Aren’t we all quickly mesmerized by the delight and joyous wonder of young children, what they can do, how they experience their world? From time to time, I wonder what will happen to kids like that over the years by the time they graduate high school.
Some will certainly do well in school and go on to lives of productive success. Others – far too many, I think – later have learning or social struggles, lack motivation or ambition, end up hating school and success and contentment seem to evade them throughout life. When they all start out so full of potential, hope, and excitement, why do some do just fine in life and others end up in a far darker place?
Certainly, there are many factors to a person’s trajectory in life. And, obviously, education is one of those essential factors. What precisely is it, though, about education that really matters?
For instance, from an educational standpoint, there is no correlation between high school GPA and any future success. Grades are not a particularly good predictor of a good, successful life. Athletic accomplishments and accolades don’t tell you whether that high school junior will someday be a good father or pillar of the community. Just review any sporting news page and you’ll find plenty of evidence to the contrary.
The high school valedictorian who receives stacks of college scholarships is not guaranteed to find himself or herself content and happy with their career 30 years down the road. The popular homecoming queen or king decades on may well struggle from deep insecurities, fear, or the lack of intimate friendships. In the Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes, the Preacher examines and even at times questions life’s meaning and purpose. Even Solomon’s unmatched wealth and wisdom was not enough to answer that most basic question every person has to wrestle with: why am I here?
Our children today face the challenge of finding the answer to that same question? How does that fundamental question – and the Bible’s answer – shape our view and vision for education? More to my concern, WHAT IS “EDUCATION” AND WHAT DOES IT MEAN FOR THE WORD “CHRISTIAN” MODIFY IT?
In today’s culture, discussions about education are usually in the context of government policies and systems needed to prepare the workforce for the 21st century, one marked by technology, rapid change, unpredictability, and globalization.
For some, the idea of a “Christian” school is a place that will still teach traditional ethical and patriotic values. For others, it’s a place to shelter kids from a dangerous world for a while longer before they must embark into the “real world.” Some see private religious education as the best choice academically for college preparation because of smaller classes and more selective admissions. Indeed, many Christian schools market themselves as just that.
The history of education is a fascinating one with many different facets and views. But the one thing all views of education are concerned with is this: how to prepare children to live a good, successful life? That was the question asked by the ancient Greek philosophers, asked all throughout history, and is still our concern here this morning.
It begs the question, how are we to define “success” and “good”? Our answer that question determines everything else we do. And where we go for that answer will determine how we answer it.
Read Part 2