Working Toward A Philosophy of Education

Someone asked me recently about my schedule and “how [I] get it all done.” To me, it seems a bit presumptuous to answer a question like that. I only have three children, and I’m home all day. I’m not running a farm, balancing a job or caring for eight. But since someone asked, I thought I might take a stab at it and the result was a hugely long document that I thought no one would read if I posted it all at once. For those who really want to know, bear with me. I’ll get to it, but not in this post. First I thought I’d outline my basic educational philosophy and how I got to it.

The Biblical Principle Approachq2 is an approach to education which searches out the biblical purpose for each and every subject. From there, you glean the biblical principles and teach from these principles. As I was working through the study guide, which I still have not finished, I was struck by several ideas.

First was the pervasive notion of how the environment shapes the individual. The view I was taught in college is basically that the teacher controls the enviornment, or input. The teacher trains the child for a response, or output. Rewards and punishments are set up to continually lead the child to produce more and more correct responses. The whole theory of education in American public schools stands on the backs of Pavlov’s poor little puppy dogs who got left in their cages in a flood. They stood for days with just their little noses poking out of the water to breathe. When Pavlov was finally able to get back into his lab and rescue his pooches, he made an interesting discovery. They had forgotten everything he had taught them and they could be re-trained to respond to completely different stimuli. That’s where the Russians learned brainwashing from. And where we got our national educational philosophy from.

That is kind of a scary thought. Scripture tells us in Genesis chapter one that man is to take dominion of the earth, subdue it and have it wholly. We are masters of our environment, not victims of our circumstances. We are personally responsible for our own actions, despite how or where or by whom we were raised. This notion rang very true to me and is closely tied to the second part of the study which stood out to me.

This second part basically holds the methodology used to teach as equal to the material being presented. In fact, in many ways it is more important. Education. according to Webster’s 1828, involves the training of a child…his character, temper and mind. The German word for education, Erziehung, denotes a pulling. Sometimes, it is like pulling teeth, but the basic notion is of a teacher guiding a child on a path. This path is the methodology we use and it is inherently governmental. It is important to understand exactly what it is you want to teach and then analyze the best route to take. Through this, I have realized that I cannot teach my child to reason from a biblical worldview by using secular methodology. The workbooks, textbooks and endless testing produce little “Pavlov’s dogs” in human form. At the sound of the bell, they fill in all the correct bubbles with a number two pencil and leave when they’re 18, never to apply anything they learned in a meaningful way.

Where do they learn to research, reason and relate what they have learned? Where do they apply this to their developing character?

We have been reading, Mary Slessor, Queen of Calabar, in Geography. Her thoughts on education intrigued me. She did not consider a person educated unless they understood the nature of God, so that is where she began. I try to begin there with every lesson, although some days go better than others. Math is the most natural for me…He is a God of order. That is why seasons and time and numbers all have a proper order. He is without end. That is why numbers are infinite. He is immutable. That is why the rules don’t change and every time you add 5 and 2 you get 7.

I have also been reflecting on the woman God created my Little Mouse to be. He has a purpose for her. While I figure out what to teach and how to teach it, I must always keep in mind that end goal. I must also remember to place higher value on those lessons that will shape her character and temper. She could get through life using a calculator to add, but all the math skills in the world will not teach her to deal honestly with all men.

What does that have to do with my schedule? My schedule is still somewhat in transition as I continue to reflect how to educate my children in a way pleasing to God rather than man. But my schedule, or how I govern my day, plays an integral role in our education.

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