Many of you are probably in the midst of getting your family ready for the beginning of a new school year. For parents, this can be a hectic time as they shop for clothing, shoes, school supplies and the myriad other items that seem so necessary for success in the modern educational system. As an instructor at Foundation Institute, Center for Biblical Education, I can tell you it is a frantic time for teachers too. For the students themselves, it is often a mixture of excitement and a bit of wistfulness as the few remaining days of summer vacation dwindle away.
For those of us who live where public education is considered a universal right, it’s easy to take education for granted. There are many people in our world who must make great sacrifices in order for their children to have even a basic education. And for some, though they would gladly make those sacrifices, education is still out of their reach.
In the United States billions of dollars have been invested in public education, yet most studies show virtually no correlation between the money spent and the educational outcomes. In fact, four key factors, only marginally related to money, have been shown to be the most reliable predictors of educational success in children:
- The quantity of homework done at home.
- The amount and quality of reading material in the home.
- How much television is watched in the home.
- Most important of all, having both parents in the home.
Where both parents are involved and children are expected to complete and submit their homework, where parents set an example of reading, and where television viewing is limited, children tend to be far more successful—even when the family may be at or near the poverty level.
This is actually encouraging. It means that parents who may not be able to provide all the physical blessings can still, by their example and involvement, create a learning environment in the home that will help their children succeed.
One of the unstated but important goals of education is to give the individual a foundation for a lifetime of continued learning. Sadly, for many people, learning stops the day they complete their formal education.
What have you learned recently? Is your example one you would want your children or grandchildren to follow? Even if you cannot afford the time or expense of continuing your formal education, you can still provide an important example of studying, learning and applying what you learn. When a child is exposed to adults who are excited about learning, the long-term impact on that child is powerful.
What could you study? Here’s a suggestion: Chances are, you already own the best textbook ever printed. There is nothing you will ever study—in a classroom or on your own—that will have as great an impact on your life as the words of the Book of books, the Bible. The Bible provides much more than “head knowledge.” It gives wisdom; it teaches how to live a successful life, how to find and build positive relationships with others and how to be genuinely happy. Nothing you will ever study will pay off as richly in your life as the study of God’s inspired Word.
Wouldn’t this be a good time for you to go back to school too?
For Life, Hope & Truth, I’m David Johnson.