Sunday, April 15, 2012

Lessons in Latin, Not the Pig Kind

"Repetitio est matre studiorum"
I can still remember seeing Mr. Rhodes write those words on the board on the first day of Art class. This is Latin for "repetition is the mother of education." There is no deep philosophical message behind this phrase. It means what it looks like it means. The best way to educate is through consistency and repetition. Mr. Rhodes himself did not become the artist that he was (and still is) without hours of working in an art studio to perfect his craft. Think about a guy like LeBron James. Even though James has been blessed with amazing athletic ability, it would be all for nothing if he hadn't spent most of his lifetime shooting hoops in a gymnasium. "The Chosen One" chose from a young age to dedicate himself to becoming the best basketball player on the planet and he got there through hard work...repetition.

You're probably wondering where I am going with this. Here lately I have thought quite often about that simple lesson that Mr. Rhodes taught me. Most of the time when thinking about the phrase, the word "repetition" is what sticks out to me the most. But I have found myself thinking more about the word "education" than anything else. The fact that Em has been teaching first grade full-time for the last month probably has a lot to do with my educational pondering. It's also hard to miss how my nearly 4 year old daughter seems to learn something new everyday. She has learned how to count to ten and can now recite all seven days of the week (maybe not in order but hey, I'd like to leave Monday's out if I could also).

Rylee's education is as important to us as I'm sure it is to most parents. Em and I talk about saving money for Rylee to go to college. We enrolled her in a 3 year old pre-school this year so that she could get an early feel for a classroom setting and hopefully develop social skills to help break her shyness. Em has a plethora of degrees and the education of our daughter is one of her main passions in life. Even though I've only got one and a half semesters at Shawnee Community College under my belt, I still understand that parental involvement in education is the key to success.

I believe that this is true in all types of education. Unfortunately, I think that we consider more the scholastic element to education and think little of the spiritual education of our children. Think about the message of our society: "go to school, get a diploma, go to college, get a degree, start a career, make lots of money, big house, nice car, happy ever after." We emphasize a message that says that as long as you have the knowledge of the scholastic world, then you will be set for life and everything will just fall into place.

I feel that our pursuit of earthly knowledge has led to our deficiency in spiritual wisdom. Christian students know Math formulas but they cannot recite the 10 Commandments. Christian students can memorize the ABC's, the Preamble, the Gettysburg Address, and lines from Romeo and Juliet but they cannot memorize and recite life-giving verses from God's Word.

So who are we to blame for the inept spiritual education of kids today? Clergy and Sunday School Teachers? I don't think so as long as they are teaching truth and not personal opinions. Government? Part of the blame can go to them especially since it has been government that has removed the 10 Commandments and prayer from our school systems. What about school teachers? Little blame can go to them being that they are required to teach a certain curriculum even though the curriculum itself may be non-factual (ie Darwin's THEORY of Evolution). But just like my wife, there are several teachers that I know in our school systems who still find ways to impart spiritual truths into their weekly curriculum. These teachers are to be applauded.

I believe that PARENTS are the motivators and enablers of education in a child's life and therefore I believe that it is Christian parents who must take the responsibility for the promoting or lack thereof in spiritual education. I've never understood why parents make their kids stay home from church so that homework can be finished. A child spends about 8 hours a day at school. A church service will last anywhere form one to two hours at the most which means that they have an additional 14-15 hours in the day to get their homework completed. I'm not sure how much homework kids have these days but that seems like plenty of time to get assignments finished.What if you made sure that your child had spent some time in devotion and prayer everyday in the same way that you monitor their school work? Family Bible study, what a crazy thought! :)

 I've known kids who have gotten into major trouble with mom and dad just because they brought home a B on their report card. Seriously? Encouraging a child to always give their best is one thing, but showing them that their best is not good enough for your approval is something totally different. NEWSFLASH: maybe your child isn't as smart as you think they are. Maybe they actually struggle with subjects that you excelled in. Maybe they really do have a hard time understanding what the teacher is trying to teach. But we don't want excuses right?!? We want good grades so that you can go to college and get a degree because then you will be happy....or will you?

I'm not here to tell you not to go to college. I wish I had finished my degree and I do intend to one day. But the point that I want to make to parents is that your child's scholastic education will only take them so far in life and it will not guarantee them happiness and joy. I know some really smart people with big educations and  they are actually really unhappy people with big time problems. The message that I'm wanting to convey is that it is our job as parents to teach our children spiritual truths first and foremost. I'm not talking just learning Bible stories. I'm talking about teaching spiritual disciplines like Bible study, prayer time, tithing, giving, worship, and church attendance and involvement. Don't just leave it up to your Senior Pastor, Youth Pastor or Sunday School teacher to teach them. In reality, your child only spends about 4.5-6 hours a week at church, and that's if they are at church for all three services during the week. You make the difference mom and dad. It's up to you.

It is my goal to see my daughter do in life what I have not done, and graduating from college is one of those things. But I would find it hard to disapprove of her if she decided to be a missionary or worship leader instead of a doctor or lawyer. But if she wants to be a doctor that serves God and is able to take care of her old dad one day, then that is ok also! What is important is that I teach her to be who God has made her to be in this life, and not what I, or anyone in this world wants her to be. Because ultimately, she was created by God and only He knows for what purpose she is here. So remember this mom and dad, "repetition is the mother of education." Educate in the ways of God first, and then repeat.

How much better it is to get skillful and godly Wisdom than gold! And to get understanding is to be chosen rather than silver. Proverbs 16:16

For this world's wisdom is foolishness (absurdity and stupidity) with God, for it is written, He lays hold of the wise in their [own] craftiness. 1 Corinthians 3:19

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. James 3:17