The Foundation of Education

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Does it sound so far like education is closely related to discipleship and sanctification? That a Biblically-defined education is concerned not only with information, but with formation?


“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction (Prov. 1:7).”

The Scriptures teach that all knowledge, including all of mathematics, music, medicine, and model-airplane making, begins with the fear of the Lord. “For from him and through him and to him are all things” (Rom. 11:36). Because Jesus is Lord, there is no subject in heaven or on earth to which his lordship is irrelevant. Therefore, anything that can be known is faithfully understood only when it is rooted in the fear of the Lord.

The Scriptures simply won’t let us separate our ethics from our epistemology. To not fear our Maker and consider what he has said on a given topic is to be unmoored from reality. As John Frame writes, when a person pursues knowledge while ignoring God, they’re “often intellectually impressive, but at a deeper level ludicrous.”


Instaform Habigram


Let’s zoom in. Seeing education as the process of training us what to love makes us look at our daily habits differently. You can’t cruise your Instagram feed just to pass the time; its very nature is to powerfully form or deform you.

James K.A. Smith says these beautiful, strong, creative, and happy people are more than app-based entertainment or inspiration; they’re, “embodied pictures of the redeemed that invite us to imagine ourselves in their shoes–to imagine ourselves otherwise.”

Without saying a word (unless you’re following an outright boaster, Floyd Mayweather-type), these “embodied pictures” are catechizing your heart with images. You’re learning to love what they love. You’re learning to love how they love. “Happiness and meaning can be yours, as it is now mine, if you would only join CrossFit, or take this cooking class, or voice your outrage, or renovate your basement, or start dating someone good-looking!”

Lots of other daily habits are like this. They are our regular submission to a form of education. Are these habits forming or deforming your loves? Are you learning to love things worthy of love, the Triune God of the Bible and the things he loves, or are your affections being tutored in the ways of lesser gods and their lesser works?

The Good Education


We’re trying to process “education” up in here. Our eldest is approaching school-age, and she’s starting to ask questions.

A while back, Brit started hanging out in Charlotte Mason’s web and I’ve been digging into James K. A. Smith’s work. What follows is a many-parted post (a nugget-bonanza, if you will) on education:

Education is teaching you to love. A good education teaches you to love the best things.

Education doesn’t only happen in schools and lecture halls, where new ideas and new information is transmitted–education happens wherever you’re learning to love. Homes, malls, places of worship, Facebook and Instagram, what’s heard in music and seen on the screen shape and inform our loves–they’re teaching us, with or without words, to “love this and not that.”

We’re always being educated, but often, we’re not receiving a good education.