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The gods of Education

  • Marla Nowak Contributing Writer
  • 2006 21 Aug
The gods of Education

"Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus." Acts 4:13

Will it be said of me, "She has been with Jesus." Would I rather they say, "she is bright, witty, fun, strong or capable?" Peter and John were unlearned men. The rulers and elders were disturbed and came to accuse them. Yet they had to admit a power demonstrated by two ordinary men. This power comes from being with Jesus. This power allowed the rulers to see Christ in Peter and John.

An even harder question, will it be said of my children, "they have been with Jesus."  While math is important, and grammar skills well and fine, reading the classics enriching, and high SAT's nice, they are no substitute for being with Jesus. Educational success will impress others. Never will it be more important than Jesus.

Is our quest for God priority? What school subjects do we skip on a busy day? Bible? Do we serve each other in love and attempt pleasant service, or have a chore list our children must meet to win our approval as part of their educational training? Do we come along side them as a helper in their work? Do we marvel at the creation of God during the zoo field trip, or do we only tell our children about the characteristics of pachyderms? How much time do we allow our children for their personal study with God? Do we allow them the time necessary, a time that works for them? Do we go in our room and shut the door? Do we show them we need and WANT to be with Jesus? Are we only careful to exercise their mental muscles with drills and tests? Or do we allow our children the freedom of failing spiritually and learning to press on? Do we find ourselves reminding ourselves or others how much better academically homeschoolers fare? Do we find ourselves prideful about the homeschool movement because of academic achievement? Do we spend more time praying for our children's spiritual growth or preparing lessons for their academic achievement? Are we smug in our intellectual understanding of the Bible? Arrogant because of the verses we have memorized? Are we critical of others intellectual ability, and base their worth on their test scores? Do we model first our loving Savior or a teacher with an academic agenda?

Recently a mama wren discovered the little birdhouse my children made. Perfectly situated outside of our bay window, we were able to observe mama wren building her nest. Sitting on her nest, day after day, she became our sweet friend. Some days she would calmly sit, as we opened the bay window and talked to her. Some days daddy wren brought her food. Each morning I checked for signs of her brood hatching.

The last morning I checked, there the birdhouse lay, lopsided in the branches, the nest partially torn form the home. The small, lifeless baby birds lay on the ground below. For days it bothered me. I understand about nature. But we delighted in that bird family. And mama wren had invested so much care and tenderness day after day. In an instant her chicks were lost despite her preparation. Because I felt sad each time I passed the window, I asked the Lord what he could teach me through this.

Immediately I thought, despite mama wren's nurturing care, the enemy was lurking. Her babies were defenseless. They could not fight the predator. The birds had not yet grown a feather, and could much less fly. I am sure I love my trusts more than a bird loves her children. How can I protect my children day after day?

I can give them spelling practice, diagramming, water colors and Italian opera. I can give them great novels even before they lose a baby tooth. I can teach phonics at an early age. I can use the best products. I can hire tutors and on line help. I can hold them accountable. I can study with them. I can encourage them. I can be proud of their research papers and mathematical formulas. I can ready them for the time of college or career. In fact, the god of education would tell me it is the most important thing I do.

Today I read Ecc. 12:12 "And further, by these, my son, be admonished: of making many books there is no end; and much study is a weariness of the flesh." If you have ever had a mountain of homeschool catalogs before you can attest to this truth of many books. Your children can attest to study sometimes being wearying. We have abundant choices. Most of the products are advertised as don't miss, exceptional, homeschool guru's number one choice. We should investigate which tools of education are best for our families. We should strive for excellence. A good education is admirable. We can evaluate where we are and where we are going. Inventories are more important. But periodically we need to check and see if education is on the pedestal.

Our children are in competition for colleges, scholarships, and jobs. Our sincere motivations come from a desire to see them do well. We provide them with tools, time and even tutors. We like workshops, tutorials, co-ops, seminars, online courses, and of course our home school catalogs. We drool over them like we did the toy catalog when we were six. We want to get it right. We are responsible. We just want to equip them. Good. But one day they will leave. Our sphere of influence will be lessened. Their educations may please us and bring them honor. But will we say of them, my children have been with Jesus. Will others see them and say, those children have been with Jesus?

Certainly we must never trust in education. We must never elevate educational excellence to a status of idol. We must never ever put our confidence in homeschooling, and assume our method will insure good results. We must trust the God who allows us this privilege. We must pray the Holy Spirit guides them and draws them near. We must walk in a way that is worthy to be followed. And we must demonstrate priority of seeking the Lord with all our heart, mind and soul. We can not put Jesus in our children, but we can let Jesus be seen in us. Parents can make their children their number one mission field. And the best way is not with memorization and catechisms but by following Jesus in a way that is transparent and joy filled. That comes from being with Him.

We can delight in a good Algebra grade. I do. The harm comes when we show more approval for academic achievement than when our children walk with the Lord. Are we happier when they win the spelling bee or when they initiate an act of kindness? We can applaud their science fair project. Do we get equally excited over their service for the Lord--however mundane? Do we seek out opportunities for them to see God? Let us be sure to tell them when we see God in them. Let us encourage them in their faith. They need us to notice. They need to know the most important thing is when we look at them we see Jesus.

This is the cry of my heart. Remind me God to put my hope in You, and You alone.


Marla is delighted to have accomplished her childhood dream to be a wife and mommy. Originally a product of the Shenandoah Valley, Marla is still a small town girl at heart and cherishes her family and faith. Presently in her 11th year of homeschooling, she is the mother to seven children, four still at home. Pleasures like a good cup of coffee, or the first hydrangea bloom are simple things she appreciates. Admittedly a bit of a homebody, Marla delights in her family (most days!). Marla is a contributing writer for The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, Copyright 2005 The Old Schoolhouse Magazine, LLC