The following content is Part II (my divisions!) from Kevin Swanson's second speech at the 2009 CHEC "Men's Leadership Summit" ("MLS")--"Homeschooling - Capturing the Vision"--delivered on Friday, March 6, 2009 and available in full, audio form from ResoundingVoice.com.
Swanson spoke about the need to apply the knowledge one learns. Academic training ought to issue forth not merely in head knowledge, but practical knowledge. Thus,
. . .is essential. In fact, brothers, if you guys are sitting through two or three days of these talks, and you guys are just absorbing a few things, but you’re not gonna go out there and do anything, you might as well have not have come to this conference. It’s just the way it works. It’s the way it works with the preaching of the Word of God. It’s the way it works with education; with knowledge and wisdom of any sorts, whatsoever. If we’re not doers of the Word, we’re wasting our time. What happens in education is you get, again, this very, very distinct separation from the inculcation of knowledge and the application of it.
We see this again and again, and this really came home to us one night.
. . .We’re going to bed – the kids have been in bed for an hour – and [my wife i]s going, “Emily forgot to do her grammar today!” Kinda this panic thing. “What are we gonna do? The Department of Education’s gonna come and get us.”
I kinda got into the flurry of the whole thing for a minute or two. I said, “Well, let’s just get Emily out of bed and we’ll work –” which was kind of a stupid idea, on the outset. Then, sort of some better sense came back, and I said, “What was Emily doing all day, if she wasn’t doing her grammar?” She was doing something. It was at the time where Emily was writing a lot of letters.
My wife comes back: “She was writing a letter to grandma.”
She was writing a letter to grandma. That’s why she didn’t do her grammar today. She was writing a letter to grandma.
It was a three-page, single-spaced type [letter]. For a 9-year-old, that’s not bad, right? But she was writing the chronicles of the Swanson life, which is actually – turned out to be a little bit embarrassing because she liked to go through everything that happened in our house. But she was writing this letter to grandma.
So before we got everybody out of bed, I said, “Okay, stop. Stop. Why do we do grammar?” It’s one of those questions, right, that comes to your mind, occasionally. Not very often, but occasionally, you get the obvious question: "Why do we do grammar?"
Is it so that when you’re 25 years old, you get out of bed and say, “Oh, it’s time to do grammar, today. I’ve prepared, all my life, to do some grammar”? No.
The reason you study grammar is so that you can write letters to grandma. Duh.
But see, in our minds, we have so separated these things, brothers. It’s like we’re learning how to ride a bike by "taking Bike" for 12 years. We have Bike 101, Bike 102, Bike Accident Recovery Workshop, Bike Metallurgy, Bike Statics, Bike Dynamics. We get all the Bike, and yet, for 12 years, we’ve never really gotten on the bike.
When, a thousand years ago, we took education out of the real-life situation of family and church and business, and we put it on a sterile little island out here in the middle of nowhere called schools, where teachers teach, and where people say, “If you can’t work, teach. If you can’t teach, write a textbook,” and where, when you graduate, A students wind up teaching on the island, and B students wind up working for C students. You see, this is something fundamentally wrong with education. It’s fundamentally wrong.
We’ve got to bring the knowing and the doing together – the knowledge and the faith and the character into the academics of the education of our children, and teach them the fear of God as the beginning of wisdom and knowledge.
I think it begins with worship in the classroom – the worship of the living God in the classroom.
I'm not exactly sure what he means or where he intended to go with that last sentence. (He didn't follow up on it. He immediately transitioned to another topic.)
I agree, we want to worship God--indeed, we want to offer our bodies as living sacrifices, holy and acceptable to the LORD, which is, we are told, spiritual [or rational/reasonable] worship (Romans 12:1). We want to "love the LORD [our] God with all [our] heart and soul and mind and strength" (Mark 12:30). We want to "pray without ceasing" (1 Thessalonians 5:17). "In everything," we want to "give thanks" (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
So, no question, since education, too, falls under life (offering bodies as living sacrifices) and has something to do with our hearts and souls and minds (and, possibly, strength); and since we don't want to cease praying or fail to give thanks in education anymore than in anything else: then I absolutely agree that worship is--or ought to be--integral to our educational regimen. May that be.
I "simply" don't understand why Swanson seemed to "throw in" that last comment at the end of his discussion of (what I thought was his bigger thematic element) the idea--as best as I could understand his point--that our educational program needs to seek practical application and not mere theoretical understanding.
I believe it can be very helpful to have the theoretical understanding. But, ultimately, the theory must give way to application.
Good stuff, it seems to me!
Next post in this series: CHEC "Men's Leadership Summit" - "Homeschooling - Capturing the Vision," Part III (The Principle of Individuality).