Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.
The older I become, the more passionate I am about education. Nelson Mandela had it right. Education, communication, the use of words to persuade and to open brilliance of thinking creates its own power of persuasion.
We see how writers have influenced the ways we think through all of history. But this kind of ability comes from sowing the seeds of wisdom, knowledge and understanding over many years.
Recently, I was in a meeting, observing some leaders who were making important decisions about urgent responsibilities that needed to be managed by some new employees of this organization. An elderly CEO, an advisor of the other leaders in the room said,
"The problem is, most younger college graduates who are applying for these positions are ill prepared to take on such responsibility. They have not read broadly on many subjects or world view and so they have almost no perspective of historical issues. Because they are media dependent, they are subject to believing popular views espoused in media. Raised on television and entertained to death, with a constant appetite for movies, their opinions are shallow and reactionary. Thinking clearly and well and synthesizing ideas from reading profoundly and exposing themselves to great thinkers is clearly not even a part of their training or a part of their daily habit or routine. Add to that a lack of character training and an inability to work hard and long through difficult seasons of work, and you will find it almost impossible to find an excellent candidate who can handle such important responsibilities. "
Though, obviously, many do graduate from college with excellent abilities, this statement is generally true about many young college graduates. Educational tests have shown a constant drop in academic abilities.
I feel so strongly that we live in a more and more ignorant world, where people are easily led as sheep to slaughter because they follow others rather than think for themselves. And even worse, because they have not studied scripture, pondered the life of Christ, studied the attributes and actions of God, they are pontificating foolishness on social media, embarrassing, in my humble opinion the cause of Christ, and all because they accept as truth what someone else said, without having a framework or foundation of knowledge for themselves that would help them become excellent thinkers. Ignorance and mental weakness brings poverty of soul and ultimately of life. This is a dangerous description of adults when there is no valued wisdom, experience, or positive academic prowess and virtue. When the adults are lacking, it follows that the children will have no excellent food for thought upon which to train and feed their brains.
Scripture commands us to,
"Worship God with our minds."
God has created human beings to have a great capacity to use their brains to understand, learn, study, comprehend, create, invent, debate. And so one of the stewardships we have as moms is to take responsibility for our children's minds. God will hold all of us accountable for how we were faithful to shape and train their minds for his glory. It is one of the equal ways we are commanded to worship God. It is a glory to God when we seek to fill and expand our brains to be superior in thinking skills.
It is also a glory of a woman to be disciplined in her ability to think well and to articulate ideas and truth well. It exalts God, even as Mary did when she gave her magnificat.
No matter what educational choice a family makes, it is still the parent's responsibility to be a steward of their children's minds.
Like a muscle that needs to be stretched and used over and over again to become strong, so our brains must be stretched and exercised to become mentally and academically strong.
We must teach our children how to think correctly about:
*God, His attributes, His character, His word, so that they can have a true understanding and love for who God is.
*Biblical morality, and why God set boundaries for sex, lying, character traits as written in Proverbs and throughout the New Testament. This foundational knowledge helps them so that they can build their lives on true foundations for relationships, choices, context of a spiritual life in a foolish world.
*Wisdom, and understanding so that they can learn to stand strong on their own to resist the ways that culture calls to them. Understanding the implication and long term consequences of foolish decisions will help them to take responsibility for their own choices.
*Read to them and help them fall in love with reading and books so that they will have a big vocabulary, a large understanding of the world, be versed in knowing how to think about ideas, facts, religion, politics, languages and all facets of education. Biographies, Hero tales, Live science books with photographs to appreciate the intricacies of God's involvement in creating the body in all of its miraculous functions, seeing molecules and atoms that literally hold the universe together, the beauty of color and design of plants, birds, seasons. Give them a broad understanding of history and the ways people and their philosophy determines the outcome of nations. Give them fiction that provides them with stories that are soul touching and engage in inspiration for their own life stories.
*Use your dinner table and meals to discuss ideas and philosophies about family, marriage, purpose, relationships. Evaluate stories and characters together, to shape faith and convictions where they get to exercise their own power of communication.
*Watch their appetites and the time they spend in secular arenas--what they sow they will become--video games, television, cell phones. These are pretty much a waste of time and the more time a child spends in these areas, the more lazy their brain pathways will become.
The leaders of the world are most often those who are well educated to think well and clearly. A big vocabulary comes from reading and being read aloud to.
How important it is, then, that we as moms, take the time to become the best educated we can be. I am not referring to degrees from college. Degrees do not necessarily determine a person's ability to think, or to influence.
But we must be readers, students of the Word, interacting with wisdom, and learning how to reason and defend our faith and ideals, so that we will have the internal resources to build our children into world leaders.
So, throughout history, when women attend to the education of their own minds and souls, and that of their children, a country flourishes for having foundations of intelligence, wisdom and truth in every arena.
My two daughters have taken this role very seriously, but it flowed naturally, organically from the rhythms of our lives. Giving children, (and adults) a love for learning leads t them pursuing knowing and learning as they grow into adults. It is a natural consequence of having a home that cherishes thinking and talking, theology and ideas
After much hard work and pursuing interests through study, Sarah is being asked to speak to conferences in Oxford, has won the Frederick Beuchner writing competition in Oxford 3 years in a row and has graduated with distinction from Oxford. Joy is getting her PHD in theology as at St. Andrews with a full scholarship because of the trust of her professors and wants to influence young women to live into their full potential spiritually, academically and relationally in order to influence the thinking and foundational education of the next generation.
Together we are writing a book called "Girl's Club" and will host two national conferences to talk about this area because we believe one of the most profound ways we can civilize our world as women is through accessing our potential in education as well as spiritually. And we all believe that godly friendship with excellent women is part of this process.
Hopefully, I can begin writing more about educational issues that will help encourage many of you as you seek to influence your children's minds. Having influence on my children's minds has been one of the most fulfilling tasks I have ever enjoyed. The fruit in their lives has catalyzed the growth in my own.
What choices do you need to make in your schedule to not only fill your own mind with great thinking, stories and ideas as well as being sure you are taking seriously the broad view of education in the lives and minds of your own children and friends?