By guest author Blair Watkinson
When teaching computer science classes at a local public university, I love to challenge the students in discussions of ethics and leadership. The students delight in these discussions, some for the joy of the topic discussed, others because it means a delay in talking about the syllabus-directed subject matter.
For most, however, it feels like a forbidden pleasure, “It’s computer science class, are we allowed to be talking about these things?” Modern education tends to disintegrate education into distinct subjects without connection between them and without regard for the whole.
But a Christian education ought to be unified, with Christ as the ordering principle of the universe. He is the Fountain of living water, the Treasure of all wisdom and knowledge, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
With that in mind, Luke 10:27 provides a wonderful foundation to consider unity in homeschooling. Loving God with our whole being, and reflecting on the familiar passage from Deuteronomy 4:4 – 9 which follows the call to love God, demands an all-encompassing, unified ministry to our children.
Take for instance the pattern found in the book of Proverbs. I imagine Solomon and his son, walking by the way, perhaps noticing the insects crawling across the ground, and Solomon speaks the words of Proverbs 6:6, “Consider the ant …” and tells his son the importance of diligence in preparing for the future.
Just as Solomon connected the truths of God to a study of nature, a Christ-centered curriculum is one with integrity: it fits together, each part an integral component of the whole. Yet, even as Christian homeschoolers, we tend to fall into a pattern of disintegrating knowledge: each school subject self-contained, with no consequence to the others, and no particular unity.
As I sit and watch my children making efforts towards their various homeschool studies, I’m in awe that they are created as image bearers of the living God. The image of God in them is marred by the fall, but Jesus is reconciling them, restoring that image, until we are all made like Jesus Christ. This should be our pursuit in homeschooling: that our children would grow in Christlikeness so they may more perfectly bear the image of God in our world.
Dads, by considering the true nature and purpose of the things we study in our homes and inviting our families to do the same, I believe we as fathers can have a profound discipleship toward the restoration of the image of God in His children.
For example, what is the nature and purpose of language? When we realize God spoke words and brought things into existence, and Jesus Himself is called the Word, we must conclude that language matters. Is the purpose of language to get our way, or is it to communicate ideas and build relationships with people? In the language arts, we can remind our children it was God who created language, and His purpose in language includes speaking truth, building others up, and proclaiming His excellencies.
Consider the nature of the natural sciences such as biology, chemistry, or physics: the studying of the organic and inorganic physical universe and asking the question, “What causes things to be, and what causes them to change?” Our study of the physical universe ought to lead us to a deeper apprehension that it is Christ who created everything and sustains all.
The nature of the moral sciences, such as ethics, history, and politics is the studying of the realm of the human soul and asking the question, “How do you cultivate well-being in the human soul in society?” Our study of the moral and social sciences ought to lead us to a deeper apprehension of the fallen state of mankind and exalt the cross of Christ in our own personal lives as well as the public square.
So what can dads do? Recognizing our efforts are not primarily so our kids can get jobs, prepare for college, or compare themselves with others; our home discipleship and the study of various subjects should lead us to see the true and living God.
Practically, we can help our children understand the nature and purpose of the things they are studying by asking about relationship, cause and effect, and (especially in literature) the “should” questions, such as, “Should Rahab have lied to the king’s servants about the Israelite spies?”
With my young children, I ask, “What is the purpose of books?” and I challenge them to use books according to their purpose (especially when they’re used as stepping stones across imaginary lava pits or when their love for reading results in unkindness towards disruptive siblings). I try to connect their language arts to our family worship by offering ideas to write about from our reading together.
Consider the nature, and purpose, and ethics of things you see as you are out for walks and drives. As our children grow, the quest for understanding the proper nature and purpose can be readily applied to more complex ideas such as marriage, work, sexuality, and law. This will allow them to freely bear God’s image in society with the right biblical understanding.
Dads, may the Lord bless your family discipleship as you walk by the way.