How Much School?

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How many years did you go to school? How many years are necessary? When should a child be “finished” with school? When does this become too much education? These are just several questions that can come as we consider how many grades a student should complete.
I want to present the following in this essay: Children who complete all ten grades of school have a definite advantage and are better equipped to serve God, the church, and the community. As a high school graduate, I feel there are advantages to going higher than tenth grade, but I do not plan to cover those in this article, except for one comment later. Also, I realize some dangers accompany higher education, such as college. I will let others address that subject.
There are a few reasons why people may disagree and feel that eighth or ninth grade is “good enough” for their children. Maybe school is too hard for this child, because they have a hard time getting good grades; or they bring home too much homework. But really, when else in life, do we quit something because it is too hard? If farming becomes rough, we usually grin and bear it until the milk price goes up. If we are hanging garage doors, we keep on and finish the job, regardless of the temperature or the wind. We should apply this same logic to the thought about eighth or ninth being “good enough.” Again, when else in life, do we accept just “good enough?” Always in life, our goal should be to grow and to do better, regardless of what we face. This is especially true in our spiritual life but applies to our physical lives too. Why settle for just “good enough” when we can have the best that God wants for us?
Another disagreement people may have is, “Ninth grade is enough school.” The biggest problem with this argument is that as parents, you have no idea where God may call your child. I venture to say that you are unqualified to make that decision for your child. Your young girl may grow up to be a schoolteacher someday, and so could your son. I am glad my parents saw fit to send me through all ten years of school plus high school. When I was sixteen, I had no clue about the plans God had for my life. I did not know I would one day teach school. We must remember that God often has plans for our lives that are different than what our goals are.
Furthermore, even if your son is going to keep up the family farm, why not let him have a good education and have the tools to manage the farm? Let him gain knowledge about genetics and managing money and so forth. Here is one example of a situation where the parents probably never knew how much schooling would be necessary for their son. One young man had a mother who required him to complete high school even though he didn’t want to. This young man went on to be a water system technician. One day he took some training to become a certified technician. After the test, he called his mom to say, “Thanks mom, for making me do high school even though I did not feel like it. If I had not gotten my diploma, I could not have become certified. This would mean there would be jobs I could not go on because of not being certified.” As was mentioned before, these parents did not know how much schooling was necessary for their son, but they were faithful in giving him tools for life in his education. This also taught him the value of discipline and how to stick at a job that he did not necessarily like until he completed it.
Another issue parents may have is, “We need them home to help.” This could be in the family business, in the house, or on the farm. Yes, there may be unique situations that call for this, such as a physical issue or some other pressing thing. But, oh, for parents with a vision beyond the immediate desire for extra help. Dad, you have survived this long without their extra help on the farm or the business. Mom, surely you do not need them that badly in the house. You can survive another year. Please be cautious before you deprive your children of this gift of an investment in learning just for the short term gain it may bring you!
Now, let us look at some of the more positive reasons why a child should go through at least all ten grades of school. We already touched on the fact that we have no idea where God may call these children. These children will be the parents, preachers, devotional leaders, and Sunday school teachers of tomorrow. There is the ever-present need for more schoolteachers. Also, a full education will help produce writers for both our own church papers and other publications, which are constantly in need of more quality material to publish. Do we not want to give these children the best tools to pass on the faith and preserve the rich Christian heritage we have? How will they learn to differentiate between truth and error, if they don’t have a full education? How will they learn to analyze the new technologies or issues that face the church, such as alternative health practices, which might not have a scientific explanation? Or how will they keep from jumping onto the next conspiracy theory if they have missed learning the truth in school? When students learn how the world works and how God is a God of order, they will be better equipped to face these issues and defend our faith.
Also, when is a better time to get this education? Remember how much harder it is to learn something new at forty instead of learning it when you are sixteen. So, in the scope of your entire life, what is one or two more years of school? Really, it is not that much to give them up for that period; when compared with the influence it will have on the rest of their life.
On the academic level, another reason a child should do all ten grades is to benefit from each subject in the curriculum. For example, in ninth grade, they may get Consumer Math, English Book 1, and Physics. Next year they should study Algebra, English Book 2, and Biology. Skipping a year means they will miss one set of these courses. It is true; a person can survive in life without Algebra. However, learning the steps of solving problems the way Algebra teaches, helps a person to think through problems! Other subjects or disciplines will also be helpful depending on what field of employment your child enters. Biology will help with understanding many components of life and genetics in plants and animals. Someday the things learned in biology may be valuable when a person needs to make decisions regarding the physical health of their children or themselves. Physics will help increase with world awareness and help one understand how life works even though he may not enter an occupation that requires that specific field. So only doing nine years leaves a child with deficits in the skills he should have for life.
Another thing to consider is the rapid maturing process that happens from about eighth grade to tenth grade. There have been many 8th graders, with an immature view of school, who wanted to get out early. Instead, their parents kept them in school through tenth grade, and they blossomed into very scholarly persons with a much more useful attitude, and a fuller education, ready for service in the kingdom.
Study to shew thyself approved unto God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed (2Ti 2:15). Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest (Ecc 9:10). God wants us to do our best. And when this life is over, or opportunities are passed, He doesn’t give us another chance. We need to give our best now and give our best to our children as well.
Are there added benefits to completing twelve years of school? There may be more jobs in the future that require a diploma. This may not be a problem if one lives in a community that is full of businesses owned by brethren of like faith. If a diploma is gotten, though, there will probably be more job options if one moves to an outlying area without that community. Another reason this would beneficial is because there may be service opportunities that require a high school diploma, such as the ESL program in Bangladesh.
In closing, why would we settle for a mediocre “good enough” when all the rest of life we want to do our best? We do not know where God will call our children. We likely can survive for another year without the extra help on the farm or family business. We should be concerned about educating the next generation to pass on the faith! And we do want children who understand how the world operates that God has placed them in. Ultimately, we want to please God and raise children who will please Him. We only get one chance! Therefore, we should give our children the tools they need. Give them the advantage of ten years of school to better equip them to serve God, the church, and the community.