Education: The Great Challenge

Any philosophy of education will include a God-centered world and life view.   Democratic idealism, enlightenment thinking, natural rights theory or any world view that denigrates reason is an enemy of true education.  Reason is “God’s gift to the human race that gives humans the ability to think rationally, and therefore intelligently. Reason is the ground of intellectual ability and the seat of all knowledge” (Theological Terms, p. 111). The English word reason derives from the Latin “ratio” which employs the laws of logic to construct a theory for knowledge. Reasoning defined by the Dictionary of Philosophy is the, “Faculty of connecting ideas consciously, and purposively. Thinking in logical form.” Reasonable logic demands an effect from a sufficient cause. My question for this discussion is, “if atheism is the effect, what is the non-theistic cause?” Reasoning went aghast! Where is the apostle Paul? “And he entered the synagogue and continued speaking out boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading them about the Kingdom of God.” The atheists see little reasoning from the church today. Then Paul went to the Reason Rally or to use the biblical terminology Paul “took away the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus.” (Acts 19:8-9).

Education must be defined for any progress in this discussion.  The word “education” is often used to describe the general process of passing information to others.  To put it another way, education has become a generic term, concept, and philosophy used by people who have an agenda for passing along, sometimes objective, but primarily subjective ideas.  There are two Greek words that are translated educate and used during the development of western civilization.  Paideuo, although translated educate primarily referred to the process of training children.  Sometimes the word paideuo was translated discipline, which naturally accompanies training.  The concept of training a child fits the description of a school or the university.  The school is the place where a teacher gives information to a scholar.  The scholar learns, paideuo, from the teacher.  Therefore, it may be said that education is that process whereby a teacher passes along information to a student who may be subject to discipline if the student ignores the instruction.  The result would be that the student would have enough information to carry out certain duties in life.

Another Greek word manthano is also translated “to educate.”  The Greek word manthano may be traced to another Greek word math from which we get the English word “mathematics.”  Plato used this word to refer to “the mathematical sciences, especially arithmetic, geometry, and astronomy.”   It was used by Greek philosophers such as Parmenides, 475 B.C., through the New Testament era into the first century.  It primarily, but not exclusively, referred to the process of learning by study.  It appears that the early Greek thinkers associated the word manthano with rational, logical, and empirical disciplines.

The purpose of education is not to pass on information from one generation to the other.   Information must be passed on, but the best way to pass on information is by training.  Train your child to speak the dialect of his or her residence, but teach them to use correct grammar.  Train your child to memorize multiplication tables, but teach them to use logic in solving mathematical problems.  Passing on false information has destroyed one generation after the other.  Dr. Harold Parker explains how church historians make so many serious errors in reporting church history inaccurately.   “The second error lies in the tendency for the student to follow the authority ahead of him in Indian file, deeper and deeper into the morass of error.  If the first of the secondary authorities is wrong in fact or judgment, then all who follow him will be in error also, for they are on the same path.  They will remain in error until the primary sources are checked again” (Studies in Southern Presbyterian History, by Harold Parker,  p. 56).  Passing erroneous information from one generation to the next is not education.  Education must take place in an environment where the student can consult an authority in the learning process.  The authority can be no other than God’s revelation and God’s Revelation.  That which seems right in the eyes of a man may not actually exist in reality.

The spirit of egalitarianism is like the individualism of democracy.  It is an enemy to intellectual stimulation.  The enlightenment thinker is without a foundation or a purpose.  Science, rationality, and empirical or metaphysical inquiry will not establish an infallible intellectual agenda.  Naturally, natural rights theorists are disinclined toward a definitive set of rules and regulations from an infallible source.

The recovery of a Christian world and life view applied to the philosophy of education will be the means by which education will thrive.  Once recovered the philosophy of education must include ontological and teleological dimensions.

Does education actually exist?  Dr. R. L. Dabney said, “education is a soul function” (The Practical Philosophy, by R. L. Dabney, p. 341).  If education is a “soul function” then it must have its root in the soul.  If there is no soul, there can be no education.  Dabney has said it so well let him speak.  “The modern American State is a political corporation.  ‘Corporations have no souls.’  Can there be a greater solecism than to assign the training of souls to agents which have no souls?” (The Practical Philosophy, p. 341).   If people who submit their lives to a godless state and allow that state to teach Covenant children, there is no education of the children.  Therefore, there is no ontological basis for an educational system.

Does education have a final purpose?  At this juncture, the meaning of the word “educate” comes into play.  If an education serves the purpose of preparing someone to earn a livelihood, then what is the purpose of training?  However, the case has already been made that one prepares for his or her life work by training.   A person enters an apprenticeship program to learn how to earn a living.  The purpose of an education is to prepare the mind for God’s call in life.  God’s call may include familial, civil, and religious aspects.  An education prepares for that call.

The reality of the existence of education and the final purpose of education depends upon truth.  Methodology, content, sincerity or any other human motive will not insure the education of children or adults.  It is dangerous to believe that you can send your children to Sodom for their education and expect them to return to the mountains to live out their soul purpose.

The raging culture wars have a long string of wounded soldiers and citizens in this world.  The most devastating battle is the attack against the minds of young people.  The specific culture war I have in mind is education and more specifically education in the Christian sector.

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