Proverbs 18:15 “An intelligent heart acquires knowledge, and the ear of the wise seeks knowledge.”
Education is defined as “the process of receiving or giving systematic instruction, especially at a school or university.” Another definition I really like is “an informative experience.”
With a Bachelor of Science degree in Industrial Education and two years of graduate school (one year in Industrial Education and a second in Education), I stood amazed at how ignorant I am. The more I learn, the more I hunger.
At three-score and fifteen years of joy, misery and life experiences, my greatest fear is that I do not have enough time left to learn. The vast wealth of knowledge that exists in this world is incomprehensible to the human mind and to some is greatly coveted.
A Socrates quote that places all on a level playing field is “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” I was in high school and college in the 1960’s. It became obvious education teaches us how much we don’t know.
November is designated as Education Month. The month was originally designated to promote one of the great freedoms of Americans. The opportunity to an unbiased, free and comprehensive education is a right of every American.
In the twentieth century, especially following the First World War, it was found that a vast number of Americans were illiterate (not possessing the basic skills or reading and writing). Educators, parents and politicians are recognized that for a society to be functional, all individuals must possess a few basic skills.
In the effort to “totally educate the whole child/student,” education has mostly passed over those concepts referred to as basic. Assuming “they will learn those skills by living life” was a miscalculation and several generations have been “educated” without the ability to change a light bulb.
There are actually twenty types of illiteracy identified. One of those is “civic illiteracy.” At this point, civic unawareness is at an all-time high in America. When Americans become as interested in education as ball games, movies and dining venues, perhaps this will change. Civic illiteracy is directly responsible for the degradation of a society.
At some point in time, someone coined the phrase, “readin, writein and rithmatic.” The misspelling of those words became symbolic of the missed target that education in America so enigmatically ignored or chose to work around.
American students are now ranked thirtieth in math, seventeenth in science and seventeenth in reading. The single focus focuses the priorities of many educators sound good in their subject areas but there are only so many hours in the school day. There is conflicting information concerning the pre-pandemic numbers with the post-pandemic. School lockdowns have obviously disrupted the learning process.
When I taught Industrial Education, if a student did not possess simple math skills, it was not possible for me to teach him/her how to figure cubic yards of concrete, board feet of lumber or volts-amps-ohms in an electronic equation. When teaching career education, many could not effectively write a legible resume, fill out a job application or write a personal bio.
I found myself teaching basic math/fractions, how to write a complete sentence and even such skills as writing legibly and spelling. I must admit, success was limited.
In industrial education, the objective was to instill the curiosity to critique, evaluate, analyze and then discern as much as the ability to wire an electric circuit, to weld steel or build a cabinet.
Education in America became a vehicle for instilling personal ideologies and opinions. Rather than creating an open door for young minds, education became a steel trap to lock in biased attitudes. The ability to think and reason must be the focus, not polarizing. The damage done to millions of young minds is likely not correctable. To teach skills and concepts is basic to education but to teach bias and hatred is irredeemable.
Rather than teaching students the concepts of capitalism, communism, a democracy and a republic, a monarchy or even a theocratic system, education became a methodology of achieving the personal agendas of many educators.
As in many areas of endeavor, not only in America, but the entire world, education is drowning in its own quagmire of single mindedness. Specific focus individuals have no place calling themselves teachers. To teach basic skills and knowledge has become old-fashioned. To teach objectivity and the consideration of varying conditions or alternatives is nonsense to some.
For education to have been successful for anyone, a common attitude must be, “Education never ends.” If a lifelong desire for knowledge is not created and sustained in the human mind, education does not happen. “It is the supreme art of the teacher to awaken joy in creative expression and knowledge,” said Albert Einstein.
This writing is in no way meant to condemn or accuse any specific educator or education in general. To see the big picture, educators in America are conscientious and dedicated people.
There is, however, light at the end of this very long and sometimes crooked tunnel. As one may suspect that may have read a few of my articles, the answer may be contained in the Holy Bible.
There are many subjects addressed in the Bible. Perhaps only a few should be mentioned here as examples. We can briefly mention a few of those concepts and subjects to make a point. Two of mankind’s oldest and most pressing questions are answered in the Holy Bible. Where did we come from and where are we going?
Subjects addressed in the Bible include history, philosophy, nutrition, geography, astronomy, reward and punishment, prophesy and of course, the path to eternal life. While eternal life is foolishness to some, its reality is evidenced by the rest of God’s word. I have long believed and preached, the Bible proves itself from within itself.
I once heard a debate between a believer and a non-believer. The Judeo-Christian (Christianity is based on Jewish history) stated the story of creation and the Biblical teaching of eternal life. The best answer the non-believer could come up with was, “We don’t know but the challenge is in finding out.” I’m confident I could have issued a more effective argument for either side.
There was no clear winner in the debate and I’m not sure that was the intent. To stimulate listeners to think and “dig deeper” may have been the goal. I was misunderstood when teaching Bible study classes because at times I asked questions to stimulate discussion and thinking that did not reflect my beliefs. One should be able to defend the faith with like-minded and non-believers as well.
To even superficially grasp the depth of God’s word one must study the Bible slowly and deliberately. To examine with purpose is another characteristic of Bible study. To be alert for the underlying and deeper meanings is essential. There is so much more contained in the Bible than one can gather in a speedy and superficial reading.
There are direct connections and similarities in the study of the Bible and secular education. Perception and understanding have certain parallels but the significant difference is in the supernatural state of scriptural study. Varying learning styles also contribute to understanding. Intelligence quotient (IQ), experience and prior learning are also factors.
The Bible must be consumed and digested to connect the reader to the mind of God. To educate one’s self toward Biblical/God understanding is a lifelong pursuit and must be taken as a supernatural experience.
Romans 12:2 “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you can discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” God teaches us what we need to know. A part of that ‘need to know’ teaching is that knowledge and wisdom are never finished. Learning is a lifelong pursuit in scriptural pursuit and worldly knowledge!
Daniel 1:17 “God gave them learning and skills in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams.” Does God provide all our learning? He created our brains with the billions of storage cells and trillions of synapses to energize our thinking. You decide!
The family must still consider itself as the child’s first teacher. Education, the foundations for both religious and academic, start at home.
I cannot make the reader think or believe anything. All I ask of anyone is, examine the evidence, consider the alternatives, be fair and reasonable and decide what you believe concerning both religious and secular education. God teaches eternity and eternal life is achieved by a faith-based belief that Christ Jesus was crucified for the remission of sin and resurrected.
Van Yandell is a missionary evangelist at IICE Ministries in Kentucky.