Monday, March 17, 2008

Why and How We Educate

For those of you not interested in homeschooling or education philosophy, feel free to move along. I'm sure I'll be posting soon about a toddler screaming fit, or a new shopping experience, or a fun new quiz. For the rest of you, read on. One of my father's friends and mentors had a saying:

An education without God is no education at all.
Pretty bold, wouldn't you say? This man had more degrees than I could accumulate in my lifetime. He taught science at the high school and college level. As a creationist he had several spectacular debates with local eggheads professors.

Sadly, for those of us who knew and admired this man, he died several years ago. But what he taught lives on.

There is no education without God.

Say it again. Louder.

If you (and here I speak to Christian homeschoolers) are attempting to educate your children without God, you will fail. Utterly.

I can understand secularists homeschooling without God. But there is no Christian home education without God and His Word. You cannot do it. Why? Because the Bible tells us so. Check out Deuteronomy 6:1-9:

1: Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it:
2: That thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son's son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged.
3: Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey.
4: Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:
5: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.
6: And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart:
7: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
8: And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes.
9: And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Deuteronomy doesn't float your boat? Try Psalms 119 9-16, 92-105:

9: Wherewithal shall a young man cleanse his way? by taking heed thereto according to thy word. 10: With my whole heart have I sought thee: O let me not wander from thy commandments.
11: Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.
12: Blessed art thou, O LORD: teach me thy statutes.
13: With my lips have I declared all the judgments of thy mouth.
14: I have rejoiced in the way of thy testimonies, as much as in all riches.
15: I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
16: I will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.

92: Unless thy law had been my delights, I should then have perished in mine affliction.
93: I will never forget thy precepts: for with them thou hast quickened me.
94: I am thine, save me; for I have sought thy precepts.
95: The wicked have waited for me to destroy me: but I will consider thy testimonies.
96: I have seen an end of all perfection: but thy commandment is exceeding broad.
97: O how love I thy law! it is my meditation all the day.
98: Thou through thy commandments hast made me wiser than mine enemies: for they are ever with me.
99: I have more understanding than all my teachers: for thy testimonies are my meditation.
100: I understand more than the ancients, because I keep thy precepts.
101: I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I might keep thy word.
102: I have not departed from thy judgments: for thou hast taught me.
103: How sweet are thy words unto my taste! yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth! 104: Through thy precepts I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way.
105: Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.

You might be starting to catch a glimpse of why I was startled to find a Christian homeschool mom (whose blog I read and enjoy) proclaim that she will not have her children memorize scripture. She equates this with "brainwashing". To which I answer: well, not exactly, but yes.

How are we to raise our children in the "nurture and admonition of the Lord" if we do not impress the importance of His word in their hearts? How are we to discipline them if they do not know the one true foundation and standard of behavior?

From a practical standpoint I can tell you that Scripture is invaluable. My oldest daughters (6 & 3) memorized 1 Corinthians 13 in the month of February. That isn't just so they can show off their memorization skills. That's so I can say, "How are we supposed to act with each other?"

Correct Answer: With patience. (Or kindness, or any of the other things that Paul says love is.)

Another example: In November they memorized Psalm 100. So in their grouchy moments (oh come on, admit it, we all have them!) I can say, "Why are we supposed to give thanks to God?" And they reply, "For He is good and His mercy is everlasting!" And amazingly, wonderfully, we aren't grouchy any more.

I'm going to lay all my cards on the table here. I'm Baptist. We don't have liturgy. We don't have ceremonies. We don't have creeds, novenas, rituals or sacraments.

We do have God's Word. And it is far more valuable than any poetry that this mother is going to have her children memorize.

Don't get me wrong, my girls are memorizing poetry, too. But it is secondary to the Word they're hiding in their hearts. (Incidentally, this mom explains that her children will someday choose to memorize Bible verses on their own. To which I respond: If so, why not leave poetry to that same chance?)

My parents didn't leave my Scripture memorization to chance and I'm grateful they didn't. Today the verses that come most quickly to mind are the ones I memorized 10-20 years ago, before I started losing brain cells became an adult. In the spirit of openness I will tell you that one of the best side benefits to helping my daughters memorize large segments of the Bible is that I am learning them as well.

So, for me and my house (my homeschool): There is NO education without God. If I didn't believe that I would send my kiddos to the best public school I could find.

1 comment:

MacKenzie said...

I have not been as diligent about memorizing verses as an adult as I would like but I so glad my mom had us memorize verses for "school". I can't even count how many times I have had one of those verses pop into my head just when I need them.

I can't even imagine a Christian mother not wanting to instill God's word in her children's hearts.

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