What Are We Teaching our Children?
Does it make you a better king if you build houses of cedar, finer than those of others? Your father enjoyed a full life. He was always just and fair, and he prospered in everything he did. 16 He gave the poor a fair trial, and all went well with him. That is what it means to know the LORD. 17 But you can only see your selfish interests; you kill the innocent and violently oppress your people. The LORD has spoken. Jeremiah 22:15-17 TEV
Our educational work should have a purpose: to elicit a change in our students, to make them grow in wisdom, to help them undergo a transformation, to provide them with knowledge, with new feelings and, at the same time, achievable ideals. Many institutions promote the formation of wolves more than of brothers and sisters by educating their students to compete and succeed at the expense of others, with only a few weak ethical standards.
As I finally got to reading my devotions today (actually tonight) I was struck by the words of Pope Francis.
It doesn’t help that as we were cleaning our garage, I found one of my old report cards, in fact, the same grade my son is entering. I showed it to him, and was amazed at the pressure he felt to live up to my standards. (I should have shown him my sophomore year of High School) Then I read Pope Francis’s words, shortly after seeing a picture of my dad and son, one of the last taken of them together.
My dad had a unique challenge – my brother was the star athlete, I was somewhat of a brain, at least by small town standards. Getting us to work together was a challenge, and competitively, we were fierce. How he got us to play and work together was a remarkable challenge, especially as he was somewhat competitive as well! Our schools weren’t so good at the task, firing us up to compete, playing on our pride and baser instincts. (My one exception was St. Francis for junior high – they taught us to work together…and those 15 kids mean the world to me still!)
My wife is a teacher, our church has a preschool and once had an elementary school. We have a lot of friends who are teachers as well. (If you are reading this, please drop the red pens for a moment!) And in a sense, I teach others, a little (and a significant amount) older than my wife and friends, but none the less, teach.
Which gets me back to Pope Francis, and his words about educating people. Are we encouraging a competitive factor in them? Are we encouraging them to be successful by standards that leave others behind? Or are we teaching them to work together, to forgive each other, to lift up each other? Are we hearing the prophet Jeremiah speaking for God as he takes on our selfish natures, as we have no problem oppressing people, or allowing them to be oppressed so we can live in peace?
We need to learn to teach like Jesus did, who though He was God, knelt down with a basin and towel and washed the feet of some pretty stubborn, argumentative and rebellious students. We need to teach them to serve each other, and those around them, whether we teach them Math, English, Geography, Computer Information Systems, World Religions or 1, 2, 3 John.
It’s a challenge, whether in preschool, middle school, college or a simple Bible Study. For what we are teaching them is to love one another…which means we need to learn to love them. As Paul says in Romans 12, really love them. For God loves them, and wants to walk with them all.
Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.
Posted on September 4, 2017, in Devotions, Pope Francis, Theology in Practice and tagged bible study, children, competition, education, report cards, school, Tests. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.