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What Constitutes a Good Education?

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By Beverly S. Krueger

Wisdom is the principal thing;
Therefore get wisdom.
And in all your getting, get understanding.
blankProverbs 4:7

What constitutes a “good” education? We all have our thoughts on the subject because, after all, we homeschool our children and we want them to have a good education. The trick is in threading a path through the practical considerations to a philosophy of education that is expansive enough to last a lifetime. We contemplate the balance between developing skills and instilling facts, but these fall on the practical side of education. If we focus on these things, we still haven’t gotten to the heart of determining what we believe makes an education good.

At the heart of Christian homeschooling is the need for our children to grow in “the training and admonition of the Lord.” On this, we agree, but then we diverge on issues of method and content. So while it may seem vitally important that you determine which is the best math curriculum for you to use with your children, having an idea of who you want your children to be, is even more important. Getting them to that future will take more than the best math curriculum, it will take an understanding of the values and disciplines you hope to instill and a plan for achieving your vision. The vision comes before the plan. Your vision may be different from your neighbor’s, and you may find a philosophical home with one particular group of homeschoolers, but think before you jump into a philosophy of education. An initial sense of rightness will withstand scrutiny if it’s really right.

If you’re struggling with how to infuse your homeschooling with true life values, you would do well to spend time reading God’s thoughts on learning and teaching in the Bible, meditating on the subject, praying for guidance, and gleaning from the thoughts of others. We’ve put together a short list of resources that you may find helpful. This is a mixed bag of resources put together with the idea that we all come from different faith walks and have different ideas. Your starting point may be different from mine. I would suggest that you try reading something outside your comfort zone. Different ideas can be challenging, but they can also help you cement your previous convictions. The best way to avoid being driven by every new wind of idea is knowing why you believe what you believe. As Francis A. Schaeffer puts it,

“True Christian education is not a negative thing; it is not a matter of isolating the student from the full scope of knowledge. Isolating the student from large sections of human knowledge is not the basis of a Christian education. Rather it is giving him or her the framework or total truth, rooted in the Creator's existence and in the Bible's teaching, so that in each step of the formal learning process the student will understand what is true and what is false and why it is true or false. It is not isolating students from human knowledge. It is teaching them in a framework of the total Biblical teaching, beginning with the tremendous central thing, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. It is teaching in this framework, so that on their own level, as they are introduced to all of human knowledge, they are not introduced in the midst of a vacuum, but they are taught each step along the way why what they are hearing is either true or false. That is true education.” Francis A. Schaeffer, 1982, "Priorities 1982". Speech given at the L'Abri Mini-Seminars in 1982.

For the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and SchoolFor the Children's Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School
by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
For the Children's Sake is a book about what education can be--for your child, in your home, and in your school. It is based first on a Christian understanding of what it means to be human--to be a child, a parent, a teacher--and on the Christian meaning of life. At the same time it is deeply practical. Many of the central ideas have been tried and proven true over a century in almost every kind of educational situation. The ideas are in fact so true that they can be applied equally at home, in different schools, in Africa, in the inner city, and in your own community. But they are also ideas which Susan and her husband Ranald Macaulay have tried and proven in their own family and school experience.

How Should We Then Live?How Should We Then Live?
by Francis A. Schaeffer
In How Should We Then Live? Francis Schaeffer analyzed the reasons for modern society's state of affairs and presented the only viable alternative: living by the Christian ethic, acceptance of God's revelation, and total affirmation of the Bible's truth, morals, values and meaning.

Educating for Life: A Spiritual Vision for Every Teacher and ParentEducating for Life: A Spiritual Vision for Every Teacher and Parent
by Thomas H. Groome
One of the most influential educators of our time, Thomas H. Groome proposes a spiritual vision certain to inspire the heart of every teacher and parent. With ecumenical sensitivity, Groome draws upon the core convictions of Catholic Christianity and its rich educational tradition to weave a way of educating that has universal appeal.
He addresses and brings wisdom to the foundational issues that concern al educators regardless of their religious tradition. This philosophy-cum-spirituality is deeply humanizing. A vision of educating for life, it will enhance the work of every teacher and parent, in every school-public and private, in every faith community and family context.
At a time of urgent concern for the quality of education taking place in our schools, Groome offers a bold spiritual vision that gets to the heart of why and how we educate. He insists that it is not money that will save our schools, it's values. Such values include:

  • Appreciating the goodness of dignity of all people
  • Fostering moral decision-making
  • Working for justice and compassion
  • Respecting one another and nature
  • Drawing the wisdom of our many traditions
  • Forming the whole person

Wisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical LearningWisdom and Eloquence: A Christian Paradigm for Classical Learning
by Robert Littlejohn (Author), Charles T. Evans
To succeed in the world today, students need an education that equips them to recognize current trends, to be creative and flexible to respond to changing circumstances, to demonstrate sound judgment to work for society's good, and to gain the ability to communicate persuasively. This book argues for returning to the classical liberal arts educational system so that students are prepared for lifelong learning.

Educating the Wholehearted ChildEducating the Wholehearted Child
by Clay Clarkson, Sally Clarkson
A handbook for Christian home education. A commonsense, disciple-based biblical approach to home schooling using real books and real life. Filled with Scriptures, anecdotes, insights, ideas, methods, lists, and charts to make living and learning at home natural and enjoyable.

The Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What it Means to Be an Educated Human BeingThe Great Tradition: Classic Readings on What it Means to Be an Educated Human Being
by Richard Gamble
Edited by historian Richard Gamble, this anthology reconstructs a centuries-long conversation about the goals, conditions, and ultimate value of true education. Spanning more than two millennia, from the ancient Greeks to contemporary writers, it includes substantial excerpts from more than sixty seminal writings on education. Represented here are the wisdom and insight of such figures as Xenophon, Plato, Aristotle, Seneca, Cicero, Basil, Augustine, Hugh of St. Victor, Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, John Calvin, Erasmus, Edmund Burke, John Henry Newman, Thomas Arnold, Albert Jay Nock, Dorothy Sayers, C. S. Lewis, and Eric Voegelin.

In an unbroken chain of giving and receiving, the Great Tradition embraced the accumulated wisdom of the past and understood education as the initiation of students into a body of truth. This unique collection is designed to help parents, students, and teachers reconnect with this noble legacy, to articulate a coherent defense of the liberal arts tradition, and to do battle with the modern utilitarians and vocationalists who dominate educational theory and practice.

Copyright ©  2008 Eclectic Homeschool Association

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Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1979, 1980, 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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