Repairing the ruins
It is interesting to note that while there is much talk about education being a necessary preparation for the labour market, no one in his right mind would suggest it’s the primary purpose of all education.
Take a look at what I picked up online:
“The purpose of education is to make the world a better place. Education then is about making good citizens, helping our young people to fulfill their potential and to make a meaningful contribution to our society.”
“It is my belief that it is the purpose of education to cultivate and facilitate the growth of children who will become human beings who are able to reason at high levels, to do what is right for themselves and their communities by putting their thoughts into action, and to have the ability to feel an appreciation for the arts and one another, as well as the beauty in the world around them.”
That last quote is a lot like what Socrates would say. Perhaps you might dismiss the dead philosopher as, erm, old school. But he would never approve of learning for knowledge’s sake, and certainly never as a means for material gain. Knowledge should be pursued because it teaches you how to live, promotes virtue and happiness, and leads to a moral life. Socrates’ disciple Plato learnt well; he echoed his master’s words by saying that the purpose of education was for beauty and goodness.
Regardless of how you feel about such noble aspirations, it doesn’t take long before someone comes along to burst your bubble. Get real, man. In this dog eat dog world, it’s every man for himself. Don’t you know the one with the most toys wins?
Don’t cynics just love saying this to your face?
Yet I find it intriguing that ethics and morality remain unquestionably the starting point for all education.
True education is, in one sense, a spiritual process. It is the nurture of the soul. Education is the nurture of a spirit that is rational and moral, in which conscience is the regulative and imperative faculty. The proper purpose of conscience, even in this world, is moral.
But God is the only Lord of the conscience; this soul is his miniature likeness. His will is the source of its obligations. Likeness to him is its perfection, and religion is the science of the soul’s relations to God. Let these statements be placed together, and the theological and educational processes appear so related they cannot be separated.
It is for this reason that the common sense of mankind has always invoked the guidance of the minister of religion in the education of youth……….Every line of true knowledge must find its completeness as it converges on God, just as every beam of daylight leads the eye to the sun.
In my previous post, I argued that the question of what you want your child to be comes before your education choice, whether homeschool or conventional school. Figure this out, and then decide what’s the best route to get there. Sproul also quotes the poet Milton who wrote: “The end of learning is to repair the ruins of our first parents by regaining to know God aright, and out of that knowledge, to love Him, to imitate Him, to be like Him.”
I happen to be in Milton’s corner here. I like the way he has articulated well a model for education that works for my family. And so we have embraced homeschool because we believe it offers our children the best opportunity to nurture soul and spirit holistically. By doing so, we believe they are better placed to love God, to imitate Him, and make a positive difference in our world.
What about you? What’s the reason for your education choice?