Education for life
Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it. Proverbs 22.6
Today's teachers' strikes prompt us to ponder the value and purpose of our children's education. One's instinctive response may well be that it is to prepare them for life by feeding them the information they need, instructing them in how to think and solve problems and, crucially, enable them to pass the exams which will open doors to their chosen path into work or further education. But that is not how generations of Christians have understood the purpose of education. For us the objective is to become Christ-like.
Does the world need more industrialists, politicians, plumbers and priests? Undoubtedly - if we are to sustain life as we know and love it. Yet, as it is, the world is heading for destruction: pollution, the plundering of natural resources, war... are combining into a perfect cocktail of destruction, climate-change and bio-diversity loss. Producing generations of Christ-like youngsters may seem economically irrelevant - though there is no reason why they should not become industrialists, politicians, plumbers and priests along the way - but what a difference it would make to mutual harmony and our impact on the planet. Instead of feeding our deadly addictions, we would be participating in the renewal of creation.
The trouble is that we have reached the point where media influence has exceeded that of parents and churches. At an ever earlier age, children look beyond their home for inspiration and guidance. What can we do? The answer will vary according to circumstances but two responses will apply universally: we can pray for God's intervention and we can offer our young people that essential Christ-like example - in our words and deeds, gently but firmly applied. Whether it will make any difference only time will tell. But at least we shall have done our best and we shall have offered those we love an alternative to the chaotic lifestyles which our secular-materialist society is touting.