The Daniel Generation
- Friday, September 17, 2004
Not only was Noah Webster extremely intelligent, he, like Daniel, possessed an extraordinary spirit, the ability to solve problems, sterling character, and great faith. He identified the needs and problems of his time, and set out to solve them, employing a biblical worldview.
Noah's textbooks provided Americans with the tools they needed to educate themselves and their children. They were biblically-based and affirmed and taught the principles of the American form of republican government, which held great significance as the country began to shift from its strong religious and moral underpinnings. In Rudiments of America's Christian History and Government, the authors Rosalie Slater and Verna Hall offer this information, which I find wildly encouraging as a homeschooling mother:
"But unlike today, Noah Webster put the responsibility for education squarely upon the family first and upon the individual. Independence was a basic quality of American character and Noah Webster began to write textbooks which were self-teaching, that is, they did not require a teacher…It is good to remember that American education has never depended upon the existence of schools" (page 5).
Webster's dictionary, which took 27 years to complete, had enormous impact because it was the first American dictionary ever published. This significance is difficult for us to fathom in modern America. But in Webster's time, American grammar, spelling, and word usage were fragmented, non-standardized, and still very English. Webster's dictionary Americanized spellings and definitions (acknowledging, for instance, that the standard spelling of "color" is not "colour").
His wisdom still rings true in today's world, as evidenced by this comment on educational reform: "To exterminate our popular vices is a work of far more importance to the character and happiness of our citizens, than any other improvements in our system of education."2
Who Will Read the Handwriting on the Wall Today?
In J.I. Packer's classic book Knowing God, he quotes Daniel 11:32: "the people who know their God shall stand firm and take action" (RSV). He explains the verse this way:
"This shows us that the action taken by those who know God is their reaction to the anti-God trends that they see operating around them. While their God is being defied or disregarded, they cannot rest; they feel they must do something; the dishonour3 done to God's name goads them to action."
Homeschooling parents - be encouraged. You are taking action by teaching your children at home, where you can provide them with a Christ-centered education. You are teaching them to read the handwriting on today's wall.
My hope is that this generation of homeschooled children will become the Daniels of their world. Young men and women who are zealously jealous for God's honor. Young adults known for their wisdom and intelligence, who can explain riddles and solve difficult problems by applying biblical principles to the perplexities at hand. People the world recognizes as having a spirit, a power, and an intelligence that must come from God - even though the world doesn't know God.
Our children are truly God's gift to us and our gift to a lost and dying world. Don't grow weary or lose heart in this tremendous opportunity you have of raising up a new generation of Daniels to bring God's power and grace to bear on the problems and needs of this world. May our children exclaim to the world by their words and their lives, "To God be the glory!"
Zan Tyler is the Homeschool Resource and Media Consultant for Broadman & Holman Publishers and Homeschool Editor for lifeway.com (www.lifeway.com/homeschool). She and her husband Joe have three children and have been home schooling since 1984.
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