Where does education begin and end? It is easy to understand that education begins in the home when we are born and it ends when we die, if we are lifelong learners. However, parenting, teaching and modeling methods have changed dramatically during the twentieth century. Has all this change been good for families or has it just muddied the waters of the parenting journey?
When God created Adam and Eve, He established marriage between the man and the woman and then told them to be fruitful and multiply. Then the “fall” happened (Genesis 3) and opened up a lot of trials and tests for families. In the Bible, God makes it plain that the parents are responsible for training and teaching their children. The one thing He absolutely commanded them was to teach their children about Him – God (Deuteronomy 11: 18-20 and Proverbs 22:6).
They were to instruct them day and night in the ways of God sharing with them all the good things He has done. Praising God daily for all He did for them. But they didn’t do it faithfully and as a result after the deaths of the patriarchs there was no consistent worship of God. Even after King David there was a clear pattern of good kings and bad kings who affected each generation either for good or evil.
Children learn in the home the foundation of love and obedience. If the parents are committed to the Lord the children will learn that there is a God in heaven that loves them. They will learn the principles of right and wrong as written in the Ten Commandments. And they will learn the fear of the Lord so they can gain wisdom (Psalm 111:10). Education is first of all religious and this is the number one thing God expects parents to teach.
If there is no belief in God being taught in the home then the values the unbelieving parents embrace will be what is taught/imparted to the children. No matter which way a parent believes it is still the first responsibility (in God’s eyes) for parents to prepare children to know God and live independently as responsible and productive adults/citizens.
So how do we, as parents, learn to be parents? Usually, we are influenced by how we were parented. But for over a century now we have been influenced by the so-called “experts” telling us how to parent. There are numerous parenting fads that have come and gone, some have been disastrous (Dr. Spock) and some that were just okay. Fads come and fads go.
The best parenting book out there is and always has been the Bible. It is also the best way to teach little ones to read while at the same time teaching the character, integrity, values and unconditional love of God. The founding fathers were taught to read from the Bible and it was also how they learned great literature and prose. When you read about their lives as young men it is evident that there is something important missing in our current system of education and parenting.
Education has always had a religious component which makes it inherently religious. How can this be? Well, education teaches values and principles. So the values and principles will reflect either a Judeo-Christian value system or a secular humanist value system (Humanism is a religion). Regardless there are always values and principles taught.
Parents during the 16th,17th and 18th centuries took full responsibility for the education of their children. They realized that if their children did not learn to work hard, sacrifice, fulfill their duties as citizens and learn self-discipline they would not survive successfully in society. It was a matter of honor and the family name was important.
With the advent of industrialization with mass production of goods and services the society began to lose its footing regarding the duties and responsibility of parents to teach and train. It was a slow and gradual change. When public schools were instituted the curriculum was full of biblical standards and values. The Bible was read and honored, patriotism was encouraged and prayer was a part of each school day.
The values espoused and taught at home were re-enforced at school. The standards of behavior were high for all students. Respect for authority and each other were paramount in families and schools. Respect for each other and for other people’s property was expected. We were a civilized society that helped each other out when needed. These were the original American values.
So the important things to know and understand is that 1) education is inherently religious, 2) it starts at birth, and 3) God holds parents responsible for educating their children.
Dinner Table Discussion: What are the best times to teach and train our children? Where can teaching occur? Be creative. Are we doing a good job of teaching the Biblical truth at home?