What is education all about? As parents, we want our children to get a good education … but what does this actually mean? What constitutes a good education? Sending your children to the best schools? If your child were to become a doctor, lawyer or architect, would you then be satisfied that they were properly educated? It’s correct that they definitely would be educated, but would they have a true education? What is a true education?
Well, lets start by looking at what the aim of a true education is.
True Education is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental and the spiritual.
True Education is not specific – it’s not a specific subject or course of study – it is all encompassing.
True Education is not for a specific time – it’s for now and for eternity.
True Education prepares us for servitude (usefulness).
True education means more than the pursual of a certain course of study. It means more than a preparation for the life that now is. It has to do with the whole being, and with the whole period of existence possible to man. It is the harmonious development of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual powers. It prepares the student for the joy of service in this world and for the higher joy of wider service in the world to come. Ed 13.3
Have you ever thought about it before – the education that we are currently giving our children – is it good enough? Are we preparing our children for this life only and for a certain career only? Will they be experts in one specific academic (mental) field at the cost of neglecting their physical and spiritual (!) development? How do we give our children the gift of a fully balanced education? And how do we ensure that they make a positive difference in this world? Surely, if anything, we should train them to be useful and a blessing to others?
True Education restores the image of God in man (and allows us to more and more fully reflect it).
This is a little bit of a lengthy quote, but for me it was a bit of a lightbulb moment. This sums up the whole object of what a true education is.
When Adam came from the Creator’s hand, he bore, in his physical, mental, and spiritual nature, a likeness to his Maker. “God created man in His own image” (Genesis 1:27), and it was His purpose that the longer man lived the more fully he should reveal this image—the more fully reflect the glory of the Creator. All his faculties were capable of development; their capacity and vigor were continually to increase. Vast was the scope offered for their exercise, glorious the field opened to their research. The mysteries of the visible universe—the “wondrous works of Him which is perfect in knowledge” (Job 37:16)—invited man’s study. Face-to-face, heart-to-heart communion with his Maker was his high privilege. Had he remained loyal to God, all this would have been his forever. Throughout eternal ages he would have continued to gain new treasures of knowledge, to discover fresh springs of happiness, and to obtain clearer and yet clearer conceptions of the wisdom, the power, and the love of God. More and more fully would he have fulfilled the object of his creation, more and more fully have reflected the Creator’s glory.
But by disobedience this was forfeited. Through sin the divine likeness was marred, and well-nigh obliterated. Man’s physical powers were weakened, his mental capacity was lessened, his spiritual vision dimmed. He had become subject to death. Yet the race was not left without hope. By infinite love and mercy the plan of salvation had been devised, and a life of probation was granted. To restore in man the image of his Maker, to bring him back to the perfection in which he was created, to promote the development of body, mind, and soul, that the divine purpose in his creation might be realized—this was to be the work of redemption. This is the object of education, the great object of life.
We never stop learning! Even in heaven! Our True Education will not be completed in this life, but will be continued in the life to come. And our goal is godliness — godlikeness. So I think it’s fair to say that a true education is all about building a character after God. It reminds me of King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14). And by reflecting God’s character more and more fully, we are glorifying God more and more fully.
Ok, great! So now we know what we are trying to achieve by getting a true education. But where do we get this education? Where do we find it? Let’s take a look at the source of true education….
God is the True Educator.
It’s actually quite simple. We know that all knowledge and wisdom come from Him, so why would we look anywhere else for our education? He is the source.
Since God is the source of all true knowledge, it is, as we have seen, the first object of education to direct our minds to His own revelation of Himself.
So if we need to direct our minds to His revelation of Himself in order to receive a true education, then the question must be: How does God reveal Himself to us?
The Author of nature is the Author of the Bible. Creation and Christianity have one God. God is revealed in nature, and God is revealed in His word. CT 395.2
The Bible and Nature – our two great books of study?
Next to the Bible, nature is to be our great lesson book. CG 45.1
Think about it: nature is God’s thoughts made visible! How amazing is that?! To glimpse into the mind of our Creator by studying His creation. And the Bible is God’s letter of love written directly to your heart. 🙂
A sincere search for Truth can only lead you to Jesus.
Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Any humble, sincere, earnest search for truth will lead you to Him. He is the source of Truth and He is the True Educator.
OK, so we know the objective of a true education …. we even know where to find it … but how do we get a true education? Well, keep reading!
If God is the source of True Education, then obviously we need to spend time with Him to get a True Education. If He is revealed through His Word and nature, then searching the scriptures and looking for Him in nature is where we need to be.
The Bible is to be our Textbook.
The creative energy that called the worlds into existence is in the word of God. This word imparts power; it begets life. Every command is a promise; accepted by the will, received into the soul, it brings with it the life of the Infinite One. It transforms the nature and re-creates the soul in the image of God. Ed 126.4
There is LIFE in God’s Word, a creative energy that re-creates us in His image! If it is to be our textbook for life, then let us not be found without it! Let us daily search the scriptures, memorizing and meditating on these holy life-transforming words! As parents, let us teach it to our children, “speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” (Deut 11:19).
The Object Lessons of Nature teach us more about Him.
Children should be encouraged to search out in nature the objects that illustrate Bible teachings, and to trace in the Bible the similitudes drawn from nature. They should search out, both in nature and in Holy Writ, every object representing Christ, and those also that He employed in illustrating truth. Thus may they learn to see Him in tree and vine, in lily and rose, in sun and star. They may learn to hear His voice in the song of birds, in the sighing of the trees, in the rolling thunder, and in the music of the sea. And every object in nature will repeat to them His precious lessons. CG 46.4
Jesus’ own method of teaching was using object lessons (or parables) from nature (lilies of the field, birds of the air, the shepherd and his sheep) and life events that were familiar to everyone (hidden treasure, the prodigal son, fishing nets, a lost coin and even houses built on rock and on sand). Adam and Eve’s first schoolroom (our model school) was the Garden of Eden:
Nature was the lesson book and the Creator Himself was the instructor… Here amidst the beautiful scenes of nature untouched by sin, our first parents were to receive their education. (Ed 20/21)
A continuous Communion with Christ aids our development.
But it doesn’t end there. To truly get a true education, we need to stay connected to our instructor all day long.
Our life is to be bound up with the life of Christ; we are to draw constantly from Him, partaking of Him, the living Bread that came down from heaven, drawing from a fountain ever fresh, ever giving forth its abundant treasures. If we keep the Lord ever before us, allowing our hearts to go out in thanksgiving and praise to Him, we shall have a continual freshness in our religious life. Our prayers will take the form of a conversation with God as we would talk with a friend. He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Often there will come to us a sweet joyful sense of the presence of Jesus. Often our hearts will burn within us as He draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch. When this is in truth the experience of the Christian, there is seen in his life a simplicity, a humility, meekness, and lowliness of heart, that show to all with whom he associates that he has been with Jesus and learned of Him. COL 129.3
In this communion is found the highest education. It is God’s own method of development. “Acquaint now thyself with Him” (Job 22:21), is His message to mankind. Ed 14.3
Sit at His feet all day long. Saturate your day in Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. 2 Corinthians tells us that by beholding we become changed (or can we say educated?)
As the flower turns to the sun, that the bright beams may aid in perfecting its beauty and symmetry, so should we turn to the Sun of Righteousness, that heaven’s light may shine upon us, that our character may be developed into the likeness of Christ. SC 68.2
Study and Practise Character Building.
We need to be intentional about building our characters. It’s not something that happens by chance. To instil good values, build integrity, learn respect and self control, become trustworthy, and love even our enemies – these are all things that need to be studied and applied to our every day life.
Character building is the most important work ever entrusted to human beings; and never before was its diligent study so important as now. Never was any previous generation called to meet issues so momentous; never before were young men and young women confronted by perils so great as confront them today. Ed 225.3
Study of Physiology and practise of Health Laws.
It’s common sense that in order to develop a strong mind and a well-balanced character, our physical health needs to also receive attention. Our mind and our soul find expression through the body. Good health is often taken for granted until you are without it! Besides practising good health and obeying the health laws, a study of how the body works is essential to understanding these health laws.
… the health should be as faithfully guarded as the character. A knowledge of physiology and hygiene should be the basis of all educational effort.
OK, so now we know the objective of a true education, we know where to find it and we know how to get it. But what is really inspiring is the fruits of a “true education” child (ahem, and parent!)
Besides the fact that if we have received a true education, we should be a well-balanced, healthy individual, reflecting the character of Christ as we walk with the Lord with a good intimate knowledge of the Bible and our eyes open to the spiritual lessons in nature …. there are a few other beautiful characteristics worth mentioning:
Unselfishness underlies all true development and is a sign of maturity which is especially noticeable in children. Sadly, in today’s times, it can be hard to find this character trait even in adults! 🙁 A child that has been truly educated will naturally be a blessing to all those around, having nurtured the habit of constantly looking for ways to be useful. And lastly, the work of true education trains a child to be a deep and independent thinker and not merely a ‘parrot’, reflecting man’s ideas.
If you are searching for a curriculum that ticks all of these boxes, Sonlight Education Ministries is the only curriculum we have come across that comes close. Please do share if you know of any others in the comments below.
This post was based on a study of the book entitled ‘Education’ by Ellen White. It’s an amazing book that will open your eyes to a new way of thinking. Click here to read an online version.
Have you read the book Education? How has it changed the way you homeschool your children? Share with us in the comments below!
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