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  • Paige Patterson

Seeking Wisdom in Education

Christian parents often amaze me. One would think that there is broad understanding about the present nature of higher education. The colleges and universities of this country are less about educational accomplishment than they are about political indoctrination. Yet, the average Christian parent treats the decision about where his child goes to college as a decision of relative indifference. He sends his child away to a state university and is then dumbfounded by the perspectives returning with the child. Even if the child does not imbibe of the left-wing perspective of the institution, he is so intimidated by professor and student relationships alike that he is afraid to practice evangelical Christianity in any open way.


Proverbs 1:2-3 states the purpose for education: “For gaining wisdom and being instructed, for understanding insightful meanings, for receiving wise instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity.” Righteousness, justice, and integrity were important in Solomon’s day, but in contemporary America they have nothing to do with educational achievement. Rather, one goes to college in order to open the market. Upon graduation he is sure to get a better paying job than those who do not go, and he has possibly learned a method of supporting himself. For many Christian parents who have bought into such a trajectory, that plus the unbelievable “social” life of the school constitute what college is all about.


For Solomon the end result of learning is wisdom. Wisdom needs to be carefully differentiated from mere facts. One may memorize facts and parrot them back to the appropriate authorities, but wisdom includes not only understanding the factual basis of truth but applying that truth skillfully to all human and heavenly relationships. That wisdom is never considered in the average university.


Furthermore, the purpose of the education that a student receives is to learn how to do righteousness and justice and to exhibit integrity. There is talk of justice these days, but the new social justice system is half-baked, one side cooked and one side raw. If that is how you like your pancakes, send your child to a modern university, and that is what he will get. He will likely come away will no instruction whatsoever in righteous behavior, and the integrity of his heart will never be challenged. Such considerations as the advantages of honesty and forthrightness are simply not on the table.


So for parents with high school students anticipating the choice of university, one may well select a state university for a particular calling such as pre-med, but even then the parent needs to make that selection with a full knowledge of what will and will not be transmitted. And in the process of considering what will not be transmitted, don’t forget that Solomon’s approach to a meaningful experience in education included righteousness, justice, and integrity. Without those three, you may end up as a learned individual but certainly not as an educated individual.