‘Becoming’: Exchanging Education for Spiritual Formation

Education is most often seen as a secular activity. It is something we do in the public realm of our lives, and if any spirituality is present it is something we bring with us, not something intrinsic to the process. But for those of us with the Hebrew Scriptures as a cultural reference this shouldn’t be the case. ‘Education’ was a formative process. It was embedded into the fabric of everyday life for the Jews. It affected what they wore, what they ate, and how they performed some of the most mundane of their daily activities.

“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”
Genesis 18:18-20.

Many of the scriptures of the Old Testament even have the same pattern to them, ‘to teach your children the ways of the LORD, so that ….’ There was definite purpose behind these repeated commands to the Jews.

Now, I am not a Jew and I don’t follow their Law; I do look to it, however, to see what character of God is prevalent throughout. And what I see is intentionality. I believe God wants us to be intentional about what we teach, because what we end up learning forms the person we become.

Whenever I look at a educational philosophy, I check it against the foundations of my faith, the man Jesus, the character of God, compassion, etc…. I use a kind of mental filter to sort through it, and even though I’d have a hard time picking one favorite philosophy, I try and take the best from each. Here are some of the questions I ask myself, and that I’ll be using to review some of the alternative educational styles I’ve been looking into:

  1. How does this style of education see the learner?
  2. How does it see the role of the teacher/facilitator?
  3. How does it see the role of parents and the family?
  4. What value is put on the environment in which the learning takes place?
  5. What value is put on the quality of materials given to the learner?
  6. Is respect for others central or peripheral to the learning in the school?
  7. What are the daily goals of this style of education?
  8. What are the end goals of this style of education?
  9. How do I incorporate what I’ve gleaned into the formation of my own child, and into the education of myself?

If education becomes a means of formation for our lives, then it is no longer a secular activity. As Christians, we are in the process of becoming. And that introduction to the ‘becoming’ of life starts as a small child. What as parents will that look like for our own kids? And how can that translate into what forms our own lives? How can each educational experience encourage our becoming more like Christ? I’m excited to explore and see.