What Should Be Taught?
Author: Robin Fish
Note: Creation Moments exists to provide Biblically sound materials to the Church in the area of Bible and science relationships. This Bible study may be reproduced for group use.
The emphasis in modern education has shifted to values, not data. Children are being taught attitudes and morals instead of skills and information. This is a shift from the past, when schools taught subjects and acted as a force for conserving our society’s mores and values instead of being agencies for change. Still, even in the past the schools also taught values. The question we will examine in this Bible study is what we ought to be teaching in our schools.
In the Bible times schools were relatively uncommon. Instruction was done at home by the family. Our society has chosen to establish schools to assist parents in their God-given duty to teach their children. Therefore, this study will draw no distinction between what the Scriptures tell parents to teach and what schools ought to teach, as schools are an extension of the teaching office of the family. With this understanding we look at Scripture and ask, “What should we teach?”
In pre-technical societies survival skills were often less complex than in our society. There was no general need for complex mathematics, detailed world histories, or science classes. Individuals learned social skills, family history, language, and a trade at home. Writing was important, as was language, and these were learned as a matter of course in the conduct of daily life. In today’s world survival skills often involve more technical training, or detailed science training which requires schooling at great length. These technical studies, as well as the modern invention of the “elective course”, are not mentioned in Scripture. Education was presumed to prepare the individual for survival in society, so we will not debate the instruction in the skills area. These are “trade” training in a technological society.
1. What Scripture speaks of as needed in instruction, and what is the focus of the modern concern over the direction of public education, is values education. The question is, what values should be taught? Turn to Proverbs 1:7. What does this verse suggest as worthwhile to teach?
Does the phrase “beginning of knowledge” suggest that this should be a foundation for all education? In order to clarify this, read Proverbs 2:2-5. Make a list of the words Solomon used to express the idea of “that which is to be learned.”
What does each word add to your knowledge of the nature of education? Is there any suggestion that education ought to be an agency for change or revolution?
2. Proverbs 4:1-9 is a poetic encouragement to attentive study. In it a father encourages his son to “acquire wisdom” and “get understanding”. In the light of this passage, discuss the oft-repeated idea that education should teach a student how to think. Is this idea valid?
In the light of Psalm 111:10, what is an essential element in the proper “how to” of thinking? Compare your thoughts on this with Psalm 34:11.
What is a summary statement we can make on the basis of Scripture about the foundation of education?
3. Of course, education needs more than just attitudes. There are some very definite facts and information that need to be taught. What is of prime importance, according to Deuteronomy 6:4-9?
What does it mean to bind the Law of God to one’s hands? To have them as “frontals” on your foreheads? To write them on your doorposts and gates?
Is the intent of this passage to dictate the physical placement of the Law of God, or to suggest that the Law rule over each “area”?
Discuss what this passage might have to say in the modern debates over posting the Ten Commandments in schoolrooms. Is this a good idea? What possible purpose could it serve?
4. Look at Deut. 11:19. Is there any way we can shift this responsibility from the home to the school?
Should this approach also be a guiding principle in the schools? Why do you think that these instructions are repeated in Scripture?
5. According to Deut. 6:20-23, what else should we teach?
In a modern classroom this would be called history. What is the appropriate focus of history? Why?
Turn to Joel 1:2-3. Is this a command to teach history? Why is this piece of history to be taught?
What is the appropriate goal of the study of history?
Discuss: Does modern historical study accomplish the proper purpose of history? Does it make men wiser?
Relate your responses to the old adage, “The only thing that history teaches us is that history teaches us nothing.” Is the adage fair? Is it necessarily true? Does it seem to describe reality? (Exodus 10:2 and Psalm 78:4 are other passages that deal with teaching “history”).
6. Ephesians 6:4 urges education. What is to be its content? What is the purpose of this instruction?
Read 2 Timothy 2:15. What are the goals of good education for the child of God?
Discuss: Why do you think that the early schools, from elementary grades through the university level, were church founded?
Is there any connection between these passages and the fact that “parochial” school students generally outperform their public school counterparts in achievement tests? Why would you guess this is true?
Look at 2 Timothy 3: 14-17 for an example of the usefulness of a proper education. What encouragement is found in Proverbs 22:6?
What caution might we draw from Ecclesiastes 12:12?
7. The Scriptures urge teaching values, but which values? Whose values? Can we abandon these values for the sake of society?
What does this say about modern American ideas concerning “public education”? The Bible urges education in the things of God; His law, His history, and in living for Him.
Read Proverbs 19:27 and discuss how long this education is to run.
Close with a prayer for education, asking God to lead you to a greater commitment to His commanded topics.
1986 Bible Science Newsletter.
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