tools they need to know God and make Him known.  What else is an education for, but to prepare them for a life devoted to spreading His name, to being a light that shines in the darkest of places? This is a gift I want to give to my children; a broad, Christ-centered education in truth, goodness, and beauty, so that they will know God and make Him known. 

One other thing that I appreciate so much about classical Christian education is that it teaches children not what to think, but how to think.  They don't leave out any of the "hard" topics.  They learn how to wrestle with hard things in an effective way, which allows them to reason well as an adult. The students learn how to figure things out for themselves, there is no teacher telling them that any topic is right or wrong - instead, they are instructed on how to define terms, compare, see relationship, circumstance, and seek out testimonies, all to understand the ideas and then they make their own decisions.  They study logic and debate, they learn how to ask questions, and then they go on the learn ways to effectively communicate their well-informed decisions.

A Classical education provides them with the tools they need in order to learn anything, to teach anything, and to do it all well, to the glory of God.  I get SO EXCITED when I think about this! We want to prepare our kids for anything that comes their way as an adult - any job, any conversation, any joy or trial of any kind because that is what God has instructed us to do as parents.  The only way to thoroughly prepare them for this is by immersing themselves in the study of God in His word and to find aspects of Him in the universe He created.  By knowing God and his beautiful creation, how it works, and why it works, these kids are going to be so *crazy* prepared for anything that God brings to them in their lives.   They will have the ability to make a real difference in the world as they bear the fruits of the Spirit, through wisdom and understanding of their Lord.

Education can truly be a beautiful thing.  I can't imagine going about it in any other way.

Colossians 1:9-11  "We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his wills through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,e t 10 so that you may live a life worthyu of the Lord and please himv in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,w 11 being strengthened with all powerx according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,y "

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