“[The] commandments…I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.”
~ Deuteronomy 6.6-9 (NIV 1984)
This passage is often used to exhort Christian (and Jewish) parents to consider homeschooling – and the principles do apply to that situation. It’s also employed as a challenge to Bible-believing parents, calling us to actively train up our children in the ways of the faith, regardless of where our kids attend school. And there, too, the words ring true.
But I’d like to suggest still another application, which, though more indirect, pertains to any parent, regardless of her faith perspective. That is, I believe these words implore all parents to take a purposeful, active role in all aspects of their children’s education.
The ideas obviously apply to the particular spiritual tenets delivered in previous chapters of Deuteronomy. But on a sociological level that’s because faith was the hub of the people’s existence at the time. Indeed, all of life was considered to be “religious” so all of a child’s education – literacy, numeracy, an understanding of the community and the surrounding environment, life skills, etc. – was infused with matters of faith. And, with that in mind, it’s not a huge leap to see that the speaker, Moses, essentially commanded his people to remain deeply, actively involved with every aspect of their children’s education – a principle that applies to wise parents across religions and subject matter today.
Of course, it’s easy to take the other path – to pass off the training of one’s children to the “experts” at the nearby school, hoping things will turn out “okay” in the end. And, for a variety of reasons, a huge percentage of today’s population does just that, relying on classroom teachers to equip children for life without any personal involvement on the part of the parents.
But, even if we assume for the sake of argument that every teacher is truly capable and caring, that doesn’t make much sense. After all, even the best teacher cannot possibly know my child better than I. So I must actively engage in relationship with teachers for the sake of my child. Furthermore, my child needs to know I care enough to pay close attention to what occurs in her classroom; if I disengage, her security, belonging, and identity as my child are shaken, making it difficult for her to focus on academic learning (i.e., her purpose and competence). But, in contrast, if she knows I choose to stay involved in her formal education, she’ll be grounded emotionally and, thus, freed up to blossom intellectually.
Of course, both life experience and common sense testify to that truth. It’s the harder path, but 3,000-year old wisdom does still stand today.
Photo Credit: Bookmouse