Who Educates?

Since the president opened the door for a discussion of education, I’d like to walk through it. As a professor of history, education is my livelihood, and I’ve spent more than three decades thinking about principles that apply to education. As always, I go to the Scripture for my foundations.

For instance, in the Old Testament book of Deuteronomy, the nation of Israel was told:

These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

Those words are addressed to the parents, who have the primary responsibility for raising their children. They have that responsibility, not the government. Someone may say that this passage doesn’t deal directly with education. My response is that it is teaching that all of life is to be lived in the knowledge of God, and that certainly includes what children learn about the world in which they live.

This world, and all that it contains, is God’s. There should never be a separation between secular and sacred. As Proverbs 1:7 and 9:10 note:

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge . . . The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

The starting place for all knowledge and wisdom, therefore, is a reverence for God, and when we have that reverence, we will gain understanding.

Consequently, all education should be based on knowing God first, and the ones who should be planting that knowledge into the children are their parents.

Now, a couple of questions about modern American education. First, is our education system based on the knowledge of God? Second, do we really allow parents to have the final say on how their children are educated?

We are told that religion should be relegated to the private realm, and has no place in education. We are also told, in subtle ways at times, that no matter what parents think, the professional educators are the ones who know best what their children need. I respond that both statements are violations of Biblical principles of education.

Since I don’t want any one post to get too long, I’ll stop there for now, but I have a lot more to say about this; indeed, I have so much to say I could fill this blog for weeks. I plan to continue this topic on a regular basis.