Today, my pastor gave a perfect analogy for my education philosophy. He described how when you get a new tool or your child gets a new present, you don’t get out the instruction manual first, read it and then just leave the tool or toy in the box. No, you rip open the box, get out the toy or tool and you start trying to use it. Then, a few minutes into it you realize, “Oh, I may need to read some instructions on how to use this thing.” So, then you start reading the instructions; but now, unlike before, the instructions have meaning and real life application.
He was using this analogy in the context of faith. He was trying to say that faith and courage can’t be taught or grow stronger in a bible study or by listening to a sermon on Sunday morning, but rather only when you get out into the real world and you’re faced with moments that stretch you, do you start realizing your need for Biblical teaching and knowledge. No matter how true Biblical knowledge may be, it is worthless unless it is also interesting and applicable.
I view education this same way. Unless a child finds a particular set of information interesting and applicable, they will not listen, not care, and probably forget whatever you try to teach them – regardless of how factual or necessary you think it is. On the other hand, if you allow a child to become their own teacher, they will follow their own passions, and as they encounter experiences in life that they are unequipped for, they will then seek out the knowledge necessary to accomplish whatever goal they have set for themselves. Instead of simply being TAUGHT the information, they will truly LEARN it. There is a difference between being taught and learning. Even Albert Einstein said, “I never teach my pupils, I only provide the conditions in which they can learn.”
Just as becoming a courageous and faithful servant of the Lord can’t occur by means of merely acquiring more theological knowledge, becoming a truly intelligent, creative, and educated person can’t occur by merely filling the mind with more facts. When a skill is mastered in the context of interest and need in the real world, only then is it truly learned.