Friday, June 27, 2008

Why?

Questions about the "who" and "what" of education have very little meaning without an answer to the most important question: Why? What is the purpose of education?

Douglas Wilson, author of Recovering the Lost Tools of Learning (Crossway Books, 1991) and founder of the Association of Classical and Christian Schools, concludes in this way:


“The Christian educator’s job is not to require the students to spend all their time gazing at the sun. Rather, we want them to examine everything else in the light the sun provides. It would be utmost folly to try to blacken the sun in order to study the world around us ‘objectively.’ Because all truth comes from God, the universe is coherent. Without God, particulars have no relationship to other particulars. Each subject has no relationship to any other subject. Christian educators must reject this understanding of the universe as a multiverse; the world is more than an infinite array of absurd ‘facts.’ The fragmentation of knowledge must therefore be avoided. History bears a relation to English, and biology a relation to philosophy; they all unite in the queen of the sciences, theology.”

The sad thing is when we try to give education meaning apart from God. The June 25 post on Education Policy Blog talked about the importance of "moral education." According to a study published by William Damon

“...more than a quarter of young people are 'disengaged' and about a fifth have actually found something meaningful to which they wanted to dedicate their lives. The vast numbers in between have not given up on meaningfulness but haven’t found a way to make sense of their lives either.”

As Christian educators, we know that education is hollow apart from God. Our goal is to restore the purpose of education, which can be summarized in a word: catechesis. From the Greek, meaning to resound or echo, to celebrate or initiate, to repeat another’s words and deeds, catechesis is the process by which persons are initiated into the Christian community and its faith, revelation, and vocation.

It is the process by which persons, throughout their lifetimes, are continually converted and nurtured, transformed and formed, by and in its living tradition. Every activity, including education, is used by the church to celebrate and imitate the words or actions of God.

Only in pursuit of catechesis does education truly have purpose.

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