The education of our children can not be stopped; it takes place every moment in every situation. This continual flow of education influences and shapes their character. Much of this education takes place in the home under the supervision of the parents. Formal education, planned and purposeful, should support the efforts of the parents to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” The Bible gives us the overarching structure under which to formulate worthy goals for the educating of our children.
Education always takes place at two levels – that which is verbally taught and that which is tacitly communicated or just “picked up.” The general subject content that is verbally taught is largely shaped by the curriculum in the school and the various interests of the teacher. What is tacitly taught is shaped by the values and character of the teacher. Sometimes we may find it easier to have worthy goals for that which is verbally taught; but never forget that the worthy goals of education must also apply to that which is tacitly communicated as well. Teachers can not teach out of a knowledge vacuum any more than they can teach without imparting some of who they are. ministry and school boards need to evaluate the influences each teacher brings into the school setting both before and after a teacher is hired.
Secular education focuses primarily on what will benefit the individual and make him a success. Ultimately, this focus is selfish, for successful students are considered to be the ones who pursue and achieve the American Dream.
But God calls us to bring every goal of education under His direction, which is diametrically opposed to human reasoning and understanding. A “master goal” in Christian education is found in Ephesians 3:17-19: “That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know [understand] the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”
With this master goal in mind, we will consider some worthy goals to pursue in our schools.
A worthy goal in education is to strive to make every student successful. Every student can be a success if our goals are biblical because success is not defined by academic achievement but by commitment to truth. Every student can understand the love of God and respond with a passionate love for Him and His kingdom. Every student can fulfill the purpose for which he was created— that is true success!
A worthy goal in education is to help students realize and appreciate that “all truth is God’s truth.” This understanding keeps us from dividing the subjects into two categories, religious and secular. Whether we are studying the Bible, astronomy, weather, or history, we are learning about God’s sovereign hand in creation and the affairs of men. Sometimes we tend to scoff at learning that goes beyond our own interests or understanding. Someone has said that it is pride to disdain that which you do not know. It is wise for us to remember how much we benefit from those who know so much more than we do.
A worthy goal in education is to help students develop to their fullest potential. This calls for a holistic approach to education. While most of the time in school is spent learning the academics, much effort and concern should be given toward developing character, teaching acceptable attitudes and behavior, and honing worthwhile skills. What could bring God, our Creator, more glory than children developing into their fullest potential! It is the teacher’s privilege and responsibility to encourage the development of the gifts of each of his students.
A worthy goal in education is to expect every student to willingly do their sustainable best. I doubt anyone truly does their absolute best in every way every day! A sustainable best is a sincere effort to “do all to the glory of God” and to “do [our work] with [our] might.” Parents and teachers need to work together to encourage students who lack personal discipline and motivation.
A worthy goal in education is to encourage students to develop self-study skills. One advantage of the individualized school system is that students learn to study primarily on their own. many of our schools have what we call a conventional system. Usually the teacher discusses and explains the lesson, and then students do an assignment to further help them understand what they learned. Teachers often feel compelled to explain the lesson until every student understands the new concept. After all, that is what teachers do—teach. but what about teaching students to think for themselves and to mine the facts on their own? Teachers should require students to do some study on their own. Self-study skills are needed in so many areas of life. Our churches need writers, teachers, and preachers who can “rightly divide the Word of truth.” We need people who are not limited by what commentaries or other Bible helps have to say.
A worthy goal in education is to teach students to develop a Biblical world-view. School provides so many opportunities to discuss past and current issues. Teachers need to continually call students to try to understand and evaluate issues from God’s perspective. Guiding discussions accordingly helps to shape how students perceive the world around them. It also encourages implicit faith in God because they believe that God’s hand is in every situation.
A worthy goal in education is to inspire students to acquire an unquenchable desire for learning. While students look forward to completing their formal education, they should not think they are free from learning once they leave school! It is possible for young people to fall into a rather lazy mental state. perhaps no one is encouraging or forcing them to continue to learn on their own. Schools should endeavor to inspire a love for learning that lasts for a lifetime!
A worthy goal in education is to insist that students learn to work well with others. Schools bring students together from quite a range of family dynamics and often a variety of church backgrounds. This variety can lead to serious challenges in relationships. A quiet understanding of who is who can quickly form as cliques and special friendships develop. Teachers need to take time to help students cultivate respect for each other because they are preparing students to function well as church builders.
Let us sincerely pray for God’s wisdom as we sharpen our vision for the coming school year. may we see every day as a gift from God to educate the rising generation in a planned and purposeful way.
~ Womelsdorf, PA