For 2500 years the world has watched as two competing philosophies of education have vied for prominence. The Greek philosophy exalts knowledge above all else. Socrates said, “There is only one good, knowledge, and only one evil, ignorance.” The Greeks spent hours debating truth and arguing among themselves.
Within the Jewish culture however, there was a different priority. First was a search for relationships. The Jew wanted relationship on two planes- both the vertical and the horizontal. The first quest was to love God. The second quest was to love your fellow man. These two truths were inseparable. John says in 1 John 4:20 “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen.”
After these relationships were firmly established, THEN Jewish philosophy began to pursue wisdom and knowledge. 1 Cor. 8:1 says “…knowledge puffs up, but love builds ups.” Within these few words Paul clearly articulates the contrast between knowledge and relationships. Loving edifies while knowledge for the sake of knowledge only makes one prideful. And without doubt- the Greeks prided themselves on their knowledge, thinking of themselves as better than anyone else in the ancient world for this very reason. But Paul argues that knowledge apart from loving relationships is a waste of time- foolishness that only blinds us with crippling pride.
So which philosophy is the foundation for your homeschool? Are you following the Greek model in the headlong pursuit of academic achievement and knowledge above all else? Or are you following the Jewish model that stresses loving God and loving others as the safeguard which prevents the pursuit of knowledge from turning us into proud, arrogant fools?
Different curriculum publishers, homeschool speakers and book authors have all made a choice as well. It shouldn’t take you long to discern whether they have built upon a Greek or a Jewish philosophy of education. One seeks to exalt the human mind and it’s potential first and foremost- while the other seeks to ground us in a knowledge of God and a love for others to avoid the pride which inevitably results from the relentless pursuit of knowledge for the sake of knowledge.
Share these truths with your children today. Talk with them about your priorities in education. Ask them what we mean when we say someone is a “know it all.” Even a child knows that someone who has lots of knowledge but doesn’t care about the feelings of the people around him quickly becomes despised because of his pride and arrogance.
Before you crack open the math, history or science book today, think of at least one way for you and your children to express your love to God, and at least one way to express your love to another human being. Perhaps a simple prayer or worship song might express your love to God. And perhaps cleaning up a sibling’s room for them, or offering to help weed an elderly neighbor’s garden might be a practical expression of love for others. NOW you can dig deep into geography or grammar knowing that your priorities are rightly grounded today.
Go back and look over the verses above and talk with your children about them.
And please- don’t ever say that Steve is against knowledge and education. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am 100% in favor of academic excellence and achievement- as long as it’s in its rightful place after we have nurtured a relationship with the Lord and a love for others.