God’s theory of education

I found this gem of an article that pretty much embodies my own philosophy of education.  Taken from Kevin Swanson’s website (a father of five who was himself homeschooled).

God’s Theory of Education

Could He Be Right After All?

On April 28th, 2004, the police uncovered a family (father and daughter) deep in the forests of northwest Oregon. Homeless and destitute, the father had opted not to leave his daughter to grow up on the streets. Instead, he took her into the woods, and for four years they lived in a lean-to in the forest. Police were amazed to find the girl clean, healthy, and . . . educated! There in the forest, the father had homeschooled his daughter with nothing but a Bible and a decrepit set of encyclopedias. Officials tested the twelve-year-old and found that she had already achieved a 12th-grade equivalency. (Link here to article).

Now, ask yourself, how could this be? There was no department of education. No certified teacher. No expensive curriculum. No notice-of-intent to homeschool and no standardized tests. So what was the secret? Police Sgt. Michael Barkley told reporters, “What was so clear was that their living conditions were unacceptable, but their relationship was a real deep love and caring for each other” (Source http://www.katu.com).

There are some factors in the education of a child that transcend all others. Because they are so basic and powerful, they eliminate the need for experts, expensive government programs, and extensive regulations. Sadly, they are factors largely ignored by our education systems in place today.

As my wife and I agonized over which curriculum to buy at the CHEC home education conference last week, I thought about the father and his daughter in the woods of Oregon. Then I began to wonder how much the curriculum really matters. If I were to walk into the vendor hall blindfolded, I’m sure I could pick ten random books (assuming one of them was the Bible), and with that provide an adequate, even a superior education for our children. Actually, I didn’t try it because I didn’t want to collide into the other shoppers in the hall.

Homeschooling conferences and professional education programs can be confusing. Contradicting theories abound. There are hundreds of theories on education, many of which have impressive scientific data behind them. This screeching cacophony of opinions often does more to confuse than to guide. But education, along with most things in life, is simpler than one might think. That is because there are time-tested, eternal principles that stand head and shoulders above the other theories proposed by men. These are the biblical principles of education and training. Things get a lot more complicated when you ignore biblical principles.

Several years ago, I began to seriously consider the question of whether the Bible had anything to say about education. If God designed the world and men, and if he would reveal something about the way that the world functions, then most certainly he would have included something in this ancient book as important as the preparation of little men and women for life and eternity. If the Bible would include some content on the education of a child, what would it be? One simple way to identify biblical material on children is to perform a simple concordance search on the words “son” or “child.”

Immediately, you will discover that an entire book of the Bible, the book of the Proverbs is dedicated to the subject of education. This entire book chronicles a father’s training of his son, with the exception of the last chapter – mom’s instructions to her son.

After reaching this conclusion, I immediately recognized a problem. If this is the textbook for the education of a child, then is it not strange that there is little about Geography, Geology, and Geometry in that book? Why would God permit such a gross oversight in such an important book? Nevertheless, if we were to assume that God knew what he was doing when he wrote the book of Proverbs, then there must be a reason why he would choose not to emphasize certain material. The facts of Geography, Geology, and Geometry must not be all that important in the education of a child. In fact, character is the foundation and structure of education.

If education were a house, character would be the concrete foundation, the structure, the studs, and the drywall. Geography, geometry, and geology would be nothing but wallpaper. Of course it is the wallpaper that makes the house beautiful, attractive, and liveable. But if it were not for the structure, there would be nothing on which the wallpaper could hang! Geography, geometry, and geology cannot be the substance of education. If character, the substance of education, is missing then there is nothing upon which the rest of it can hang. The content of Proverbs deals primarily with the issues of faith and character.

Dr. Thomas Stanley, a man who has dedicated his life to researching successful businessmen in America, has written a series of books on these millionaires. Although he does not refer to the Bible or the book of Proverbs in his discussion of success factors, his research correlates with the wisdom that descends from that ancient Book. In the survey of 733 millionaires, Dr. Stanley found the following to be the factors most important to success in life:

1. Telling the Truth
2. Self-discipline
3. Getting Along with People
4. Having a Supportive Spouse
5. Hard Work

I have done a statistical survey on the lessons most frequently taught in the book of Proverbs. Mentioned over 140 times in the book, the most repeated character theme in the Proverbs is honesty and the use of the tongue. The Number One factor on the list of factors claimed by millionaires to have contributed to success is “telling the truth!” An incredible coincidence? The next four factors on the millionaires’ list are also prominent lessons in the book of Proverbs. What about a supportive spouse? Ironically, that too can be found in the book of Proverbs (Prov. 31:10).

Several qualifications at this point are in order. Economic success is only one blessing among many potential blessings that attends a nation that upholds the character traits and lessons taught in the Proverbs. Moreover, not everyone who cultivates strength of character in his life is fabulously wealthy. There are undoubtedly some very rich people who refuse to incorporate these characteristics into their lives, but this kind of wealth is inevitably short-lived.

After a century or two of ignoring God’s word in our psychology and education theory, many burned-out educators and parents are taking a second look at what God said about education. You can take ten minutes in God’s book and find a great deal of wisdom in this area of educating children. Here is what I found:

– Character is 99% of the content of an education program.
Relationships matter. The parent-child relationship matters. The hearts of our children matter.
– Sometimes you have to teach, sometimes you have to warn, sometimes you have to cry out in desperation, and sometimes you have to repeat an important lesson ten different ways.
– Learning is an honorable thing.
– You need to teach knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.
– The existence of God and the fear of God lie at the foundation of all knowledge and wisdom.
– A good education includes wisdom which is knowledge lived out and applied.

These principles will transcend all other theories and lessons on education. You do not need a doctorate degree in education to become a competent educator. As a parent, God has already equipped you for the task. But you should take a few minutes to study God’s 20 page manual – the Proverbs.

In the final analysis, the way you educate your children and the way you live your life will come down to who you accept as the ultimate authority. Some will follow the guiding principles of worldly philosophers like John Dewey, Sigmund Freud, or Jean Jacques Rousseau. Others will be guided by pop psychologists or the latest “scientific studies” with all of their inherent limitations. Even the study I mentioned above was just another “scientific study.” The reason I accept certain principles should have more to do with the fact that God has spoken with authority, and he is the source of absolute truth. It should have less to do with how many scientific studies have proven God’s principles as good principles. This commitment to God’s authority is basic to a Christian worldview.

Every parent should know the book of the Proverbs better than any other book on parenting and education. Several years ago, Brenda and I became convicted that we placed more emphasis on Saxon Math than we did on God’s textbook, the book of Proverbs. So we made it a point to prioritize the Proverbs over all other school subjects.

By the time our children leave the home we want them to know the Proverbs even better than they know their Saxon Algebra.

This article presents a summary of some the of key issues addressed in Kevin Swanson’s newly released book, “Upgrade: the Ten Secrets to the Best Education for Your Child”



The Hallelujah Chorus…performed at an unlikely concert hall

from Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers
by Patrick Kavanaugh

In a small London house on Brook Street, a servant sighs with resignation as he arranges a tray full of food he assumes will not be eaten. For more than a week, he has faithfully continued to wait on his employer, an eccentric composer, who spends hour after hour isolated in his room.

Morning, noon, and evening the servant delivers appealing meals to the composer and returns later to find the bowls and platters largely untouched.

Once again, he steels himself to go through the same routine, muttering under his breath about how oddly temperamental musicians can be. As he swings open the door to the composer’s room, the servant stops in his tracks.

The startled composer, tears streaming down his face, turns to his servant and cries out, “I did think I did see all Heaven before me, and the great God Himself.” George Frederic Handel had just finished writing a movement that would take its place in history as the Hallelujah Chorus.

George Frederic was born in 1685, a contemporary of Bach, a fellow German, and raised a fellow Lutheran, yet they were never to meet. When the boys were eight or nine years old, a duke heard [Handel] play an organ postlude following a worship service. Handel’s father was summarily requested to provide formal music training for the boy. Handel became a violinist and composer for Hamburg Opera Theater, and then traveled to Italy, where he lived from 1706 to 1710 under the patronage of the music-loving courts.

Audiences for Handel’s compositions were unpredictable, and even the Church of England attacked him for what they considered his notorious practice of writing biblical dramas such as Ether and Israel in Egypt to be performed in secular theaters. His occasional commercial success soon met with financial disaster as rival opera companies competed for the ticket holders of London. He drove himself relentlessly to recover from one failure after another, and finally his health began to fail. By 1741 he was swimming in debt. It seemed certain he would land in debtor’s prison.

On April 8 of that year, he gave what he considered his farewell concert. Miserably discouraged, he felt forced to retire from public activities at the age of fifty-six. Then two unforeseen events converged to change his life. A wealthy friend, Charles Jensen, gave Handel a libretto based on the life of Christ, taken entirely from the Bible. He also received a commission from a Dublin charity to compose a work for a benefit performance.

Handel set to work composing on August 22 in his little house on Brook Street in London. He grew so absorbed in the work that he rarely left his room, hardly stopping to eat. Within six days part one was complete. In nine days more he had finished part two, and in another six, part three. The orchestration was completed in another two days. In all 260 pages of manuscript were filled in the remarkable short time of 24 days.

Handel never left his house for those three weeks. A friend who visited him as he composed found him sobbing with intense emotions. Later, as Handel groped for words to describe what he had experienced, he quoted St. Paul saying, “Whether I was in the body or out of my body when I wrote it I know not.” Handel’s title for the commissioned work was simply, Messiah.

Messiah premiered on April 13, 1742 as a charitable benefit, raising 400 pounds and freeing 142 men from debtor’s prison. A year later, Handel staged it in London. Controversy emanating from the Church of England continued to plague Handel, yet the King of England attended the performance. As the first notes of the triumphant Hallelujah Chorus rang out, the king rose. Following the royal protocol, the entire audience stood too, initiating a tradition that has lasted more than two centuries.

Soon after this, Handel’s notoriety began to increase dramatically, and his hard-won popularity remained constant until his death. By the end of his long life, Messiah was firmly established in the standard repertoire. Its influence on the other composers would be extraordinary. When Haydn later heard the Hallelujah Chorus he wept like a child, and exclaimed, “He is the master of us all!”

Handel personally conducted more than thirty performances of Messiah. Many of these concerts were benefits for the Foundling Hospital, of which Handel was a major benefactor. The thousands of pounds that Handel’s performances of Messiah raised for charity led one biographer to note, “Messiah has fed the hungry, clothed the naked, fostered the orphan . . . more than any other single musical production in this or any country.” Another wrote, “Perhaps the works of no other composer have so largely contributed to the relief of human suffering.”

This work has had an uncanny spiritual impact on the lives of its listeners. One writer has stated that Messiah’s music and message “has probably done more to convince thousands of mankind that there is a God about us than all the theological works ever written.”

A few days before Handel died, he expressed his desire to die on Good Friday, “in the hopes of meeting his good God, his sweet Lord and Savior, on the day of his Resurrection.” He lived until the morning of Good Saturday, April 14, 1759. His death came only eight days after his final performance, at which he had conducted his masterpiece, Messiah.

Taken from http://www.theviolincase.com/Newsletter/Dec04.shtml