Education for the soul
One of the major errors of modern educational thinking is an emphasis on assessments and the measurement of ‘outcomes’. This arises from the dominance of a naturalistic worldview which assumes that material things and processes are all there is, and that concepts like the human soul are meaningless. One of the consequences of this is for educational thinking to focus on measurable things and a strong emphasis on using the scientific method to guide educational developments. The chief end and purpose of school becomes training students for the workforce.
The problem with this is that it misses the importance of the nature of the human being as made in the image of God, with an eternal soul able to love God and the things God loves. The Ten Commandments include this statement, “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.” (Deut. 6:5). The relationship we ought to have with our heavenly Father is one of love from our whole being – we are made for this and, as Augustine of Hippo points out, “Our hearts are restless, until they can find rest in you.”
Education rightly prepares students for the workforce but, more importantly, it should also be equipping the student to live life to the fullest extent as a human being, to realise their God-given potential, to love God and His ways with all their heart and soul and might. This means that education should first of all aim to train the student, first and foremost, in what is means to be a good person, a person of character and integrity, rather than just a good worker, though a good person will also strive to be the best worker they can be.
Christian education is aimed at developing all the capacities of the whole child – morally, physically as well as academically. We also realise that those things which are measured by examinations and tests do not define how well a student is developing as a whole. The things of the soul are hard to measure – things like integrity and honesty, a respectful attitude toward authority, a good work ethic, godly thinking, and so on. They are hard to measure but we recognise the fruit and are pleased when we see a young person with character – this is far more valuable than how many A’s they achieved on their report card.
We want our students to see this as an opportunity to grow in character and knowledge as they apply themselves to revision. From what I have been saying, I hope parents will focus on the grades but also, more importantly, the message coming through in the comments – is your child developing and maturing as a person of character and integrity, are they striving to do their best effort, whatever that is? Grades are important but not the whole story. May our students continue to grow in all areas of their lives to the glory of God.
Yours in Him