Monday, 11 June 2012

Thinking About Education

Proverbs 9:10 “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”
As followers of Christ all of life needs to be evaluated by His character and priorities. This, then, includes our own education and the education of our children. At some level, all of us already keep track of the quality of education offered in our systems, and we have our opinions regarding such.  In addition to course of study, we consider the teachers and the subject matter being taught.
The Old Testament offers us a view of education that is first of all God-centred, while being culturally set in a semi-nomadic and agricultural society.
1         God must be the source and goal of all education. His wisdom relates to all of life, and life is to be interpreted through that framework. All truth is God’s truth.
2         The parents are given the primary responsibility for the education of their children in all areas of life.
3         Both informal and formal learning have their place, as does the inclusion of other teachers in the education process.
4         Some wisdom is given by God as universally understood, and we are able to learn from non-believers in some areas, so long as the root of holiness unto the Lord is not compromised.
5         Diversity in education is necessary for application to all of life.
The main consideration for the Jews of antiquity and for Christians today is that "all education is rooted in a worldview and all education nurtures students in that worldview." (Brian Walsh, “Worldviews, Modernity and the Task of Christian College Education,” p.2)  That is to say that whatever education is received at any age, it will have underlying presuppositions that shape the content.  Sometimes the worldview is easily recognizable, but at other times it is not.   This is where we have the responsibility to think critically about what our students learn every day, and consider the environment surrounding that learning.
I believe our students can thrive in almost any educational setting provided they have the same spiritual input and depth that characterised the Jew's learning system.  First, parents must be the primary educators, i.e. take prime responsibility for their children.  Assuming that the public school will instil appropriate values and the best quality education is simplistic. Conversely, passing off our children to a church program or Christian school while remaining in the background will do little better than to indoctrinate them without wisdom.  Second, the leaders of the church must also take responsibility for the instruction of the children in church related education.  Third, believers must have discipleship in their lives if they are to survive and grow as servants of God.  This aspect alone can do much to shape the worldview that will guide the learner.  Fourth, the whole community to which the Christian family belongs must be a positive influence on the children as they are involved together in worship and in discerning where God is leading them.

Our primary educational choices are Home Schooling, Christian/Private School, and Public School. Sackville Christian Academy is a ministry of Middle Sackville Church and began with a group of home-schoolers looking for more support, and other interested families. It has continued as a local alternative to the public schools for those desiring something different, whether it be for social, philosophical, academic, or spiritual reasons.
While any choice can be profitable for learning, the parents must be actively filling the spiritual and God related components, especially if and when the public arena fosters the idea of “Bible myths.” The main concern must be what is best for the child, and this may vary with temperament, age, and external factors taken into consideration.  Just remember, no educational choice should be made from lack of consideration.
Talk about the options. Pray about the right choice. Seek the peace of Christ. Be confident in your decision. Stay actively involved in the process.