Giving Thanks in Education

Enjoying good food and friends at the annual Thanksgiving Feast

You take your family to church on a Sunday morning. You give your preschooler a big hug and put him in the care of the Sunday school teacher. Afterwards, you ask him what he did in class and he excitedly shows you his paper craft listing the fruit of the Spirit. Later that day, you remind your child to be gentle with his baby sister. “Hey!” he says, “That’s the fruit of the Spirit! That’s what my teacher said!” Praise God, you think, for this teacher who has just made your job easier.

At Sunday school, we expect to partner with our child’s teachers to instruct about God through the Bible. But what are our expectations for Monday-Friday school?

The academic subjects studied at school are all part of God’s creation masterpiece. He created language, mathematic principles, and reasoning. He created music, poetry, and story. He formed the geographic boundaries of the earth. And from the very beginning, he created every aspect of history with Christ in the center of it.

Romans 1:20 says,

For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made.

God tells us here that the Bible is not the only place to learn about God. Academic education is not merely the study of God’s creation. Academics is where we learn about God himself through the study of His creation.

If you woke up one morning and found a brand new car in your driveway topped with a red bow and your name on the license plate wouldn’t you marvel about where it came from? Wouldn’t you be thankful for this gift? Wouldn’t you go for a ride? This is what school is like for children. Every morning they wake up to a new thing of wonder. It could be the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly, the tales of ancient heroes, or the discovery that multiplication is a faster way to add. Do they leave school thankful for these gifts? Do they marvel at the generosity of the Giver? Are they eager to use their knowledge, giving credit to the Giver?

Consider the next verse in Romans,

“For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools…”

This is the epitome of an education that does not connect the creation to the Creator. When we show our children the wonders of God’s creation without esteeming the Lord, we are shaping our children to become fools. Giving glory to God in education is a big deal!

Included in God’s creation are our children’s classmates and teachers (or siblings and parents if homeschooled). Having the right kind of thankfulness for one another will result in gentleness and respect when they are sharing crayons, taking turns at recess, or listening to a classmate’s ideas. These opportunities for character formation occur all throughout the school day and if we neglect to direct the student to the grace of God in such circumstances, we continue to shape our children to become fools.

So what should we expect for our child’s M-F school? We should expect that our children learn to honor God and give him thanks when studying his creation. We should also expect that they learn to give God thanks for the people he has placed in their lives. Anything less than this leads to futile thinking, darkened hearts, and, as you’ll see if you read the rest of Romans 1, every kind of evil under the sun.

When we delegate aspects of the responsibility to educate our children to someone else, we are yoking ourselves together on behalf of the growth of the child. The wise choice is to share the load with people who are moving in the same direction. Praise God for teachers at Agape Christi Academy who help make our duties as Christian parents easier!