I read a quote from G.K. Chesterton that prompted this post:
“The most important fact about the subject of education is that there is no such thing. Education is not a subject, and it does not deal in subjects. It is instead the transfer of a way of life.” -G.K. Chesterton
We believe that “education” is the transference of knowledge. And so we argue over who is best qualified to transfer knowledge so our children will be properly educated. When actually, knowledge is only a small part of a total education.
The question we should be asking is, “Who is qualified to ‘transfer a way of life’ to my children?” and “What ‘way of life’ matters to me?”
For example, who is teaching my child that he is fearfully and wonderfully made (as is his neighbor), foundational to who he is, who he will become and how he will live out his purpose? Or, is he being taught that since there is no Creator, life doesn’t have intrinsic value? Even this one part of our children’s worldview radically affects the life-choices they’ll make.
Who is teaching her that application of knowledge is more important than a letter that grades short-term memory? Who is taking her by the hand, showing her the world and how everything is related to everything else? Who is telling her that “wisdom calls out” and that she is equipped to search for and find it on her own?
Who is telling him that everyone has different strengths? That he can run with his brilliance as an artist and not be labeled if he doesn’t demonstrate equal ability in math?
Is it good enough for someone else–something else–to shape the very life of my children, their opinions, beliefs, values and self-worth?
I have long maintained that education can not be “neutral”. Assuming that education is, indeed, a transfer of a way of life, this fact becomes more obvious. Every institution, whether family, school, church or other, imparts a belief system where something or someone determines the values inherent to that system.
Unfortunately, founders of the modern system of education understood this well–that education shapes people, not just teaches them the three R’s. Those like John Dewey voiced his intention to use the classroom to erode any faith except the religion of humanism*. And largely, under the guise of “learning”, Christians regularly submit their children to the transferring of a way of life by a system that rejects most of their core values and beliefs.
As a Christian, submitted to the lordship of Christ, I am bound to “transfer a way of life” to my children that is wholly consumed with Him. Education, means then, to a Christian, that all facets of life–including the small one of imparting knowledge–must spring from an inherently Christian worldview–a transferring of life, lived out each day in a thousand ways.
Education: It’s so much more than academics! Let’s not pluck this small part out and make it an idol while neglecting what it means to prepare children for ALL of life.
* “I am convinced that the battle for humankind’s future must be waged and won in the public school classroom by teachers that correctly perceive their role as proselytizers of a new faith: a religion of humanity that recognizes and respects the spark of what theologians call divinity in every human being…The classroom must and will become an arena of conflict between the old and new — the rotting corpse of Christianity,together with all its adjacent evils and misery, and the new faith of humanism, resplendent with the promise of a world in which the never-realized Christian ideal of ‘love thy neighbor’ will finally be achieved.” Humanist Manifesto