What is education for?

Thoughts from Psalm 78:1-8

Fall has officially begun: schools are open, buses are transporting children to and from school, soccer and football games are being played and life as we know it has a regimented schedule once more.   As I thought about fall and the return to school at the end of summer vacation, I was struck by how little we think about education.  We seem to be almost robotic about it and I wonder do we as Christians think any differently about education than our unbelieving neighbors?  Psalm 78 gives the reason for education.  First, the psalm says we will not hide the teachings of God from our children, but tell them to the coming generations; we will tell them of God’s deeds, His power, and the wonders He has done.  Now, I know what some of you teachers are thinking, I’m married to one: we first need to teach the ABC’s.  Yes, you’re correct, but why do we teach children the ABC’s?  Do we teach them so that they can read Junie B. Jones, The Sports Section of the Newspaper, or the latest popular fiction book?  No.  We teach children to read so that they can discover God’s Truth in His Word and world.  What is the purpose of children?  Is it not the same as all humans, namely that we exist to glorify God?  Then our answer to the question, ‘what is education for’, should reflect the purpose for which children exist.  I am horribly afraid that we do not think about this as we should.  The purpose of education is that we might glorify God and that points us to the issue of our heart.

The Psalm 78 goes on to says that we should teach our children to teach their children so that they would set their hope in God and not forget the works of God, but keep His commandments.  Why? Their father’s generation was rebellious and their hearts were not steadfast, nor were they faithful to God.  Why is it that we see generations who have faith, follow God, and expand the kingdom and then we see the next generation decline in faith and seem unconcerned about God’s kingdom?  Psalm 78 makes it very clear: we do not pass on to the next generation a proper purpose for education.

Education is for exultation in God, whether that means studying logic, science, mathematics, music, literature, or economics.  God created this world, it is His.  So when, your son or daughter comes to you and asks ‘why do I need to learn Algebra, Biology, or Plato’, point them toward God and tell them God created this world and these fields of study to help us know Him and understand Him better.  That is the purpose of education.


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