Wednesday, March 22, 2006

A Biblical View of Education

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"Not until halfway through the Feast did Jesus go up to the temple courts and begin to teach. The Jews were amazed and asked, 'How did this man get such learning without having studied?'” or “How does he know so much without being schooled?" John 7:14, 15 NIV

"Through the ages, children have always been educated at home. There were trade schools such as the schools of the prophets, but these were designed for older youths who wanted to learn a profession. But educational institutions for little children were practically unknown until the sixteenth century. At that time, Martin Luther, the great protestant reformer, persuaded some of the German princes to establish schools where children might learn to read the newly translated Scriptures. However, near the end of his life, Luther repented of these institutions, seeing that they had become corrupted. He counseled people not to send their children to school, finally recognizing that they had become dangerous to the spirituality of the youth."

How do schools teach?
See if this list sounds like anything you experienced in school:
1. In the first place, it is assumed that no one knows anything unless it was taught in class. So the teacher stands before his or her pupils and exercises authority over them.
2. You have to be quiet, and at the same time you must pay attention—two mutually exclusive conditions in children. Scientific evidence shows that lack of sufficient wiggling in childhood may even cause osteoporosis later in life. Anyone who has taught a class of adolescents knows that as soon as they sit down and shut up, they become zombies.
3. Paying attention in class is more important than any other activity; one must learn to ignore bodily functions and needs, and this leads to low self-esteem and detachment.
4. Everyone must progress at the same speed; those who learn fast or too slowly become misfits and are marked for life; anyone who stands out cannot be a team player.
5. It is very important that everyone study the same things, at the same time, to the same degree—even though they may have different aptitudes, interests, and abilities.
6. What you observe is not important, only what is written in a book has value. Personal experience doesn’t count if it differs from what is being taught.
7. Those who ask questions are stupid, and an embarrassment to the teacher.

Jesus not only preached. He also healed every disease and sickness among the people. Before beginning to teach, he looked after their bodily needs, their health (see Matt. 5:19), and sometimes he even gave them food when they were hungry. And I ask, How can a child learn if he is hungry, thirsty, cold, or is ill, uncomfortable, or discouraged? And note that he didn’t spend so much time in the synagogues and the temple. More often he went out in the fields, out of doors where children love to be. Yet the people followed him. This Teacher was not like others, who would stand in the synagogues and give long, pompous discourses that were hard to understand. Let us draw a little closer and observe his methods.



The great geniuses among men have been precisely those who, in their manner of being, most resembled children. For example Albert Einstein and Ludwig van Beethoven had a childish sense of order. They did not worry about their appearance, but they knew how to make the most out of life. Einstein skipped school, even paying a friend to answer roll call for him, in order to stay home and build with his blocks—yet became one of the world’s greatest scientists, although he never mastered the multiplication tables. Beethoven had no patience for other mortals, preferring to walk bareheaded in a thunderstorm along country lanes—but his infinite patience for developing a musical theme is legendary and his symphonies and quartets remain unequaled. Abraham Lincoln, an awful speller, had a childlike ability to defuse difficult encounters by simply telling an amusing story.

If we all learned as children do, we would specialize in that which is our gift and would refuse to waste time on that for which we have no aptitude. The Lord himself, while still a youth of twelve, refused to follow his parents until he had completed his task of greatest interest at the moment, that of debating in the temple with the teachers of the law. It was precisely one of the important activities that would occupy him later in life. We cannot do better by our children than to encourage them to follow the example of the Master.

In conclusion
We see that there are two types of education. One makes us dependent on the teaching of men and exalts human knowledge, but grades and devalues the individual and limits his responsibility. The other depends on our own effort to learn by observing, and by our thoughtful considering of God’s textbooks. It is within everyone’s reach; indeed, it is the natural learning of children.

Luke 10:21 "At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, ‘I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and have revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure."

by Kathleen McCurdy Burotto
Copyright © 2005

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