Summary: As we consider politics according to the Bible, in this sermon we examine what the Bible says about education.
We are approaching the end of summer. Soon, students will go back to school, and some will tell about their summer.
In the classroom setting of one Peanuts comic strip, on the first day of the new school year, the students were told to write an essay about returning to school.
In her essay Lucy wrote, “Vacations are nice, but it’s good to get back to school. There is nothing more satisfying or challenging than education, and I look forward to a year of expanding knowledge.”
Needless to say, the teacher was pleased with Lucy and complimented her fine essay.
In the final frame, Lucy leans over and whispers to Charlie Brown, “After a while, you learn what sells.”
The temptation to say “what sells,” what others want to hear, whether it is true or not, is always with us. Education, however, is not only satisfying and challenging, it is also very important.
We are currently in a series titled, “Politics According to the Bible.” We are examining key political issues that confront us today and learning what the Bible teaches us about each issue.
Today, as we continue in our series on “Politics According to the Bible” I want to examine “Education.” What does the Bible have to say about education? How should we think regarding the issue of education?
I would like to draw your attention to Deuteronomy 6:6-7. Moses has given the Law of God to the people of God. He has given them instructions with respect to keeping God’s Law. And it is in that context that we come across the instruction in our text.
Let us read Deuteronomy 6:6-7:
6And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. (Deuteronomy 6:6-7)
Every election has critical issues that dominate our attention. In this coming election the hot political issue is the economy.
Although education is not getting much attention in this election, it is nevertheless still an important issue.
For the first 200 years of our nation’s history, education in this country was explicitly Christian, and it produced amazing results.
For example, with respect to literacy, in the late 1700s, John Adams observed that to find an illiterate man in New England was as rare as a comet. In the era of the Founding Fathers, where education was explicitly Christian, there was widespread literacy.
However, with the rise of the modern education system, which removed Christianity and introduced secularism, has come a sharp rise in illiteracy. In 1994 the U.S. Department of Education, which has every reason not to reveal how bad the situation is, said that more than 90 million Americans lacked simple literacy.
One education historian examined the scores of many students over many years. He discovered that American education had lost, on average, almost one year of academic achievement per decade throughout the 20th century. What does that mean? If you graduated from college, you have about the same education that a 6th grader had about 100 years ago. Don’t believe me? Test yourself against a sampling of questions asked of 6th graders in 1905. (This is Tampa Bay Presbyterian Church’s own version of “Are You Smarter than a 1905 6th Grader?”) So, here goes:
• “The orthography quiz asked us to spell 20 words, including elucidation and animosity.”
• “An arithmetic question asked us to find the interest on an 8% note for $900 running 2 years, 2 months, and 6 days.”
• “In reading we were required . . . to give the meanings of words such as panegyric and eyrie [sometimes spelled aerie].”
• “Among geography’s 10 questions was, ‘Name 2 countries producing large quantities of wheat, 2 of cotton, 2 of coal.’”
• “In history we were to name the principal political questions which have been advocated since the Civil War and the party which advocated each.”
Perhaps someone might think that other countries are having similar problems. Actually, they are not. In comparison with the 17 leading industrialized nations of the world, the United States came out last in 2 categories and first in none.
But, we can be glad that our students do have a good self-esteem! In one international test of 13-year-olds, Korean students ranked first in math and American students ranked last. It was revealed that 68% of the American students believed that they were “good at mathematics” compared to only 23% of the Korean students who thought so. Therefore, American students ranked first in self-esteem but last in actual skills.
About 20 years ago, the Miami Herald printed an article which told us how well our students are actually doing: