Sunday I was listening to a guest preacher who was also a college professor. He was talking about students trying to get into graduate school. He made the comment that the graduate schools don’t even pay attention to GPA any more because of grade inflation. Everyone gets “A” averages today. Instead they look at scores on the GRE. At this point educators have not found a way to fake those scores.
When I went into education I had to take a test called the CBEST. In California you have to pass this test to teach. You had some math problems that were no higher than algebra, a reading comprehension section and wrote an essay. It is about 10th grade level and I am told that 20% of the college graduates who take it fail.
When my daughter was ready to graduate from college the students were required to take a test that showed they had basic skills. This was after four years of college.
Who has made these students failures? As a teacher I know it wasn’t me. Administrators say, “Not I.” Parents claim they have done their best. Society doesn’t feel it should be blamed. Maybe it was something in the water.
Where does the Bible place the responsibility to the training of a child?
The primary responsibility is on the parents. One of the key passages is in Deuteronomy. After pointing out that there is only one God and that the word of God must be taught, the book continues:
(Deuteronomy 6:7 KJV) And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.Obviously the primary concern is religious teaching but since it centered on the written word it also required some literary skills.
The book of Proverbs is loaded with instructions to teach your children and has a well know promise:
(Proverbs 22:6 KJV) Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.The New Testament has similar directions.
(Ephesians 6:4 KJV) And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.This is not getting down to techniques and style. It is about responsibility. Ultimately the buck stops with the parents. Years ago I was involved in an inner city church on the edge of what became a famous part of L.A., Watts. I was trying to teach in an elementary level Sunday School class. I noticed that the kids fell into two groups. One group could read everything I gave them. The others could not even recognize simple words like “the.” I began to ask questions and what I found was that the ones who could read learned at home. The ones who could not read had only the public schools to teach them. The difference was the parents.
Full disclosure: We home schooled our children. They did not attend a class outside our home until they enrolled in college. I don’t believe the Bible mandates what we would now call home schooling, but until modern times home schooling or tutors were the common ways to teach children. Our current idea of locking a large number of children the same age in a room and expecting them to learn is modern foolishness.
The student also has a great responsibility. In fact this is probably more important than the parents. This is the elephant in the room. No one wants to bring this up. Proverbs talks about counselors and teachers but ultimately it says that you must want and seek wisdom.
(Proverbs 1:8 KJV) My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother:For centuries people have been able to educate themselves because they wanted an education. You can take people like Abraham Lincoln and you find that the amount of time they spent in a formal classroom was almost nonexistent. Or take the example of Frederick Douglass. He was born a slave. The wife of one of his owners started to teach him to read but was stopped by her husband. It was illegal to teach slaves to read. But in the midst of slavery, with the law and society against him, he found a way to learn. He educated himself and emerged as great leader in his day. Not only could he write but he edited a newspaper and was a great orator. If you have never read his autobiography, Narrative of the Life of a Slave, you should get it and make it part of your cultural experience.
And what does the Constitution have to say about educating our children? Actually, nothing. It was considered to be none of the government’s business about how a child was educated. The primary purpose of the government has to do with what is good for it, not what is good for the child.
So quit blaming every one else for the fact that your child doesn’t have the basic skills to get a job. If you are the child, take some responsibility for your life. Stop playing the victim card and get moving. God has given you the ability to learn and there are many people willing to help if you show a genuine interest.
homo unius libri