1 Thessalonians 5:21
“We’re not interested in college.”
I hear this a lot at Fortis. Okay. Certainly college isn’t for everyone. There are tech schools, trade schools, and opportunities for entrepreneurs and it’s understood that no particular choice is the “right” one. I think we can all agree that whichever best serves your child is the “right” one.
But I become confused when parents speak as if that decision should somehow impact the quality of education their student receives now.
What does that mean? That their child should be less educated than their peers? That their child’s education should be different or easier somehow?
Well, maybe – but only if you believe that child will be completely removed from the world and won’t be required to interact with people and events.
Lets talk about this! I think we’re missing the point to education.
Education is about more than preparation for either college OR a job because education isn’t just about information – it’s about ideas. It’s about growing and training our minds through interacting with ideas in such a way that our participation in the world will have value. As parents, we should have an unabashed enthusiasm for the training of the mind based on the knowledge that ideas matter; they are worth pursuing, presenting, discussing, defending and sometimes discarding because behind every advancement, change, and time of growth, there are ideas. Some are good, some are not. But we’re all impacted daily by ideas. So let me ask you – as your children grow to adulthood, do you want them involved in creating and evaluating the ideas that bring about change and growth, or do you want them to be passively subject to the ideas of others?
A terrifying thought in today’s culture, isn’t it? Actually, it’s a terrifying thought in any culture.
The problem in school is that the idea of “freedom of ideas” for students scares a lot of people. It creates visions of students running amuck developing their own philosophy about the world and how it should work. After all, relativism, modernism, and a multitude of other “isms” were born out of freedom of thought. We see the results from schools offering a secular classical education where students go to develop their own “truth.”
Why, then, would we want our students to have the freedom to explore their own ideas?
I am your servant; give me discernment that I may understand your statutes.
Because there is a purposeful unifying principle behind providing students such freedom. You see, the point isn’t to create the idolatry of ideas. Rather the goal is the development of a discerning mind.
The Lord created us as creatures of thought and gave us the gift of being able to seek Him and know truth. But we are also part of an ever changing world where we are constantly assaulted and wooed by counterfeit ideas and teachings with new ones appearing every day. If one does not know how to test the difference between what is genuine and what is counterfeit, what is of value and what is not, one may not be able to discern the difference.
As Paul told the saints at Philippi:
And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge
and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may
be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Philippians 1:9-10
Depth of insight requires teaching our children to listen without bias or predetermined judgement, to ask questions to develop full understanding, to determine areas of weakness and flaw and to question those areas until satisfactory answers are provided or failure of fruition is acknowledged. We must teach them how to think an idea through to it’s full potential including the results and consequences such an idea would bring about and then challenge them to hold that idea up to the moral truth of God’s word as the final arbiter of its value. Sometimes the idea will stand. Sometimes it will fail. Sometimes only parts will succeed.
The important aspect of the process is that the student be able to recognize the difference.
Then you will discern righteousness and justice, And equity and every good course.
For wisdom will enter your heart And knowledge will be pleasant to your soul; Discretion will
guard you, Understanding will watch over you, To deliver you from the way of evil, from the
man who speaks perverse things
Just as discernment was a high priority on Paul’s prayer list, let us pray daily for wisdom for our
children and provide them the opportunity to develop disciplined discerning minds whether or
not they are college bound.
May they develop the principles that guide their lives. May they master the skills to live by them.