Our Children's Education

Two Models of Education

Greek

Philosophical

Hebrew

Pragmatic

Learning is the accumulation of knowledge

Learning is the outworking of truth in one’s life

Knowledge-centered

Wisdom & action-centered

A matter of knowing

A matter of doing

Associated with material success and social status

Associated with skill & age—experience in right living

Intellectual & theoretical

Moral & practical

Focuses on mind & body, rewarding mental and physical achievement

Focuses on whole person—mind, body, spirit, emotions, heart, will. Rewards all.

Measured by academic achievement and recognition

Measured by character growth, morality & courage

Test passed by reciting facts

Test passed by living well

Knowledge is an end in itself (sufficient)

Knowledge is a means to the end of godly living (necessary)

Knowledge is virtue

Character is virtue

bored boyTrue wisdom is the capacity to first discern and then to choose the most godly end out of all the alternatives life presents. Further, it is the capacity to choose the best means for accomplishing that end in a godly manner.

Wisdom is properly highlighted in contrast to the prevalent thinking and lifestyle of the world that doesn’t know God (Proverbs, 1 Corinthians 1-2)

Christian education should begin by asking “what does God expect of these children, their parents and their teachers?” The answer is specific and clear: “And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to have mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8).

A basis for evaluating home, private and public education:

1. Are the children learning to act justly, that is to behave righteously and deal fairly with others? Are they learning to put the welfare of others above their own “rights”?

2. Are the children learning to be merciful, that is to discern the personal needs of others in family, school, community, society and world, and reach out to them in love and compassion?

3. Are the children learning to walk humbly with their God, that is to know him personally, to have a consistent daily movement forward in relationship with him, and to do so with the humility that recognizes his lordship and their servanthood?

What steps can we take to develop all of the above areas in the context of home, church and school?

Scriptures showing relationship between godliness, wisdom and obedient loving action:

Luke 6:40 A student becomes like his teacher. The best thing a parent or teacher can do for his students is to demonstrate a Christ-centered hands-on love for God and others. The parent and teacher’s life, attitudes and actions becomes an unspoken but unmistakable blueprint.

Matthew 7:24-27 The solid foundation for a life is not hearing the words of God, but doing them. Knowing what is right is necessary, but not sufficient.

Luke 3:7-14 A person’s spiritual condition is measured in tangible behavioral ways--for example, in how he relates to and handles money and possessions.

Luke 10:25-37 To love people is to have direct contact with them and to utilize our resources of time, energy, concern and money in a way that leaves them better off than they were before.

Matthew 25:31-46 What separates the true followers of Christ from others is that they go out of their way to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of others. (As important as it is to believe the right things, this passage says nothing about belief, and everything about action.)

I Cor. 8:1, 12; 1 Cor. 13 Knowledge not acted upon in love, and skill not used in love, become a source of sterile self-serving pride and insensitivity to others.

James 1:22-27 There is self-deception in hearing truth without applying it. There is an illusion of godliness, but unlived truth is hypocrisy, not godliness. Biblical teaching is remembered when it is obeyed, and forgotten when it isn’t. For every truth taught, guidance and opportunity for appropriate action should be given. Truth must be wed to life, not divorced from it.

James 2:14-26 True saving faith, a real relationship with God, must work itself out in tangible sacrificial action for the good of others. A Christian faith is merely an illusion when children hear and recite truth but don’t live it out.

Ezra 7:10 Each child is called to learn truth, to live truth, and to share truth. Knowledge, obedience, communication. Information, application, transmission. Are children in home and school given opportunity and guidance not only to learn truth, but to implement it? And after implementing it, to communicate it to others?

This communication has two primary benefits. First, it deepens and personalizes the truth for the child communicating. Second, it conveys the truth to the listener. By learning, obeying and conveying the truth, students can participate in a community climate with the right kind of peer pressure—spiritual peer pressure. (Peer pressure is a given—the question is whether that pressure is toward the irresponsible and ungodly [typical] or the responsible and godly.)

Private and home Christian schools should consider projects that involve direct servant ministry. e.g. raising money for PRCs, visiting care centers, fixing bag lunches and distributing to needy, making gifts for children of prisoners, staging event for local Hispanic children, sister school in Soviet Union, Life Chain, road-side clean-up, writing letters to missionaries, etc. The more hands-on the better. The more the kids are involved with coming up with ideas and planning them, the more ownership they feel and the more it will impact their lives.

Randy Alcorn, founder of EPM

Randy Alcorn (@randyalcorn) is the author of over fifty books and the founder and director of Eternal Perspective Ministries